With boating season on the horizon, many are looking to alternative outdoor activities while still social distancing.
Around this time of the year people usually start to flock to Osoyoos Lake for water sports, but amid the COVID-19 pandemic questions surrounding if now is the right time for pleasure boating and if boaters can use the lake to travel to the U.S. continue to rise.
Osoyoos RCMP Commander Sgt. Jason Bayda and Osoyoos Fire Rescue Chief Dave McMahon have fielded many of these questions over the last couple of weeks.
They are now asking that boaters refrain from non-essential activities to keep both the public and first responders safe.
“We know the increase of pleasure boating comes with the increased chances of emergencies on the water,” said McMahon. “So while it may be permitted, we ask that you consider the risks you are putting our first responders in. Avoid non-essential boating, stay close to home to save lives.
“If you have COVID-19 and need to be rescued, you could potentially pass the virus on to first responders, preventing them from responding to other emergencies.”
Using the lake to travel to the United States is also something that must be avoided, according to Bayda.
“There is a temporary restriction on all non-essential travel, including tourism and recreation, at the Canada-United States border, including via international waters,” said Bayda. “This means pleasure boaters are currently not permitted to cross the international border on Osoyoos Lake.”
Mayor Sue McKortoff agreed that now is not the time for non-essential boating.
“We agree with the provincial health officer’s recommendations to stay home and stay safe,” said McKortoff. “We look forward to welcoming visitors back to our community when it is safe to do so.
“We’re all in this together and we want to keep everyone safe.”