The Okanagan Lake Bridge was also referred to as the Kelowna floating bridge. (Flickr/photo by blizzy63)

Canadian summer rite of passage: The Okanagan Lake Bridge

“The whole experience took less than a couple of minutes.”

It’s one of the few floating bridges in the world, and it sits centrally on top of beautiful Okanagan lake. An iconic structure that worked as a vital social link between West Kelowna, downtown Kelowna and beyond.

You may know it as the William R. Bennett Bridge, but what stood in its place before? Before it’s replacement in 2008, the Okanagan Lake Bridge, built in 1958, was also referred to as the Kelowna Floating Bridge.

With hundreds of thousands of cars making the trip across the bridge, some individuals chose to take advantage of the floating bridge’s height for a thrilling summertime activity.

“I’ve jumped off the bridge many times throughout the years. The first jump was in 1994, the last jump was probably in 2000,” said long-time Kelowna local who goes by Neil Cameron.

READ MORE: Kelowna’s Bennett Bridge turns 10-years-old

Cameron said it was usually after a long summer day hanging out in the City Park area.

“The jump was the last activity to complete before we went home,” he said.

“At the time it was the highest thing I’ve ever jumped off of and I remember it feeling like you were in the air forever, but it was probably only a second or two long drop.”

Cameron described the experience as “a bit of a rite of passage.” He said whenever he had a friend visiting or met someone new to the area, he’d always make a trip down to the bridge and would always jump from the east side.

“We jumped from the railing, but others who were braver climbed higher.”

“Someone took some spray paint and painted the side of the railing where the drop off started, we would always jump a few meters past that just to be sure,” he said.

READ MORE: Iconic rock photographer Bob Gruen to exhibit work in Kelowna

There’s no doubt that the jump came with some danger. The term “jump at you’re own risk,” was well thought of for those taking the chance.

“If you don’t hit the drop off it could be extremely dangerous and possibly life-altering,” said Cameron.

Bridge jumping at the popular location came with a risk of breaking the law. Cameron said it was never recommended due to the likelihood of suffering from an injury, but people still did it.

Anyone remember this? from r/kelowna

“I was a bit sad to see the old bridge go, I know we needed an upgrade but it was just so iconic.”

Were you brave enough to make the jump?


Natalia Cuevas Huaico
Social Media Co-ordinator/ Reporter, Black Press Media
Email me at Natalia.CuevasHuaico@blackpress.ca

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