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Changes to small vessel regulations could be coming

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Rob Bosomworth, Chair of the National Decibel Coalition, believes we’re only a year-and-a-half away from changes being made to Canada’s small vessel regulations.

He expects the results of Transport Canada’s “let’s talk” campaign to be released in the fall. The campaign saw five options put forward to be discussed as a way to change the legislation to limit engine noise from boats.

“While a muffler is required [in the legislation], the regulations don’t include any performance standards for mufflers or engine noise emission limits,” the write-up on the department’s website reads.

The five options ranged from making no changes to the existing legislation to introducing performance standards for manufacturers and vessel operators to follow. The latter is the fifth option listed on the website and is the one Bosomworth says the coalition supports.

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As proposed on the department’s website, the changes would make sure that new and existing vessels don’t exceed noise-emission levels. It would also make it easier for police to identify if a boater is breaking the rules. However, police detachments would have to buy new equipment and train officers on how to use the new devices. If Transport Canada goes forward with the changes, it would also mean current boaters would have to modify their vessels to comply with the new requirements.

While the official results of the campaign have not been released, Bosomworth says the coalition has informally gone through the answers, which are publically available, and says “north of 90-percent” of respondents side with the coalition.

By Bosomworth’s count, around 2,000 responses were made by over 1,000 people.

Frédérica Dupuis, Senior Media Relations Advisor for Transport Canada, tells the newsroom that the department is analyzing the results from the public consultation process. She says an update will be presented at the next Canadian Marine Advisory Council this fall.

In the meantime, he says the coalition will continue to advocate for changes to be made to the legislation. Bosomworth touts that over 70 MPs have been contacted by nearly 500 people at the urging of the coalition. “MPs are certainly taking notice,” he says, adding he’s personally talked to a handful of federal politicians.

“We’re not against fast boats, we’re against loud boats,” he says.

Bosomworth, who has been with the coalition since it was formed in 2019, believes the changes to the legislation will go through once put forward. “There is very little resistance,” he says.

Written by Mathew Reisler

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