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The Municipal District of Bighorn, Stoney Nakoda First Nation and the RCMP today announced a coordinated program with TransAlta, ATCO and the Canadian Pacific Police Service seeking to dissuade people from trespassing to swim and jump from cliffs and bridges in dangerous areas of the Bow River.
The areas are next to and downstream from the Seebe Dam between Cochrane and Canmore where several drowning deaths have occurred in past years. This includes a 16-year old Calgary boy last summer and two men in their twenties in 2014.
“Driven by social media and a disregard for the wellbeing of themselves and their friends, people are unnecessarily putting their lives at risk,” says Rick Lyster, Director of Emergency Management for the M.D. of Bighorn.
Lyster added: “The terrain can be unstable and the water in this stretch of the Bow River is ice-cold and especially treacherous. Water levels change without warning and strong undercurrents and undertows can drag people under or sweep them away to further dangers down the river. Anyone going to these sites is not concerned with his or her own safety. That makes them a danger to both themselves and to their friends.”
“The increasing number of unlawful trespassers on our Nation’s traditional lands and reserve is also of deep concern, especially as it concerns the safety of our citizens and protection of our treaty rights,” said John Slater, Security Manager for the Stoney Nakoda First Nations (SNFN). “While most trespassers mean no harm, there are far too many that litter, graffiti rocks and structures, consume alcohol and recreational drugs, leave human waste and damage the riverbank and natural habitat.”
“People are coming onto these areas without permission, doing so illegally and committing multiple acts of trespass as well as endangering themselves and others,” said Corporal Chris Kosack of the Stoney Nakoda RCMP Detachment. “Each individual caught trespassing may be fined a minimum of $600 for each offence by law enforcement including CP Police.”
“The Sites’ remoteness and limited cell-service makes emergency response or recovery efforts extremely difficult,” added Kosack “In 2020, up to 40 volunteers from the 16-year old victim’s family as well as emergency services searched the Bow River. The search included two helicopters, a dive team, and boat patrols that looked for the boy’s body all weekend.”
Albertans of all ages looking to enjoy the hot summer weather are encouraged to avoid these areas and only swim in bodies of water where it is safe and legal to do so. Anyone witnessing any suspicious or dangerous activity in the area or near the railway lines is encouraged to call the RCMP at 403-932-2213 or CP Police Service at 1-800-716-9132.