Safely enjoy Whistler’s River of Golden Dreams and area lakes this summer

The summer is in full swing and both residents and visitors are staying cool by enjoying the community’s lakes and the popular River of Golden Dreams. With this in mind, the Resort Municipality of Whistler (RMOW) would like to remind both residents and visitors about some important water safety tips.

“Whistler’s inventory of stunning rivers, parks and beaches contributes to the community’s appeal to both residents and visitors from around the world,” said Whistler Mayor Nancy Wilhelm-Morden “The RMOW would like to remind everyone in the community to stay safe while on the water this summer.”

Water Safety Tips

The water quality of Whistler's major beaches is monitored closely. Weekly samples are sent to the Vancouver Coastal Health Authority for analysis and posting. Results to date have been excellent and show there is no evidence of contamination. For Whistler specific information, visit whistler.ca/beachwaterquality.

  • Obey all rules and posted signs. Be aware that Whistler’s beaches are not monitored by lifeguards.
  • The Canadian Red Cross has several water safety tips to keep your family safe this summer. The most basic: learn to swim! Take some lessons and always swim with a buddy. Visit redcross.ca for more information.
  • To reduce the potential of swimmer’s itch, take these precautions:
    • Wear waterproof sunscreen, which acts as a protective film on your skin, and apply often.
    • Avoid areas with lots of weed growth. There tends to be more larvae near shore, so swimming off a dock may help.
    • Towel off vigorously or shower immediately after leaving the water, although this will not remove larvae that have already entered the skin.
    • For your convenience, the municipality has installed outdoor showers at Lost Lake, Wayside, Lakeside and Rainbow beaches.

River of Golden Dreams

The River of Golden Dreams is a very popular family-friendly canoeing and kayaking route that links Alta Lake and Green Lake. The meandering five-kilometre route is one of Whistler’s highlights and the RMOW encourages users to stay safe and keep the river clean.

  • The icy-cold river is not suitable for water toys, which are subject to deflating, capsizing and littering the riverbed.
  • Be aware and paddle with care: water levels can change rapidly based on rain and snow melt events in the watershed.
  • Wear a life jacket or personal flotation device (PFD) – Transport Canada states that you must wear a life jacket while on the water in a boat, inner tube, paddle board, raft or other flotation device. The maximum fine for violation is $500.
  • Water and alcohol do not mix. The river is a public place and the consumption of alcoholic beverages is prohibited as per provincial legislation. Alcohol increases the risk of hypothermia (loss of body temperature), increases fatigue, impairs decision-making and slows reaction time.
  • Obey all signs on the waterway, including portages. Be prepared for self-rescue and never travel alone.
  • In accordance with Transport Canada regulations, users on the River of Golden Dreams must have personal safety items such as PFD, buoyant heaving line and a whistle or sound signalling device. See the Transport Canada Safe Boating Guide for more details.

There have been numerous complaints from tour operators regarding drinking and littering along the River of Golden Dreams. The RCMP will be monitoring all of Whistler’s rivers and lakes for violations throughout the summer.

“This is an issue of both public safety and the enjoyment of a river frequented by families and guests,” said RCMP Sergeant Rob Knapton. “The River of Golden Dreams is a family place for people to go for eco-tourism. Be mindful that other people are there, because the last thing people want to do is come to Whistler and see bottles and cans floating down the river.”

For more safety tips and regulations, please visit whistler.ca/boatingsafety as well as read the Transport Canada Safe Boating Guide. Several Whistler outfitters also offer family-friendly guided tours of the River of Golden Dreams throughout the summer.

Boating Safety Tips

There are several lakes within Whistler’s municipal boundaries. The RMOW would like to remind everyone to stay safe while on the water this summer as detailed in the Transport Canada Safe Boating Guide. A complete list of required safety equipment for Personal Water Craft can be found here. For more Whistler specific information, please visit whistler.ca/boatingsafety.

  • Be aware that Transport Canada states that you must wear a life jacket while on area lakes in a boat, inner tube, paddle board, raft or other flotation device. The maximum fine for violation is $500.
  • Whistler’s parks, beaches and lakes are considered public areas and as such the consumption of alcohol is not permitted as per provincial legislation.
  • If you are on the lake, bring extra gear as required by Transport Canada: a life jacket, bailer, whistle and flashlight if on the lake after sunset.
  • Be aware that motor-boating is permitted on Green Lake in Whistler. Green Lake has a large population of watercraft, which have the right-of-way at all times. Floatplanes have also been given the right-of-way to land on Green Lake.
  • Motor-boats

The RMOW manages 31 community and neighbourhood parks within Whistler’s municipal boundaries. The RMOW recognizes that green spaces serve many purposes: They provide the community with clean air and water, and promote a healthy lifestyle by encouraging walking, swimming, cycling and other leisure activities.