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“Rude” scuba divers taking over docks August 14, 2009

Posted by Chris Sullivan in Miscellany.
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An article on the Simcoe.com web site bearing the above title appeared yesterday, the day after my last dive off the Big Bay Point dock which it cites as the main location of the problem. After registering at the site and logging in, it still wouldn’t let me express my view of the situation, which is very in keeping with the one-sided viewpoint on the issue expressed in the article. Whether the opinion of the councilor quoted, who I met a couple of years ago on the very dock mentioned in the article, was mindlessly parroted or indeed if the reporter is complicit in this attack, it shows wanton disregard for the principles of good journalism, tarring an entire group of people, including me, with the same brush as an alleged obnoxious few.

This same councilor appeared on the dock one day two years ago, identified himself as a councilor and property owner not far from the dock, and gave us much the same story as recounted in the article. It makes me wonder whether he is exploiting his position to pursue a private vendetta on behalf of a small number of property owners living nearby, who probably would like to have this public facility all to themselves. The south shore of Kempenfelt Bay in Lake Simcoe has a pitifully small number of public access points. In fact the Big Bay Point dock is the only one I know. No wonder it gets crowded with divers wishing access to a resource which is the property of the citizens of Canada. We were polite to him but I can understand how someone might get irritated with a local politician try to throw his weight around on a federal dock.

What really irks me is the winging about dive flags. Sure they’re important, article implies that this caused the death of poor Aviva Barth, who was hit by a boat traveling at high speed between a dive flag and the dock. Since then, divers have conducted campaigns to educate boaters about their responsibilities around dive flags, but the problem withe reckless boaters still exists. When we met this councilor, he went on about dive flags to us, even though we had two flags displayed at intervals right in front of the dock. It wouldn’t surprise me, given the venom of his exaggerated commentary, if he does this just to entice divers to be rude to him so he has something else to complain about.

He also cites a diver telling two senior citizens to dock somewhere else. On the rare occasion I’ve seen a boat dock there, the divers have helped with the lines, assisted boaters on and off the dock, and advised them on the depths of the water. When people fish from the dock, divers invariably stay away from the area where their lines are cast, and we’ve occasionally advised them on what species and size of fish we’ve seen. Divers also politely answer the questions of the kids who come on the dock and want to know what they’re doing and clean up junk thrown in the water. Many divers I know belong to law enforcement, or emergency services, and most, including me, are trained in emergency first aid. These are people who are responsible in their actions and I would trust with my life, and should be considered a positive influence, not an intrusion in public places.

Troublemakers come in all shapes and sizes, but you’re just as likely to find one in a business suit as in a wet suit.

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