LdB Safe Boating Ambassadors

Volunteer to be a Safe Boating Ambassador


LdB Safe Boating Ambassadors: Who We Are

The LDB Safe Boating Ambassadors program is a community-driven initiative designed to increase boating safety and etiquette awareness in Lac du Bonnet, Manitoba specific to the Lee River and Pinawa Channel. Working together, we will contribute to the education of safe waterway use by promoting:

1. Waterway safety, as governed by Transport Canada, and
2. General good boating etiquette for specific activities, focusing on those that occur on our waterways.

The LdB Safe Boating Ambassadors Team

The Safe Boating Ambassadors are members of the boating community, avid paddlers, stand-up paddleboarders, wake surfers, water skiers, and boaters. The members will act as Waterway Safety Leaders for the community of Lac du Bonnet, sharing and encouraging all waterway users to safely partake in all waterway activities.

LdB Safe Boating Ambassador Goals

Through discussion, feedback, and public input during the Community Engagement Process undertaken in 2020, it was deemed that alternative non-regulatory options need to be put in place to ensure that safety is always top of mind while using the waterways for any purpose.

To that end, the Safe Boating Ambassadors are working towards completing the non-regulatory goals as set out in the application. This will be a multi-year process that will begin in the summer of 2021 and will continue to develop over the next several years.

1. Create a Waterway Safety Campaign that includes a variety of informative touchpoints with the users to inform and educate all user groups on safe boating; safe waterway uses, best practices, and good waterway etiquette. This would include a variety of methods and mediums that include but are not limited to: a website, social media posts with a dedicated channel for boater safety, educational videos, newspaper and magazine advertising, brochures, or other materials that can be handed out to the public.

2. Engage the public at the Rural Municipality of Lac du Bonnet Boat Launches and through Cottage Owner Cooperatives to promote safety protocols on a one-on-one basis to ensure maximum visibility.

3. Partner with Lac du Bonnet’s Emergency Management Program, Tourism Committee, and Community Development Corporation to increase the reach of all safety measures for waterway safety.

4. Work with specific user groups to enhance safety protocols among their user and advocate for safe waterway use.

5. Install physical site-specific signage at high-risk areas, such as crossing points or waterway attractions that are known to lead to congestion.

6. Develop a user-enforced flagging system whereby boaters can alert other vessel operators of towers that have been dumped into the water. In addition, a user-enforced flagging system could be explored to alert other vessel operators that a towing activity is occurring so that other vessels will leave ample space.

7. Transition the Committee established to explore VORR changes into a Waterway Safety Steering Committee to support safety measures and education.


During the summer of 2020, the Rural Municipality of Lac du Bonnet created a VORR Committee to examine the recreational waterway use of the Lee River and Pinawa Channel and make recommendations towards improving the safe usage of these waterways by all recreational users.

The Committee defined the areas of most significant concern affecting safety and shoreline erosion on the Pinawa Channel and Lee River through feedback collected in the Public Consultation Process. These areas are high traffic, speed, conflicting activities and uses, a lack of boating education and etiquette that leads to an undesired behavioural culture, and large waves created by wake boats.

The problems, causes, and behaviours addressed contribute to the unsafe conditions of the Pinawa Channel and Lee River. Both bodies of water are navigable waterways, which means that equitable access for all users and activities is required by Federal law. Understanding the shared values and interests held by all of the users of these waterways is essential for:

• Lawful compliance and enforcement,
• Equality for users and the various recreational activities that take place on the waterways; and
• Support successful efforts to build and sustain behaviour changes and safety outcomes.

In terms of developing solutions, a multi-level approach is required to address the causes and correct the problems that make these waterways unsafe for recreational users and harm the environment.

The enforcement of current regulations needs to increase. The education and etiquette deficits need to be addressed through training and a cultural shift on the waterways. Additional regulations need to be put in place to protect the users and set the tone of all safety measures.

As such, a VORR Application has been submitted for review to Transport Canada to help define the rules and regulations for safe operations on the Pinawa Channel and Lee River, and a Safe Boating Ambassador Program has been established to promote safe and equitable use of the Pinawa Channel and Lee River by a community of peers.

The introduction of wake boats on the Pinawa Channel and Lee River has created a significant and contentious issue among recreation users on both bodies of water. Wake boat ownership and use along these bodies of water have been increasing over the past five years. The primary issue is the enhanced wake created by wake boats when travelling at low speeds with full or partially full ballasts. 1,000 to 3,000 pounds of water can be taken into the ballast tank, depending on its size, to increase the boat’s displacement, shape the wake and create artificial waves for surfing.

The continued use of wake boats, specifically on the Pinawa Channel and the narrow sections of the Lee River, has contributed to accelerated shoreline erosion, caused damage to personal property, swamped boats of other recreational users, and created a growing safety concern along the waterways.

In terms of large wakes and waves generated along the Pinawa Channel and Lee River, research and the Public Consultation Process has produced the following causes:

• Since the introduction of wake boats on waterways across the globe, wakeboarding and wake surfing have become contentious issues worldwide. Many communities struggle with the enhanced waves created by these vessels, which on the Pinawa Channel and Lee River have been reported to be between three feet and six feet high.

• Wake boat ownership is increasing, and the sport of wake surfing continues to grow in popularity.

• As wake boats and the watersports associated with them, such as wake surfing and wakeboarding, become more popular, and technology is further developed, the boats being manufactured and purchased are getting larger. Manufacturers provide the ability to accommodate even more displacement value by increasing ballast, with some models boasting up to 5,000 pounds of water taken into the boat, which further increases the size of the wake, or wave, being created.

• Years ago, these boats were a high-ticket item. While some models can still cost more than $200,00, lower-cost options have hit the market, coming in around $56,000. The lower price ticket makes wake boats more accessible to more people resulting in increased usage.

• The use of wake boats for wake surfing is the direct cause of the large wake and wave problems identified.

• Wave height is one of the most important factors in shoreline erosion. Observations made by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources have shown that:

  • a wave that is 12.5 cm high (the height of a compact disk case) when it reaches the shore does not cause significant shoreline damage. Waves this high are created by boats operating at speeds under 10 km/h – a rate that is generally considered reasonable when operating close to shore
  • a wave that is 25 cm high is four times more destructive than a 12.5 cm wave
  • 62.5 cm high waves are 25 times more destructive

• Wake boats, specifically for wake surfing, create waves that are 91 cm high to 183 cm high.

• The size of a waterway affects the potential for erosion to occur. The greater the distance generated waves are from shore, the more opportunity they have to dissipate before reaching shore, reducing the effect they have on shoreline erosion.

• The composition of the shoreline is also a determining factor in how a shoreline will be impacted and affected by natural and human causes of erosion.

Specific operating behaviours contributing to the cause of the problem include:

• Wake boat operators operating too close to shorelines and other watercraft, creating large, unsafe waves for wake surfing, create hazardous conditions for different users and accelerate shoreline erosion.

• Wake surfers prefer the calm waters of the Pinawa Channel and Lee River over the larger and safer areas to operate.

Speeding concerns were another problem identified during the Public Consultation Process. In particular, respondents reported speeding concerns related to personal watercraft operators. Speed is of general concern when hundreds of recreational users enjoy water bodies at a time. The safety concern of speed, combined with high traffic congestion at narrow points of the bodies of water, is an accident waiting to happen.

The speed of vessels is also of noted concern in two crossing points.

The first is where the Lee River meets the Pinawa Channel at Coordinates 50° 16’ 12” N – 95° 52 46 W; under the PTH 313 bridge. Granite outcroppings make this a very narrow passing, and it is the only entrance onto or exit from the Pinawa Channel. The water is also very shallow and further reduces the passable course vessels can take. Increasing the safety hazard is a lack of sight, as the pathway curves southwest.

The second point is on the Lee River at Coordinates 50° 18’ 41” N – 95° 51’ 29” W. All vessels south of this point use this passing to reach the broader parts of the Lee River or travel to Lac du Bonnet Lake. All vessels north of this point use this passage to reach the southern part of the Lee River. Two granite outcroppings jut out of the water. The river on either side of these outcroppings is very shallow, with a granite riverbed, forcing all traffic to travel between them.

In terms of vessel operation speed on the waterways, research and the Public Consultation Process has produced the following causes:

• Technology is a leading factor in this problem whereby motorized vessels on the waterways today are more prominent and faster than 20 years ago.

• Lack of education and proper waterway etiquette are contributing factors where speed is concerned.

• Speed often became a safety concern when operating vessels near shorelines and other watercraft and during times when impaired driving is observed.

• Many vessel operators exceed the governed speed of 10 km within 30 m of the shoreline.

Specific operating behaviours contributing to the cause of the problem include:

• Personal watercraft users continue to drive at high speeds, weaving through other waterway traffic in times of congestion.

• Motorized user groups do not alter their speed while approaching and passing non-motorized vessels (canoe, kayak, paddleboard) users.

• Personal watercraft users are a leading contributing factor with speed concerns, particularly in regards to the ability these vessels have to change direction quickly, the erratic driving patterns the operators make while weaving in and out of other boat traffic, crisscrossing across the waterway, or driving in circles around other users, and near shorelines.

Participants identified several conflicts, including conflicts between high impact water sports and leisurely recreation activities, the impact of towing activities and personal watercraft use activities (erratic driving, proximity to shore and other vessels, and speed), and the potential for danger arising from hundreds of users participating in all possible recreational activities during peak periods, specifically along the Pinawa Channel and the narrow sections of the Lee River.

In terms of conflicting activities and uses on the waterways, research and the Public Consultation Process has produced the following causes:

• An increase in users since the 1990s and an increased diversity of usage, with the addition of larger and more powerful boats, has compounded this problem.

• There are more intensive and varied recreational activities on the waterways, which are continually evolving.

• Increased usage of the relatively static, narrowly confined water surfaces is placing more demands on these resources.

• There is a drastic variation in water users’ and craft operators’ experience, skill levels, education, interests and consideration for and understanding of other user groups.

• There is enhanced visibility and prominence of safety and environmental issues.

• There are varied attitudes and perceptions about recreation activities, waterway safety, water resources, and environmental impact.

Specific operating behaviours contributing to the cause of the problem include:

• Personal watercraft users travel close to other vessels to jump wakes and waves.

• Wake surfers are creating large waves, swamping and capsizing other watercraft.

• Vessel operators travel too closely to tow activities; if a skier or tube occupant is sent into the water, there is significant concern that they will be run over by other vessels.

• There is an increase in the number of operators who travel too close to other vessels, especially in high traffic times.

Protect Manitoba's Waters

The legislation applies to everyone who uses a water body across the province from the general public to commercial operators.

The regulations target the method in which AIS are moved from one water body to another, namely watercraft, aircraft, motorized vehicles, water-related equipment and bait use. Individuals/operators will be required to take specified measures prior to entering and leaving a water body to prevent the movement of AIS from one water body to another.

For more information on the regulations, cleaning requirements, and legislation please visit Legislation, Regulations and Set Fines on the Government of Manitoba website. You can also find information about AIS in the Manitoba Angler’s Guide.

About the Safe Boating Ambassador Program

The Safe Boating Ambassador program is a community-driven initiative designed to increase boating safety and etiquette awareness in Lac du Bonnet, Manitoba specific to the Lee River and Pinawa Channel. Working together, we will contribute to the education of safe waterway use by promoting:

1. Waterway safety, as governed by Transport Canada, and
2. General good boating etiquette for specific activities, focusing on those that occur on our waterways.

The Safe Boating Ambassadors are members of the boating community, avid paddlers, stand-up paddleboarders, wake surfers, water skiers, and boaters. The members will act as Waterway Safety Leaders for the community of Lac du Bonnet, sharing and encouraging all waterway users to safely partake in all waterway activities.

This season, let’s all remember that waterway safety is in our hands. Let’s all do our part.

Volunteer to be a Safe Boating Ambassador

This season, let's all remember that waterway safety is in our hands. Let's all do our part, share this information with your friends!