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Edmonton police marine unit reminds river users to play safe

Sgt. Derek Jones said the unit has been in operation for several years, and members have noticed more people using the river this year compared to years past. Julia Wong/Global News

The Edmonton police Marine Unit is out in full force this summer.

The unit, which patrols 50 kilometres of the North Saskatchewan River with the Edmonton city limits, is deployed during weekends and special events, such as Heritage Days and the Dragon Boat Festival.

Sgt. Derek Jones said the unit has been in operation for several years, and members have noticed more people using the river this year compared to years past.

“Maybe [it’s] just a recognition of what we have here in Edmonton,” he said.

Jones said the unit encourages people to use the water, but to do so safely. The marine unit patrols the river, stopping boaters, kayakers and floaters, to ensure they have the proper equipment.

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“If you’re in a jet boat, [having a] proper license, life jackets, proper bail buckets, throw ropes, all the things you can find on the safe boaters guide,” he said.
“We’re always concerned with user conflicts, what the river is meant for and being used for. We got jet boats who are fast-moving and loud, so we get noise complaints and wake issues. [It’s] being experienced by people like paddle boarders and floaters that float down from Devon or Terwillegar Park.

“For floaters of course you have to have equipment and just personal equipment too like cell phones in bags, food, hydration, sunscreen for those hots days. You just have to be aware of the river because it does change.”

Jones said notable calls so far this summer include capsized canoes, alcohol issues, users who get lost and users who aren’t prepared for their time on the water.

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The unit works with Alberta Fish and Wildfire, Edmonton Civic Events, park rangers and Edmonton Fire Rescue.

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