EDITORIAL: The CRD needs to take a close look at lifeguards at Thetis Lake

Budget contraints don’t cut it when lives are at risk

It seems like every time there’s a serious incident at Thetis Lake, the question of whether there should be lifeguards at that particular beach surfaces again. Two recent reminders of how things can go wrong in an instant raised the question once again, with bystanders having to come to the aid of three people in danger of drowning.

The sad fact is that at least six people have lost their lives in the waters of Thetis Lake since 2004, the first summer after the lifeguard program was cancelled by Capital Regional District Parks. That’s a statistic that underlines the dangers that particular lake poses to even experienced swimmers, let alone the thousands of first-time visitors from all over the world who flock to the popular spot during the summer. You simply won’t find the same number of fatalities for any similar time frame back when lifeguards were in place at the beach.

In addition to the dangers associated with any body of water where people like to swim, the cliffs at Thetis pose other hazards for those who want to dive from them, or hikers who stumble near the edge. While it would be naive to believe that warning signs and the presence of lifeguards will ever deter that behaviour completely, there’s no arguing that lifeguards reduce the risk of loss of life wherever they’re stationed.

That’s why it’s of paramount importance for the CRD Parks board to take a long, close look at a motion passed by View Royal council last week reiterating previous requests for lifeguards at Thetis Lake. Although the motion won’t be considered in time for this summer’s hordes of swimmers, at least it sets the stage for a sober assessment of the question before next summer rolls around.

Yes, it will cost money to staff the lake with lifeguards, and it will also raise the question of whether the CRD needs to consider the same options at Beaver and Elk lakes. Recent events and six deaths in a little more than a dozen years begs scrutiny. While we won’t suggest that the total cost would be a pittance, when you consider that the CRD’s operating budget for 2016 weighed in at more than $263 million, it’s difficult not to argue the funds could be found somewhere within the 200 or so services the CRD provides.

If it means a little trim here or a cutback there to something else that doesn’t have deadly consequences, it’s worth every effort to make it work. After all, it’s impossible to put a price on a human life.

Just Posted

Foot found near Victoria belonged to missing Washington man

No foul play suspected in death of Stanley Okumoto, 79

Man surprises trial, claims responsibility for Saanich sex assault

Fellow inmate of accused David Hope claims responsibility

WATCH: Do you recognize this sexual assault suspect?

Victoria police release new footage suspect in Bay Centre attack on young girl

‘Where the hell are the environmental monitors?’ says Colquitz activist

McKenzie construction continues to pollute Colquitz

Greyhound cleared to end routes in northern B.C., Vancouver Island

Company says nine routes have dropped 30% in ridership in last five years

VIDEO: Top 10 B.C. budget highlights

The NDP is focusing on childcare, affordable housing and speeding up the elimination of MSP premiums

Alberta takes out full-page ads in B.C. over strained relationship

It’s the latest move between the two provinces over progress on Trans Mountain pipeline expansion

B.C. teacher suspended over allegedly using N-word in worksheets

Trafalgar Elementary teacher under investigation by Vancouver School Board

Toddler swept away in Ontario floods

Toddler missing as flooding forces thousands from their homes in Ontario

Inside the Olympic performance of the Island’s Teal Harle

Islander finishes fifth in Olympic Men’s Slopestyle final in Pyeong Chang

BC BUDGET: New money helps seniors’ care shortage

Job stability for care aides key to recruitment, union leader says

Mixed messages on B.C.’s efforts to cool hot housing market

Economist says undersupply of homes in Metro Vancouver, Victoria and Kelowna will keep prices high

Questions raised over B.C. NDP’s childcare budget plan

Advocates concerned how to fill 22,000 new spaces for early childhood educators

B.C. family first to receive reimbursement for life-altering arthritis drug

Effective medication used to treat rare form of juvenile arthritis costs $19,000 a month

Most Read