Calgary, AB,

Hot weather draws crowds to Calgary rivers

The Calgary Police Service Marine Unit estimates there were more than 5,300 river users on the water this past weekend, and are reminding Calgarians to raft safely this upcoming August long weekend.

The hot, dry weather has drawn large crowds to Calgary’s waterways this year. Marine Unit officers have made contact with more than 17,000 people on Calgary’s rivers since May. Of those, 1,374 people have been given warnings on the proper safety requirements for river usage, and 137 have received tickets. The Marine Unit has also made a total of nine rescues, some of which were potentially life threatening circumstances.

“We want to thank all of the rafters we’ve met so far this year. The vast majority of people are having a great time and come prepared with the proper equipment. But it only takes a split second for something to go wrong,” says Cst. Ryan Schroeder.

“I’ll never forget the panicked look in the eyes of the grandmother, mother and three-year-old son who we found stuck on a log jam earlier this year. The mother sustained multiple broken ribs and major bruising from the current pushing her into the logs. Even when you do everything right things can, and do, go wrong.”

River users are reminded to ensure they are wearing properly fitted life jackets or PFDs, and are using a watercraft suitable for Calgary’s rivers – pool inflatables are not durable enough to withstand rocks. All river vessels are also required to carry:

  • a bailing device,
  • a sound signaling device such as a whistle, and
  • a 15 meter emergency throw rope that floats.
  • They should also be equipped with proper paddles.

It is strongly recommended that vessels not be tied together as they could become trapped on opposite sides of a bridge support structure. This has resulted in drowning deaths in the past.

Consumption of alcohol or drugs is not only illegal on Calgary’s waterways, it is extremely dangerous. It is also illegal to transport alcohol within reach of an occupant of a vessel.

The CPS Marine Unit will be patrolling Calgary’s waterways this weekend and look forward to meeting many more rafters.

“Calgary Fire will have its three aquatics crews patrolling the Bow River over the long weekend,” adds Carol Henke of The Calgary Fire Department. “Along with CPS and bylaw officers from Calgary Community Standards, we encourage safe behavior on the river. If you see someone in distress, always call 9-1-1 as soon as possible.”

Partners in Water Safety encourage all water users to familiarize themselves with safety practices and bylaws on and check flow levels at