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BC/AB watercraft inspections; lessons learned
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Author:  mark m [ August 16th, 2017, 11:59 am ]
Post subject:  BC/AB watercraft inspections; lessons learned

Just thought I’d pass on my experiences with the boat inspectors at both BC and AB this past summer. 2 very different experiences and approaches…

I had spent some time paddling in Northern Sask and went on a family trip through BC/AB (AB is home) 3 weeks later. I ALWAYS clean my canoe inside and out after every trip with soap/water, soft brush, rinse AND wipe dry – it is a homemade stripper and I will always take care of it. It has no bilges or bulkheads. I cleaned it thoroughly after the sask trip – as always.

Kayaks and canoes are considered “watercraft” and are subject to inspection

*One thing to be prepared for is that Saskatchewan is now considered a high risk area for bringing invasive species into BC/AB so be careful! The BC website is 2 years out of date and falsely says that Sask is a “green” zone.

Both provinces promote the “Clean, Drain, Dry” concept but the BC inspectors don’t seem to regard this at all. Their inspection process and what they are looking for doesn’t seem to be published anywhere. The AB process and rationale is explained on their website and is consistent with what the AB inspectors told me.

BC (Elko) Aug 12: Despite being “cleaned, drained and dry” my canoe was determined to require decontamination as it had been is Sask waters within 30 days. I was never asked if I did do any cleaning process on my own it was just assumed that I had not – even though the sun was gloriously glinting off the shiny polished hull... They also did not ask me what body of water I was intending to place the canoe into. The process was for me to remove the canoe, paddles and PFDs and place it on a mud covered (and who knows what else) tarp on the ground for them to spray off with a pressure washer with COLD water. “Really cold water kills everything” I was told(?). I was not happy that a pressure washer was used on my homemade stripper but I was assured that the pressure “wasn’t that high” even though the guy required hearing protection from the noise of the compressor… The other weird thing was that he only sprayed off the OUTSIDE of the canoe… Why did I need to take it off my truck? “that’s our policy”. So after everything was all said and done my equipment was dirtier than it was before after spraying mud and whatever was left on the tarp from previous “decontamination” washes. Nice job BC inspector guy!

AB (Jumping Pound – west of Calgary) Aug 15: I had a “decontamination” certificate from Elko now but the AB inspectors didn’t seem to know anything about it but their approach was completely different. They seen that it was clean and dry and would let me pass either way. They said decon was only necessary if it was wet or muddy. They also said that they use a pressure washer but with HOT water; this makes more sense but for me a hot pressure washer on my stripper would be even worse… Again, their policy and procedure I found later is available for anyone to look at on the web. They also said that they didn’t have a functioning pressure washer so if someone did need to “decon” their boat they would have to go to another location… Not very convenient obviously.

So despite being vigilant and keeping our equipment clean its quite possible that the inspectors won’t believe you and some can’t tell what is clean and dry to what is wet and muddy (most 6 yr olds could but in BC they can't…). Again, we are talking about CANOES not trailered boats with bilges etc. Here’s what I’d suggest for us canoeists.
1) Take your chances and drive through without stopping. The AB website lists a heavy fine if you do but I’ve never seen any inspector look up to see who is coming down the highway nor have I seen law enforcement around these sites. We could always claim ignorance as the definition of a “watercraft” may vary for some.
2) Lie. Don’t tell them you’ve had it in ANY water within 30 days. Who knows when they will change the rules again?
3) Go past the inspection sites at night when most of them are closed so you don’t have to deal with the lunacy. AB shows locations and operation times of their stations but this may or may not be accurate. Certainly BC’s is not accurate or up to date. AB does list 2 stations as 24hr (at least this year)
4) Expect a half hour delay and get your gear abused

I do understand the seriousness of the zebra mussels and all the rest but much like their attempts to halt the pine beetle they aren’t doing much except inconveniencing those that are doing the proper thing. Nobody once asked about bailers, throw bags or anything else that might sit in the bottom of the boat which would contact the water. I also suspect that paddleboards, tubes and other inflatable “toys” are not being inspected or asked about and most people don’t clean these at all.
A trailered boat is not at all like a canoe on a roof rack. After about an hour I’d suggest that the UV light from the sun will kill any microorganism on a clean canoe hull. The underside of a motor craft is a different story.
How about a little common sense BC? Until that happens I’ll stay to the east of you.

Author:  raven4 [ August 17th, 2017, 12:16 am ]
Post subject:  Re: BC/AB watercraft inspections; lessons learned

In Waterton NP first week of June I just filled out a form with park ranger...told him i had just recently finished using the canoe in Northern Sk on the Clearwater River where I live and on South SK River ...he told me no worries as SK was not considered high risk...told him i had driven by a station west of Edmonton because I assumed they were only checking motorized worries at all
Entering B.C. was a different story altogether...I felt like a terrorist or something...there were two female university students in high vis vests standing on the side of the highway waving me of course I pulled over, like i couldn't see the multiple warning signs they had posted...told them i had just gone through a similar check in AB...they never asked if i paddled the canoe lately...they proceeded to tell me that my canoe would have to quarantined for 30 days...gets better, they start trying to tell me that all the debris on the bow of my canoe are invasive species...just about losing my marbles I asked "who is in charge" as I can see a couple older inspectors watching from a distance...the boss comes over and I proceed to "LIE" and tell them my boat has not been in the water lately...then I point out that the only invasive species on the bow of my canoe are about a thousand dead insects from driving on the highway..."the boss" asks when was the canoe last in the water...already knowing how to play the game I replied with a straight face...31 days ago.

Author:  Ghost [ August 17th, 2017, 6:15 am ]
Post subject:  Re: BC/AB watercraft inspections; lessons learned

Where are these inspection stations; I haven't been out west for quite some time. I remember truck inspection stations of course, but canoe inspections are a new thing to me.

Author:  mark m [ August 17th, 2017, 7:28 am ]
Post subject:  Re: BC/AB watercraft inspections; lessons learned

They seem to have them usually at all provincial/national borders along the highways in AB & BC.
Here's the AB ones ... p-2017.pdf

I can't see where BC has theirs published for 2017 (although they spent $600,000 on it in 2015)

Author:  Otter Mel [ August 17th, 2017, 11:22 am ]
Post subject:  Re: BC/AB watercraft inspections; lessons learned

What about people who do not come in on major highways or roads??

Author:  Canoeheadted [ August 17th, 2017, 11:39 am ]
Post subject:  Re: BC/AB watercraft inspections; lessons learned

I've never even heard of this.

Did they pull you over or did you pull in to their inspection pullout?
Was this at a weigh scale, rest stop, or where?

Just curious.

Author:  littleredcanoe [ August 17th, 2017, 1:52 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: BC/AB watercraft inspections; lessons learned

I've crossed into both AB and BC in the last six weeks and haven't heard of this at all

Author:  mark m [ August 17th, 2017, 7:07 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: BC/AB watercraft inspections; lessons learned

Raven - sorry for your experience but it sounds painfully similar in BC. Reaffirms my stance to not enter BC anymore. Which station in BC?

Otter - good question. I think you've found another loophole that us responsible people could exploit...

Ted - The stations are usually at truck inspection stations but not always. There are a number of high vis signs and occasionally lighted signs saying mandatory stop. A guy at work claims he was pulled over by police when he failed to pull in although he had a motorboat.
Canoes/kayaks aren't exempt.

I think the same people that are responsible for halting the mountain pine beetle must be behind this one too -- haha

Author:  raven4 [ August 17th, 2017, 7:31 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: BC/AB watercraft inspections; lessons learned

Based on the map you provided mark, I drove by both the Vermillion and Hinton sites thinking they were for motorized boats only...albeit with a gut feeling I should be has been a long and fun summer I don't recall the exact location of the B.C. site...somewhere on the B.C. side of the Rocky Mountain National Parks, I thought around Kootenay?
looking at the journal I passed Vermillion June 2 and Hinton June 3...paddled in Jasper then had the park ranger check in Waterton on June 8...Kootenay/Yoho/Glacier was a few days later and I am sure the B.C. check was somewhere in there.
Surprised I did not experience a check stop when i went to Vancouver Island. If you are trying to prevent invasive species one would think preventing an invasion on such an environment as that would be a priority.
Nor did i see any checks going north on the Cassiar to the Yukon or coming south on the Alaska Highway back into B.C....Yukon must be a "green zone" still.

Author:  littleredcanoe [ August 17th, 2017, 10:22 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: BC/AB watercraft inspections; lessons learned

Went through Hinton several times. No check stops
We blew out a tire on the Yellowhead and had to run back and forth canoe on truck. The tire was on the trailer and we got a new set with the camper in Jasper at a campground.
Must have missed it a lot.

Author:  mark m [ August 17th, 2017, 10:42 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: BC/AB watercraft inspections; lessons learned

Actually the first time I seen them (last year) was between Jasper and Mount Robson (AB side). They were pretty friendly and seemed to be just providing info then. Map says they are in Hinton but maybe they closed it down(?).
I did see an AB station when heading out bound (heading east) at Oyen, AB but when I returned it was dark and didn't notice anyone nor did I remember to look.
Sounds like a great trip Raven. I hope they don't continue to tighten the restrictions so its impossible to go anywhere.
They said that Sask was green on the websites too but obviously that's now changed - at least according to what I was told by the 2 different stations this month

Author:  littleredcanoe [ August 21st, 2017, 6:48 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: BC/AB watercraft inspections; lessons learned

Now back in BC. No inspection stations at all. Came in from Watson Lake area YT

Author:  raven4 [ August 21st, 2017, 7:09 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: BC/AB watercraft inspections; lessons learned

There are, to my understanding no inspection stations near the Yukon border...the Yukon has yet to determine whether or not to implement them even though they signed on to the agreement with the western provinces...and B.C. I would assume not have stations set up for traffic incoming from the Yukon as it is still a "green zone"

Talked to a friend yesterday...he was also out west this summer...the inspection station i had issue with we believe was in the Kooten area around Invermere...he received a $150 dollar ticket for failing to stop at the poorly located inspection site...he had to wait on the side of the highway to get his ticket because they were in the process of ticketing a vehicle with 2 kayaks...he later spoke with those people and there ticket was for $450...don't quite get that one, but I am sure there is more to the story...he received a 20% discount for prompt payment...
He was also stopped by Golden B.C.

Author:  mark m [ August 22nd, 2017, 8:24 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: BC/AB watercraft inspections; lessons learned

The co-worker I mentioned that got pulled over didn't get ticketed but they ran him through the ringer pretty good - I think it was probably the same area.

The signs seem to look identical to construction work style signs and there isn't many of them either. I can see how people will miss them and most people wouldn't consider a canoe/kayak to be required to stop. Hopefully they learn to do a better job.

Author:  littleredcanoe [ August 22nd, 2017, 10:02 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: BC/AB watercraft inspections; lessons learned

I think you are correct that there are stations but now I am in Quesnel BC and haven't seen a single checkpoint down the Stewart Cassiar highway. More to the point no signs about invasives at all in BC even at the five Provincial Parks with water access we have visited
Madziadin PP was full of people from AB and rangers too. Nothing
We're in Quesnel now. Still nothing. We'll go into Bowron with own canoe in two days for an eight day trip and see what happens
I'm OK with a power wash

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