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Safety education campaign launched for Capilano River Park

While the North Vancouver park is generally safe, river levels can rise rapidly and unpredictably.
The Capilano River is a popular fishing destination. | North Shore News files

As the weather warms up, the waters of the Capilano River remain cold and its levels unpredictable.

That’s why Metro Vancouver is launching a new safety education initiative for the Capilano River Regional Park.

In order to keep visitors safe while visiting the park, Metro’s campaign includes a website, informational videos and integration with the Alertable app.

While the area is generally safe, and is frequented by fishers and hikers, water levels can rise rapidly and unpredictably. Numerous rescues have been carried out of people swept up by the river, and in a tragic 2020 accident, two people were killed when the main spillway of the nearby Cleveland Dam opened. Another man in his 30s died the year before.

“The Capilano River is located downstream of the Cleveland Dam, which is part of Metro Vancouver’s drinking water system. The dam creates a reservoir that supplies drinking water to the region,” said Jerry Dobrovolny, commissioner and chief administrative officer at Metro.

“Metro Vancouver is committed to enhancing safety for those enjoying nature around Capilano River Regional Park, and this safety education website is another tool to help those visiting the park keep safe by letting them know about the risks of being around the river and downstream of the dam.”

According to the regional authority, the website – which launched Monday morning – provides information on what to do in an emergency and safety tips like staying on designated trails, monitoring the river for changes in water levels and being ready for variable weather conditions.

“Without much notice, the Capilano River can rise more than five metres (16 feet) at various points along the river, with water moving faster than 21 kilometres per hour. Even at smaller volumes, changes to the river can put people at risk of being swept off their feet,” reads a statement from Metro.

The regional authority said it’s taken a number of measures to enhance public safety downstream of the dam, including continuous improvement of operations, installing public-facing alarms and adding more warning signs along the river.

Another measure is signing on with Alertable, a free, third-party app that notifies users if there’s an emergency in the area. When Metro sends an alert, “Alertable users will receive a message on their electronic device with clear and direct instructions on how to stay safe and what actions to take next.”

For more information on safety and the Altertable app, visit Metro Vancouver’s river safety website.

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