RCMP boat promotes safety on Okanagan lakes

Officers say they're only interested in keeping the water safe

Bearing down on the speeding boat, RCMP Reserve Const. Phil Boissonneault raises his arm, signalling the driver to throttle back and shut off the engine.

As the two vessels come alongside each other, the officer explains his intentions of conducting a routine, marine check.

In this instance everything is in order, the owner has all his paperwork, including operators licence and registration, as well as the required safety equipment, life jackets, fire extinguisher and safety tow line.

Once the check is completed, Boissonneault signals his partner, Reserve Const. AJ MacKinnon, who’s operating the police boat and they head off across Skaha Lake in search of other vessels.

“We’re not here to make life miserable for people; our focus is water safety,” said Boissonneault.

“We issue a lot of warnings. We try to treat our enforcement program as an education program.”

The two retired Mounties spend their time travelling throughout the region and their service augments the marine coverage of the individual detachments, many of which have their own boats.

The checks are not just restricted to vessels with engines as one Calgary kayaker drifting in the middle of the lake found out.

By the time his marine check was completed he wound up with a long list of items to look after before he took to the water again.

According to Boissonneault, while most people are surprised at being stopped, unlike on a road where police need cause, boats are fair game any time, operators are usually very co-operative.

“Most of them are really good about it,” said the officer.

“I think they understand that we’re here basically to save lives and keep them safe.”

While it is legal to have alcohol on a boat, police make sure there is not an excessive amount for the number of people on board.

Penticton Staff Sgt. Dave Fayle noted in this area, police generally have fewer problems with those who use the lakes for recreation.

“We haven’t seen it to be a reckless boating problem that I’m aware of,” he said.

“We have the occasional thing but really compared to other places where there are a lot of visitors using the boats, here it’s mostly local people who are very respectful of the law.

“Most of our time on the water is usually spent with compliance-type things, making sure everybody has the right equipment etcetera.”

The Penticton RCMP marine program doesn’t usually kick into high gear until the August long weekend however, this year due to priority of land-based duties, the only time the vessel has been used was for the Aug. 7 Snowbirds show over Okanagan Lake.

Officers on board were not actually checking other watercraft but enforcing a no-boating zone below the area where the aircraft were flying.

“It’s (manpower resources) an ongoing problem during the summer months which is our busy time of year,” said Fayle.

“We can’t take people from the front lines to run the boat so we try to do it on some kind of enhanced resources either on an overtime or reschedule basis.”

He added the boat is always available for emergency situations and can be on either lake in a matter of minutes.

Someone else who feels the staffing pinch this time of year is Sgt. Kevin Schur who heads the Osoyoos detachment.

“This is a marine community,” he said.

“Should we be out there (on the water) more?

“Yes, we should but we just don’t have the resources, I wish we did. I would like to have it out there everyday.”

In addition to the patrols, the detachment’s boat is also used for search and rescue and has already been called into service for that duty at least twice this year.

“Having the boat is critical, a 24/7 thing for us,” said Schur.

“We have lots of drunk drivers in boats and we need to deal with that, we have the border here that the lake crosses, and if somebody is in trouble in the water, if it’s not us, there’s nobody else.”

 

Just Posted

Lightning in Kelowna, B.C. (Contributed)
Severe thunderstorm watch in effect for Okanagan

Conditions are favourable for the development of severe thunderstorms overnight

Justin Fotherby,17, and Ashley McMillan, 17 have been chosen for an invitation only competition that sees 20 of Canada’s top swimmers per event vying for a spot at the upcoming 2021 Tokyo Olympic Games. (Submitted)
Penticton swimmers off to Olympic trials

The pair are eyeing a spot on the Canadian team heading to the Tokyo Olympics

Bentley resting on a bench at Kal Park in Vernon not knowing there is a baby rattlesnake curled up below. Bentley jumped down and was bit by the snake. (Facebook)
Dog bit by baby rattler at popular Vernon park

The rattlesnake was hidden underneath a park bench when it struck out

Renderings of what the skating rink could look like beside City Hall between Martin and Main in downtown Penticton. (Activate Penticton image)
Outdoor skating rink back at Penticton council

City staff recommend going forward with rink which could host 2022 BCHL’s 60th year celebration

Longtime SOWINS volunteer Diane Fru (far left) walks with members of her family as they Walk To End Abuse Sunday, June 13, 2021. South Okanagan Women In Needs Society (SOWINS) raised a record amount this year. (Monique Tamminga Western News)
Walk to End Abuse in South Okanagan breaks fundraising record

More than $53,000 raised so far while the pandemic has increased need for SOWINS’ services

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau participates in a plenary session at the G7 Summit in Carbis Bay, England on Friday June 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada donating 13M surplus COVID-19 vaccine doses to poor countries

Trudeau says the government will pay for 87 million shots to be distributed to poor countries

Harvesting hay in the Fraser Valley. (Tom Fletcher/Black Press)
COVID-19: B.C. waives farm income requirement for a second year

Property owners don’t need minimum income for 2022 taxes

Cruise ship passengers arrive at Juneau, Alaska in 2018. Cruise lines have begun booking passengers for trips from Seattle to Alaska as early as this July, bypassing B.C. ports that are not allowed to have visitors until March 2022 under a Canadian COVID-19 restrictions. (Michael Penn/Juneau Empire)
B.C. doesn’t depend on U.S. law to attract cruise ships, Horgan says

Provinces to get update next week on Canada’s border closure

This undated photo provided by Girl Scouts of New Mexico Trails shows a scout donating cookies to firefighters in Rio Rancho, New Mexico, as part of the Hometown Heroes program. As the coronavirus pandemic wore into the spring selling season, many Girl Scout troops nixed their traditional cookie booths for safety reasons. That resulted in millions of boxes of unsold cookies. (Girl Scouts of New Mexico Trails via AP)
Thinner Mints: Girl Scouts have millions of unsold cookies

Since majority of cookies are sold in-person, pandemic made the shortfall expected

In this artist’s sketch, Nathaniel Veltman makes a video court appearance in London, Ont., on June 10, 2021 as Justice of the Peace Robert Seneshen (top left) and lawyer Alayna Jay look on. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Alexandra Newbould
Terror charges laid against London attack suspect

Crown says Nathaniel Veltman’s four counts of first-degree murder constitute an act of terrorism

Premier John Horgan speaks as provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry, right, and health minister Adrian Dix look on during a press conference to update on the province's fall pandemic preparedness plan during a press conference from the press theatre at Legislature in Victoria, Wednesday, Sept. 9, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
B.C. officials to provide details on Step 2 of COVID reopening plan Monday

Step 2 could allow for larger gatherings and a resumption of recreational travel

Indigenous Services Minister Marc Miller is seen during a news conference, Wednesday May 19, 2021 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Indigenous child-welfare battle heads to court despite calls for Ottawa to drop cases

Feds are poised to argue against two Canadian Human Rights Tribunal rulings

Two-year-old Ivy McLeod laughs while playing with Lucky the puppy outside their Chilliwack home on Thursday, June 10, 2021. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
VIDEO: B.C. family finds ‘perfect’ puppy with limb difference for 2-year-old Ivy

Ivy has special bond with Lucky the puppy who was also born with limb difference

Most Read