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Public alarms to be installed along Capilano River after Cleveland Dam drownings

Last Updated Apr 22, 2021 at 1:05 pm PDT

FILE - Cleveland Dam. (Riley Phillips, NEWS 1130 Photo)

Six alarms to be installed along Capilano River downstream of Cleveland Dam

Father, son killed in October 2020 after Cleveland Dam opened without warning, sending surge of water down river

Metro Vancouver says long-term enhancements to public alarm system to be presented in 2022

NORTH VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – Metro Vancouver says a public alarm system will be installed at the Cleveland Dam in an effort to prevent a tragedy like the one along the Capilano River six months ago that left a father and son dead.

The dam opened without warning on Oct. 1, sending a surge of water rushing down the river where the two were fishing.

“Installing these alarms is just the beginning. Over the coming months, we will be listening to and incorporating feedback to help inform us on the development of long-term enhancements to our public warning system,” said Metro Vancouver Commissioner Jerry Dobrovolny.

The alarms were put in after a review was conducted. That review came after Metro Vancouver said a week after the deaths that the “clearest contributing factor” that led to the drownings was “human error related to programming of the control system for the spillway gate.”

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The six alarms will be installed downstream of the Cleveland Dam. Work is set to begin on April 26.

Metro Vancouver says the alarms will include audible and visible signals to let people know when the dam is set to open.

After they are installed, the alarms are expected to be tested to make sure they work. The regional district is warning people who live nearby that they may hear these tests for about two weeks and then once a month for a period of time after installation is complete.

The installation is set to take place in two phases.

The first will include the implementation of a text notification system, as well as additional signage throughout the park being put up. The public is also going to be consulted from May 13 to July 30 to give Metro Vancouver a better sense of how interim measures are working, what could be done better in the long-term, and where opportunities may lie.

The second phase — expected to start in early 2022 — will share recommended designs for long-term warning system enhancements, which will once again be presented to the public before they are implemented.

“We are also conducting environmental and social impact assessments to ensure that we appropriately consider how the alarm system could affect nearby residents, as well as birds and other wildlife,” Dobrovolny said.