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BC Marine Trails: Preserving BC coastal access for small craft users.

Safety Stops

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The BC Marine Trails has a pdfMarine Trail Safety Mandate to guide the design and development of marine trails. As part of this mandate, we have introduced the concept of Safety Stops.

In addition to formal marine trail sites designated for overnight use, the BCMT recognizes that a fundamental safety component is the ability to seek refuge on land as quickly as possible when necessary for any number of reasons (e.g. changing weather conditions, equipment failure, medical issues).  

Sites that can provide refuge are referred to as Safety Stops, and should be spaced at a maximum distance of 4 nm in order to allow a paddler of average ability to reach refuge within an hour. Making known the location of Safety Stops along marine trails is an essential function of the BCMT in order to fulfill its safety mandate.

Considerations for Safety Stops

  • All campsites, launch sites, and day use sites on our Map are considered to be potential Safety Stops.
  • While public access is allowed virtually without restriction to the high tide line along the coast in Canada, there may be very few sites in a given location that offer both suitable landing and potential refuge from weather and sea conditions.  In some locations it may be necessary to designate a safety stop regardless of the status of the adjacent upland.
  • The use of privately-owned upland is considered trespass, and is not encouraged or condoned by BC Marine trails.  In very limited circumstances, acts of trespass on private property may be defensible if the trespassing was reasonably necessary to protect a person’s life, health or property.
  • In most cases, the site information on the Map indicates the tenure.  Where a Safety Stop indicates private ownership of the adjacent upland, float plans and trip plans should NOT incorporate access to that land.

Because of the potentially limited number of locations to safely seek refuge on the BC coast, the role of each designated safety stop is paramount, unless nearby suitable locations are found that can serve the same purpose without affecting the overall safety of the marine trail route.

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