The RCMP’s West Coast Marine Service is working to keep people safe on Okanagan Lake, after six people lost their lives in the waters around Kelowna in 2022.
This summer, the Marine Service will be patrolling the lake with a new boat to ensure speed limits are respected and that all boats have the required safety gear on board.
In B.C. it is required that all motorboats have enough life jackets for each person on board, a watertight flashlight, a fire extinguisher, a reboarding device, a buoyant heaving line, flares and a manual propelling device or anchor. All items must be immediately operational, meaning that they are out of their packaging and have batteries.
Specific requirements vary for each watercraft and a comprehensive list is available online at boatingsafetybc.ca.
Additionally, all watercraft drivers must carry a pleasure craft operator card.
Const. Dylan Rinke of the RCMP West Coast Marine Services in Kelowna said that so far this boating season, less than one in 20 boats have all the required safety gear on board.
He said that he has handed out many warnings, with requirements that the missing safety essentials are put on board immediately, as well as tickets for non-compliant boaters.
Rinke also wants to remind people that it is always illegal to drink and drive, even while on the water.
He said that just like with any vehicle, it is against the law to drink alcohol or use drugs if you have any means of operating the boat.
Additionally, it is illegal to have open liquor on most boats unless specific requirements are met.
The RCMP also wants to remind people that boaters must stay out of the way of emergency watercraft and wildfire water bombers or they will be subject to a fine of $1,150.
More information about the West Coast Marine Service and the RCMP is available online.