‘We can’t fix all of it’: B.C. mayor says costs of updating deadly lake likely too high

Man-made lake where two girls drowned remains closed as B.C. city council deliberates updates

The city council responsible for the man-made lake in northeastern B.C. where a 12-year-old girl drowned is unsure it will be able to address all of the health hazards identified after her death.

In a phone interview on Friday, Dawson Creek Mayor Dale Bumstead told Black Press Media Beverly Park’s death at Rotary Park on Aug. 13, 2016 was “a horrible tragedy.”

Beverly had been playing with friends when, according to the coroner’s report, the children were able to remove bolts that were holding a cover over a drainage pipe at the bottom of the lake formerly classified as a pool. The cover subsequently came off, and Beverly’s leg was sucked into the pipe and trapped. As a result, her head was underwater.

First responders resuscitated Beverly after the pump was shut off and took her to a medical facility for treatment. But diagnostic testing would identify significant brain injury because of the lack of oxygen, and three days later, the girl was declared brain dead.

In 1994, a five-year-old girl also drowned at the lake, which the chief environmental health officer at the time attributed to the murkiness of the water and overcrowded conditions.

Beverly Park drowned on Aug. 13, 2016 after her leg was sucked into a drainage pipe in Dawson Creek’s man-made Rotary Lake.

After Beverly’s death, a number of health hazards were identified at Rotary Lake and Northern Health issued an order under the Public Health Act, closing it to the public. The healthcare provider recommended that the province repeal the lake’s exemption from the requirements of the Pool Regulation, which was granted in 1989, adding that it may be possible for a partial exemption from the regulation if the City of Dawson Creek submits a request to the province.

At press time there had been no changes to the lake’s exemption and it remained closed.

Bumstead told Black Press Media it will be “really difficult” to address all of the hazards, which include, but are not limited to inadequate fencing, no supervision, poor water clarity, inadequate safety and first aid equipment, as well as a single main drain that created a suction hazard.

According to Northern Health, several of the hazards have been identified by public health inspectors before, as early as 1968, one year after the facility was built.

“We are just in a real dilemma,” Bumstead said, referring to the high costs of updating old infrastructure.

READ MORE: Memorial grows for teen who drowned in Okanagan Lake

Bumstead said the most recent discussion city council has had with Northern Health took place at their Sept. 9 regular meeting.

After the delegation from Northern Health described the history of the facility, Bumstead said it may be “fiscally impossible” to make the required modifications.

“Structurally there are some things that can be done and some things that can’t,” he had said at the meeting. “We can fix some of it, we can’t fix all of it.”

Coun. Jerimy Earl also spoke at the meeting, saying the crux of the issue “is going to be [their] ability to staff it with full-time lifeguards in the summer.”

“It’s a free service, it’s open for three or four months of the year,” Earl said. “Is there a way forward where we have an alternative model that doesn’t include full-time lifeguards or is that a conversation stopper?”

Medical health officer Jong Kim said Northern Health was not able to provide a “black and white answer.”

“It’s a really important component to have,” Kim said.

READ MORE: Retired Northern Health official — Managers should have to eat the same food served in hospitals

Coun. Blair Lekstrom said he thinks the lake can be “operated in a manner that meets the needs of the residents, the safety of the residents and also the financial viability.”

“We have to be real,” he said at the meeting. “How much can you spend?

“If it is about eliminating risks completely then I think we’re living in the wrong world, because there are risk every day.”

Bumstead told Black Press Media council will likely continue to discuss the issue as part of overall budget deliberations.

He said they may also “review if [they] want to have an outdoor aquatic facility.”

“I think we need to do some planning around that,” he said, noting the fact that the city has a newer indoor aquatic centre that may meet its needs.

In the meantime, Beverly’s parents Todd and Brandie Park are suing the city, the operators of Mile 0 Park where the lake is located as well as the province.

Bumstead was not able to comment on the litigation.

At press time the city had yet to file a response to the Parks’ civil claim.



karissa.gall@blackpress.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

FILE - Nathan Cullen speaks to media in Smithers, B.C., Friday, February 28, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
More calls come in for Cullen’s removal as NDP candidate

Gitxsan Hereditary Chiefs demand Cullen’s removal. Ellis says, There’s no place in B.C. for racism

BC Liberal Party candidate for the North Coast Roy Jones Jr. will hold virtual face-to-face meetings for North Coast communities on Oct. 18. (Photo: K-J Millar/The Northern View)
BC Liberal Candidate Roy Jones Jr, will meet constituents virtually

Face to face conversations will be held on Oct. 18 for North Coast communities

Kelly Lynn Whitney has been acclaimed as the successful candidate on Oct. 16, in the Village of Port Clements by Election. Seen in photos Kelly Whitney-Gould is pictured putting finishing touches on “Ms. Gnomer’s Home 4 Wayward Folk.” (Kelly Whitney-Gould/Submitted photo)
Kelly Lynn Whitney acclaimed in By Election

Village of Port Clements By Election success

Stikine provincial election candidates (clockwise from top left): Nathan Cullen, NDP; Darcy Repen, Rural BC Party; Rod Taylor, Christian Heritage; and Gordon Sebastian, BC Liberals.
‘Where is Annita McPhee?’: Cullen under fire from opening salvo of all-candidates forum

Four Stikine candidates spar during online debate from Prestige Hudson Bay Lodge in Smithers

FILE – People wait in line at a COVID-19 testing facility in Burnaby, B.C., on Thursday, August 13, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
167 new COVID-19 cases, 1 death recorded as B.C. enters 2nd wave

Three new healthcare outbreaks also announced

Rio Tinto Alcan’s aluminum smelter at Kitimat competes against producers in the Middle East and Russia that have no carbon tax. (Rio Tinto)
B.C. carbon tax highest in Canada, export industries unprotected

B.C. NDP, B.C. Liberals say they’re looking at exemptions

(Pixabay)
Vancouver teacher suspended after swearing, touching students and complimenting underwear

McCabe touched students, including rubbing their backs and necks, touching their hair and hugging them

A glimpse of some of the 480 (approx) cars written off as a result of the acid spills along the Trail highway in 2018. Photo: Trail Times
2 years after huge highway acid spill, Kootenay Ford dealer’s frustration grows with ICBC

Trail AM Ford owner Dan Ashman says he just wants fair compensation from ICBC

Mail-in ballot from Elections BC (Katya Slepian/Black Press Media)
At least 26% of eligible voters have already cast their ballot, Elections BC says

Voters can cast a ballot until 8 p.m PST on Election Day

A 2018 decision to fly a rainbow flag ended up costing the City of Langley $62,000 in legal fees (Langley Advance Times file)
Human rights win in rainbow flag fight cost B.C. city $62,000

“Lengthy and involved” process provoked by complaint

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is seen during a news conference Tuesday October 20, 2020 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Trudeau and his family decide against trick-or-treating this year due to COVID

Adhering to local health authorities, Trudeau urges Canadians to do their part in following those guidelines

Surrey RCMP cruisers outside a Newton townhouse Tuesday night. (Photo: Shane MacKichan)
Toddler in hospital, woman dead following stabbings at Surrey townhouse

Police say two-year-old was among victims found at townhouse complex in the 12700-block of 66 Avenue

Most Read