The province’s reopening plan permitted the opening of boat launches and docks from Saturday, with municipal, private and South Nation Conservation (SNC) amenities available to boaters for the long weekend. SNC Conservation Lands and Community Outreach Lead John Mesman said locals were eager to return to the water as the COVID-19 restrictions eased.
“We couldn’t be more thrilled to open the remainder of our parks, boat launches and docks,” he said. “People are eager to explore natural spaces close to home and as long as our visitors continue to use our public spaces safely, we’re happy to provide access to the local environment.”
The reopening coincided with Boat Safety Week, which runs from May 22 to 28. Hawkesbury Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) asked boaters to stay safe. In a statement, the police emphasized the importance of life jackets and other personal floatation devices.
“Personal floatation devices are rarely found by OPP officers when recovering deceased boaters in marine incidents,” the statement said. “While the OPP has patrols underway on the water, they are reminding boaters to respect the boating regulations, to review the specifications on their vessels to assure they only have the number of passengers allowed.”
Capsizes and falling overboard were major causes of fatalities each year. Half of the 32 fatalities across OPP-patrolled waterways last year were paddlers in canoes, kayaks and stand-up-paddle boards.
The police asked boaters to check their equipment and safety devices before heading out on the water. Boaters and paddlers were urged to head out sober and drug-free, check the weather conditions, and take a boating course before taking to the water.