Find us on Social Media

Volume 16 No. 6

The Board, at its March 28, 2024 meeting, and on the recommendation of the Board’s sub-committee struck to address the issue, made the decision to discontinue the Marine Patrol. Implementation of the decision was deferred to allow for:

  1. Preparation of a communication plan and an overview statement for PaBIA Members detailing the reasons for the decision made; and
  2. Adoption by the Board of a formal motion confirming the Board’s earlier decision.

At a special meeting of the Board held on April 7, 2024, the formal Motion to Discontinue the Marine Patrol, effective immediately, was passed unanimously by the full Board.


The Marine Patrol has been a presence in Pointe au Baril for more than twenty-five years. Initially, the Marine Patrol was intended to promote and support member safety on the Bay. “Patrolling” the Bay included such things as sanctioning boaters for not wearing a life jacket, not carrying a boat licence, or drinking while driving a boat.  It quickly became apparent that the young Marine Patrol staff did not enjoy, nor did they have, the authority to sanction their friends or adult boaters. These are functions for the OPP and the Coast Guard, not for PaBIA or university students. 

PaBIA responded by evolving the programme to move away from these activities and take on additional duties. Duties that directly related to PaBIA members included reporting of damage to markers, attending and assisting at the Fire Pump Demo Sessions as well as starting the PaBIA Fire Pumps every two weeks over the summer to ensure that they were operating properly. The Marine Patrol also assisted at the Junior and Senior Regattas with righting capsized vessels. Other tasks included placing PaBIA “Communication” Boards on Ojibway dock, writing relevant articles for PaBIA eBlasts over the summer, taking photographs of summer events for PaBIA Instagram Posts, and ferrying guests to and from Pointe au Baril Station for PaBIA meetings and events. These Marine Patrol activities were important to the community but did not require a dedicated staff for the ten weeks of the summer. 

The Marine Patrol also evolved to assume a series of duties on behalf of third parties. These have included stewardship activities relating to GBLT properties in Pointe au Baril; water quality testing for GBB in Sturgeon Bay; water clarity and temperature testing at three sites for the Lake Partner Program; phragmites identification for GBF; and regular clean up of Crown and Treaty lands including Hole in the Wall and Burnt Island. While these activities are unquestionably important environmental initiatives and provide benefit to our members, they are not the responsibility of PaBIA. And while financial support is received from some of the above-named groups, these barely cover 20% of the annual costs of the Marine Patrol.

There has perhaps been a perception that one of the Marine Patrol activities is to respond to emergencies such as medical, fire, boat breakdown, or by-law enforcement. However, the Marine Patrol staff have never been Emergency First Responders as they do not have the authority, training, or experience to do so. Again, these are functions for the OPP, Coast Guard, or Ontario EMTs. Moreover, with the advent of mobile phones and reasonable cell coverage, the need for radio monitoring on the waters of the Bay is reduced; and boaters can directly access help as needed. 

Where to From Here?

In its extensive review of the Marine Patrol programme, the PaBIA sub-committee of the Board reviewed all the responsibilities and duties undertaken by the Marine Patrol and the benefits of these activities to the PaBIA membership. After hours of consideration and discussion by the sub-committee and by the Board as a whole, we have reluctantly come to the conclusion that the Marine Patrol should be discontinued. The costs of running this programme have risen substantially over the past half-decade, exceeding $35K in recent years. Those costs are anticipated to climb higher. In addition, approximately 200 hours of volunteer time (Board and Marine Patrol Supervisor) are required every year to oversee and manage the programme.

Moreover, despite diligence, we have had a great deal of difficulty recruiting staff over the past number of years given the shortness of the work season (2 months versus the 4 months that students typically seek), and the requirement to have accommodation nearby.

Your Board has an important obligation to serve PaBIA members thoughtfully and to ensure that your dues are spent wisely. After weighing the risk/benefit impacts of discontinuing the Marine Patrol, the Board concluded that a clear decision had to be taken on the programme’s future before this summer got underway. We have informed the only candidate for this year’s position, as well as our third-party partners, of the Board’s decision. We are now working to identify community volunteers who will help support specific tasks over the coming summer. We will also be reaching out to the many generous PaBIA members who have made donations to the programme this year to offer them refunds. We know that the great spirit and commitment of PaBIA members will rise to meet the need.

It is important for us to recognize how difficult a decision this will be for many. The Marine Patrol has been synonymous with PaBIA for more than two decades. We want to recognize the hours and weeks of devotion given to the Marine Patrol by the teams of Marine Patrol staff as well as by those who have supported these young people through their time, expertise, comradery, and guidance – both volunteers and previous Directors on the Board. Together, everyone has made the Marine Patrol an enviable place to work, to gain skills, and to reflect community spirit. We hope that you will both understand and respect our decision. 

PaBIA Board of Directors

April 2024