The Mayor of Lake Cowichan says they regret that the community is being forced to shut down this summer’s tubing season on the Cowichan River, but Rod Peters believes there’s little choice.

He said the small community faces a big problem when it comes to ensuring physical distancing directives are followed if the usual summer crowds arrive to do tubing on the Cowichan River.

Peters said they will not issue licenses to local tubing companies in order to comply with the provincial physical distancing directives aimed at curbing the spread of COVID-19.

The mayor said it’s regrettable they need to take such a measure, but added “we have to protect our citizens in Lake Cowichan,” and sometimes “you have to do things you don’t really want to do.”

Peters said the confined area that people move about in as they park, rent the tubes and then launch them into the river is not large enough to ensure physical distancing takes place properly.

He added, “how you would control how many people go on the river at any time is just impossible, so we decided to just to close it down altogether,”

The mayor said they plan to help the local river tubing companies find the government assistance programs necessary to assist them financially during the closure.

One of the companies that offer river tubing each summer is not surprised by Lake Cowichan council’s vote to shut down the river.

Owner of Outdoor Recreation and Kayaking Adventures (ORKA), Ryan Maizis said the problems of physical distancing could be very difficult to resolve.

For example, he said transporting people on buses brings them very close together.

Maizis does not expect the temporary shutdown to have a long-term impact on the business, “people love to do it, they love to relax.”

He expects the publicity surrounding the reopening next spring to provide a boost to the business.

The family-owned business also offers paddleboarding, kayaking, and canoeing.

Maizis said they will now have to wait for word back from Lake Cowichan on any restrictions that may affect that part of their business.