It is the court of last resort, but Columbia Shuswap Regional District directors want staff to pursue the subject of high-powered cigar boats on Shuswap and Mara lakes with Transport Canada.
The subject was a late-agenda item at the board’s Aug. 20 on-the-road meeting in Golden.
Planner Jan Thingsted described cigarette, cigar boats and wake boats, and advised directors that the regional district has had a notable increase in the number of complaints about cigar boats and races.
He said the complaints come primarily from waterfront owners and other lake users in regard to noise and speed.
Thingsted said the CSRD had adopted the Shuswap Marine Noise Control Programme in 1982 to control marine noise on specified water bodies in the Shuswap by prohibiting vessels from operating without conventional wet exhaust systems or suitable mufflers.
“The enforcement of this bylaw has proven to be very difficult since the CSRD lacks the required technical capability, enforcement capacity and more importantly, the jurisdictional authority,” wrote Thingsted in his report to the board, noting CSRD bylaw enforcement officers don’t have a boat capable of intercepting these boats and have no authority to board vessels for inspection.
Vessel operation restriction regulations (VORR) are a responsibility of Transport Canada and are established under the Canada Shipping Act.
Any level of government can request the federal government to restrict the use of vessels on all bodies of water in Canada pertaining to prohibition, engine power or propulsion, speed limits, towing, sporting or recreational activity including wake boat surfing or prohibiting a sporting, recreational or public event or activity.
However, “Transport Canada considers VORRs to be the last resort for solving problems and are only to be requested when all other non-regulatory approaches have been tried,” reads Thingsted’s report, noting Transport Canada emphasizes: “Meaningful stakeholder consultation is a key component when pursuing a VORR and must be properly documented to be considered in the application package that Transport Canada reviews.”
But, after considerable discussion, board members directed staff to investigate the development of vessel operation restrictions.
At Salmon Arm Council’s Aug. 24 meeting, Coun. Chad Eliason, a city representative on the CSRD, was asked about the choice to regulate speed, not sound.
Eliason said many other noise generators on the lake would have to be considered, such as houseboats.
Coun. Kevin Flynn noted that one cigar boat is not necessarily a problem, but when four go by at 8 a.m., as he noticed them doing recently, it’s dangerous, just as vehicles drag-racing on the highway are.