Boats banned near shoreline of Detroit River during 'high water crisis'

Boaters on the Detroit River will be banned from travelling within 30 metres of the shoreline.

Rules come in effect as area waterways hit record highs

A boat travels down the Detroit River before the temporary ban near Windsor's shoreline was put in place. (Sanjay Maru/CBC)

Boats on the Detroit River have been banned from travelling within 30 metres of the Canadian shoreline in an effort to prevent what authorities have described as "alarming" erosion of properties along the water. 

The ban will last for 30 days and is effectively immediately, according to the Windsor Port Authority. 

"We are dealing with historic high waters' crisis," said Steve Salmons, president and CEO of the Windsor Port Authority. 

"By imposing a 30 metre ban we are asking all pleasure craft to be good neighbours and stay away from the shoreline property."

Shipping vessels have agreed to slow down on the Detroit River from 10 knots (or 18 km/h)  to 7 knots (13 km/h).

According to Windsor Mayor Drew Dilkens, water levels will continue to rise.

"We expect the situation to get worse before it gets better," said Dilkens. "We know it's an inconvenience but we think it's a responsible, reasonable step to help provide a sense of safety."

What boaters need to know:

Here's the breakdown of the temporary ban:

  • All self-propelled ships must be 30 metres from the shoreline along the City of Windsor between Tecumseh and extending to Lasalle.
  • Boats are only able to enter the area if they are docking.
  • Authorities can issue a fine of up to $5,000 for an individual boater and $50,000 for a corporation or ship.

Education, enforcement

All parties agreed enforcement would be difficult on the Detroit River, but suggested the traffic control measure is mostly about education. 

All motorized watercraft must remain 30 metres from the shoreline. (Angelica Haggert/CBC)

"We do have partners out on the water ... it's a big waterway," said Dilkens. "What we're trying to do here is educate."

Dilkens said the city thinks if boaters understand the rules, they'll want to comply. 

Staff Sgt. Sue Garrett, of Windsor police, said in order to enforce, the identity of the boat and driver have to be proven, as well as evidence associating the wake with the boat.

Garrett suggested shoreline residents or business owners can take photos or videos and submit them to police. 

Historic highs across the Great Lakes

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers said Tuesday that Lakes Erie and Ontario last month reached their highest points since record-keeping began in 1918.

Salmons said we're past flooding levels that happened before.

"We're dealing with a new problem, a greater problem," said Salmons, adding that head waters are unexpectedly coming from Lake Superior. 

The port authority is authorized by the Canada Marine Act to impose a temporary ban. 

The high water has led to overland flooding, particularly in Lasalle where residents have been filing up sandbags to protect their properties.

Lakeshore residents remain on notice for a potential state of emergency as officials monitor water levels. The City of Windsor has not reached that point yet, but Dilkens said the city is in a "critical" state. 


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