Are we Standing Strong Together?

Andy Adams, Editor

As I wrote in the Editor’s Message last week titled, “Without warning, VC17 is coming off the market”, there are scary things lurking out there and we need to be aware of the challenges that could have a negative impact on boating.

In this week’s edition of Boating Industry Canada News Week Digest, we feature a story from NMMA Canada titled the “Federal Government Empowers Minister of Transport to Curb Watercraft Usage”. What?!! Curb Watercraft Usage?
In their October newsletter, NMMA Canada alerted their readers that the federal government had announced a streamlined process to restrict the use of watercrafts on lakes and rivers.

The issue is that under this streamlined process to restrict the use of watercrafts, the Minister of Transport has the authority to issue interim orders if they get a request from other levels of government, including municipalities.

For several years, I served on the Georgina Waterways Committee. Georgina has a municipal responsibility for 52 km of shoreline on the East side of Lake Simcoe. While our Committee had things they wanted to improve (such as speed restrictions on rivers and channels in the area) we were very clear that the municipality lacked the resources to even buy signage – forget the cost of patrolling speeders and handing out fines.

Do you remember back when the federal government “down-loaded” the costs and responsibility of managing all the small craft harbours to the municipalities? Georgina had a harbour in Jackson’s Point and it’s now a derelict (and dangerous) wharf that will cost a lot to even demolish – forget restoring that to a functioning piece of infrastructure.

NMMA Canada’s story (below) describes the process as the Government of Canada is exploring long-term revisions for the Vessel Operation Restriction Regulations (VORR) and is engaging in public consultations.

NMMA Canada is now working with all MTAs to ensure that we have an aligned response to government. The submission is due by December 11. That’s coming up fast! Were you aware of this? I suspect that many people in our industry are not aware of this, or some of the other topics that the Ministry of Transportation will be discussing in the two-day CMAC sessions in Ottawa on November 14 and 15. If you are not familiar with it, the Canadian Marine Advisory Council, (CMAC) represents parties with an interest in shipping, navigation and marine pollution concerns. CMAC advises the government on issues and opportunities related to marine safety and security, and releases reports each year based on their findings.

As an industry, we have a natural expectation that there will be sensible and considerate regulation of boating and of Canada’s waterways, but if a pressure group has more voices and lobbies for more influence, we could find new regulations suddenly come in that negatively impact our businesses. Many years ago, one Senator who hated the noise of PWCs around her cottage, came very close to having them banned in Canada. Really.

So, my question is, are we standing strong together? That’s the conference theme for the Boating Ontario Conference and I hope that all our readers are attending that or the Boating BC conference, or at least, that you are in touch with and active at your marine trade association.

Through many years of government lobbying with the NMMA in Ottawa, I have learned that numbers are often the deciding factor – not common sense, nor business logic either. I hope I see you at the 2023 Annual Boating Ontario Conference where we will be Standing Strong Together. We need your participation!

Andy Adams – Editor

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