BONNYVILLE – While it may seem surprising to some boaters to be ‘pulled over’ by RCMP members out on the lake, it is done to ensure safety laws are followed on the water, according to local police.
This summer, patrols by the Bonnyville RCMP on area lakes, such as Moose Lake and Wolf Lake, brought officers in contact with roughly 75 vessels.
Staff Sgt. Sarah Parke says nearly all interactions with boaters were positive.
“Plenty of verbal warnings were issued, but there were also several liquor tickets and one Criminal Code charge laid to a vessel operator who had 11 occupants on board his boat and zero life jackets,” explained Parke. “There was also alcohol consumption taking place on that same boat which increased the danger of the situation even more.”
Parke noted that most vessel operators are pleasantly surprised to see an RCMP boat out on the water and welcome an educational conversation about the safety laws that exist.
She cited informative discussions on safety equipment and proper number of life jackets on board were common with boaters.
Bonnyville RCMP also wanted to share the importance of having HIN # affixed to your boat to help the RCMP locate it should it ever be stolen.
“And of course, much like when operating a motor vehicle, alcohol consumption is not permitted on a vessel either,” added Parke.
While RCMP members receive various training courses throughout their career for skills such as photo radar, interviewing techniques, and how to use the instrument for a roadside breathalyzer – Inland Water Transport training is far less common.
During this specialized training, members are taught the ins and outs of operating a vessel, pulling over other vessels and enforcing the laws on the lakes across Alberta.
“[The] Bonnyville detachment is lucky enough to have its own vessel and a few trained operators,” Parke said.
This training is also crucial when the Bonnyville RCMP boat is called into action for reports of missing boaters and capsized vessels on the water.
“So, the next time you’re out enjoying some time on the lake, don’t be surprised if you see the RCMP boat out making patrols and don’t hesitate to wave and say ‘Hi’,” said Parke.