OBF Challenges Ontario over Anchoring Fees
Bill Taylor, a former member of the Ottawa CPS, and now a Director of the Ontario Boating Forum (OBF) spoke to the OPS Bridge at their November 4th meeting about an initiative launched by the Forum challenging the right of the Ministry of Natural Resources (MNR) to levy a $10.00 overnight anchoring fee in waters off Provincial Parks.
Several boaters have been ticketed for failing to purchase an overnight permit, even though they neither requested nor used any services available in the park.
Fearful of the precedent which would be established by accepting this latest incursion by the government into extending their taxing authority over navigable waters, the OBF has offered to defend these cases in court, where they are expected to be heard this winter, using their own legal counsel.
OBF News Release September 25, 1997
..."Anchoring in navigable waters, such as the 'designated anchoring bays' in Mississauga Park, is subject to Federal Jurisdiction. Thus "OBF" contends that it is unconstitutional for the province to charge fees for anchoring when no services are used. The Coast Guard pointed out the the MNR that by charging this anchoring fee the Ministry has exceeded its authority. In response the province merely changed the words and ticketed the boats on the basis of "unlawfully occupying Park land".
The issue of anchoring freedom goes well beyond the Mississuaga Park. MNR Minister Hodgson has said that the province intends to extend anchoring fees to other parks in Ontario. Last winter the Killarney Park Management Plan was opened for review, covering the northwest corner of georgian Bay, including Baie Finn, Covered Portage Cove, Collins Inlet and many other favourite anchorages. Depending on the results of the review the Killarney Park officials, by virtue of the MNR, could tell you where, when and what to pay for anchoring. If the province is allowed to do this, where will it stop? before long municipalities will each create their own rules to restrict navigation.
And herein lies the issue of safety. As any boater knows, at times it is best to head for the nearest shelter and anchor to ensure safe passage of the ship and crew. If a local authority may restrict anchoring, a skipper is no longer free to use his best judgement. hence centuries ago the laws of the sea recognized that anchoring is a necessary part of safe navigation and an important freedom under common law around the world. The Province of Ontario cannot be allowed to overturn this fundamental of navigational law.
To learn how you can assist in this fight or join the Ontario Boating Forum, contact OBF (toll-free) at 1-888-471-1101. "Now is the hour when we absolutely need you."
The cost of taking this challenge through all appeal levels to the Supreme Court of Canada could exceed $100,000. The resulting decision will set a precedent for the whole of Canada.
The Ontario Boating Forum is raising funds for this challenge and needs your support. They have set up a trust account with the Toronto Dominion Bank in Etobicoke, which will be controlled by the OBF Executive Committee. Funds collected in excess of legal expenses will be returned to major donors (over $100.00) pro rata.
Should you wish to offer your financial support to the challenge, your donation will be gratefully received. If a person donates in excess of $100.00 and there is something left over the residual will be refunded on a pro-rata basis.
You may join the Ontario Boating Forum. Membership includes the OBF newsletter and support of its aims. Donations may be made to the Navigation Fund in addition to membership.
OBF pages archived on: "Pat's Boating in Canada"