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Why warning signs are going up on the Coquitlam River near McAllister bridge

A partially submerged tree could pose a danger to people floating down the Coquitlam River. It's since been alerted to the federal Department of Fisheries.

Tubers planning to float down the Coquitlam River this spring and summer are being urged to watch out for dangerous trees lurking under water.

The City of Port Coquitlam is putting up warning signs near the McAllister footbridge in an area where a large submerged tree could cause a snagging or trapping hazard.

In one recent incident, a teenager who was floating down the river became entrapped in the tree located 50 metres downstream of the McAllister footbridge.

Port Coquitlam resident Richard Joy has raised concerns about the partially submerged tree as being a potential danger, after bystanders had to pull the teen to safety.

"They needed assistance from others to escape. It's just under the water, so is hard to see from upstream," Joy told the Tri-City News

However, it turns out the tree near the McAllister footbridge is not the city’s responsibility.

It's up to the federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) to monitor the river channel, the city explained.

In fact, tree "stems" are usually left in the river for fish habitat unless it’s designated for tubing, the Tri-City News was told in an email.

"The city does not regulate the area within the channel as this is the responsibility of the Department of Fisheries and the Ministry of Forests," said Joshua Frederick, director of engineering and public works.

However, Frederick said the issue has been raised with DFO.

"Given that this section of the river is used quite widely by tubers, safety concerns have been raised and have referred this to DFO for their attention."

Meanwhile, further upstream from the McAllister footbridge, near a popular area called Ginger Beach, an even larger tree spans the entire river.

Joy, an avid whitewater kayaker and former swift water rescue instructor, told the Tri-City News that people should get out of their tubes and walk past the tree to avoid getting sucked under by the fast-flowing river.

Meanwhile, the City of Port Coquitlam is urging people to stay clear of fast-flowing rivers, creeks and streams due to the ongoing spring freshet, where rain and snow could cause the rivers to rise.

BC River Forecast Centre Ministry of Forests has a current High Streamflow advisory in effect, the city said in a statement.

Consequently, river levels are rising or expected to rise rapidly.

The public is urged to avoid recreational activities such as fishing, swimming, boating or hiking near high streamflow rivers or streams.

High river safety concerns

Remember, high streamflow can easily trap strong swimmers, increasing risk of drowning.

During a High Streamflow Advisory, conditions can change quickly.

For more information on how to understand the risks and to get prepared, you can visit the flooding page of the B.C. government's website.