Skip to content
Join our Newsletter
Join our Newsletter

Police, fire and bylaw officers patrol Thetis Lake, expel 14 people

Frustrated by recent cliff-jumping injuries and public intoxication at Thetis Lake, firefighters, Mounties and bylaw officers teamed up to patrol the waters and shoreline surrounding the regional park over a hot and busy weekend.
TC_8026_web_VKA-crd-7290.jpg
Thetis Lake Regional Park is among the West Shore parks that will be subject to increased patrols this summer. DARREN STONE, TIMES COLONIST

Frustrated by recent cliff-jumping injuries and public intoxication at Thetis Lake, firefighters, Mounties and bylaw officers teamed up to patrol the waters and shoreline surrounding the regional park over a hot and busy weekend.

Between Friday and Sunday, West Shore RCMP, View Royal Fire and Capital Regional District bylaw officers, some in the fire department’s zodiac and some walking the trails, ejected 14 people who were drunk and disorderly. West Shore RCMP arrested one person who were taken to the station to sober up and on Sunday nabbed an impaired driver after bylaw officers saw the person stumbling to the parking lot.

View Royal Fire Chief Paul Hurst said the main measure of success is that there were no calls for services relating to injuries in the park.

“This was a proactive initiative instead of a reactive measure,” Hurst said. “Having all three agencies there was a success.”

Don Brown, the CRD’s chief bylaw officer, said the focus was on educating people about the rules and preventing people from doing risky things like cliff jumping while intoxicated.

Bylaw officers issued 12 written warnings, mostly for smoking or having open alcohol, and handed out four bylaw tickets for open alcohol.

Having View Royal Fire’s zodiac patrol the water was a major deterrent for people thinking of risky behaviour, Brown said.

Brown said many families thanked the officers for patrolling and keeping the park safe. West Shore RCMP said Friday they will be working with CRD bylaw officers and View Royal Fire to patrol popular parks for the rest of the summer.

Hurst said there were hundreds of people in the water on Sunday, despite the CRD’s advisory that people and animals shouldn’t swim because of a blue-green algae bloom. The poisonous algae bloom produces cyanotoxins which can be lethal to dogs if ingested and for humans can results in symptoms such as headaches and abdominal pain.

Brown said people in the water were warned about the health impacts of the blue-green algae.

Hurst has been calling for enhanced safety measures at the park after a series of concerning calls in July, including one involving an unconscious and apparently intoxicated person on a trail and another where a man who was drinking injured himself while jumping from a cliff into the lake.

“The obvious concern we have is the alcohol consumption coupled with jumping off the cliffs,” he said. “Those two behaviours don’t go well together.”

Hurst has suggested closing the back side of the park in the summer months to prevent people from cliff jumping, or even sending the emergency response bill to intoxicated or careless people who injure themselves while jumping.

“Currently there’s nothing prohibiting people from jumping off the cliffs other than common sense,” he said. “Why is it the responsibility for the View Royal taxpayer to foot the bill for people who are making conscious bad decisions? These are conscious decisions to put yourself in harms way.”

Hurst said once the summer is over, he will meet with CRD officials to talk about longer term safety strategies for Thetis Lake Regional Park. According to CRD statistics, Thetis Lake has become increasingly busy with 500,000 visits to the park in 2018 compared to 350,000 in 2010.

kderosa@timescolonist.com

— With files from Lindsay Kines