image: FOCA banner of trees and boat

Boating – OVERVIEW

What FOCA sees: FOCA supports the safe and responsible operation of all watercraft and other related activities by:

  • promoting education and communication on boating issues
  • partnering with organizations to provide boater education
  • alerting waterfront property owners and cottage country visitors about general boating safety and related issues.

FOCA encourages all boaters to learn the basics of boat safety and how to operate a boat before you get out on the water.

July 2022 – Boat Rental Considerations – a message from Transport Canada:

In recent years, the emergence of online platforms and mobile applications, which allow pleasure craft owners to list their vessels for rent, have made it easier for vessel owners to turn their boats into revenue generators. However, as with short-term property rental and ride sharing services (e.g., Airbnb, Uber, etc.), not all operators of these new small businesses are familiar with the laws and regulations governing them, in particular when the vessel is rented with a captain and crew. 

Also keep in mind that there are many unseen ramifications to not using your vessel as described by your insurance policy. You could be exposing your business or yourself to unnecessary risk and liability, regardless if you have insurance. Insurance will not cover improperly registered vessels, ie. if you operate your licensed pleasure craft but perform non pleasure activities.

Under Canadian law, vessels are defined and regulated by how they’re used.  This bulletin, Using pleasure craft as non-pleasure craft explains the difference between pleasure and non pleasure vessels.  For further questions or concerns please contact the Office of Boating Safety at  or 877-281-8824.

image of a loonMay 2022 – join the campaign to Be #WakeAware this May long weekend, and throughout the boating season! Boat wake can cause damage to docks and moored boats, and presents a danger to swimmers, canoes and paddleboarders. Wake can also cause shoreline erosion and swamp out loon nests, particularly at this time of year when eggs are about to be laid.

Your Roles:

  1. Read the Media Release (May 17) from FOCA, SQL and MLA
  2. Share the news and the video created by FOCA and our partners, posted here:
  3. Remember to use the hashtag #WakeAware on social media posts!

Related Media Coverage:

May 2022 – FOCA recently participated in the (U.S.) Midwest Glacial Lakes Partnership Lake Conservation Webinar, “A Field Study of Maximum Wave Height, Total Wave Energy, and Maximum Wave Power Produced by Four Recreational Boats on a Freshwater Lake” presented by Jeff Marr and Andy Riesgraf. The researchers were able to demonstrate the different wave energy that purpose-built wake boats have, relative to conventional watercraft.

You can access a recording of the webinar on YouTube, along with other previous webinars here:

The report referenced in the webinar is here: A Field Study of Maximum Wave Height, Total Wave Energy, and Maximum Wave Power Produced by Four Recreational Boats on a Freshwater Lake (

Follow along with Jeff and Andy’s wake boat research at their project website: Healthy Waters Initiative website

June 9 2021 – Update on earlier proposed changes (see Nov.2020, below) which would have no longer recognized the “Rental Boat Safety Checklist” (RBSC) as a form of proof of operator competency:

Recognizing the ongoing concern about rental boat safety and renter competency, consultations were held via Let’s Talk Transportation, between November 12, 2020 and January 15, 2021. As a result, Transport Canada will NOT be rescinding the RBSC, but a revised proposal is that is anyone renting a PWC under the age of 25 must have a PCOC and cannot use the RBSC, but if supervised by someone 25 or older can use the RBSC. There is currently no word of further details, or when these amendments would be officially posted.

Ethanol Education and Consumer Protection – Protect your marine engines! Purchasing ethanol-free marine fuel from a reputable marina is an important decision. Non-marine fuel can cause an engine problem that could leave boaters stranded and in danger unexpectedly.

We are lucky to have thousands of beautiful lakes and rivers to enjoy in Ontario, and boating is an important part of our  heritage and history. Boating allows for an appreciation of our natural areas, and can be a great family activity.  We have a shared responsibility as boaters to keep our waterways safe and clean.

There are many things we can do to lower our impact as individual boaters such as make wise choices in marine power, and be sensitive to near-shore habitats. Keep in mind that conventional two-stroke marine engines in boats and personal watercraft emit proportionally more volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and other air pollutants than more fuel efficient, direct injection two-stroke and four-stroke engines.

Boat operation can also impact the sensitive shorelines, and can directly impact the success of important species, including the loon. Protecting loon nesting sites and nursery areas, especially during the breeding season, can make a difference.  For boaters, we should be mindful of our wakes as they can impact wildlife, shoreline erosion as well as create considerable havoc on neighbouring boats and docks.

Pleasure Craft Operator Card

Everyone who operates a power-driven boat needs proof of competency — something that shows they understand the basic rules and how to safely operate a boat. The most common proof of competency is the Pleasure Craft Operator Card. You can get the card by taking a boating safety course in-person or online, and passing the test at the end of the course. Read more from Transport Canada’s Question & Answer webpage.

Need your Pleasure Craft Operator Card? Our partners at Canadian Power and Sail Squadrons offer an online course; and FOCA members get a discount this Spring and Summer!


March 2022 – Regulating excessively loud boats: FOCA is a member of the Decibel Coalition. Since 2019 this group has been working to address the growing number of concerns we hear about excessively loud boats. The Coalition would like Transport Canada (TC) to enhance their regulations to include decibel limits on boat motor noise, as many other jurisdictions around the world have done.

Your roles:

  1. TC has launched their “Let’s Talk” web portal on boat motor mufflers and excessive noise. Review a cover letter with positioning information and your call-to-action from the Coalition; then visit the Let’s Talk web portal, review other comments, and add your comments by May 13, 2022. (The Coalition is recommending “Option 5: introduce performance standards, i.e. decibel limits, for manufacturers, importers and vessel operators to follow.) 
  2. Write your federal MPs (waterfront & urban residences) asking them to support these regulatory changes. Use a tool on the Safe Quiet Lakes’ webpage to generate a letter to the appropriate MPs (by entering your address/postal code) that you can personalize before sending.
  3. Share this information with your fellow members!
  4. Learn more about the Decibel Coalition online, with resources such as “How do I know if my boat is too noisy?”

Related media coverage:

Earlier News

April 2021Boating is Good for Your Health & Mind  (Boating Ontario)

November 16, 2020 – Transport Canada’s Office of Boating Safety is considering changes to increase safety, environmental protection and to improve service delivery through several regulatory amendments to the Small Vessel Regulations (SVR):

  • Changes to the Pleasure Craft Licensing Program include reducing the ten-year licenses to every five years ensuring that ownership information is updated more often.  Also changing the registration fee from FREE to $15.
  • Changes being considered for the Pleasure Craft Operators Card include strengthening course accreditation requirements, and repealing the provision for the Rental Boat Safety Checklist as being accepted as proof of competency.

Download related information here. (PDF, 2 pages)

Transport Canada recently made live two “Let’s Talk Transportation” online forums, detailing these proposed amendments, and inviting stakeholder comments until January 15, 2021.

Forum on Modernizing Pleasure Craft Licensing:
Let’s Talk Fee Proposal:

Forum on Modernizing the Pleasure Craft Operator Competency Program:
Let’s Talk Fee Proposal:

August 19, 2020 – How this Temagami marina thrived during the pandemic (TVO)
Note that Kim Krech, owner of Temagami Marine, was part of TVO’s “COVID-19 Cottage Quandary” segment (aired May 4, 2020) alongside FOCA’s Terry Rees, and the Mayor of Township of Muskoka Lakes, Phil Harding

January 21, 2020 –  FOCA is a member of the Ontario  Recreational Boating Advisory Council  (ONRBAC) and attended their annual meeting in Toronto, where topical issues related to boating were discussed, including recent trends in boating accidents/fatalities, Great Lakes water levels, and the new Canadian Navigable Waters Act.

image from fact sheet about wrecks or hazardous vesslesOctober 2019 – FOCA was contacted by the Ontario Region Navigation Protection Program (NPP) of Transport Canada, offering materials our members can use about the Wrecked, Abandoned or Hazardous Vessels Act (WAHVA). The Act is intended to protect waterways and marine ecosystems. Please download and share these fact sheets:

To determine if a boat meets the criteria to be considered a vessel of concern, to apply for permission to remove a vessel, or to make a report to the Receiver of Wreck, contact NPP’s Ontario office at 519-383-1863 or email


To learn about the canoe’s link to Canada’s rich cultural heritage and unique landscape, and discover the enduring significance of the canoe to the people of Canada, you can visit the Canadian Canoe Museum.

Learn more on FOCA’s Safe Boating webpage.

Michelle LewinBoating – OVERVIEW