File Photo The Dragonize dragon boat team paddles out to the start line at the Shuswap Dragon Boat Festival in June 2016.

Recent smokey conditions shut down annual festival at Canoe Beach

The dragon boat festival has been beached.

“It was a difficult decision but one that had to be made sooner rather than later,” says organizer Ted Crouch. “Consultation with Peter McLean, president of the Shuswap Rowing and Paddling Club, Kim Sinclair executive director of Aspiral Youth Partners, Bill Grainger, race co-ordinator and Interior Health officials it was decided to cancel this weekend’s dragon boat races at Canoe Beach.”

A note to all would-be paddlers explained that the province is experiencing a unique and challenging time, with many people worried about friends, family and relatives living in places where fires are burning.

“In Salmon Arm, although we have no fires, we are impacted by the smoke,” reads the July 11 notice. “The air quality index in Salmon Arm is at 8 for today and tomorrow ,which is high risk with no physical activity outdoors for older individuals and those with health conditions.”

The fact that the general population is also advised to stay indoors prompted discussions with the race organizers and Interior Health to assess potential health impacts of the weekend dragon boat festival to paddlers, volunteers and the general public.

“With no change in sight, we are committed to ensuring that in the best interest of everyone’s health, we have made the difficult decision to cancel the event,” states the notice. “We are hoping to re-schedule the festival for a later date in the summer and will keep you posted.”