Caution urged after B.C. cliff-diving videos go viral
Monday, August 10, 2015, 6:35 PM - On Monday, The Weather Network featured a viral video of what appears to be a unique way to cool down in B.C. -- but officials are warning that this summer activity comes with substantial risk.
North Vancouver's Lynn Canyon Park has been getting a lot of attention lately, thanks to a series of viral videos that show people tumbling down a natural waterslide and cliff jumping over an 11-metre waterfall.
While not illegal, park officials strongly recommend against the practice.
Over the August long weekend, five people were rescued from the canyon in one day, with one woman suffering a serious back injury.
"When we see or hear about the videos that get posted [to social media] popularizing the canyon and cliff jumping, it does cause some concern," North Vancouver District Deputy Fire Chief Wayne Kennedy tells The Weather Network.
"We've also had a warm summer, and that's led to an influx of people coming to the area to try and cool off. Dry conditions have contributed to low water levels, and that adds to the danger that cliff jumpers face."
Prior to 1993, 17 people died in the Lynn Canyon River system over a 12-year period, prompting officials to establish a park ranger system.
A group of rangers now patrol the park seven days a week, for twelve hours a day, but that hasn't stopped the jumpers.
District Fire Services performed 15 rescues in Lynn Canyon in 2014 and 14 rescues in 2013.
Seven rescues have been performed so far this year.
"Their main goal is to provide education to the people who are visiting our parks," Kennedy says of the rangers.
"If people plan to cliff jump, the rangers warn them of the risks. That allows them to make a more informed decision."
Lynn Canyon Park typically sees about 500,000 visitors a year and officials say there are plenty of safe places to swim in the area.
Still, some people can't resist the allure of cliff jumping.
"Although much of the cliff access is fenced off, with warning signs posted, as well as signs posted on the fencing, people sometimes climb the fence and go out of bounds in order to jump off the cliffs," says Jeanine Bratina, Communications and Community Relations Officer with the District of North Vancouver in an email.
"We want people to visit our parks and enjoy the outdoors. They do need to exercise caution and use good judgement when they are swimming. Water levels and conditions can change very quickly, creating a dangerous situation."