Chestermere municipal enforcement is ensuring all lake users are having fun safely this summer by patrolling the water regularly.
“This year, we’ve increased our presence out on Chestermere Lake,” said Chestermere Peace Officer Shawn Press.
“We’re out there day and night doing our best to keep the lake safe. We want everybody to enjoy the water safely this year,” he added.
Enforcement is out regularly making contact with operators of motorized, and non-motorized vessels ensuring everyone has the necessary safety equipment for their vessels, and the proper documentation.
“We’re making sure they are competent boat operators that are qualified to be out operating on the water,” Press said.
He added many operators of non-motorized vessels think specific safety regulations such as life jackets do not apply to them.
However, they are also required to have a life jacket, whistle, and a re-boarding device.
For vessels that have all required safety equipment, and documentation, enforcement will provide the operators with a 2019 compliance sticker.
“It shows that the boat was in compliance the last time it was checked,” Press said.
“When we see them on the water, we don’t have to keep them for very long. We can roll up to say ‘Hi,’ see that sticker and then we’re on our way again,” he added.
Local enforcement and the City of Chestermere are working closely, and are in constant communication regarding requirements, changes, or updates to lake safety initiatives.
Along with increasing enforcement and their presence on the water, the City of Chestermere has also added new initiatives to promote lake safety, such as no-wake areas, updated speed limits, and buoys.
“We’re out activity enforcing those areas making sure people are abiding by the signage, and buoys. While respecting users of the lake and not speeding through those areas and creating unsafe movements where they don’t need to be,” Press said.
Although new safety initiatives have been added to Chestermere Lake, some lake users are not abiding by the buoys, no-wake zones, and speed limit zones.
“We’re still finding that in those areas that are designated no-wake zones, and slower speed zones, we have operators that are going through there too fast or performing water sports,” Press said.
“There is a reason those controlled areas are set. It might be a shallow area of the lake, or close to a swim area on the beach. We want people to respect those areas,” he said.
“Chestermere Lake is an ectreemly busy lake, and we want everybody to be out there enjoying it without getting hurt or having to worry about people flying through areas they shouldn’t be,” he added.
Alcohol on vessels is also a constant problem for municipal enforcement.
“We’re making sure people understand that alcohol is not permitted on a vessel. It doesn’t matter if you’re operating it, or are a passenger,” Press said.
“You still have to comply with all of the safety rules and federal regulations, which include no alcohol or cannabis on board. It shouldn’t be on the vessel at all,” he said.
Along with alcohol on vessels, proper boating etiquette is also a rising problem that can cause unsafe lake conditions.
Before going onto Chestermere Lake, boaters should know the proper boating operations, such as passing other boats on the correct side, non-motorized vessels always having the right of way, giving a lot of space, and respecting others on the water.
“I see a lot of big boats that will go flying past a paddleboarder creating a heavy wake and knock them off,” Press said.
“It might not be intentional, but understanding there are other users of the lake, and being cognizant of your surroundings and doing your best to give people space,” he said.
In addition to regularly patrolling the water, enforcement is also actively patrolling the boat launches, and beach areas.
“We want to make sure people are having a great time, but at the same time doing it in a safe manner,” Press said.
Lake users are reminded to take their vessels out of the water properly, including cleaning, draining, and drying their boats to the best of their ability.
While also treating boat staff with respect, and not leaving litter on the boat launch area.
This year, municipal enforcement is practicing an education over enforcement model.
“That’s not to say that enforcement actions won’t be taken if necessary,” Press said.
“We have come across a couple of people who have alcohol on board, and for the most part those people are understanding and are very compliant,” he said.
Adding, “The residents of Chestermere are very easy to work with. We give a lot of respect, and we expect that same respect back to our officers out on the lake.”