Northern Health gives a Rotary Lake safety rundown

Northern Health officials had concerns about Rotary Lake long before the tragic August 2016 drowning of 12 year-old Beverly Park. 

Officials were in Mile Zero Monday to discuss Rotary Lake, where it has been, and where it could potentially be going.

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Dr. Jong Kim, public health medical health officer for the northeast, and Ali Moore, Environmental health officer with Northern Health, were on hand at city hall Monday to give a rundown of the facility.

Documents dating as far back as 1981 note poor compliance and concerns at - and with the lake, and in 1988 a notice to improve was issued at the facility.

In 1994, a five-year-old drowned at the lake, and - perhaps most chilling - in 1996 environmental health officials noted the single pipe intake as a concern.

After the August 2016 incident saw Beverly Park die after getting her legs trapped in the suction at the lake, in 2017 the medical health office repealed all exemptions granted to the popular tourism spot. 

It was also noted Monday in 2017 a violation ticket was issued for unapproved work being done at the facility.

Mayor Dale Bumstead noted there are aspects related to the project’s improvement beyond the city’s scope, and/or are too expensive to fix.

“We need an understanding before any input or investment,” he said.

Councillor Charlie Parslow noted Northern Health seemed to be focused on Rotary Lake over other bodies of water in the Peace.

Dr. Kim noted it was because of the popularity of Rotary Lake, and the suction at the bottom of it.

Kim was clear why the lake was shut down, that the public health and safety concerns were not due to water turbidity - but due to the deaths of children.

“The public health act is a blunt hammer used to close facilities for safety issues.”

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