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Long weekend crackdown on drinking and boating

Joint forces Barrie/OPP Marine Unit participates in Operation Dry Water

Officers from the joint forces Barrie Police and OPP Marine Unit have teamed up with the Canadian Safe Boating Council this long weekend for the annual Operation Dry Water campaign.

The initiative involving area police forces focuses on education and enforcement to stop boaters from boating under the influence of alcohol.

The main goal is to reduce alcohol-related boating deaths.

"Forty percent of fatalities that happen on the water in Canada involve impaired boaters so that's why we're targeting that for this weekend,"  said OPP Const. Clark Putman. 

"It is still an issue," said Barrie Police Const. Kurt Hemington. "The message to people this weekend is that we really prefer people to consume alcohol on shore not out in the waterway.  However we will be patrolling and monitoring them." 

A boat must be docked or anchored with cooking, sleeping and washroom facilities to legally have open liquor on board. 

The impairment effects of alcohol on the water can be greatly increased when combined with sun, wind, waves and the rocking motion of the boat, according to police and the CSBC.

Impaired boating charges can be laid for operating a vessel with a blood alcohol concentration in excess of .08 under the Criminal Code of Canada.

In Ontario, boat operators will also have their Driver's Licence suspended immediately. 

Upon conviction, boating privileges may be suspended and a Criminal Impaired Driving conviction will be registered. 

On patrol Friday afternoon, it was still relatively quiet on Kempenfelt Bay but officers were expecting a very busy weekend.

A young woman on a paddle board got a police escort back to shore because she wasn't wearing a life vest and did not have the required whistle.

"She was quite far out. She wasn't on shore in the swimming area she was in navigational waters," said Putman. "She was in a situation where she required help from becoming tired she was unable to assist herself or have a buddy to assist her." 

The woman, who was on vacation from Vancouver, received a warning.

The most common offences police encounter are equipment-related where boaters don't have the required equipment on board for their own safety, according to the Marine Unit officers.

Police have a zero tolerance policy regarding life jackets but say thankfully most people are aware that the devices are required. 

Expect to see more officers on the water this weekend as part of Operation Dry Water.

"Everybody have a safe weekend out there, enjoy the sun and make safe choices and enjoy their waterways," Hemington said. 








Sue Sgambati

About the Author: Sue Sgambati

Sue has had a 30-year career in journalism working for print, radio and TV. She is a proud member of the Barrie community.
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