Kelowna RCMP Calling for Boater Safety This Canada Day Long Weekend – Okanagan |

In the wake of two recent waterway fatalities in the Okanagan, the Kelowna RCMP is reminding the public to practice safe boating over the Canada Day long weekend.

This will be the first long Canada Day weekend since 2019 where COVID-19 restrictions shouldn’t get in the way of any plans, and Lake Okanagan will likely be a hot spot for those trying to enjoy the summer heat.

“Yeah, I think it’s going to be pretty busy, like good weather and a lot of us and it’s going to be a good time,” navigator Jonah Ragstale said.

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However, after local authorities recently discovered two drowning victims in the Okanagan canals, police want to send a clear message to those planning to enjoy some time on the lake.

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“Being on the water in a boat, the rules apply the same as on our roads and highways,” Kelowna RCMP Const said. Mike Della-Paolera.

“We need the boat operator to be sober.”

And with lake levels still high from spring runoff, police are reminding boaters to be extra careful with floating debris.

“There is a lot of debris, a lot of logs and some of it is not visible, especially when we arrive a little later in the evening when the sun is going down,” Della-Paolera said, “and we are driving at high speed in a boat and it could there’s a log there.”

He added: “So there is debris and we can’t do much about it, so we need to make the boat operators aware.”

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Police say they will be in full force this weekend, on the water and on the roads, after bringing in an estimated 50 additional officers from other detachments.

“It’s going to be busy and we’re prepared, but we just need everyone to be safe and vigilant,” Della-Paolera said.

For the second year in a row, the Kelowna Yacht Club is offering a free hands-on boater safety course that offers tips for safe boating. Those who successfully complete the program will also receive their pleasure boat operator card.

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90-year-old woman swimming in Lake Okanagan

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The club’s chief executive says the course is key for anyone who wants to enjoy safe boating.

“The course is very critical and that’s why I think the part in the water is really important. But, you know, for those of you who haven’t taken it or don’t have the time this weekend, I would tell them to be very careful,” Kelowna Yacht Club CEO Thom Killingsworth said.

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“It’s going to be very busy, there’s going to be a lot of people who may not be ready.”

Boat rental companies in Kelowna are also doing their best to ensure their patrons are safe and prepared for the influx of boaters.

“Life jackets, buoys, moorings, all the safety equipment that is required. The record is always on the boat 100 percent all the time,” said Luke McMillan, employee of the Okanagan Luxury Boat Club.

“We want to make sure our customers and members are complete with 100 percent safety, as well as our ships as well.”

The RCMP also wants to remind everyone that if you see anything unusual or unsafe in the water, please dial 911 or the RCMP non-emergency line.

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