Bylaw officials keep an eye on violations during the weekend



krista sylvester/metro calgary


From left to right, rafters John Olsen, Erin Olsen, Jenny Mayers and Andrew Cull following the rules and wearing their lifejackets on the Elbow River yesterday. City Bylaw director Bill Bruce said they had 90 per cent compliance yesterday after issuing dozens of warnings on Saturday.


Although bylaw officers were cracking down on lawbreakers on the rivers handing out tickets on Saturday, it didn’t deter most Calgarians from enjoying a lazy Sunday floating down the river.

After handing out about seven tickets on Saturday and dozens of warnings along the Elbow River, city bylaw boss Bill Bruce said most Calgarians followed the rules yesterday.

“We’ve been extremely busy but today we have seen an amazing difference since yesterday. I would say we have about 90 per cent compliance today, so most people are listening and putting on their life jackets,” Bruce told Metro while patrolling the banks of Stanley Park.


Bruce said city bylaw officials dished out about eight offences yesterday, mostly for open liquor offences.

“What we’re trying to do is make it fun for everyone. If you have your lifejacket in the raft, we make you wear it. If you don’t have one at all, you have to get out. If you have liquor, we’ll let you store it in the car and if you don’t want to do that, we’ll give you a ticket.”

And the tickets aren’t cheap. People caught without a life jacket will face a stiff penalty of $500. Getting caught with open liquor will set people behind anywhere from $115 to $200, depending on what the officer deems necessary.

Some rafters still didn’t wear their lifejackets on the Elbow, despite the crackdown.

Two men, who didn’t want to use their names, said the crackdown feels more like “big brother.”

“I just think it’s overkill. It’s the Elbow River; it’s only a foot deep. It’s like a wading pool. Maybe the Bow is a different story, but this is a joke.”

However, some paddlers, including 25-year-old Matt Hawlowski, agreed that all rafters should wear life jackets, regardless of where they raft.

“I think it’s a good thing, people should be wearing them,” Hawlowski said. “And people shouldn’t be drinking anyways, that’s when stupid things happen. Anyone can drown in even a foot of water.”

Meanwhile, the police and the fire department continue to patrol the faster-flowing and more dangerous Bow River.

“The Bow River is a lot more dangerous than the Elbow River and the police will be out there handing out tickets for non-compliance,” Bruce said. “We just want everyone to be safe and have fun.”

‘drowning machine’

  • The Bow River weir, known locally as the “drowning machine,” was built in 1904 to divert water from the river into irrigation canals. In the last 30 years, 12 people have died in the weir, including two rafters from Quebec last month.