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Leduc County Impaired Boating Awareness Campaign

Public event at Wizard Lake boat launch to raise awareness of the dangers of impaired boating!

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Purpose

The purpose of this impaired boating awareness event was to host a public event in Leduc County, which focused on increasing awareness about the legalities, risks and consequences of impaired operation and alcohol/drug consumption on a vessel operated in a body of water.

In addition to the main focus above, this event also facilitated public education from our partnering agencies pertaining to other public safety topics including:

  • Sustainable/healthy water quality and ecology
  • Promoting a safe water recreation
  • Responsible environmental practices
  • Wildlife and aquatic conservation
  • Reduction of pollution from herbicides, pesticides, manure, and sewage
  • Building relationships with all jurisdictional bodies
  • Community and resident engagement

This event targeted all users of bodies of water in and around Leduc County, and visitors from the greater Edmonton region. In particular, boat operators and their passengers who should be aware of the legalities, risks and consequences of impaired operation and alcohol/drug consumption while operating vessels.

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Event Details

Date: Sat Aug 10, 2019

Setup Time: 1000

Start Time: 1100

End Time: 1600 (approximate)

Location: Wizard Lake boat launch adjacent to Jubilee Park day use area

Agencies Involved:

Leduc County Enforcement Services

Leduc County Parks & Recreation

Leduc County Communications

Office of Traffic Safety – Alberta Transportation

M.A.D.D. Canada (Parkland & Edmonton Chapters)

Transport Canada

Alberta Fish & Wildlife

Wizard Lake Watershed Stewardship Association

Leduc RCMP

Leduc Rural Crime Watch

Wetaskiwin County

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Event Logistics & Resources

  • Portable gazebo/tent, tables, chairs provided by M.A.D.D. and Wizard Lake Watershed Stewardship Association
  • Freezies, radio controlled miniature boats and fatal vision goggles provided by M.A.D.D.
  • Material and swag provided by M.A.D.D., Wizard Lake Watershed Society, Leduc County, AB Fish and Wildlife, Transport Canada
  • Facility/location provided by Leduc County Parks & Recreation
  • Annual parking passes provided by Leduc County Parks & Recreation as prizes for radio control miniature boats obstacle course contest
  • Information/advertisement poster designed by Leduc County Communications Department, including recognition logos from the agency partners above
  • Patrol boats and uniform personnel provided by Leduc County Enforcement Services and Alberta Fish & Wildlife
  • Reserved parking area designated for patrol vehicles and trailers provided by Leduc County Parks & Recreation
  • Placing posters on local bulletin boards provided by Wizard Lake Watershed Stewardship Association Volunteers and Leduc County Parks & Recreation staff
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Outcomes

  1. The event attracted approximately 50 members of the public, at the display tables, radio controlled boating contest, and boat operators using the boat launch who were engaged by Officers on scene. One family was vacationing from as far as Manitoba.
  2. Citizens of all ages participated in the radio controlled boat contest. This involved using a remote control to drive a miniature electric boat a few meters away from the boat launch dock, then try to drive the boat back to shore while wearing the “fatal vision” goggles that simulated being impaired at approximately twice the legal limited for impaired boating under the Criminal Code of Canada. Participants who completed the task were eligible to enter a draw to win one of 2 annual vehicle & trailer parking passes at the Jubilee boat launch in 2020.
  3. Boats users launching from the adjacent port and coming off the water were provided with important information about driving sober, having all the required qualifications and safety equipment, as well as ensuring boats were drained, cleaned and dried after coming off the water to prevent contamination of other bodies of water in Alberta and outside of the province.
  4. Given the weather and low number of boat users on the water, the Officers present engaged the public primarily on the shoreline.
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Unexpected Outcomes

  1. The occupants of one of the boats coming off the lake were in possession of illegal fish (too short). Three people were charged and the fish were seized.
  2. Some visitors driving to the day use area in a pickup truck had passengers travelling illegally in the back of the truck bed without seatbelts. Officers provided education to the occupants and a verbal warning.
  3. A local resident asked the Transport Canada representative about the legalities of using unmanned aerial vehicle / UAV (aka: drone) to follow a water skier on the water. The citizen was provided with a referral source to the new regulations released in 2019.
  4. A chronic parking concern involving long standing neighborly issues nearby was brought to the attention of the Officers present and handled appropriately.

Barriers

  1. The weather was cloudy with a high of only +16C
  2. Significantly fewer boats on the lake due to weather
  3. Limited local policing resources

As a result of these barriers, the event drew a smaller number of overall boat users. However, since the nearby campgrounds were almost booked at capacity, we managed to engage a number of vacationing families who were either new boaters or were considering participating in boating recreation activities in the near future. We also found time to engage local residents of the lake, who were supportive and play an important role in providing year round information and awareness to visitors.

Lessons Learned

  1. Have a contingency plan for inclimate weather (alternate location or shelter)
  2. Provide adequate parking and access for volunteers and staff. This day was not bad, but it could have been a challenge if the weather was nice and the area was full of users
  3. The time of day and duration of the event was just right. Not too early and not too long
  4. Handouts and swag were a big part of reaching the target audience
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Did it Make a Difference?

Through our engagement and conversations with citizens, we were able to provide information to both new users considering water recreational activities, AND experienced boat operators who may not fully understand important information over time. For example, some boat users still thought alcohol is permitted on a boat/vessel as long as the operator was not consuming or impaired. In addition, it became apparent that in some cases the penalties for violations of the Wildlife Act and Canada Shipping Act pertaining to water recreation are harsher and swifter than laws created to deter and prevent impaired boating/driving (food for thought).

All of the agency representatives at the event agreed it was successful from both a public information perspective and an agency networking perspective – as we shared our respective industry knowledge with each other. This networking success will certainly foster future partnership, resource connections and overall better community service. We look forward to hosting similar events in the future.

Learn more

If you would like to learn more about what we did, contact:

Clarence Nelson, Director Enforcement Services, Leduc County

clarence@leduc-county.com

780-955-4538

You can also find read more in our Project Summary.