A jet boat was seen cruising down the Kettle River at Rock Creek on Saturday, July 18, near children and swimmers. Though it is not illegal to run a power boat on the Kettle River, nearby water users expressed safety concerns. (Cam Thyssen photo)

Boat cruises by Rock Creek beach, surprising swimmers

Conservation officer to pursue watercraft regulation changes on Kettle River

Swimmers were taken by surprise when a jet boat drove by the beach across from the Prospector Pub in Rock Creek on Saturday, zipping over the water where children had minutes earlier been snorkelling.

According to the Grand Forks Conservation Officer Service (COS), at least one call was put in to the R.A.P.P. line to report the boat, which appeared to have three men aboard and was heading downstream towards Midway when reported.

Cpl. Ted Bowen of the Midway RCMP detachment said that two complaints were made about the incident, which claimed the boat was operating dangerously on the river, simply by moving through the same space that tubers and swimmers had been using.

Bowen said that an investigation determined that the boat operators were being respectful of other water users.

“All evidence showed they were acting responsibly and not breaking any laws,” Bowen said.

The boat owner, a Boundary local, reportedly agreed to not use the boat on the Kettle River for the rest of the season.

“At this point in time on the Kettle River,” Bowen said. “It’s just a matter of using common sense.”

Saturday’s incident was not the first such report that local conservation officers have received this season.

As such, the Grand Forks COS said it will be submitting a proposed regulation change to restrict the use of jet boats on the Kettle River – if not categorically, then at least for the peak summer season.

Saturday’s calls were forwarded to the RCMP “as there may have been a public safety issue with the boat being too close to swimmers,” the COS said.

“It just isn’t an appropriate place for a jet boat – particularly this time of year,” said the Grand Forks COS.

With people floating and families swimming in the increasingly warm water – and the water level falling – the public safety risk increases.

The COS said that current B.C. regulations are in effect through 2021, so any possible change to the watercraft regulations for the Kettle River wouldn’t likely come about until the spring of 2022.

According to the Vessel Operation Restriction Regulations in the Canada Shipping Act, “no person shall operate a power-driven vessel at a speed in excess of 10 km/h within 30 m of the shore” in a B.C. lake or river.

Stands of Ponderosa pine interspersed with open areas of bunchgrass characterize this recreation area that lies astride the Kettle River between the Okanagan Plateau and the Monashee Mountains.

The abandoned right-of-way of the historic Kettle Valley section of the Canadian Pacific Railway, completed in 1916 to link the Pacific coast with southern Alberta, passes through the site.

On the east bank of the river is evidence of the once flourishing gold and silver mines.

The river provides excellent canoeing and inner tube riding in the summertime.

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