RCMP Volunteers return to duty Vernon North Okanagan

The Vernon North Okanagan RCMP and City of Vernon are pleased to announce the RCMP voluntary marine vessel pre-check program is resuming.

As of August 21st, RCMP Volunteers will be conducting safety pre-checks at the Paddlewheel Park boat launch. Volunteers will also be checking vessels for Quagga and Zebra invasive mussels to help protect our lakes and waterways.

In March, all RCMP Volunteer activities in Vernon were suspended due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Since that time, a safe operation plan has been developed to allow this outdoor program to resume while ensuring appropriate measures are in place to protect our volunteers and the public, such as physical distancing.

The pre-checks are not mandatory, but are recommended for vessel operators. The trained RCMP Volunteers assist the Marine Unit by allowing boaters to complete a pre-launch inspection of all the items required under the Canada Shipping Act, 2001 as well as its regulations governing pleasure craft. Once the inspection is complete, the operator receives documentation that can be provided to RCMP, if they’re later stopped on the water.

The work being done by these volunteers is an important initiative, as it helps speed up our checks on the water, said Cst. Baldauf, who is one of two RCMP members who patrol the lakes around Vernon.

Vernon RCMP Volunteers also work in conjunction with OASISS, a non-profit organization that is dedicated to working collaboratively to prevent, monitor and control the spread of invasive species in the Okanagan-Similkameen region. They will be using a questionnaire that follows Ministry of Environment protocols.

If a boat is determined to be high risk for invasive mussels or when the RCMP Volunteers observe anything suspect, they will call a toll free reporting line (1-877-952-7277) or have the boaters call, ideally in their presence.

Should the vessel be arriving from a high-risk location and mussels are evident, you may be required to have the boat quarantined or decontaminated. As of December 2012, B.C. law requires that no Zebra or Quagga Mussel, alive or dead, be present on boats or related equipment. Failure to clean mussels off boats or equipment could result in a fine of up to $100,000.

We can all help prevent the spread of an invasive species into BC waters and ensure to clean, drain and dry your boat and other equipment.