Skippers should have the final say in the lifejacket debate, council says.
The draft Navigational Safety Bylaw, including a proposal that lifejackets have to be worn at all times on vessels under six metres in length, was deliberated by a council hearings panel on June 6.
The panel recommended mandatory lifejackets on small boats heading to sea but said skippers could make the final call about when they could be removed.
The bylaw received 395 submissions with about 80 per cent rasing concerns about the proposal, largely from the boating community.
Panel chair and councillor Calum Penrose says the recommendation is a ‘‘good middle ground’’.
‘‘The purpose of the proposal around lifejackets was driven by concern from our local boards and communities of the number of people drowning who were not wearing lifejackets, so we put it out there to get the public’s views.
‘‘In the end I think we have come to a good middle ground which puts the responsibility back on the skipper while also reducing the risk of preventable drownings.’’
Other recommendations include an education programme and a Transport Act amendment making it illegal to operate a boat under the influence of drugs or alcohol that render the skipper incapable of proper control.
The recommendations will be presented to the governing body to make a final decision. The next governing body meeting is scheduled for June 26.
Buckle up: The debate about mandatory life jackets on small vessels continues.