Anyone who operates a pleasure craft or wants to do so in the future should take note of changes underway at Transport Canada. The agency, which develops and maintains regulations, standards, policies and guidelines around pleasure crafts, is currently seeking consultation as they modernize both pleasure craft licensing, and the pleasure craft operator competency program.
Pleasure Craft Licensing Changes
Every pleasure craft is licensed by Transport Canada, with a unique number used to trace a vessel to its owner. This helps first responders and search and rescue personnel in emergencies, and supports accountability and compliance with both safety and environmental regulations.
Transport Canada is amending its regulations to “improve data quality and the way we deliver services to pleasure craft licence holders,” according to the agency. The proposed changes include:
- Bringing grandfathered pleasure craft licences (no expiry) into a five-year validity period
- Reducing the ten year validity period for licences to five years. Upon applying for a new, renewal, or updated licences, the validity period will be reduced from 10 years to 5 years.
- Expanding the application of the Small Vessel Regulations 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 6 metres in length, with the exception of human-powered (e.g. kayak, canoe, dragon boats).
- Reducing the timeframe for owners to notify of a name or address change from 90 days to 30 days, and specify 30 days for the buyer to notify of a sale or transfer of a vessel.
- Allowing for the easier cancellation of pleasure craft licences. This gives Transport Canada the ability to cancel a licence if:
- the holder of a lifetime PCL fails to apply;
- a PCL holder fails to renew a PCL; or
- a PCL holder wishes to remove their pleasure craft from service.
Transport Canada is also proposing a fee for the licensing, at a new cost of $15 to process an application to obtain a new PCL or to renew, transfer, or duplicate a PCL.
Mariners are encouraged to read the full proposal and to provide feedback on the Transport Canada website. Consultation runs until January 15, 2021 with changes coming into force in Fall 2022.
Pleasure Craft Operator Competency Program Changes
Transport Canada is proposing changes to the Pleasure Craft Operator Competency Program, which monitors and supervises companies offering accredited boating safety courses and tests. The most common proof of competency for Canadian mariners is the Pleasure Craft Operator Card.
The proposed changes include:
- Strengthening course accreditation requirements
- Making course accreditation valid for five years
- Giving Transport Canada the power to suspend or cancel course accreditation if a course provider doesn’t follow the regulations and standards
- Giving Transport Canada the power to cancel a Pleasure Craft Operator Card
- No longer recognizing the Rental Boat Safety Checklist as a form of proof of competency
Transport Canada is also proposing fees associated with the Pleasure Craft Operator Card program, particularly:
- an accreditation application fee of $5,000, paid every five years
- a maintenance and test materials access fee of $8.50 for each Pleasure Craft Operator Card that’s issued
For the full proposal, and to offer comment on these proposed changes until January 15, 2021, visit the dedicated website. Any changes will come into effect Fall 2022.