Dawson Creek council holds off closing Rotary Lake

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DAWSON CREEK, B.C. — Councillors in Dawson Creek have tabled but not yet voted on a resolution to close one of that community’s landmarks.

At Monday’s council meeting a report from the City’s General Manager of Community Services Barry Reynard was brought before council recommending that the City close and decommission Rotary Lake. Northern Health ordered the lake be closed in August of 2016 following the death of a 12 year-old girl, who drowned when her foot became stuck on a drain on the man-made lake’s bottom.

Last July Northern Health wrote to the Ministry of Health, asking that Rotary Lake’s designation be changed to that of a pool, meaning it would have to follow much more stringent requirements. Last month, Northern Health said that Rotary Lake could support a partial exemption to meet the cited public health hazards, although final approval to re-open would still require the final approval of the Ministry.

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According to Reynard’s report, Northern Health also sent an engineering assessment of the lake to the City in December, which City staff used to come up with an estimated cost to make the lake meet or exceed the health hazard mitigation requirements. Reynard said that capital infrastructure upgrades would cost between $400,000-$500,000, with the purchase of lifeguard chairs and completion of a safety plan manual estimated to be an additional $10,000.

Annual costs to staff the lake range between $100,000-$125,000, with additional supplies and maintenance estimated to total $25,000 annually to meet the current partial exemptions. Additionally, Reynard said that Northern Health believes the City should be able to comply with all aspects of the Pool Regulation, which would result in a further $83,000 per year cost to the City.

In a post on his Facebook page, Mayor Dale Bumstead said that council decided to table the motion for consideration at a future date. He explained that the reason the resolution was made is that the City cannot afford up to half a million dollars in upgrades and up to $200,000 in annual costs to operate another pool.

Bumstead added that he will be meeting with officials from the Ministry of Health to further examine aspects of the situation, and will bring the result of those meetings back to council in the coming weeks.

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