10 km/h Speed Limit posted in Canoe Pass

Updated July 12, 2014

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Thank you West Nipissing firefighters who installed the 10 km/h speed limit signage at Canoe Pass on July 10, 2014. Click to enlarge photos.


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 North end sign


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South end sign  


Speed Limit to be posted in Canoe Pass

Posted June 17, 2014
By Sam Goodwin - Municipal Liaison Committee

Have you ever had that experience of either being about to enter or leave Canoe Pass only to find at the last minute that another boat is heading towards you at full speed?  Well, with the increase in boating traffic on Lake Nipissing and the Upper French River in recent years, more and more cottagers and visitors to the area are finding themselves in just that situation.

It’s not that the existing Transport Canada speed limit of 10 km/h within 30 metres of shore doesn’t apply to Canoe Pass.  But the reality seems to be that many people either don’t realize that or may just need to be reminded.

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And so UFCRA has been working with the Municipality of West Nipissing on having official Transport Canada speed limit signs (see image at left) in place at both ends of Canoe Pass by July 1 of this year.  The signs will be a very clear reminder to people about how to proceed safely through this waterway and will make the point that it's not just a good idea, it's also the law.

West Nipissing Municipal Council, Jay Barbeau (the Chief Administrative Officer), and Jérôme Courchesne (the Project Manager), have all been very supportive of this initiative from the beginning.  That support has taken the form of project managing all of the approvals, including from Transport Canada, the Ministry of Natural Resources, and French River Provincial Park.  It has also included taking care of having the signs made to Transport Canada specifications and covering half of the cost (which is expected to about $1,000) with the UFCRA making up the other half.  And as well, members of the West Nipissing Fire Services Volunteer Association have volunteered to install the signs as a contribution-in-kind to the community.  In recognition of that contribution, UFCRA is making a $300 donation to support the good works that they do throughout the area.

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So, a very big thanks to the Municipality for all of its efforts on our behalf to improve boating safety for cottagers and visitors alike.  Look for the signs this summer and next time you are going through Canoe Pass, slow down and enjoy the view!

Boating Regulations And Fines

Updated November 18, 2011

Fines (2011) for some boating offences (Source OPP):

  • Operating a vessel in a careless manner, without consideration for other people, boat traffic, potential hazards. $425.00
  • Speeding in excess of 10 km/h within 30 metres or 100 feet from shore. $425. (Falls under careless operation)
  • Insufficient number of life jackets (Canadian Coast Guard approved.) $420
  • Alcohol consumption / drunk driving. $125 for drinking on a vessel if not underway; $215 for vessel is underway if driver is impaired and charged. Drinking on board is legal only if the boat is anchored and if the boat has a galley and head.
  • Required safety equipment not on board. $240 per item (e.g. oars and paddles, anchor, buoyant heaving line)
  • Underage operation of PWC - $300 
  • Not carrying Pleasure Craft Operating Card (PCOC) - $250
Age-horsepower restrictions prohibit operators under the age of 16 years from operating craft above specified horsepower limits. This applies to the operation of pleasure craft fitted with a motor and used for recreational purposes. If an operator is accompanied and directly supervised in the pleasure craft by a person 16 years and older, the age-horsepower restrictions do not apply. These restrictions also prohibit persons under 16 years from operating personal watercraft regardless of whether they are accompanied by an adult.

“Directly supervised” means: accompanied and directly supervised by a person 16 years of age or older.

For more information:

On-line Boater Exam

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Those who need to obtain the PCOC (Pleasure Craft Operators Card) have a choice of taking a 3-hour course at a designated location or on line. In 2011 the on-line exam system was modified and the process now includes a study session and “open-book” test. See for full details.
All operators of a powered boats are now required to carry the PCOC.

The PCOC (Pleasure Craft Operating Card) And U.S. Residents

Simplified Rules:
  • If your boat is stored at the cottage or in Canada you need the card
  • If your boat is registered in Canada, you need the card
  • All Jet ski operators, regardless of age or nationality, need the card
From the web site: “Non-residents only need to obtain a Pleasure Craft Operator Card if they are operating their powered boat in Canadian waters for more than 45 consecutive days or if the boat they are operating is registered or licensed in Canada (this includes rented boats). (American) Boater Education Cards or equivalent certifications are recognized in Canada. Proper identification should be kept on board at all times to provide proof of residency.”

The 45-consecutive day regulation was designed for American tourists who bring their boats into Canada for a one-time vacation, and not for US residents who own property in Canada.

The “45 days” does not refer to the boat driver being in Canada for 45 consecutive days. Rather it refers to the boat being in Canada for 45 days. If your boat is licensed in the U.S. but is stored in Canada for the year or is on the water longer than 45 days, you will need to get an Operators card.

Boat Licence
The term “boat licence” refers to the numbers on the bow of the boat and on your boat ownership papers. The licence is required on all powered craft in Canada and includes sailboats equipped with an outboard or inboard engine, whether or not it is in use.

Jet Ski (PWC - Personal Water Craft) Regulations

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    As of Sept. 15, 2002, all operators of a jet ski, regardless of age or nationality, need an operator’s card.
  • As of April 1, 1999, all PWC operators in Canada must be 16 years old and older.
  •  Safety equipment is required on all jet skis.

Safety Equipment for PWCs
  Personal protection equipment
1. one Canadian-approved personal flotation device or lifejacket of appropriate size for each person on board
  2. one buoyant heaving line of not less than 15 m in length
  Distress equipment
3. a watertight flashlight
3 Canadian approved flares of Type A, B or C
  Navigation equipment
4. a sound-signalling device or a sound-signalling appliance
  Boat safety equipment
5. one manual propelling device
an anchor with not less than 15 m of cable, rope or chain in any combination
  6. one bailer or one manual water pump fitted with or accompanied by sufficient hose to enable a person using the pump to pump water from the bilge of the vessel over the side of the vessel
  7. one Class 5BC fire extinguisher
This equipment, (5, 6, 7) is not mandatory if all people on the PWC are wearing a Canadian-approved personal flotation device of appropriate size.

For additional information on regulations regarding PWC’s, visit the Canada Coast Guard website 
Posted: 8/25/2004 

Noise Legislation For Cigarette Boats

Update – 2011

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Over the last year, there have been modifications to the legislation on the requirements for sound muffling systems on boats. The practice among cigarette boat owners has been to use a switch on or near the dashboard, which would essentially create more noise by directing exhaust directly into the air through noise-making baffles or by-passing any muffler or through-water exhaust system. When they thought they were in the presence of police, they would flick the switch and less noise would be produced and they would avoid being charged. The new legislation essentially prohibits having any such switch enabled. The switch, if one is present, must be completely dismantled.

The OPP continue their efforts to deal with noisy cigarette boats and recognize it is one of the major problems in this and many areas of Ontario and Canada.

Posted 2004
Every year on the Upper French River there are more and more boats. Some of these boats create a lot of noise and can be categorized as “cigarette boats”. Many cottagers can be sitting in their cottage and hear these loud boats kilometres away, without having ever seen them. Good news, new regulations were introduced in 2003 and are now in force to curb this annoyance.

In theory, you will no longer have to put up with noisy boat exhaust systems, as it's now law to muffle all exhaust either by a muffler or by dispersing the exhaust under water.

The Federal Government through the Canadian Coast Guard and CMAC, the Canadian Marine Advisory Council (an advisory Board of stakeholders sponsored by the Coast Guard to assist in identifying problems related to marine activities) has replaced 1999 regulations with new regulations under the Canadian Shipping Act. These are cloned from the Highway Traffic Act that is familiar to Police, and are more enforceable than the regulations they replace.

In layman's terms, the new law is this:
  • No one may operate a pleasure boat unless it has a muffler in good working order and is in operation at all times to prevent excessive noise, or unless the exhaust gases are directed underwater through the propeller hub or below the cavitation plate
  • If the boat is equipped with a muffler bypass, it must be disengaged in such a manner that it cannot be engaged accidentally
  • This does not apply to older boats built prior to 1960 (wooden inboard boats), or race boats in a sanctioned competition
  • This does not apply if the boat is operated more than five miles (8 km) from shore, e.g., Lake Simcoe or Great Lakes. There is no location on Lake Nipissing that is more than 8 km from any shoreline.
A muffler is an expansion chamber within the exhaust pipe from the engine specifically designed to reduce engine exhaust noise. It does not include a muffler cut out system, straight out exhaust pipes, or a fibre glass packed muffler or by-pass.

Enforcement of the Law 

In most of Ontario, the OPP are responsible for enforcing the regulations. If you are bothered by a noisy boat, contact your local OPP office or dispatch centre, and an officer will investigate the complaint. To assist the OPP, ensure that you have recorded the following information about the event:

·  The date and time of the occurrence
·  Where it took place, including distance from shore, estimated speed and direction
·  A description of the boat including the registration number
·  A description of the operator, and the operator's name if known
·  The cottage or home of the operator, if known
·  The name and phone number of additional witnesses
·  A photograph or a video, while not essential, adds to the evidence
Posted: 8/25/2004

Cigarette Boat "Poker Run"

Cigarette Boat “Poker Run” – 2011

The event was held July 23, 2011 on Lake Nipissing. Similar to last year, the boats did not travel down the French River and the event went unnoticed by French River cottagers.

Cigarette Boat “Poker Run” - 2010

UFRCA cottagers will be interested to know that the 2010 cigarette boat poker run will take place on Saturday July 24 on Lake Nipissing only and will not enter French River Provincial Park. Although there may be a stop at Iron Island, there is no indication at present that the boats will travel on the south side of Sandy Island. At this time, there is still no detailed itinerary posted on the performance boat club web site.

See the article in The (North Bay) Nugget of Monday July 19 at:

In the performance boat club web site the new legislation (Part 10 of the Small Vessels Act) regulating boat exhaust is spelled out; they also clearly acknowledge that these ‘poker runs’ are not races and are not exempt from the legislation. The new legislation stipulates that any device or switch that turns the noise on and off must be disabled.

The UFRCA acknowledges with gratitude the efforts of French River Park Superintendent Chuck Miller and OPP Marine Unit Constable Marvin Miller that have resulted in a change in format for this event. If the event organizers had pursued their interest in going down the French, they were obligated to apply for a permit for an event that was contrary to park values and which caused a disturbance to park users.

Source: Dave Minden
Posted: 7/19/2010