Saturday, February 26, 2011

Have You Licensed Your Canoe or Kayak Yet?

TheStar Boaters fear they’ll be up a creek without a $50 licence

The above article refers to an issue that's recently come up in the Canadian paddling community, Transport Canada's new regulations that seem to require the licensing of canoes & kayaks.

This item also appeared in today's CBC News: http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/ottawa/story/2011/02/25/ottawa-canoe-rules.html

I've been aware of the issue for well over a month now, and have resisted blogging about it, primarily because I was waiting to see what it all means, and hoping for clarification of several points. To that end I have been reading the information put out by Paddle Canada, and PaddlingInstructor.com, as well as following closely (but not getting mired into) the conversations at Canadian Canoe Routes and West Coast Paddler.

These rules are confusing, and there has been a great deal of confusion of how these rules will affect local paddling clubs (like the SCC), Guides, Scouts, schools, and other organisations that are important for introducing canoeing and kayaking to new paddlers.

As an instructor, it's not not the end of the world for me. As someone who occasionally volunteers to take the less experienced out on the water in canoe and kayak, this could be a very big deal. I've been hesitant to take a stance while I've been trying to figure out what it all means. However, I'm more and more of the opinion that this is a bad thing for individual paddlers, and for paddling culture in Canada.

During discussions of these new rules it gets brought up that it will be impossible to enforce. That may be, but they don't need to enforce it at all for it to be very important. It suddenly becomes important when something bad happens on a trip, course or minor excursion, and you are deemed to be a leader.

The good thing here is that they perhaps seem to be backtracking a bit, based on the comments from Chuck Strahl, Federal Transport Minister as reported in the above CBC article.

So, if you paddle, especially if you take others paddling, look into this and form an opinion for yourself. Keep an eye on how this is progressing and if your not satisfied or if this has you worried, consider writing a letter expressing your concern to your elected representatives. Also, spread the word. I think very few of us even know about these regulations at the moment, though the news is spreading.