Transport Canada seeks public input on pleasure craft licence changes

Transport Canada, the governing body responsible for the country’s transportation policies and programs, is asking the public to weigh in on some proposed changes to the pleasure craft licence process.

Notable among these changes is the introduction of a $15 processing fee to obtain a new pleasure craft licence, renew, transfer, or duplicate a PCL, and secondly, the reduction of the licence’s validity period from 10 years to five years.

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In regards to the $15 fee, boating licences are currently issued for free with the cost falling to taxpayers. “We issue over 100,000 pleasure craft licences every year,” Transport Canada said in a press release. “By introducing the service fee, the program will be paid for by the people that benefit from it.”

Rick Layzell, CEO of Boating Ontario, is in full support of the service fee, stressing that this is not a tax grab, but instead necessary funding to keep the licensing process operational without taxpayer money. “I’m about one of the most passionate boaters you’ll ever talk to,” Layzell said. “I’ve spent my life and my career in this business, and I love our sport. But why should a non-boater pay for me to get a licence for my boat?”

Layzell points out that car, snowmobile, ATV, and motorcycle owners all pay a licensing fee. “Recreational boats are currently the only thing that do not have a fee for the vessel licence,” he said.

If the service fee is introduced and the licence’s validity period is reduced to five years, the cost of a PCL will work out to $3 a year. “It’s a very nominal amount to allow you to go recreational boating,” Layzell said.

As for the reduction in the licence’s validity period, Transport Canada said this change would improve data quality and the way it delivers services to PCL holders.

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Layzell elaborated on Transport Canada’s statement, explaining that there is a lack of statistics when it comes to Canada’s boating industry, especially around boat ownership. Typically, Layzell said, boat owners trade up, buying a larger boat every three to five years. With a 10-year renewal period, a boat owned by one person may have been sold and changed hands three times during that period.

The issue with this is that a PCL contains a unique licence number used to trace a vessel to its owner, but if that owner’s licence isn’t updated to reflect the ownership of their new boat, it can prevent police and search and rescue personnel from accessing important information in an emergency. Having an updated licence also supports accountability and compliance with safety and environmental regulations, Transport Canada said.

The consultation period for these changes will be open to the public until January 15, 2021.

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