Quebec provincial police take advantage of fireworks to teach boaters about safety

Provincial police are running a campaign on the St. Lawrence River, and Radio-Canada went along for a sail this week.

Sûreté du Québec patrollers running awareness campaign on St. Lawrence River

Police officer Jean-François Villemure intercepted several boats last Wednesday. (Ivanoh Demers/Radio-Canada)

Quebec's provincial police force is using the ongoing International des Feux Loto-Québec fireworks show to teach people about boating safety with a campaign on the St. Lawrence River, and Radio-Canada joined them for a sail.

On Wednesday, some 80 boats were on the river in Montreal's Old Port with people aboard hoping to enjoy the weekly fireworks show. 

A boater supplies police officer Jean-François Villemure from the SQ's nautical squad with the requested documents. (Ivanoh Demers/Radio-Canada)

"We're patrolling the St. Lawrence Seaway, and we intercept boats randomly," said Quebec provincial police officer Jean-François Villemure.

The goal is to ensure boaters have licenses, registration and safety equipment such as float lines, fire extinguishers and life jackets. 

The Sûreté du Québec's nautical squad pulls over a boat during a fireworks show. (Ivanoh Demers/Radio-Canada)

The Sureté du Québec takes about 1,000 nautical outings per year, during which they give out about 800 tickets and 3,500 warnings. 

"I choose some boats because there are a lot of people on them," Villemure said. 

The fine for not having a life jacket on board is $273. (Ivanoh Demers/Radio-Canada)

Most offences have to do with flotation devices — either there are not enough, or they are not the right size. 

Boaters have the right to consume alcohol, but cannot exceed the legal blood alcohol concentration of .08, which is 80 milligrams of alcohol in 100 millilitres of blood

Police officer Jean-François Villemure checks that the fire extinguisher of an intercepted boat is working properly. (Ivanoh Demers/Radio-Canada)

Also, all security features must be easily accessible on the boat. If it takes five minutes to get the safety equipment out, it doesn't work, Villemure said. 

During the fireworks this summer, Montreal and Longueuil police will also be patrolling the St. Lawrence River. 

The SQ's nautical squad takes in the fireworks show. (Ivanoh Demers/Radio-Canada)

Based on a report by Radio-Canada