Beach safety is stepping up all over the Sunshine Coast with 11 life rings being installed at unsupervised beaches this summer.
One initiative was launched by the Royal Canadian Marine Search and Rescue (RCM-SAR) to install a life ring at the pier in Davis Bay, but after overwhelming support from the District of Sechelt as well as the Sunshine Coast Regional District, nine more rings will be installed at nine other beaches.
“We kept waiting for someone to install a life ring on that pier, since it was just encouraging more and more young swimmers to swim off that beautiful new dock,” said RCM-SAR volunteer Jane MacDonald. “And that never really happened.”
In the event of an emergency, MacDonald said it would take RCM-SAR about 20 minutes to get to the scene.
“There’s a really, really hot summer coming, and if I were a kid I would be jumping off all those docks and piers,” MacDonald said. “Can we just make sure we have safety equipment?”
In addition to Davis Bay, life rings will be going in at beaches in Porpoise Bay, Secret Cove, Halfmoon Bay, Trail Bay, Whiskey Slough and Pender Harbour.
A second initiative – unrelated to RCM-SAR – is underway to install a life ring at Armours Beach in Gibsons with a plaque commemorating Hayden Kyle, a Gibsons-born young man who drowned tragically last year at Slocan Lake.
The BC Government Employees Union donated funds to the Life Saving Society (LSS) for the installation of four life rings at Slocan Lake, but since Kyle was from Gibsons, the LSS has offered to donate a life ring to Armours Beach.
Parks director Wendy Gil-bertson presented the Armours Beach initiative to Gibsons council’s committee of the whole on June 2. Coun. Stafford Lumley, who knew Kyle from employing him at Smitty’s Oyster House, said Kyle was a great kid.
“Hayden worked for me for like two years. He was a really nice kid, he was very respectful. We hire kids, but he was probably one of the most respectful,” Lumley told committee. “I had to tell him to stop calling me sir all the time.”
Lumley offered to raise funds for a commemorative plaque to be installed at Armours Beach for Kyle.
RCM-SAR is hoping to have their life rings installed by June 25, while the Armours Beach life ring is tentatively scheduled for this September.