Osoyoos Council plunged into a discussion Monday on what to do about local youth jumping off the Main Street bridge.
The odd December talk came about after Coun. Jim King submitted a report from the Town’s Community Services Advisory Committee, where the activity came up in a Oct. 24 meeting.
Council pondered the creation of a local bylaw prohibiting the activity.
“I remember one young man jumping off the bridge right on to a boat that was going underneath and he was cut very badly because he jumped onto the windshield,” said Mayor Sue McKortoff, broaching the issue with Council.
“I think it’s almost a rite of passage for kids, unfortunately.”
The bridge, which spans a strait that connects the upper and lower bodies of Osoyoos Lake, is a prime gathering place for local and visiting youth, who take turns climbing over the railing and dropping into the water below.
“I agree it’s a rite of passage for sure but it’s also a numbers game,” added Coun. Mike Campol. “It’s just a matter of time until a boat’s coming under again and (another accident) happens.”
Council turned to Town CAO Barry Romanko and asked about the Town’s authority to curb the practice.
“I don’t know what our authorities would be to create a bylaw,” he responded. “We could research the potential for that. The issue that you get is enforcement.”
The bridge, Mr. Romanko explained, is a provincial structure.
“I think as it sits right now, (liability is) with the Ministry of Transport,” he said. “We’ve gone to the Ministry of Transport over the years and told them it’s your bridge, put up the appropriate signage.”
The province, he added, has legislation that prohibits jumping from any bridge in BC.
Coun. CJ Rhodes cautioned the Town getting involved in policing the bridge might have an unintended effect.
“It might encourage more young people to jump off of it,” he said. “It definitely is a rite of passage in our community.”
He indicated to Council the matter had come up in discussion previously with the conclusion “there’s no authority on our part to put a bylaw in place.”
Council determined to have Administration review its options, check the legality of jumping from the bridge and contact the provincial Ministry of transportation to see what it could do to better curb the practice.
That report is expected to be returned in time for Council’s next Committee of the Whole meeting Dec. 18.