The caves at Ainsworth Hot Springs Resort are closed and it’s unclear when they will re-open for public use.
The caves were closed for unscheduled maintenance on April 23. The resort anticipated the initial closure to be one week but the caves remained closed as of Tuesday.
“Regular maintenance has led to an issue with lighting in the caves,” said Ainsworth Hot Spring Resort manager Karen LeMoel. “The existing fixtures cannot be repaired or replaced. At this time we are proceeding with a fibre optic solution.
“To our knowledge we are the only hot springs with a wet cave. It’s a unique environment with equally unique challenges. We are faced with satisfying health and safety regulations where regulations are not clearly defined.”
The closure comes on the heels of an incident at the end of March. Kaslo RCMP Cpl. Shaun Begg, who happened to be in the area at the time on an unrelated matter, said birds hitting a wire caused a power surge at the hot springs transformer and a few people in the caves reported getting shocked, none of whom required medical treatment. One elderly woman had an ambulance crew check her out and “she was spooked.”
Begg said Ainsworth staff removed people from the pool and conducted a safety assessment that determined everything was fine. The staff looked at the electrical situation and determined nothing was wrong; they were confident it was an isolated power incident as all indications bird tripped transformer, Begg said.
LeMoel added the caves’ closure “has definitely affected our business. Some of our employees have been laid off and others have opted to use their vacation time.”
She explained one of the main reasons people come to Ainsworth Hot Springs Resort is to walk through the caves, which are bored into the mountainside.
“At this time it’s difficult to speculate when the caves will reopen,” she said.
Still open for business, the main soaking pool remains open to visitors with a 50 per cent discount on entry fees and a 40 per cent discount on room rates.