How can we make boat traffic slow down?

By Jackie DavisJackie Davis


Photo by Stockbyte/Thinkstock


The Question

We have a cottage on a portion of river that is about 150 feet wide. This passage is frequented by speed boats and PWCs, and the waves are a constant menace to swimmers and wild creatures living on the shore. Is there any way that we can get the traffic to slow down?

—Robert Philips, Moon River, Ont.

The Answer

On most Ontario waterways, the speed limit is 10 km/h within 100 feet (or 30 metres) of the shore. But this rule doesn’t automatically apply in certain situations, such as on rivers less than 300 feet (or 100 metres) wide. (In this case, the speed limit may be set by the municipality.) Through Transport Canada, it is possible to establish a speed limit that applies only to a particular waterway. But that’s a multi-step procedure that requires public consultation, applications, a review process, and a bunch of other paperwork. To investigate this option for your river, see Transport Canada’s Local Authorities Guide to Boating Restrictions. You can also contact the Office of Boating Safety in your region for information.

But back to those boaters: They may not realize their wake is bothering the swimmers and shore-dwellers. So consider, if possible, talking to them. You could also post your own signs. They won’t be legally enforceable, but they may get at least some folks to slow down.

Speed limit or no, all boaters everywhere are required to operate their vessels with safety in mind, and they can face fines if they’re boating in an unsafe or careless manner. So—and we sure hope it doesn’t come to this—if you feel the boating behaviour on your river is dangerous, you could always contact your local police.


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Mar. 21, 2013

3:08 pm

What gets me is that a lot of those on the river put up there signs about no wake. And they do not think when they go out on the lake, which there boats that those of us that live on the lake, have to deal with the wake. And some boats are better at a bit faster speed giving less of a wake than if you traveled slower.


Mar. 21, 2013

12:35 pm

In our area its not so much the speed - its the Wakeboard boats. They cause a lot of damage to the shore, your tied up boats, your docks and any shoreline nesting birds. We've had the decals wiped off one of our boats to the tune of $600 bucks and also had to rebuild two docks to the tune of over $15,000 dollars. We are also tired of calling the OPP. they advised that most of the boating complaints they receive - in Lake Muskoka - are Wakeboard related. the boat operators don't seem to care about the damage they cause. Maybe some private law suits would remedy the problem.

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