“So I can sleep at night.”
That is why Princeton Mayor Spencer Coyne said he opposed the reopening of the Okanagan Falls KVR Trail trestle jumping platform at the Regional District of Okanagan Similkameen meeting on July 4.
Coyne was one of only three board members who opposed the reopening of the platform, along with his father, Area H director Bob Coyne, and director Sue McKortoff of Osoyoos.
The popular jumping and diving spot was closed by the RDOS in recent weeks following a risk assessment. At the Thursday meeting, the staff recommendation before the board was to remove the chain link fence gate on the trestle and the aluminum ladders below it, and install signage along both rail sides to warn against jumping, for liability and safety reasons.
However, Okanagan Falls/Area D director Ron Obirek spoke against the staff recommendation. He convinced the majority of board members to pass a motion to “re-open the trestle for public recreation,” and upgrade the gate and ladder as well as add signage indicating use is “at your own risk.”
After the meeting, Coyne told the Spotlight he thinks reopening the platform with “at your own risk” signage sends mixed messages and is enabling high-risk activity.
“I get it. It’s fun. You want to jump off the train bridge. It’s what you’ve always done. But at the same time, as legislators, we have a responsibility to make that safe,” he said.
“We had the opportunity to ask staff to take it back and look at it further, not do what they did, which was to disregard staff, vote for reopening it with a sign.”
Coyne said he was reminded of times people have been injured or died after jumping off the trestle where the tunnel goes northwest from Princeton, at Tulameen, or at Bromley Rock Provincial Park.
“I’m not going to be the one who is going to say, ‘Yeah go for it,’ when it could be any of our kids,” he said.
“I couldn’t sleep at night if I voted to let my kids get killed.”
Instead, Coyne said he thinks the RDOS should adopt a no jumping policy.
Area H director Bob Coyne agreed.
“As a politician you shouldn’t be promoting that sort of thing,” he said. “People are going to do it, but don’t put a gate there to let them do it.
“I just don’t think it’s responsible to encourage that sort of stuff.”
Even though the RDOS has liability insurance, he said, “at the end of the day the insurance doesn’t bring the kid back.”
“It might save you from being sued or paying a lawsuit, but it doesn’t bring back the person who was injured.”
He said he thinks the platform should be closed and that the RDOS should add fencing around it so that people cannot access it “without more work.”