Close call on river prompts query on safety signs
He believed he was going to die.
One Cowichan resident had an episode on the Cowichan River while tubing with two friends on the August long weekend, which led to this frightening thought.
George Gates said his feet got tangled up in the roots of a big log jammed in the riverbed about a 20-minute float down river from the Vimy Rd. entrance.
“I actually struggled for well over a minute under the water, barely being able to do anything to untangle myself.”
He managed to get free, resurfaced and helped his friend get untangled as well.
“It was very scary and I’m actually quite surprised that I’m here today—that’s how much I started to panic underneath the water.“
He said there was a small sign on the bank of the river warning of the danger but that it was so small it was barely visible, leading him to question to warn tubers about risky spots.
Sybille Sanderson with the Cowichan Valley Regional District's Public Safety Dept. said it isn't their jurisdiction to put upsigns, but she has been asked questions before.
“The only complaint we’ve received is actually from search and rescue. They expressed their concern in the lack of signage and things like that.”
A spokesperson with B.C.'s Environment Ministry explained putting up signs warning of danger is their responsibility only if the water lies within provincial parks—in this case, the section around Vimy Rd. does not.
It is in North Cowichan’s borders, but Don Stewart with the district’s Parks and Recreation Dept. said because a lot of the property along the river is privately owned, they are not permitted to put up signs.
Sanderson agreed that much of the riverbank is on private land and that it is difficult to come up with a solution for people to be properly informed about the risks. Ultimately, she said it's up to the individual to take responsibility and precautions when tubing on the Cowichan River.
“Take care of each other, and don’t drink and tube,” she urged.
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