Lake Country’s Jonathan Hintz competes at Aquaworld Cancun during the 2017 world flowboarding championships -Image: Contributed

Petition started to keep Kelowna flow boarding machine

City council decided to look at alternative options to the H2O Centre’s FlowRider

A Lake Country teen has created a petition to try and save the FlowRider.

Jonathan Hintz, 17, is a flow-boarding champion who hones his skills on the H20 Adventure and Fitness Centre’s flow-boarding machine.

The Grade 11 student at George Elliot Secondary School earned a bronze medal at the 2017 world flowboarding championships in Cancun, Mexico in November.

Last week, Kelowna city council decided to look into alternative options to use the space that houses B.C.’s only FlowRider, a machine that creates artificial waves which allow users to ride a board.

Hintz created a petition asking city council to keep the machine, which has allowed him to practice three or four times a week, he said.

“I’m posting my own thoughts and opinions to say to the city, ‘it may not service multiple people at one time while they’re riding, but the people that show up repeatedly that fall in love with it, they’re constantly coming back to ride and they love it,” he said.

But the machine has also been costly. A mechanical repair will cost $200,000, so city staff suggested looking at alternate options before deciding to repair it.

“We’re at the point with the FlowRider that the mechanical system needs to be redone,” said director Jim Gabriel, with the city’s active living and culture department.

Before replacing the expensive parts, Gabriel is asking “are there other uses that could be serving the broader facility as well?”

Gabriel said the FlowRider has also been out of service for a number of months in 2016 and 2017 because parts have to come from overseas.

“We wanted a bit more time just to explore (different options,)” he said. A training pool was suggested to assist with swimming lessons and Aquafit.

Ridership on the FlowRider is also one at a time, so “how long are you going to wait in line before you get your turn?”

Council voted to use up to $50,000 to research the costs of alternative options.

Hintz says with the petition, he wants the city to understand that people use and love the FlowRider. There are both locals and people outside of the city that use it, some who travel up to four hours to surf, he said.

“We care about this, it’s not just me… we have multiple people that really care about it. It draws a lot more people in than the city would imagine.”

To report a typo, email: edit@kelownacapnews.com.


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