This weeks MP report will likely only be of interest to boaters.
More specifically boaters who operate motor driven boats and are currently required to hold a Transport Canada 'Operator Card for Pleasure Craft'.
For those of you who hold this 'Pleasure Craft Operators Card, chances are at some point in your past you wrote an exam that was administered by a third party operator and, if you passed, were issued a 'Pleasure Craft Operator Card'.
These cards are required to be carried by skippers at all times when operating a motorized vessel and in the majority of cases have no date of expiry.
The only exception to this requirement was for those who were renting a powerboat or personal watercraft such as a Sea-Doo or WaveRunner.
This exemption was based on the fact that it was not practical to be able to administer the test in such a short period of time and that boat rental agencies provide safety instructions for operators who are renting the boats in question.
The reason for my report this week is that Transport Canada is considering making significant changes to this program.
How will these changes potentially affect you if you currently hold this card?
For starters the cards may no longer become permanent.
There may be a new requirement to take a new course potentially every five years.
The courses themselves may also become considerably more expensive as Transport Canada has proposed that course operators pay a fee of $5000 for a five-year term.
It is also proposed that there would be an additional fee payable to Transport Canada for each individual who passes the course and receives a new 'Pleasure Craft Operator Card'.
In addition, is a proposed elimination of the exemption for those who would rent a powerboat or personal watercraft.
This proposal has generated significant concern from local boat rental agencies as it is unclear how a test could be administered in a short period of time as well as the economics of the added costs to the boat rental industry, of which we have many here in the Okanagan.
I am not a boater however the comments I have heard from boaters are greatly concerned about these proposed changes.
As one boater shared with me – our local lakes are not serviced by the Canadian Coast Guard, for the most part the Okanagan does not have many of the costly to service navigation aides located in other bodies of water, and it is proposed to remove VHS weather services that many boaters do use.
In other words, the concerns can be summarized that the federal government is offering less services to local boaters but wanting to take more money from them in return.
In fairness, Transport Canada they have indicated that the current program, as it exists, generates no revenue for the federal government but does carry costs.
The fees raised by these changes will contribute towards the costs of Transport Canada to administer this program.
My question this week is to boaters – Are you supportive of these changes?
Unfortunately, the window of time Transport Canada provided to comment on these proposals has expired but more information can be found here:
I can be reached at Dan.Albas@parl.gc.ca or call toll free 1-800-665-8711.
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Dan Albas is the Member of Parliament for the riding of Central Okanagan-Similkameen-Nicola.