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Edmontonians asked to use river safely this summer

It's expected to be another busy summer of recreation on the North Saskatchewan River.
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Reminders needed for water safety, as usage on the North Saskatchewan increases. Photo: edmonton.ca

City of Edmonton Park Rangers, Edmonton Fire Rescue Services, Edmonton Police Service (EPS) and RCMP are anticipating another busy summer of recreation on the North Saskatchewan River and are reminding people to be safe on the water.

“We saw a notable increase in usage on the North Saskatchewan River last year compared to 2020,” said Zain Haji with the City of Edmonton’s Animal Care and Park Rangers. “During our river safety checks with Edmonton Police Service, almost half of the people using the river were not in compliance with boating regulations and were putting themselves at risk.”

When on the river, users need to bring all relevant safety gear including a personal floatation device for each person, a throw bag and whistle or sounding device. 

“Please wear a lifejacket and have the basic boating safety gear if you are going to be floating down the river," said Constable Derek Jones with the EPS Marine Unit.

In the summer of 2020, Edmonton Fire Rescue Services responded to 104 water rescue events. Last summer, that number increased to 138 including animal rescues. To date in 2022, there have been 42 water rescues.

“The North Saskatchewan River is unpredictable and flow rates are likely to change rapidly and without notice,” said Bruce McWhinnie, Chief of Special Operations with Edmonton Fire Rescue Services. “This presents a variety of dangers for those in or near the river, including dogs. It’s important to wear lifejackets, have a safety plan before you head out and take into account possible weather changes, water currents, water temperature and water depth.”

Marine units from several agencies in and around Edmonton will be on the river this summer educating boaters on river safety and enforcing bylaws.