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One out of three boaters break the law

Ottawa Police say on a regular day one third of boaters are breaking the law.

"You'll get one out of three that are breaking the law, such as alcohol or speeding or causing wake near marinas," said Const. Ralph Millaire with the Marine, Dive and Trails Unit.

Ottawa Police use five boats to patrol the Ottawa River, the Rideau River and the Rideau Canal every day in the summer.

When police are on the water, they're looking for people who are breaking the law, or who do not have the proper safety equipment on board.

For example it is mandatory to have working fire extinguishers, a flashlight and a whistle on board every vessel over a certain size. Life vests must also be certified by the Canadian Coast Guard.

Millaire said anyone with a Pleasure Craft Operator's card should know those requirements, however, they do see many people who do not have all of the equipment.

"Our big issue right now are life jackets and alcohol," said Millaire. "That's the number one complaint we're getting from all the waterways, whether it's the Rideau, the upper, the lower Ottawa [River] . It's always a big issue for us. For some reason a year will go by and we're running into the same issue, the same statistics as the last year."

Liquor laws are different in Ontario and Quebec - while it is legal to have alcohol on board on the Quebec side, it is illegal on the Ontario side. Ottawa Police are allowed to stop boats on both sides of the Ottawa River.

"We're out here not to ruin people's day," he said. "We're only here to advocate safety at first, because unfortunately ... we're divers as well and every year we get accidents that are either related to drownings, related to no life jackets, or alcohol. Unfortunately every year its the same statistics, the same story, only the names change."

He said he hoped being visible on the water will go a ways to promoting safety.

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