Ontario Boating Forum, 65 Guise St. E., Hamilton, ON, L8L 8B4
Home Page: www.obf.on.ca (see Clubs/Association list)
The Ontario Boating Forum is a non-profit volunteer organization which lobbies municipal, provincial and federal governments on behalf of recreational boaters!
OBF won its court challenge against the government on anchoring in Massasauga Provincial Park! [June 1998].
OBF was established by a group of Ontario boaters:
- To promote and protect the interests of recreational boaters in Ontario
- To protect the environment to ensure the continued use and enjoyment of the waterways by everyone
- To actively promote boating safety
- To insure that use of waterways remains open and accessible to everyone and will be preserved as heritage for future generations.
The Forum was formed after the Province of Ontario, through its management plan of Massassaga Provincial Park, decided to restrict access to certain bays and introduce a charge for anchoring in selected bays. Upon investigation it was determined that restrictions, if introduced, would not affect the land owners, who would still be allowed full use and access.
The Forum intervened, and after consulting with the Canadian Coast Guard, the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources decided not to use anchoring fees. However, a "use" fee was introduced selectively by the park -- the fee was not collected regularily nor were all vessels charged while in the bay at the same time. In addition, the fee was charged even if no services or facilities were provided. In a letter to OBF in August 1997, the Minister maintains that the Ontario government has the right to collect user fees from visitors who come to provincial parks. Since several bays are within Massasauga Park boundaries, user fees apply to visitors using these park areas. He claims that the CCG agreed that the Province has the right to collect user fees within the Park. The Minister says that user fees may be extended to other provincial parks in the future.
It must be fully understood, that a fee is not the whole question. The question is 'should the park charge a fee where no services are provide, or intend to be provided'. In common law and under the various constitutional agreements, the Federal State is fully responsible for all marine related regulations and contols. The Province has been deeded the bottom and water quality, but not the right to interfere with navigation. A House of Lords (England) decision made it quite clear that anchoring is part of navigation. Ontario Parks regulation makes it clear that you cannot charge a fee without a commensurate service.
Many lengthy discussions with the Provincial authorities did not result in any resolution. Since the Park's location is near a small craft route between Midland and Parry Sound, the Forum made the decision to seek legal opinion as to the Rights of Navigation, especially the right to anchor without charge. The first ticket was given for refusing to pay the park "use" fee in July 1997. Even though called a "use" fee, it is clearly the same as the previous anchoring fee.
In order to clarify the situation within the law, the Forum is supporting a challenge of the regulation. That challenge, depending on the outcome of the first court appearance, could lead to the Supreme Court. One would hope that will not be the case. However, every challenge cost money, so funds are needed from boaters, business who depend on boaters, and anyone else who is interested in freedom of using the waterways. The Forum is protecting all boaters, not just Ontario in this regard. Should the challenge fail, other provinces will be free to set user fees for anchored boats. This could destroy boating in Canada as we now know it.
Please consider joining the Forum to keep informed about news and progress and support the aims of the organization. Look for the Ontario Boating Forum at the Toronto Boat Show.
The Ontario Boating Forum P.O. Box 111, Station A Etobicoke, Ontario M9C 4V2 Toll-free 888-471-1101 Voice 905-607-6070 FAX 905-820-4817
Membership and newsletter $25.00 Burgee (for members) $20.00 Donations [any amount]
Donations or purchases may be made by phone quoting a VISA (only) credit card number.
Presqu'ile Provincial Park has a "preliminary plan" that includes many new regulations affecting boaters. Read the boater alert (1999) sent out by Chuck Boyce, a member of the Executive for Presqu'ile Yacht Club, Brighton, Ontario.