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RCMP ready to ticket Red River floodway sightseers

Last Updated: Saturday, April 11, 2009 | 3:18 PM CT

The RCMP has had enough of sightseers getting in the way of crews working at the Red River floodway just outside Winnipeg, so officers are going to start making people pay.

Starting Saturday, the Mounties plan to hand out tickets to anyone deemed to be a nuisance in the area.

Curiosity seekers have been ignoring road closures to get a glimpse at the rising Red River and the crews fighting to break up ice.

'This is not a spectator sport. It's not about getting the best pictures for the family albums … people should give their head a shake, they really should.'—Emergency Measures Minister Steve Ashton

They're walking up to where the big machines — cranes, excavators and the Amphibex ice breakers — are working.

Other people have even been putting boats and kayaks in the water to get a closer view.

And many of those people are also getting in the way with their vehicles, which are being parked near the Red River Bridge and on the South Perimeter Highway. Official vehicles are forced to manoeuvre around the traffic.

Webcam recommended

Manitoba Emergency Measures Minister Steve Ashton said the activity is not only a hindrance — it's dangerous.

"This is not a spectator sport. It's not about getting the best pictures for the family albums," he said. "I know floods are seen as a bit of an event, but some of the instances I'm hearing about, people should give their head a shake, they really should."

Those who fall into the river or get into trouble in another way would be not only endangering themselves but the emergency response crews trying to rescue them, he added.

The combination of cold water and fast-moving ice can be deadly, Ashton said.

"I don't want to see a situation … where we're trying our darndest to prevent flooding and save lives and somebody [who] decides to go have a white-water experience ends up killing themselves," he said.

If people really want to have a look, stay home and watch the flood coverage on TV or go online, Ashton suggested, noting the province has a live webcam on the floodway gates.

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