Jan 9, 2024
Transport Canada recently underwent consultations on changes to the Vessel Operation Restriction Regulations (VORR) process under the Canada Shipping Act, 2001. Their goal is to simplify the process going forward by allowing municipalities to submit new requests for restriction regulations on recreational boating and have them quickly implemented responding to local political pressures. This could lead to a patchwork of restrictive regulations across the country that would interfere with the right of Canadians to access waterways.
NMMA Canada, working with the recently-created Canadian Marine Retailers Association, led the creation of a website—www.boatingunited.ca—for supporters to submit their comments to ensure the government listens to the views of recreational boaters. It was an incredibly successful campaign, with close to 600 people writing to government officials to push for our recommendations before the December 11 deadline.
Our top recommendations were to:
• Ensure there is an obligation to consult boat owners, boating and tourism industry associations:
Local authorities must retain their current obligation to collaborate with relevant stakeholders to seek expedient, cost-effective, and practical solutions before proposing regulatory restrictions. As such, boat owners and boating and tourism industry associations need to be consulted. This requirement should be preserved and reinforced through additional resources to facilitate standardized local consultations.
• Respect the rules governing Ministerial Orders:
The adoption of a ministerial order should be an exceptional measure, necessitating rigorous analysis and objective criteria that align with the intent of the Cabinet Directive on Regulation and its four fundamental principles.
• Review the duration of Ministerial Orders:
The two-year validity period granted to Ministerial Orders should be restricted to one year, with the option for a single one-year renewal for a specific area affected by one or a series of restrictions.
• Set free and equitable access to waterways targets:
Transport Canada should establish concrete, measurable objectives concerning the promotion of free and equitable access to waterways.
This grassroots effort, in addition to NMMA Canada submitting our formal submission and engaging directly with senior staff in the Minister of Transportation’s office, will ensure that the government takes our concerns seriously. We will continue to make our case to the decision-makers in Ottawa to ensure that our voice is heard, and that Canadians have the right to access our waterways.