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West Vancouver council voting on naming new fitness park after drowning victim

When he ran for mayor of West Vancouver last year, Mark Sager became close friends with city council candidate Keen Lau.

“One of the things that motivated him to be on council was to see fitness facilities improved,” said Sager, who was ultimately elected while Lau fell short.

As they bonded over a love of cycling and skiing, the two men continued discussing long-standing plans for an outdoor fitness park at Ambleside beach. “I know Keen loved this idea,” said Sager.

But Lau didn’t live to see it. The 45-year-old newlywed died on May 19th after jumping in Cypress Creek to try to save his dog Loki, who’d been swept away in the fast-moving current.

As the municipal government Lau wanted to become a part of moves forward with plans to replace an abandoned concrete building just steps from the beach with an outdoor fitness park, Sager had an idea.

“It just seemed perfect to call it “Keen Fitness.” It will radiate positive energy, and that seems a fitting tribute to a truly wonderful young man,” said Sager.

The project has significant corporate support and will get a boost from a GoFundMe campaign that’s raising money for a permanent memorial for Lau and Loki.

“I’m hoping as part of the plans we can have a little dog fountain. That seems appropriate,” said Sager.

On Monday, mayor and council will vote on a motion to name the new fitness park after Keen Lau. And they will hear from Loki’s dog walker Sandra Smith, who is advocating for changes to Cypress Creek.

“I don’t want this to happen again, and it can’t happen again,” she said of the tragedy that claimed the lives of both Lau and Loki.

Smith first called for barriers around the creek two years ago after a different dog was swept away and drowned.

“I asked at the time, what is it going to take for you to put up some safety measures in this area? Another dog to die or a child to die? And I never even thought of an adult dying,” Smith said.

She is urging the current mayor and council to take immediate steps to make the banks of Cypress Creek safer.

“The area is not blocked off in any way. There are some signs saying steep cliff, but there needs to be more warning signs. There needs to be chain links up in that area to prevent any dogs from going in,” said Smith, who added she’s willing to put up caution tape and signage herself if the city doesn’t act.

Mayor Sager said signage is an easy improvement to make. As for barriers, “I’m going leave that to people that know much more than I do about what’s the right thing to do. But we are certainly going to try and find something good to do.”

He’s also hoping to fast track construction on the fitness park named after his friend.

“I’m hoping this building comes down literally in the next two weeks,” said Sager, who believes Lau would be pleased. “He was completely supportive and he would love to be here today to see this becoming a reality." Top Stories

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