Discussion but no action from regional district following recent Skaha Lake cliff diving death | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Discussion but no action from regional district following recent Skaha Lake cliff diving death

Safety measures such as fencing and signage has failed to stop the popular summer activity of cliff jumping along the east side of Skaha Lake.
September 07, 2019 - 7:00 AM

PENTICTON - Penticton Mayor John Vassilaki questioned what the regional district could do to prevent people from jumping off the Skaha Lake cliffs following the drowning last week of a Kelowna man.

Kurtis Roy, 18, died after jumping from the cliffs on Friday, Aug. 30.

Vassilaki, who is also a Penticton director on the regional district board, asked his fellow directors at a meeting on Sept. 5, to consider a motion to have staff look into what might be done to make jumping off the cliffs illegal or provide the RCMP with more tools to prevent people from jumping off the cliffs.

“I don’t think we’ve had a year go by without a drowning at those cliffs,” he said.

Chief administrative officer Bill Newell suggested a title search to define ownership of the cliffs might be done, as well as an investigation into what is being done to discourage jumping in the area, noting the cliffs encompass private and Crown land.

Several board members commented on the futility of attempting to stop the popular activity with legislation.

Cawston director George Bush said while he understood the concerns, he said people are killed in vehicle collision but "we don’t stop that.”

Osoyoos director Sue McKortoff agreed, saying “common sense must weigh in at some point.”

“People need to realize the consequences of doing this,” she said.

“Death happens. We can’t protect people from themselves. People have to take responsibility for their own actions,” Oliver rural director Rick Knodel said.

Director and Penticton city councillor Jake Kimberley asked about signage, recalling an effort several years ago to put up signage warning of the dangers.

The board opted not to follow up on the discussions.

The cliffs tower upwards of 70 feet above the lake, offering several different heights from which to jump and are a popular summertime recreational activity.

Several deaths have occurred over the years, especially among jumpers leaping from the cliffs' higher levels.

Former regional district director Jeanne Lamb headed a movement to do something to bring awareness and attention to the dangers of cliff jumping as far back as the 1990s.

One of the biggest dangers she found was hitting the water the wrong way. She also noted should a person need rescuing, the only access to the victim is by water.

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