For the second summer in a row, Christina Lake has full-time police presence in the area. The program, which sees a retired, but fully-operational, officer at the Lake for July and August, has been a benefit to the community.
“Just the presence out there, from what I’ve been told, has made the lake a lot better for people and safer out here,” said Cpl. Chris Cottrill, the officer working at the lake. “People know they’re going to get checked here now. For a few years out here I don’t think they were getting routinely checked.”
Cottrill works 40 hours a week and covers general duty calls as well as enforcement of license and liquor regulations.
“I’m out there on the lake checking the boats, making sure everybody has their boating license as well as the safety gear and equipment; your life vest, your whistle, your fire extinguishers, paddle oars, navigation lights – all the stuff you need for safe boating,” Cottrill said.
“And just telling people or giving them a heads up of what the rules and regulations are out here. You can drink on a boat out here but I tell people, younger people in a crowd, that if you tie up more than two boats together now you’re becoming a public place where you could be actually charged with liquor offences.”
Cottrill said that it’s all right to drink on a boat, as long as long as they’re not letting the driver drink.
“You have to have a sober driver who’s licensed to operate a vessel,” he said. “You don’t need a license for a canoe or something that’s under a nine-horse motor.”
Grace McGregor, regional district Area C director, said that the influence of having the extra enforcement has made for the Lake has impressed her.
“We have seen quite a difference,” McGregor said. “The other thing I’ve noticed is that the young people have some respect for Chris. He’s very good at talking with them and dealing with them. Last year we had less issues. I’m not saying we never had any but I am saying we did have a lot less issues.”
McGregor has accompanied Cottrill on patrols of the lake and said that he is very visible.
“The visibility on the lake is a good thing, because at the end of the day my job is to try to keep people as safe as I can keep them,” she said.
The program costs Area C around $20,000 a year, and covers lodging and hours and other expenses for the program.
Cpl. Richard Lanz of the Grand Forks RCMP said that the program helps to take some pressure off the Grand Forks detachment when they have a steady officer out there. That saves them the time of sending patrol out for every complaint.
“It’s a benefit having a member working full-time specifically for Christina Lake, due to the amount of people that are there for recreational purposes over the summer,” Lanz said. “We still go out and assist Chris out at the lake, but to have someone out there full-time is a benefit because people do see him out there all the time, instead of just once in a while.”