Sunday, 5 January 2014

Coalition for Responsible and Sustainable Navigation: Update

About Us

While the environmental and community-specific challenges vary from one waterway to another -- from concerns about oil tankers on the coasts; to wake boats on lakes; to jet boats on salmon rivers -- the legislative challenges are the same.  That is, the current federal legislative framework concerning motor boat activities on Canadian navigable waters is ineffective and out-of-date.  

Firstly, the Canada Shipping Act, which applies to the surface of navigable waters is primarily about protecting navigation rights and minimizing barriers to navigation. As such, it is ill-suited for protecting the environment.  

Particularly frustrating for communities across Canada, is the fact that Transport Canada requires that a community exploit all non-regulatory options prior to making a request for a new regulation.  In this regard, Transport Canada requires that a community attempt a voluntary code of conduct with near 100% adherence.  The result is eternal irresolvable community conflicts, from coast to coast.

With respect to the federal legislation that protects waterways environments, or the marine habitat, of the same waters, but below the surface, this is where The Fisheries Act comes in.  But the two Acts do not connect. Unfortunately at the request of the pipeline industry, this Act has been reduced to an empty shell.

Accordingly, the Coalition aims to modify the two Acts and link them in way so that it is possible to impose restrictions on certain types of boats based on impacts on the marine habitat.

Recognizing that no single municipality or region can hope to have sufficient influence to convince the Government of Canada to make the necessary changes, the Coalition offers the option of creating a nation-wide common effort, too big to ignore.

The Coalition time line for innovative legislative recommendations is 2015, for the next federal government.

The Coalition for Responsible and Sustainable Navigation is now registered as a non-profit corporation and a web site is currently under construction.  This update will serve as a online reference document until the web site is in operation.

To date several regions of Quebec and BC are involved in the Coalition.

During the Fall 2013, I met and communicated with different groups and people concerning the Coalition.  The idea is to create a network behind the Coalition once the web site construction is completed. 

In November 2013, a meeting was held with the Association des propriétaires du Lac Sept-Îles in Quebec City. They will be promoting the Coalition in their region once the site is online.  The following video from the Association illustrates quite well the impacts of motorized watercraft on lakes, in particular, minutes 11:00 to 16:50 on the stirring up of sediments, and accumulation of sediments on the lake bottom, all caused by powerful motor boats.

In December 2013, I worked with Jean Clark, Director of BC's Lower Shuswap Stewardship Society on a Common Sense Canadian article that blends BC salmon river challenges and Coalition legislative considerations.

In February 2014, a meeting will take place with a representative of stakeholders in Nova Scotia.

Lastly, the site once completed will be used as a primary tool to engage other stakeholders from elsewhere in Canada.

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