Steady Brook tourism operator Joe Dicks says he’s seen too many careless and foolhardy rafters on the Humber River in recent years. Drinking and rafting, sometimes without life-jackets, is putting them at risk, he says. — Picture by Geraldine Brophy/The Western Star
TC Media—Steady Brook
The escalation of recreational users on the Humber River creates mixed emotions in Joe Dicks.
The Steady Brook tourism operator says responsible rafting along the Humber is a welcome activity, but there are a lot of irresponsible rafters on the river.
“I am seeing everything you shouldn’t do on the water, all in one place,” Dicks said.
He says life-jacket compliance is low — combined with questionable rafts, such as over-loaded single-bladder vessels, and high numbers of rafters using alcohol. People are taking their lives in their hands, he said.
Dicks is so concerned he’s offered to lend a life-jacket to those who don’t have one. They just have to drop in at Marble Inn.
“Anything that floats is coming down the Humber now,” he said. “You are seeing those same people showing up. If there are four of them, there is two or three dozen beer.”
Dicks said there are more Jet Skis and boats on the river now than ever before. That increases the risk for rafters, he said. He warned the water is colder than usual this summer, adding to the likelihood of hypothermia if there’s a spill.
He is also worried about litter going into the Humber River as a result of its increased use.
He said he doesn’t expect to see an increased enforcement effort, so he believes the onus is on rafters to change their behaviour.
“I wouldn’t want to think of somebody who dies as just being stunned,” he said. “If you are on the river on a hot day, and you are drinking up a storm, and you are on a boat that isn’t designed for that purpose and you are not wearing a life-jacket ... what else can you say?
“This day and age ... I thought we were smarter than that.”
The Western Star