Saskatoon Mayor Charlie Clark wants the city to shift its thinking when it comes to river safety.
Speaking to guest host Gerald Bauman on 650 CKOM’s Brent Loucks Show, Clark said there needs to be more of a focus on education.
“Right now … the river is seen as ‘don’t touch, stay away and be afraid of it,'” he said.
“By doing that, citizens don’t really learn about river safety.”
Current bylaws ban swimming in the South Saskatchewan River within city limits. People are allowed to wade in the water, but can face a ticket if their feet leave the riverbed.
Clark said while swimming in the river can be dangerous, so are other bodies of water around the world.
“If you go to Florida or Australia … there’s ocean that people swim in, but there’s hazards,” he said.
“That doesn’t stop people from swimming, but they learn about how to do it and when to do it safely.”
The mayor said he’d like to see Saskatoon develop a similar approach to the river, adding his discussed his position with the Meewasin Valley Authority and the fire department.
He added more education, both through signage and at school, could reduce how much harm comes from the South Saskatchewan.
“People are (swimming) anyways,” he said. “But we’re not providing that information.”
Ultimately, Clark said he wants to see a “paradigm shift” in the way Saskatoon approaches the river.
“We need to move to what I would like to call a ‘river aware’ city, as opposed to a ‘river afraid’ city,” he said.
“We can enjoy it more, but also prevent needless loss of life.”