City of Penticton urges floaters to use caution on channel due to fast flows

A popular summer cool-down spot is busier than ever right now.

Visitors and local residents were both busy cooling off at the Penticton River Channel despite a warning issued by the City of Penticton to use extreme caution.

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“Not concerning, I’m a strong swimmer,” said Erin Harvilla, a visitor from Coquitlam.

The warning states that if people do decide to float in the channel, they should consider wearing a life jacket, to not tie their floats together and to avoid alcohol consumption.

Coyote Cruises — a company that rents inflatable tubes and runs a shuttle service for floaters — has decided to shut down operations for now due to the water conditions in the channel.

“It was a safety decision. We could not ensure the safety of our guests nor our staff getting out of the channel safely,” said Diana Stirling, Coyote Cruises’ owner.

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The Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations says the current conditions of the channel are due to measures being taken to reduce Okanagan Lake levels.

“The channel is flowing really fast right now, (the Ministry is) trying to drain the lake by 50 cm,” said Stirling.

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Currently, the channel is flowing at 75 cubic metres per second, which is much faster than average for this time of the year.

“At this time last year the float was about two hours to the end and right now it’s about an hour,” Stirling told Global News on Saturday.

Coyote Cruises say they are working with the City of Penticton to find a solution that would make the channel safer during fast water flows, but ideas are still in the early stages.

2:16 “This hotel is fully occupied this weekend,” Tourism on upswing in the Okanagan despite pandemic

“This hotel is fully occupied this weekend,” Tourism on upswing in the Okanagan despite pandemic

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