How can we make boat traffic slow down?
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.
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.