Transport Canada Wants Your Views on Floating Homes
Transport Canada has opened a Let’s Talk consultation on Long-term Anchoring.
The definition of a “vessel” under the Canada Shipping Act, 2001 includes not only boats, but also other non-traditional vessels like floating accommodations and spud barges. Recently concerns about having vessels anchored long-term for recreational purposes has raised concerns about the environment, safety, and public access. The Minister of Transport has a mandate under both the Canadian Navigable Waters Act and the Canada Shipping Act 2001 to protect the marine environment, while preserving commercial and recreational navigation and boating safety. As such, Transport Canada has opened public consultation on when and where it would make sense to regulate long-term anchoring.
How You Can Comment
GBA has drafted some wording that you can use to help Transport Canada understand the importance of regulating floating homes. Here is the step-by-step process to assist you in creating an email to comment on Transport Canada’s Let’s Talk Consultation:
- Open up a new empty email and copy and paste this text into the body of the email
- Insert in the subject line the following: Long-term Anchoring
- In the body of the email please copy the following text: To Transport Canada, please find below my input on the Let’s Talk: Long term-anchoring consultation.
- Send the email to the following address: MSSRegulations-ReglementsSSM@tc.gc.ca
- Make sure your name and address is on the email
Send an email today to make sure your voice is heard! Transport Canada’s consultation on Long-term Anchoring closes on December 11, 2023.
Floating Homes not Vessels Coalition Presentation to SQL
The presentation for the Safe Quiet Lakes AGM can be found here.
Latest from the Floating Homes not Vessel Coalition:
Help Push Floating Home Reform in Ontario
The priority for GBA’s Floating Homes Strategy Group is now the Transport Canada Strategy Plan being spearheaded by Gloucester Pool Cottagers Association under the new name:
The plan is a multi-pronged approach to get Transport Canada to put in place similar regulations to those that apply in B.C., so that Floating Homes can also be properly regulated in Ontario.
Unregulated floating cottages are becoming a growing concern on Ontario waterways. Deemed “vessels” by Transport Canada, these floating homes are taking advantage of a loophole allowing owners to drop anchor on crown land and lakebeds on any navigable waterway. Because of the “vessel” designation these structures are currently exempt from all forms of oversight and regulation, including building code adherence, environmental protection, navigation and public safety, taxation and location management.
In British Columbia, where Transport Canada classifies them as “float homes”, these structures must conform to strict building standards and can be duly regulated by the province and municipalities to ensure environmental protections.
Transport Canada needs to change the regulations in Ontario to make them consistent with those in BC. In short, floating cottages need to be classified as “floating homes” and be subject to strict building standards and appropriate safety and environmental regulations.
What to do if you see a Floating Home
GBA and the floating homes strategy group have developed a “What to do if you see a Floating Home” on Georgian Bay and not at a marina or similar location. You can find contact information for federal, provincial, municipal and the floatings homes not vessels coalition. It also includes how to identify a floating accommodation and what to do if you noticed a spill or pollution.
What has GBA Done?
- Put together a strategic alliance, which includes the townships of Port Severn, Georgian Bay and Archipelago, FOCA, Great Lakes & St. Lawrence Cities Initiative, and Gloucester Pool Cottagers Association
- Started discussions on a coordinated approach to determine how municipal regulations can be implemented and enforced
- Commenced discussions with Transport Canada to request that vessel licenses not be issued for floating homes and those that have been issued are rescinded
- Provided input into MNR at a March 2022 consultation webinar on the issues
- Developed suggested comments to MNR on the March/April 2022 Environmental Registry of Ontario (ERO) posting, as above
- Submitted comments on the March/April MNR ERO posting:
- GBA thanks MNRF for their support on floating cottages issues but more help is needed: GBA amended letter to Minister Graydon Smith on proposed regulation changes and TC may 24 2023
- Sept 28, 2023: cosigned the Floating Homes Coalition letter asking the new Transport Canada minister to sort out Ontario Regulations.
- Continue to advocate to Transport Canada, MNR, and other government agencies for changes required to ensure municipalities can regulate floating homes and full environment protections are in place
- Continue to work with municipalities, cottage associations and other stakeholders to establish a coordinated approach to determine how municipal regulations can be implemented and enforced
Key developments on this issue so far are:
- Township of the Archipelago successful 1998 lawsuit to ban a floating homes attached to crown land: ToA 1998 Floating Cottages Lawsuit Judgement
- Township of Georgian Bay has developed bylaws aimed at regulating floating homes, see: TGB staff report on floating cottages Feb 2022
- A 2015 Ontario Supreme Court decision and a 2018 BC court decision that may provide support for municipal regulation: Kawartha Lake Supreme Court Decision – 2015 and BC Court Decision – 2018.
- The Ministry of Northern Development, Mines, Natural Resources and Forestry (MNR) asked for public comment on floating cottages. GBA’s suggested responses can be found here.
- GBA along with Gloucester Pool Cottagers’ Association (GPCA) and Great Lakes St. Lawrence Cities Initiative (GLSLCI) have asked Natural Resources Minister, Graydon Smith, to take the lead on this file. Read the GBA letter here.
- GBA provided information and guidance for members to provide feedback to MNRF regarding their amendments to the Publics Lands Act, which will include changes that will help to get floating accommodation structures properly regulated here
- Following the combined efforts of GBA’s Floating Homes Strategy Group, MNRF introduced floating home regulations on July 1, 2023 to prevent floating homes from tying up to crown land or anchoring overnight on a lakebed, see: news release
There have also been some useful press coverage and presentations as follows:
- Reactions to the MNRF regulation changes:
- Gloucester Pool Association Presentation to Severn Township – March 2022
- Manitoulin First Nation, Municipal Leaders Express Opposition to ‘Floating Accommodations, Manitoulin Expositor – March 23 2022
- CBC: Ontario wants to ban cottage country “floating homes” made from shipping containers
- Parry Sound North Star May 2023: GBA is not trying to eliminate floating homes as implied in this article, we simply want them to be properly regulated and located, for safety and environmental protection reasons.
- Cottage Life: This curious Georgian Bay structure is causing controversy in cottage country – May 24 2023
- National Post: Cottage country braces for the invasion of the floating May 20 2023
Members of GBA’s Floating Homes Strategy Group spoke to CBC recently to discuss the need to property regulate pop-up floating cottages: