Saskatoon RCMP to start patrolling river in jet boat

Coming soon to the South Saskatchewan River – a new RCMP river patrol powered by a 17-foot jet boat.

“It’s designed to go into shallow water because the river is very low, so we can get out and check the boats for open alcohol, life jackets, impaired boating, issues like that on the water,” said Saskatoon RCMP Cpl. Craig Zwarych.

Until now the Saskatoon Police Service has been policing the South Saskatchewan, but the city’s police service has been limited with no watercraft.

This new to Saskatoon boat will take officers on the water and river users should be on the lookout.

For the past 12 years Captain Mike Steckhan has been at the helm of the Prairie Lilly and he said he’s seen his fair share of infractions out on the water.

“There are times we see drinking in boats and lots of it. We see people going down the river on inflatable pool toys and no life jacket or paddle, nothing to be seen, no way to maneuver, no way to get out of my way, no way to get out of anyone’s way,” he said.

Last week a kayaker taking a break behind one of the bridge piers darted out in front of another watercraft, creating a risky and potentially deadly collision, he said.

“People aren’t purposely acting dangerously, they simply don’t know that what they’re doing not only affects them but it affects other people around them,” Steckhan said.

“Everybody should have a life jacket, you can’t have open alcohol on a boat or on a raft or anything like that, and there are speed limits you have to abide by,” Zwarych told CTV News.

This includes inflatable floats that have risen in popularity.

“It makes me shudder because there’s so many hazards in this water, that pool toy gets a hole in it and they’re in trouble,” Steckhan said.

The RCMP river patrol is outfitted with a mobile scanning and ticketing machine. Zwarych said education is the priority but they can and will write tickets.

Zwarych said once officers are trained the river patrol will be out on the water every weekend and long weekend and whenever it’s a hot sunny day and people are expected out on the water.

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