Slipping into the cool, clean water at Lake Cowichan Wednesday brought a sigh of relief from Chelli Wells — the local resident found the escape from the unusual May heatwave she had been looking for.
“I was just I gotta cool off and get in that water. So I just went,” said Wells, who has lived in Lake Cowichan for five years.
“It’s nice to just get out there and float. I take my tube and just go for a nice little float down the river.”
Only a few people were wading into the water on Wednesday, but the community expects a flood of visitors in the days ahead.
“It’s people who are coming to stay cool look at the conditions here looks like a nice slow tube,” said Lake Cowichan Mayor Tim McGonigle.
Yet according to officials, the water is deceiving. The Cowichan River at Lake Cowichan is currently running four times faster than is deemed safe to be tubing on, and officials are worried there could be droves of tubers coming for the long weekend.
“Don’t come tubing this long weekend, please,” said McGonigle.
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Lake Cowichan is a destination for tubing, but because of fast snow melt in the mountains and a lot of rain filling Cowichan Lake, the river is running so fast that McGonigle says it isn’t safe further down.
He says log jams and debris below the surface can’t be seen in time to get away from them, and already there have been two rescues of people unprepared for the conditions.
“The tubing company that is currently functioning in the town is not opening until the middle of June because of high river flows, and we realize that people are coming with their own tubes and not paying heed to some of the fast-flowing rivers,” said McGonigle.
“People want to stay cool, but stay here, where it’s nice and cool, go for a swim.”
As a heatwave and long weekend come together, Lake Cowichan’s mayor hopes his warning is heard in time.