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Opinion: You should never swim in Trout Lake, a literal peat bog full of dog turds

Don't do it
File photo Dan Toulgoet

The Vancouver Park Board has just issued a notice letting people know they've temporarily closed swimming at Trout Lake because of high E.coli levels currently present in the water, reminding some residents that people actually swim in this literal peat bog.

Located in John Hendry Park, much of the land around the "lake" was donated by the Hamber family in 1926, and another parcel was purchased by the Park Board from the Salvation Army for $2,500, with plans to develop it into a park with recreational facilities.

News reports dating back to the early 1900s talk of people skating on the lake, which is a perfectly acceptable use of this body of water when it freezes over in the winter. It was even referenced as "an ideal swimming spot" ub a news article in the Province in 1927.

However, even though the Park Board calls an area next to the lake "Trout Lake beach" and employs a lifeguard there, and the Vancouver Heritage Foundation calls it "East Vancouver's only beach", you should never, ever swim here.

Yes, there is presently an attractive piece of land that the Park Board has made to look appealing by trucking in loads of sand. And yes, it is an absolutely wonderful place to spend an afternoon, however, if you glance to the north you'll notice a massive off-leash dog park.

Break out the binoculars or simply stroll over to the other side of the bog and you'll find every dog in East Vancouver taking literal poops on the beach. The dogs frolic in and out of the water, and when it rains the poop that wasn't deposited directly from their butts and into the water leeches into the small, shallow body of murky, duck-and-bug-filled water.

Don't swim here.

And don't just take my word for it, take a signal from the Freshwater Fisheries Society of B.C. who do not stock the lake with edible trout for people to catch, even though they stock many other urban bodies of water such as Sanctuary Pond near the PNE, Deer Lake in Burnaby, and Green Timbers urban lake in Surrey. 

It's tempting as it does look like it should be a nice place to swim, but I assure you it is not.

You'd be much less open to acquiring swimmer's itch and disease if you were to swim in the public Renfrew Pool, a 7-minute bike ride away. It generally has much less poop in the water, and while they don't advertise it anywhere I can promise you that it has 100% fewer leeches than Trout Lake does.

Sure, you have to register to swim and it costs a few bucks (or free if you're on assistance), but your chances of survival will be much higher if you take this simple advice.