Sûreté du Québec steps up water patrols during construction holiday

WATCH: The Sûreté du Québec is patrolling the province’s waterways in a bid to remind boaters to be careful during the construction holiday vacation. Global’s Phil Carpenter reports.

The Sûreté du Québec (SQ) is increasing its patrolling of the province’s waterways for the province’s annual two-week construction holiday.

“We’re trying to bring down the number of deaths that occur during those two weeks,” explained SQ spokesperson Captain Paul Leduc as officers prepared for a morning patrol in Lavaltrie, east of Montreal.

Since more people are boating during the construction holidays, the SQ is reminding the public to be careful.  They say the number of drownings in the province so far this year is 36 compared to 25 in the same period last year.  It includes non- boating related incidents.  Still, they’re increasing their patrols in the next two weeks because people forget to be careful.

READ MORE: B.C. company awarded $595K in federal funding for boating safety app

“We give out about 4,500 fines a year with our boat captains,” Leduc said, “so that’s a lot of people that are in infraction on the water.”

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Some of the things they’re looking for – making sure people are operating at a safe speed, even though there’s no speed limit on most waterways. A person can be fined for reckless behaviour if they put the safety of others at risk.

People should also make sure there are life jackets on board.  They should have more, if they’re towing someone who’s water skiing, for example.

READ MORE: Sober boating and safe boating, are you practicing the right boating methods?

“Inside the boat you have to have enough life jackets for the people on board, but as well for the people that are being towed, said SQ Sergeant Nicolas Voyer as he patroled the river around Lavaltrie.  “For example you’re in the boat and you have two, and if you’re towing two people you have to have four life jackets.”

He adds that life vests must be accessible, fit Transport Canada regulations and be in good condition.

READ MORE: Man missing after boat capsizes in St. Lawrence River

Another issue police want to remind boaters about is to not operate a boat while impaired.  They caution that the effects of being intoxicated on water is worse than on land because of the movement of the boat.

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Though they want people to have fun, they stress that safety is first, and that people should remember they’re not the only ones on the water.

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