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‘That is just ear-piercing’: Shuswap group continues effort to regulate noisy boats on local lakes

Transport Canada says regulations coming in 2025, public reporting system to be explored
Shuswap and Mara Lakes Decibel Coalition and the National Decibel Coalition have heard from Transport Canada and await boating decibel regulations coming in 2025, as well as enforcement strategies reported by the public. (Pixabay photo)

A Shuswap group is continuing its quest to lower noise levels coming from boats on local lakes.

The Shuswap and Mara Lakes Decibel Coalition (SMLDC), working with the National Decibel Coalition and Transport Canada, wants to have regulations in place in the next few years, to limit the maximum level of noise a boat can make in the next few years. This has been an ongoing mission for the members, who say they want to shelter their communities from excessive noise.

READ MORE: Shuswap group plans to monitor speed boat noise

READ MORE: B.C. groups want to restrict noisy boats as Transport Canada looks at options

Gary Milne, SMLDC chair, said Transport Canada is listening to the coalitions’ lobbying efforts and has advised him and the other members of new regulations coming in 2025. These will work to limit “excessively noisy boat operators and manufacturers” on local and provincial bodies of water.

At the April 12 Canadian Marine Advisory Council meeting, the plan to put these regulations in place was introduced. Members of both the SMLDC and the National Decibel Coalition held informational meetings with RCMP Marine Patrol and other policing agencies to discuss enforcement of the pending regulations. Milne said RCMP have very limited resources for marine patrol in the Shuswap, only able to patrol Shuswap and Mara Lakes four days each summer for boat decibel level enforcement.

Community-led patrols are being looked at, said Milne, modeled after programs already in place across the country.

“We are most impressed with the Lac Memphremagog Marine Patrol model and believe this could be a good model for our Lakes,” reads the spring 2023 SMLDC newsletter, noting the public will play a critical role in identifying offenders. Since police officials and coalition members can’t be everywhere, beach goers and boaters can notice and report loud decibel levels and then further action can be taken in a follow-up, explained Milne.

SMLDC will be running an ad campaign this summer, sharing details about the reality of noise a single boat can make and how many people can be affected.

A regulatory impact analysis statement has been sent to Transport Canada as well, detailing the specifics of the Shuswap’s mountainous terrain and natural echo chamber, reads the newsletter.

Private donors and a Columbia Shuswap Regional District grant have financed the coalitions’ lobbying efforts.

“We realized Transport Canada are looking for assistance in creating some language and reference of enforcement,” said Milne. “We’re taking advantage of that to provide global standards, and we’ve been the voice for western Canada out of the Shuswap. We’re one of the only countries with waterways like we have in Canda that don’t have decibel regulations.”

Milne said he’s in continuous talks with RCMP and Transport Canada about what regulations will look like and how to enforce them, along with how to create fair methods of decibel measurement.

A public event is in the works for boat owners to have their boats tested for decibel levels, to raise awareness and allow owners the opportunity to learn about their boats. Milne said his own boat hits about 72 dB, and preferred maximum levels are around 75 dB when docked and 88 dB speeding on the water, according to the coalition. He said he’s heard boats in excess of 99 dB on the lakes.

“That is just ear-piercing.”

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Rebecca Willson

About the Author: Rebecca Willson

I took my first step into the journalism industry in November 2022 when I moved to Salmon Arm to work for the Observer and Eagle Valley News. I graduated with a journalism degree in December 2021 from MacEwan University in Edmonton.
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