Officials check the scene of an accident involving a 8.5-metre cabin cruiser in July

Officials check the scene of an accident involving a 8.5-metre cabin cruiser in July

One year later, pier lighting still an issue for boater

Man whose boat landed on Penticton dock claims city still hasn't addressed safety problem

It was a little less than a year ago when Rene Bourque found himself and his boat high and dry on top of the Kiwanis Walking Pier.

In an attempt to ensure other boaters don’t find themselves in the same position or worse, Bourque wants to warn everyone the signal light on the pier, which juts out into Okanagan Lake, hasn’t been changed.

“It’s off for six seconds, it’s only on for one,” said Bourque, who explained that the slow pace of the flashing light can easily be missed if a boat driver glances away at the wrong moment.

If that light was lit up all the time, said Bourque, he would likely never have hit the pier. It was 10:30 p.m. on July 12, 2013, when Bourque collided with the pier, his 8.5-metre Bayliner crashing through the railings and ending up perched on top of the walkway.

Neither Bourque, his passenger nor the people on the pier were seriously injured. He admits they were lucky, but that wasn’t the case in a similar accident in the 90s.

“I don’t want anybody to die this year,” said Bourque. In 1997, Stan Kurtz was killed instantly when his boat went underneath the dock.

“If somebody dies, I feel guilty, because I can’t do anything. I have been trying to do something,” said Bourque, who says he has notified the RCMP, Ministry of Transportation and the City of Penticton about the problem with the light.

Bourque is planning to file a lawsuit against the city this fall for the damages to his boat, and is fighting a ticket he received from the RCMP for operating his boat with undue care and attention.

“I am going to court on that too,” said Bourque, who is also refusing to pay the $7,500 bill from the city for repairs to the pier. “I am not putting out a penny until they can prove to me that pier is certified.”

Navigation charts from Fisheries and Oceans Canada, supplied by Bourque, show the light on the pier as a fixed red light, not a flashing white or amber light. Bourque has done his own survey of the other marked navigation lights on Okanagan Lake, and said they all match the description given on the chart, except for the one on the walking pier.

“That is true, but that has been taken through Transport Canada and through all their various approvals and they are fine with it and have found that we are not in any contravention as far as that goes,” said Chuck Loewen, the city’s general manager for  facilities, museum and recreation services.

In addition to Bourque’s threatened lawsuit, Loewen said his female passenger has filed an insurance claim against the city.

“That has still not been resolved, so we are not in any position to make any comment on it,” said Loewen. “Until anything is resolved as far as the insurance claim or anything like that, we are going to be status quo with our present lighting because it adheres and complies with Transport Canada.”