An education campaign aimed at improving boating safety in the North Okanagan-Shuswap is paying dividends.
Vernon-North Okanagan RCMP reservists working the police boat report a very good year on the water in the region.
“They achieved their goal of not having any boating-related deaths or injury in our area this summer,” said RCMP spokesperson Gord Molendyk.
The two officers found overall that boaters are getting much better with complying with the boating regulations, and credit that to a lot of education this year instead of charging the boaters.
“Many boaters thanked them for being on the water and making things safer out there,” said Molendyk.
More than 1,000 boats (including kayaks, canoes and paddleboards) were checked on Wood, Kalamalka, Okanagan, Mabel, Mara and Shuswap Lakes, though officers were somewhat limited in the Shuswap region in the early spring because of high water levels.
A total of 630 warnings were issued for non- compliance of regulations, and 12 boats were taken off lakes due to equipment issues (too many articles missing from the boat).
More than 20 charges were laid over the summer. Twelve boaters were written up for having no licence; five were ticketed for not having a spotter while towing an individual; four people were charged after an underage person was caught operating a personal water craft, or Sea-Doo; and one boat was charged for not having enough life jackets.
“All charges were laid under the Canada Shipping Act,” said Molendyk. “Again, the focus was on education instead of charging everyone. It is apparent the boat education/enforcement program is working.”
Six boat operators were given roadside screening devices – it is an offence to operate a boat impaired by alcohol or drugs – and all six passed the tests.