Residents will be itching to get back onto area lakes this May long weekend, as high boat traffic is expected by the Kenora OPP.

The recent overland flooding and high water levels, in general, have pushed or exposed a lot of debris in and around area lakes. The Kenora OPP is advising residents out on the lake this weekend to be aware of debris.

“If you’re going out on your boat or at your camp, there is a lot of debris. We’ve seen old boats that someone obviously pulled up on shore years ago and they’ve floated away and they are just a windshield sticking out,” said OPP Provincial Constable, Jason Canfield.

“We had trees out in the middle of the lake, as well as firewood and stuff that is floating out there, so definitely lots of debris including docks,” adds Canfield.

With the walleye season opening on Saturday (May 21, 2022), combined with the long weekend, there will be a mix of different types of boat traffic, and Canfield reminds boaters to bring the proper gear, including a life jacket.

“Whether you’re a good swimmer or not the cold water definitely changes things, lots of people that are good swimmers have drowned in the past. We want people to wear life jackets, make sure people know where you’re going, so we know where to look.”

Canfield also wants boaters to have the proper safety equipment onboard this weekend such as extra food, water, and ways to signal people if help is needed.

Boat operators can be subject to hefty fines for not having enough approved lifejackets on board, careless operation, speeding, allowing someone under age to operate a boat, and impaired driving, to name a few. 

Every year in Canada approximately 464 people drown, as a result, life jackets have been proven to save lives.

16 million people use boats on Canada’s waterways and these rules need to be followed by everyone.

The O.P.P. Marine Unit is on the water seven days a week and covers approximately 100,000 square kilometres of Ontario lakes and rivers.

If people are caught speeding in marked areas they could face a fine of up $240 under the Vessel Operation Restrictions Regulations (VORR).