Due to floating ice on river banks and increasing COVID cases, the annual polar bear swim at the Bedford Channel in Langley has been cancelled this year.
“I don’t encourage people mingling because… you breathe very heavily when you come out of water. That just puts everyone’s safety at risk, keeping in mind rising COVID cases,” said Darian Kovacs, who started the tradition seven years ago with his friends.
“The weather is not suitable for a dip, too,” he added. Notably, Environment Canada reported that temperatures in B.C. have reached record-breaking lows in recent days and even issued an Arctic outflow warning.
Last year, RCMP contacted Kovacs requesting him to “discourage” people from crowding the river bank. Though Kovacs took the dip, he didn’t host the January 2021 swim. Even though last year’s plunge was unofficial and took place against provincial COVID recommendations, a handful of people did participate.
This year, Kovacs plans to stay at home and spend time in his backyard.
Kovacs said there is still an alternative available for those who want to make Jan. 1 a memorable day.
“This year’s polar bear swim could be polar bear roll,” he said.
“Maybe this year, you can roll in the snow and come back inside… take a roll, post a video on social media,” Kovacs said jokingly.
Organizers of the long-running Arctic Bear Swim at English Bay in downtown Vancouver have switched to an online dip for 2022, encouraging participants to register for the city’s Digital Dip.
“This winter season people should think about those living without a shelter and donate to organization, which are trying to keep people warm,” he added.
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