The Bartlett family casts off from Fort Normandeau on Monday afternoon for a river ride to beat the heat.

Floaters urged to exercise caution on the river

A scorcher of a Monday called for a jump in the river for the Bartlett family.

A scorcher of a Monday called for a jump in the river for the Bartlett family.

Or at least a long, leisurely float down river, said mom Tanis.

Tanis, her husband, Brian, their three daughters and family friend Chloe Hollings, all piled onto a giant inflatable tube and dinghy at Fort Normandeau for a drift down to the 67th Street bridge.

It’s a popular summer pastime for Central Albertans who take to the Red Deer River at various spots, such as the Penhold Bridge, with all kinds of rafts and inflatables — some durable and some that shouldn’t be used outside a pool.

“It’s time to veg out, spend time with each other and just soak up the sun,” said Tanis. “I really like how you see Red Deer from a different perspective, too. It’s beautiful.”

Daughter Nisa, 18, agreed, pointing out the various species of birds and wildlife you can see from the river. She said going for a float feels like a vacation.

It’s only the second time the Bartletts, who live in Red Deer, have gone floating. Two summers ago, at the end of August when the water level was extremely low, they also went for a ride in a big inner tube.

“That time it took us three hours from here down to 67th,” said Tanis.

Brain said with a faster flow at this time of the year, he expected it to take even less time.

“We learned from that last time. … We’d put our phones and keys in what we thought was a waterproof pouch but wasn’t. And we ended up with holes in our tube when we were leaving, bringing it up onto shore.”

They also make sure to carry plenty of water to stay hydrated and extra sunscreen as it “heats up quickly with the water’s reflection out there,” said Brian.

While floating downstream may see like a harmless activity to beat the heat, Red Deer County Patrol Senior Patrol Officer Bob Marsh said people need to remember to exercise caution.

“We still have a high flow, and debris and murkiness of the water itself makes it pretty unsafe right now,” he said, noting the cloudiness is expected to clear in about two weeks or so.

A number of incidents happened last summer involving stranded floaters but nothing has been reported yet this season, said Marsh.

There are always a problems with floaters drinking alcohol, which is illegal, he added.

“People have to understand that little boats and inner tubes, they’re still considered pleasure craft by Transport Canada so they have to have a life-jacket for every rider and if they don’t wear them when floating, then they have to have a bailer, whistle, rope, stuff like that.”

The fine for not wearing a life-jacket starts at $250.

The six patrol officers who make the rounds at least once a week along the river say it’s hard to get floaters to take the risks seriously.

“A mom, her grandmother and her 15-month old son were all just sitting in this flotation device. If he falls in, how would they fix that? I escorted them back to where they had launched at Fort Normandeau and they weren’t too happy,” said Marsh. “The water may be not that deep but there are sinkholes that are 10 to 12 feet deep and you can be in trouble real quick.”

Marsh said with the river still flowing at a steady rate, he wasn’t sure how long it would take floaters to reach the popular landing at Three Mile Bend on Monday but said it was at least four hours or up to half a day to get there from Fort Normandeau.

rfrancoeur@bprda.wpengine.com

Just Posted

Women’s marches underway in Canadian cities, a year after Trump inauguration

Women are gathering in dozens of communities across the country today to… Continue reading

Red Deer councillor balks at city getting stuck with more funding responsibilities

Volunteer Central seeks municipal funding after being cut off by government

Olds chicken barn burns to the ground, no livestock harmed

More than 100,000 chickens were saved as fire crews prevent the blaze from spreading

Bear video meant to promote conservation: zoo owner

Discovery Wildlife Park says it will look at other ways to promote its conservation message

Red Deer’s Soundhouse closing its doors on Record Store Day

The owners of The Soundhouse want to shut down their store on… Continue reading

WATCH: Property taxes in Red Deer will go up 2.02 per cent in 2018

City council passes a “tough” budget that maintains most service levels

In photos: Get ready for Western Canadian Championships

Haywood NorAm Western Canadian Championships and Peavey Mart Alberta Cup 5/6 start… Continue reading

WATCH: Red Deer city council debates cost-savings versus quality of life

Majority of councillors decide certain services are worth preserving

Got milk? Highway reopened near Millet

A southbound truck hauling milk and cartons collided with a bridge

Stettler’s newest residents overcame fear, bloodshed to come here

Daniel Kwizera, Diane Mukasine and kids now permanent residents

Giddy up: Red Deer to host Canadian Finals Rodeo in 2018

The CFR is expected to bring $20-30 million annually to Red Deer and region

Ice dancers Virtue and Moir to carry flag at Pyeongchang Olympics

Not since Kurt Browning at the 1994 Lillehammer Games has a figure… Continue reading

Beer Canada calls on feds to axe increasing beer tax as consumption trends down

OTTAWA — A trade association for Canada’s beer industry wants the federal… Continue reading

Most Read


Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $185 for 260 issues (must live in delivery area to qualify) Unlimited Digital Access 99 cents for the first four weeks and then only $15 per month Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $15 a month