Over the winter, Transport Canada’s (TC) Office of Boating Safety (OBS) was seeking stakeholder input from anyone with a particular interest in pleasure craft.
The consultation involved proposed changes and revisions to the Pleasure Craft Licensing Program and the Pleasure Craft Operator Competency Program. This was definitely a move in the right direction as recreational boaters should be aware of any pending policy changes and take an active role in forming and guiding regulatory revisions.
For quite some time now, many boating groups have been proposing that charging a modest annual licensing fee would, among other things, result in improvements in boating safety and search and rescue effectiveness.
The OBS says it is considering changes to the Pleasure Craft Licensing Program to increase safety, environmental protection and improve service delivery through the following regulatory amendments to the Small Vessel Regulations (SVR) by:
- Bringing grandfathered pleasure craft licenses (with no expiry date) into a five-year validity regime.
- Reducing the 10-year validity period for licenses (PCLs) to five years, ensuring that ownership information is updated more often.
- Expanding the application of the SVR to include all pleasure craft equipped with motors of 10 horsepower (7.5 kilowatts) or more, including personal watercraft, which are principally maintained or operated in Canada and all pleasure craft (including all power-driven and sail-alone vessels) above six metres in length, with the exception of human-powered vessels (e.g. kayak, canoe).
- Reducing the timeframe for vessel owners to report a name or address change from 90 days to 30 days and specifying 30 days for the buyer to notify of a sale or transfer of a vessel ensuring that updated information is available in the same boating season.
- Providing TC the authority to cancel a PCL if the licence holder does not comply with regulatory requirements.
- Introducing a service fee of $15 for pleasure craft licenses, thereby reducing the cost borne by taxpayers for providing this service.
The OBS is also considering changes to the Pleasure Craft Operator Competency Program through amendments to the Competency Operator Pleasure Craft Regulations (COPCRs) to ensure that course providers continue to provide excellent boating safety training to recreational Canadian boaters.
These proposed changes include:
- Strengthening course accreditation requirements.
- Setting course accreditation to a five-year renewal period.
- Providing TC the authority to suspend or revoke course accreditation if a course provider does not comply with regulatory requirements.
- Providing TC the authority to cancel a Pleasure Craft Operator Card if it is deemed to have been obtained under fraudulent circumstances.
- Repealing the provision for the Rental Boat Safety Checklist as being accepted as proof of competency.
- Introducing a $5,000 accreditation fee to course providers every five years and a test materials access fee of $8.50 for each Pleasure Craft Operator Card issued.