Boat patrols cracking down on offenders

A new set of eyes is making waves on some North Okanagan lakes

A new set of eyes is making waves on some North Okanagan lakes.

The B.C. Conservation Officer Service recently launched enhanced enforcement patrols on Sugar Mabel, Mara and Kalamalka lakes, as well as the Shuswap River, under contract with the Regional District of North Okanagan.

“We have heard it’s making a difference,” said Sgt. Josh Lockwood, with the conservation officer service.

In fact, some people are trying to avoid the additional enforcement including at Cosens Bay on Kal Lake.

“When we come into the bay, people who are fooling around leave and that’s the purpose of the patrols,” said Lockwood.

Since early July, officers have checked 160 boats containing 536 people.

There were 96 charges and 168 warnings issued.

“There’s lots of no lifejackets,” said Lockwood.

“There are mature people pulling their grandchildren on tubes with no spotters on the boat. We have zero tolerance for not having a boat license or not having a lifejacket.”

Fourteen vessels were ordered off the water because of safety concerns, including one vessel on Mabel Lake that originally drew conservation officers’ attention because it had no lights on at night.

“The people on the boat were impaired and they were using the cushions off the couch for lifejackets,” said Lockwood.

“We ordered them off the lake. It’s a case like this where you are making a difference because you’re saving lives.”

RDNO’s Electoral Area Advisory Committee decided this summer to switch funding from RCMP boat patrols to those conducted by the conservation officer service in the rural areas.

“This is exactly what we wanted,” said director Jackie Pearase of the actions being taken by the conservation officers.

“I’m hearing good things from residents. They are being responsive to what people are saying to them.”