A petition seeking to regulate the use of cigarette boats on Shuswap Lake, which was thrown into sharp relief by a fatal collision in early September, is being prepared for submission to the federal government.
Doug Armstrong, one of the Shuswap residents who helped circulate the petition, said it predates the Sept. 1 crash between two of the large speedboats which claimed the life of 33-year-old Ryan Hartmann. The petition was started on Aug. 3. Armstrong said all but one of the 80 signatures on the petition were obtained before the accident, but added the tragedy highlights the safety risks the powerful boats pose.
Armstrong, a seasonal resident of the Shuswap, managed to get the signatures before returning to Edmonton. He said he plans to present the petition to whoever emerges as the North-Okanagan Shuswap MP after the election in October in order to bring the issue to Transport Canada’s attention. It has also been presented to CSRD Area C Director Paul Demenok.
The petition notes the boats are capable of very high speeds, making them a danger to public safety and the environment. Armstrong recounted an instance over the summer when he was approaching the Sicamous channel in his own boat and the wake from one of the cigarette boats cleared his gunwales in a three-foot swell.
Also noted in the petition is the noise the boats’ large engines make, which Armstrong said hampers the enjoyment for those in a wider area when the boats are racing up the lake.
The petition also refers to the boats’ fuel consumption as “unreasonable.”
“Give a human being a boat that has 700 horsepower, are they going to go along at 25 miles per hour if they are not regulated? Or are they just going to pull out the throttle and feel the thrill of big time speed on water?”
Armstrong said the way he has seen the cigarette boats operating on the lake is without any regard for those who value Shuswap Lake for its safety, its beauty and its peace.
The petition appeals to all levels of government and enforcement agencies to establish a plan and bylaws to regulate and control the use of fast boats on Shuswap Lake.