Lazy days floating down Calgary’s rivers have a greater impact on Calgarians than rafters may realize.

Hundreds, sometimes thousands, of rafters float along the Bow and Elbow rivers on hot summer days. With them come debris, noise and disrespect, say area residents.

“As a sweeping generality, there is an immense amount of noise and an immense amount of drinking,” said Elbow Park Resident Association president Robert Lehodey. Trespassing, littering, defecation and broken glass are also common problems residents have with river users, he said.

Const. Ed Perkins with the Calgary Police Marine Unit patrols all of Calgary’s waterways. He said that floating is a great recreational activity, “but with no consideration for the environment or (one’s) own safety, it’s dangerous. People at least have life jackets now, even if they’re not always wearing them,” he said.

The Calgary Fire Department patrol boats also hit the water once the warmer weather comes to Calgary.

The number of river rescues has gone down in the past few years, mainly due to greater safety awareness said Barry Dawson, Calgary Fire Department public information officer.

“People are starting to react and know that safety is an issue on the river,” he said.

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