Boaters baffled by new federal rules, fee
Many canoeists and kayakers are confused and worried about new federal regulations that re-classify their boats as commercial vessels.
The Transport Canada regulations, brought in last fall, will require everyone from professional outfitters to people leading recreational boat trips to fill out five separate forms, measure their boat and pay a $50 fee.
Federal Transport Minister Chuck Strahl's office told CBC News in an email that the department is reviewing the policy, and that "common sense would prevail." But boaters are still concerned it could affect their summer paddling plans.
Scouts Canada said it's being asked to register any boat being used on a recreational trip led by a volunteer or instructor, a daunting task for the organization that has 1,000 watercraft.
"It's very difficult to figure out from the information that's available on the (Transport Canada) website what exactly is required to come into compliance," said Janet Yale, CEO of Scouts Canada.
"I can tell you that it would be a huge hardship for an organization like ours, given how close the summer camping season is, to try and comply," Yale said.
Paddlers look for way to dodge rules
Ottawa's YMCA Canoe Camping Club has 300 members, and goes on about 200 trips each year ranging from quick picnics to multiple day portaging expeditions.
Peter Kasurak said the club's members are already figuring out how to dodge the new rules.
"There's going to be considerable debate about what we do next," Kasurak said.
"Some of the members of the club would like to get out from under the regulations and might actually change our trip organization to be leaderless on the water.
It's unclear how the policy came into place. Strahl's office blamed a Liberal Party policy put in place around 10 years ago.
"Unless and until we understand the rationale for the rule, it's hard to understand why it applies and what the logic is for putting it in place," Yale said.
Both Yale and Kasurak are calling on Transport Canada to communicate the changes more clearly before the boating season begins.