The Canadian Safe Boating Council is reminding residents to stay safe on local waterways for the rest of the summer season, as concerns with impaired boating in the area have been raised.

“Boat sober. Enjoy the waters safely. If you’re intoxicated, you tend to take risks that you might not normally take. It’s not worth it,” said Ian Gilson, director with the Canadian Safe Boating Council.

Residents are reminded that an impaired boating conviction can lead to losing your driver’s licence. Gilson adds that impaired boating charges can be laid even if you’re not operating a motorized-vessel. Ontario’s Small Vessel Act was amended earlier this year, and now includes human-powered vessels such as canoes, kayaks and paddle-boats. 

“The argument has been, who can I hurt? I’m in a canoe. But, last year, there was an incident where a father was canoeing with his son while impaired, he tipped the canoe, and the son drowned. That drove the point home right there.”

Gilson adds that 40 per cent of boating-related fatalities in Canada involve alcohol or other intoxicating substances.

“With the upcoming legalization of cannabis, and the growing concern of prescription medication abuse, we’re afraid that these substances will start to drive that fatality statistic in the wrong direction .”

Open alcohol containers are only allowed on boats that are design to be ‘residences’, with sleeping facilities, a head (washroom facilities) and cooking facilities. Consumption of alcohol is only allowed when that boat is at anchor, docked or hard aground; never while underway.