FYI: You can get a $500 fine for not having a lifejacket while floating the Bow

Jul 11 2018, 12:07 am

Calgary is warning residents of the dangers that come with floating on the city’s rivers, both to your life and your bank account.

The Bow and Elbow Rivers are no strangers to Calgarians floating lazily along their waters, but a refreshing day can turn deadly in an instant, according to a release from the City.

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With the sunny days we’ve been seeing here in Calgary there’s no doubt that traffic along the water has increased, but so too have the number of water rescues needed over the past few years.

According to the release, swift water rescues increased by 30% between 2016 and 2017, and the City would prefer if those figures remained where they’re at (or lower) for the 2018 season.

“Where there’s water, there’s risk,” said Carol Henke, Calgary Fire Department Public Information Officer, in the release.

“The importance of lifejackets, even in shallow, slow-moving water, cannot be exaggerated.”

Anyone caught floating, rafting, or paddling on any Calgary river without a lifejacket will face a mandatory court appearance and upwards of $500 in fines.

Henke also advised residents to be aware of what awaits them on the river, such as the Harvey Passage and the waves near the 10th Street Bridge.

“Accidents can happen even when you do everything right,” Henke said in the release.

“Stay alert, be prepared for water hazards and learn to swim — it can save your life.”

The release also notes that the use of alcohol or drugs on waterways is strictly prohibited.

“Alcohol and drugs impair your judgment on the water much like it does on the road,” said Staff Seargent Shawn Wallace in the release.

“With all the unexpected situations people can encounter on the water, impairment from drugs or alcohol will make it that much more difficult to react.”

Potential floaters can check out the City’s website for more information on safe use and city bylaws, and the water levels of Calgary’s rivers can be monitored by going to

Have a safe float!

DH Calgary StaffDH Calgary Staff

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