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Boating safety a necessary part of summer fun

Erin Perkins
By Erin Perkins
June 12th, 2012

Boaters beware and have your boating license handy while enjoying Christina Lake this summer.

Grand Forks RCMP, with help from reserve constable Chris Cottril, opened 142 files on boat related checks last summer and they will be just as proactive this summer in making their checks, said Grand Forks RCMP staff sergeant Jim Harrison.

Most last summer’s cases were because the boat operator didn’t have an operators license on them while operating the boat, said Harrison.

As of April 2011, a person operating a motorized boat is required to obtain a boating operators license and have that license on them at all times while operating the boat.

Lifejackets are also required for every person on board, whether they are wearing it or not. As is an operational fire extinguisher. Excessive alcohol consumption while operating a boat is not permitted.

“You can drink on the boat, but not operate it over .08 blood alcohol content,” said Harrison. If found guilty of any of these offences, the boat owner can be ticketed on location by the RCMP.

Before the new regulations began, a person would have to go through the court to be fined.

The absence of a licence can cost $250, while lifejackets are $200 for the first missing lifejacket and $100 for each additional missing lifejacket.

“There is no difference between a car and what you have to have on you in a boat,” said Harrison. “We issued a lot of warnings (for no license). Most of them had one but some did lie about it.”

He said with a warning, those boat operators had to go to the Grand Forks RCMP station with the forgotten license and present it to the police to prove they had it, making for a busy office.

“And we have no tolerance for that,” he said of having no lifejackets. “Ensure you have the proper quality and fit or we are going to charge you upwards of $250.”

Thanks to Cottril’s patrol of Christina Lake over the past two summers both on and off shore with the RCMP Zodiac, there have been no boat-related fatalities, said Harrison.

For more information about boating licenses, courses and safety visit www.boatingsafety.gc.ca. The boating exam can be done online through Boat Smart Canada at www.boatsmartexam.com which is a national boating safety school accredited by Transport Canada.  The Boat Smart team will also be appearing periodically at the Canadian Tire in Castlegar.

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