Recently, I stopped a group of 10-year-old boys from jumping off the pedestrian bridge crossing the canal north of Canoe Avenue. Three of the boys had stripped down to their skivvies and were climbing on the underside of the bridge when I was walking by.
They were boastful that this was perfectly safe, given some others had done the same in Midtown. Later, I assumed this could have been at the water control structure on Eight Street, if indeed this was true. The boys did not live in the Canals area and were out exploring on their bikes for something exciting to do.
Although the City has put up signs to warn of “Stormwater Facility – Caution – Subject to Rapid Water Level Changes – Water Contact Prohibited – Stay Clear,” these signs were completely ignored by the boys who foolishly thought jumping off the bridge into an unknown depth of water, coloured a turbid brown from recent rains, was safe.
As it happens, the water under the bridge is shallow and also rocky. The latter is the result of local boys demonstrating their prowess by heaving large rocks off the bridge to break the ice during the winter season.
Parents and teachers need to explain the risks to their children, whether they live close to the canals or not, of the dangers involved. Also, the City should put up signs that adolescent boys can better understand. “No Jumping/Swimming Off Bridge – Shallow Polluted Water Unsafe.”