Lifeguards Mat Percy and Chantal New patrol Youbou’s Arbutus Park

Safe swimming at Youbou’s Arbutus Park

Already the safest beach at Cowichan Lake, expect Youbou’s Arbutus to become even safer.

Already the safest beach at Cowichan Lake, expect Youbou’s Arbutus to become even safer.

In response to a drowning death last year in Nanaimo and a subsequent safety audit, Cowichan Lake Recreation is stepping up safety at Arbutus Park.

“There’s a lot,” Cowichan Lake Recreation programmer John Cummings said, of upgrades to the park.

New signage has gone up, pointing out potential dangers, such as venturing outside of the lifeguard patrolled area.

Upgrades coming up this summer include buoys along a 45 degree drop off located within the swimming area, among other things.

Arbutus Park remains one of only three beaches on Vancouver Island to have lifeguards on duty, and the only one at Cowichan Lake.

Looking over the beach, Lake Cowichan resident and weekend Arbutus Park lifeguard Chantal New said that the job isn’t as easy as it appears.

“You have to be alert at all times. You can’t lose your focus,” she said.

“I’m making sure everyone is safe,” fellow lifeguard Mat Percy, a resident of Maple Bay, said.

The main rules they keep an eye on include: not running on the dock, no horseplay, one person on the diving board at a time, and all dogs must be on a leash.

“Kids are just excited when they get here,” he said, adding that they sometimes forget about safety.

With warm weather finally breaking through, Percy said that he expects things to become busier at the beach. Last weekend was the busiest thus far in the year.