Signs approved to alert public of dangers at Kagawong River’s edge

KAGAWONG – Billings Township council has agreed that a series of warning signs will be installed at the mouth of the Kagawong River to warn everyone of the possible dangers present with the strong current in the water.  

“We have as part of our (agenda) package here tonight a (proposed) ‘Warning, Strong Current’ (with other cautionary messages as well) sign,” said Billings Mayor Ian Anderson during a council meeting last week. 

Earlier this year council agreed to the concept of installing warning signage at the mouth of the Kagawong River. Council had discussed installing one large sign, however, township staff respectfully asked council to consider multiple smaller signs placed in targeted locations where anglers typically access the water. The smaller signs would be less visually distracting for users of the roadway and it is difficult to site one sign where it will be visible from all anglers’ water access.
“I just want to say that I agree with the office staff,” said Councillor Sharon Alkenbrack. “I like the idea of several smaller signs instead of one larger sign in one spot.” 

Councillor Michael Hunt also agreed with the office staff. “This would be more effective,” he said.

“I don’t have anything to add to what has been said,” said Councillor Sharon Jackson. “I agree three strategically placed signs would be the best option.” 

The messages that were suggested for councillors’ consideration on the signs included, “strong current-risk of drowning,” “life jackets save lives” and “cold water kills.”

“I am in strong support of the messages,” said Mayor Anderson, noting the importance of wearing life jackets around the water’s edge and being informed that cold water kills and making people aware of the strong currents in the river that can be extremely dangerous. 

“We need to reinforce the message that people need to wear life jackets,” said Mayor Anderson. “If life jackets had been worn it would have reduced the number of tragedies we have had on the river.” 

As has been reported previously, four people have drowned at the mouth of the river in the spring over the years, including two young men earlier this year. Mayor Anderson and local coroner Dr. Shelagh McRae had a preliminary discussion on the design and wording to be use on the warning signage. This is in reference to the tragedy that took place May 9 in which two lives were lost on the Kagawong River (due to drowning). 

“I have had discussion with coroner Dr. McRae on this,” Mayor Anderson told council at a previous meeting. “We thought back to other incidents and we both came up with four deaths having taken place there over the years. We agree that the municipality should at least make the public aware of the dangers, particularly at the time of the year (spring) when the water is so cold.”

At its meeting last week, Billings council passed a motion to accept a quote from Beacon Images for the signs to be created and placed in targeted locations along the river’s edge where anglers access the water.