Nurse wants to bring dragon boats to the islands

  • Sep. 15, 2006 11:00 a.m.

Dragon boat racing is said to be the fastest growing sport in North America and a Queen Charlotte-based diabetes nurse would like islanders to catch this wave of enthusiasm.
Valerie Hayes last week asked Queen Charlotte council to support her in a bid to find funding for two dragon boats, which she says could help reduce obesity and increase levels of physical activity.
She said increasing options in a rural area where there is no recreation centre is an essential course of action.
The boats, which are 50 feet long and very narrow, seat around 22 paddlers. The boats would be custom built and cost about $15,000 each.
She wants to try for the money from a Union of BC Municipalities grant program, but to do so, she needs the support of a municipal council.
“We’re surrounded by water,” she said. “And it ties in with Haida rowing and paddling.”
Councillor Eric Ross brought up some safety concerns. He wondered whether registered captains would be needed and warned of the changeable weather.
“You can run into storms in a matter of a half an hour,” he said. “You’ve got to have someone who knows what to do, not like the Captain of the Queen of the North.”
He also wanted to know where the boats would be stored. “We would have to put up insurance with it tied up,” Mr. Ross said. “I’m not against it, I’m just bringing up things that could be very costly.”
Councillor Greg Martin also asked who would own the boats, and who would be held liable for them.
Ms Hayes said a lot of the legwork for safety issues has been done by the Dragon Boat Federation.
“I know there are risks involved, but I’ve never heard of anything and it’s a very popular sport,” she said.
She says the proposal deadline of Sept. 18 is a preliminary deadline. If she gets past that hurdle, the full proposal is due by Nov. 24. She thinks the logistical questions could be looked at for the full proposal.
If the proposal is successful, Ms Hayes would like to have the boats here by spring. She hopes the racing teams will be cross-cultural and open to the communities.
Council agreed to support the preliminary proposal and appointed Ms Hayes the chair of an adhoc committee under the health and wellness advisory committee.