| Mar 12, 2009

Back to HomeFeature Article - March 12, 2009 Water SkippingBy Jeff Green

Fancy skipping of Louborough Lake. This rider eventually went into the lake. Photo Kelly Calthorpe

The OPP don’t like it; township councils don’t like it; but snowmobile “water skipping” is a tradition that has endured on Loughborough Lake since the 1970s.

Last weekend hundreds of people turned out at Loughborough Lake bridge south of Rutledge Road on Division Street, to watch young and not so young men, and one woman, speed their snowmobiles off the ice onto open water and try to “skip” their machines over the open water to the ice shelf further up the lake.

Most of the machines made the crossing intact, but some fell in, and the riders had to struggle to get them out of the water, to the delight of the attentive audience.

“It is not illegal to do it,” said Frontenac OPP Officer Natalie McDowell, “but we don’t recommend it because safety is our number one priority and it is a dangerous practice.”

OPP officers from the detachment were on hand on Sunday, and while they couldn’t stop the “skippers” they did enforce snowmobile regulations.

Three tickets were issued for no helmets, one for careless operation, one for failing to produce insurance and eight for violations under the Liquor Licence Act.

“Police want to remind the public that safety is a priority. Police will continue to be proactive and enforce any violations they see,” said a press release from the detachment that was released on March 10.

Officer McDowell also said that police were concerned about the number of vehicles and people that congregated on Division Street, which is an 80 km/hour arterial road between the City of Kingston and Westport.

“There were close to 500 people watching, many along the roadway. There is a danger there,” said McDowell.

The local township Council is also concerned.

At a Council meeting this past Tuesday, South Frontenac Mayor Gary Davison said that as a result of complaints about crowds gathering on the bridge, the decision has been made to enforce the existing by-law, which prohibits roadside parking for some distance each side of the bridge.

“Signs will be put up, and the OPP have agreed to provide enforcement,” Davison told Council.

He also expressed concerns about snowmobiles going into the open water under the bridge, spilling quantities of fuel into the lake, which is rated as a sensitive trout lake on the townships Official Plan. The Ministry of the Environment is being consulted.

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