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Calgarians to Stay Safe on Calgary’s Waterways this Summer

By July 3, 2024No Comments

Partners in Aquatic Safety remind Calgarians to stay safe on Calgary’s waterways this summer

With the summer season approaching and above-average temperatures forecasted, The City of Calgary’s Partners in Aquatic Safety are urging Calgarians to prioritize their safety while enjoying water activities.

Partners in Aquatic Safety is a collaborative effort of the Calgary Fire Department (CFD), Calgary Police Service (CPS) and Calgary Community Standards. The group officially launched the water recreation season today with a strong message emphasizing the importance of being cautious and prepared when venturing onto Calgary’s waterways.

The partners shared the messages that “where there’s water, there’s risk,” and that safety is important on not only fast-moving water like the Bow River, but also on calm waters like community lakes.

To ensure a safe experience, the following guidelines are recommended before heading out on Calgary’s waterways:

  1. Know before you go and make a plan: check weather and water conditions, be aware of any potential hazards specific to the waterway.
  2. Assess the danger level: evaluate the swimming and paddling skills of your group, monitor conditions closely and avoid the rivers during high-flow advisories. Calgarians can check the flow rates by visiting
  3. Select the proper watercraft and bring the right safety equipment: ensure your watercraft is suitable for the chosen waterway and meets weight capacity requirements. Have proper paddles or oars to maintain control and navigate around bridge pillars. Remember to provide correctly fitting lifejackets or personal flotation devices (PFD) for everyone in the watercraft and carry a boat safety kit.

Throughout the summer, law enforcement officials from the CPS and Community Standards will actively patrol Calgary’s rivers to enforce municipal bylaws and provincial statutes. Compliance with regulations, such as wearing PFDs, ensures safety.

Susan Wall, Inspector with Community Standards, advises, “stay safe on Calgary’s waterways this summer. Remember, wearing a life jacket is not just a choice; it’s the law. Bylaw and CPS officers are dedicated to enforcing water safety bylaws, so let’s protect ourselves and avoid fines while enjoying the rivers and lakes.”

“Those who are floating, kayaking, paddle boarding or boating are reminded to wear life jackets and have the proper safety equipment available. Those operating watercrafts are reminded not to do so while impaired by alcohol or drugs. Operating any vessel while under the influence of drugs or alcohol is considered impaired driving and is a chargeable offence,” says Darrel Schmidt, Sergeant with the CPS.

“The top three factors in water-related fatalities are not wearing a life jacket, being impaired and being exposed to water with frigid temperatures. Stay safe and alert while on the water, as currents and water flow can fluctuate quickly,” he adds.

Stressing the significance of preparedness, officials advise rafters to be mindful of the Bow River’s course and features, such as the Harvie Passage and the standing waves near the 10 Street Bridge.

Standup paddleboards are increasingly popular on Calgary’s waterways. Most paddleboards come with an ankle leash which are not safe for use on Calgary’s rivers. There is a high risk of being pulled under water or getting the leash entangled which can trap someone under water as there is no way to detach the leash during an emergency. Do not use the ankle leash while paddleboarding on the river. If you’re worried about losing your board if you fall off, you can consider putting your phone number on the board.

Alex Kwan, Community Safety Officer with the CFD, expresses the collective concern, stating, “we want everyone to be as safe as possible while enjoying Calgary’s waterways. The fast-moving water of the Bow River makes it attractive for activities like floating, surfing and canoeing. However, it is crucial to have the right equipment and knowledge to prevent serious outcomes in the event of an accident.”

Calgarians are asked to refrain from occupying boat launch areas unless launching their boats. This ensures the CFD can swiftly access the launches in emergencies.

Additionally, Calgarians are urged to adhere to all parking signage and park only in designated areas.

For more information, visit

Sean Chu

Sean Chu arrived in Calgary from Taiwan in 1985 speaking not a word of English, and within 7 years he was a sworn officer with the Calgary Police Service. From that point on Sean worked with the Calgary Police Service as on Officer for 21 years in a number of roles until 2013.

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