Issues

Of course my prediction yesterday was way off but the announcement was great news non-the-less for canoe and kayak instructor/guides across Canada. Today in Calgary, Minister of Transport, Infrastructure and Communities, the Honourable Chuck Strahl announced that effective immediately canoes, kayaks and small sailing vessels will be exempt from commercial vessel registration. This is good news for both non-profit and commercial operators. According to the press release on the announcement: Owners of human-powered vessels, such as canoes, kayaks and small sailing vessels, as well as small vessels with motors less than 7.5 kilowatts (10 horsepower) will not have to register their craft with Transport Canada. "We do not believe Canadian boaters should face onerous regulations to go canoeing and kayaking, which is why registration requirements for all human-powered vessels, small sailing vessels and small motorized vessels will not be required," said Minister Strahl. This registration will continue to be required for commercial river rafts, government vessels and for any vessels where registration is necessary for safety reasons. The other new small vessel regulations are still in effect which we have talked about before a couple of times. This is great news. I will post more updates as I get them. Update: Tony Palmer, friend of the site and owner of the Calgary paddling shop Undercurrents, was there at the announcement and was able to have a quick conversation with the Minister after the announcement and specifically mentioned that it was the well reasoned emails that really caused the change. Way to go to all of "us"!
I just got word that Minister of Transport, Infrastructure and Communities, the Honourable Chuck Strahl will be in Calgary on Thursday, March 17, 2011 to make an announcement related to small vessel regulations and canoe/kayak registration. There is no word on what the announcement could be but as somebody who loves to follow Apple product rumours and personally making poor predictions as to what the iPhone 5 will feature, I’m going to go out in a limb and give an educated guess. Here it is: I predict that they are going to announce a freeze in the implementation of the new regulations across the board while Transport Canada is tasked to amend the regulations to make them clearer for everbody. Here are my reasons why I think this will happen: We all know there is a pretty much a 100% chance that an election will take place this spring and I will guess a conversation took place in the Minister office along the lines of this: “Sir, the press are asking questions about people not being allowed to go canoeing this summer!” “Oh no, tell them that isn’t our intention. We love people out paddling.” “But Sir, we have an election coming up. What if it becomes an issue and somebody starts asking questions at one of our town hall meetings along the election trail?” “Yikes! Ok, freeze the whole thing. We will sort it out after the election.” The Minister addressed the issue to the press back on February 24th. At the time he mentioned fixing the “ambiguous legislation” and it was never the intention that Boy Scouts, Girl Guides and other non-profit groups get caught up in the commercial regulations. That was only three weeks ago. If they are making an announcement this fast, there is no way they would have been able to make the significant changes required to clear the confusion and controversy surrounding the regulations. Maybe but highly unlikely. The only other possible announcement that I can see is that they will exempt Girl Guides and Scouts from the regulations and vessel registration. That would…
Back in the fall of 2010 Transport Canada formally released an update to their small vessel regulations which; for the first time in a long time impacts canoe and kayaks. The most controversial element of the new regulations centers around the idea that any type of paid or volunteer leadership on the water (including teaching or guiding) is now deemed as a commercial venture. This, "Guided Excursion" means that your canoe or kayak now falls under the commercial regulations for small vessels which includes commercial vessel registration. I will be honest with you. Since the announcement I have seen some of the most ridiculous posts by people on canoeing forums. Post by people who know nothing about the regulations but still very willing to tell the world how Paddle Canada and Transport Canada are destroying our canoeing heritage. I will admit that when Transport Canada announced the changes there were lots of questions to be answered as the regulations are very vague and open to a lot of interpretation. To help understand them better I worked with several other Paddle Canada Program Development Committee volunteers to go through and sort out what everything means. It took a while to sort through which included many, many calls and emails with Transport Canada representatives but I think we created a good summary document with an FAQ that is posted on the Paddle Canada website. Even though there is still some uncertainty about some areas here is what I know for sure:
There was an announcement today that Parks Ontario will be test piloting Wifi in some of the Ontario Parks this summer. Currently the plan is to test it in Pinary Provincial Park then potentially roll it out to some other parks next year based on the reaction from park visitors.Of course this has some Canadian's all up in arms over the fact that their wilderness experience will be completely ruined with the presence of the internet.
This came in from my friend, Tony Palmer who runs the paddling shop Undercurrents in Calgary, Alberta. Take a couple minutes and comment on the importance of protecting the South Nahanni Rivershed. You will feel better about yourself if you do. I guarantee it will be better then therapy.[blockquote]There are only 5 days left to help ensure the integrity of the South Nahanni Rivershed! The federal government is seeking input about a new park upstream of the Nahanni National Park Reserve. The headwaters of the Nahanni are situated in this proposed Park, but neither of the 3 proposed boundaries includes the whole headwaters! If enough of us speak up this week, we will be able to protect the whole watershed!CPAWS (Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society) has made it super easy to submit your comments to the feds with an easy to complete web-form - there are even suggested talking points right there! It will take only two minutes and is a wonderful way to acknowledge Earth Day!That webpage is here.[/blockquote]
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