Campbell River Search & Rescue would like to remind the public of the hazards that exist upstream and adjacent to Elk Falls. With the coming summer season and the increased public interest of the new suspension bridge, public safety needs to be paramount.
There have been increasing concerns registered lately by the public, including reference in a YouTube video, of potentially putting lives at risk. An example was a young adult and young child seen to be on the edge of a cliff beside the falls. The person who took the photo was very concerned with the risk exposure observed that day and suggested that the public be reminded of the potential dangers in this area.
Getting close to the water flow above the falls places people in high danger. Sitting that close to the edge of a 25-metre cliff is not safe and sends the wrong message to others. It also causes concern for other visitors to the area.
While it is one of the most spectacular areas in Campbell River, the slippery and uneven rock surfaces have led to fatal accidents. There have been two fatalities in the past 5 years from slipping and tripping into the fast-flowing waters and going over the falls.
It is not possible to survive that fall as the waterfall crashes onto a house-sized rock before eventually hitting the pool.
All it takes is one slip and one’s life can be over in seconds. Anyone being recovered from the canyon puts the CRSAR rescuers at a huge risk to access the site. We have been in this situation in the past and there is a high level of risk even with all the safety equipment and training that our members have. To rappel down the rock face, then swim in very turbulent water, past rocks and water hazards, to access these people and then get them out is a very significant challenge.
CRSAR strongly encourages people to enjoy the features of the park from safe distances and to obey the extensive cautionary safety signage BC Parks has in place. Please keep an eye on children and pets (yes, there was a case where a dog slipped and went over the falls) and do not approach moving water or cliff edges as there is no zero margin for error.
“BC Hydro adjusts flows down the canyon year-round for fish migration and spawning flows to enable fish to access key habitats below the falls,” says BC Hydro spokesperson, Stephen Watson. “And like last winter, there’s also a flood-risk-management operation. These rocks can be wet, and the water fastflowing.
Please be cautious. One of the reasons why BC Hydro was so supportive of the Rotary Club’s suspension bridge was to get people away from trying to get a close look at the falls from the rocks – you can now get an incredible view from the safety of the bridge.