Revelers from a previous Floatfest, which would have occurred this coming weekend had it not been for COVID-19. FLOATFEST FACEBOOK PAGE

City asks floaters and boaters to stay away during pandemic

The City of Welland is reminding residents and visitors that waterway safety is everyone’s responsibility. Welland’s Recreation Corridor attracts people from across Niagara during the summer season to enjoy picnicking, canoeing, kayaking, and stand-up paddle board recreation. Advanced swimmers also use the waterway in small groups to train for competition. In a statement released Thursday, July 2, the City reminds residents that although the waterway offers fun and relief from the summer heat, using the waterway is a risk and should be taken seriously.

Canadian Tire Welland Floatfest—previously scheduled for July 5, 2020—was cancelled due to the global pandemic and Provincial Emergency Orders allowing for gatherings of ten or fewer people. Organizers from Welland Floatfest and Welland city staff are discouraging residents from gathering on the waterway with flotation devices.

According to the statement, the waterway is unsupervised, “therefore, gatherings on the waterway are potentially dangerous and could lead to serious injury.”

In addition, Niagara residents are asked to continue practicing physical distancing of two or more metres, which would be difficult to maintain on the waterway. To ensure physical distancing guidelines, the City’s bylaw staff will monitor the waterway the weekend of July 4-5.

“This is a challenging summer for our residents,” said Adam Eckhart, Deputy Fire Chief. “Floatfest is one of Welland’s signature summer events, and everyone looks forward to it. Without Floatfest event coordinators in place to ensure safety, it’s a hazard for people to continue the event without any safety protocols in place. Floatfest is cancelled this year, and we’re asking residents to respect this decision.”