Transport Canada "Guided Excursion" Guidelines

Many of you are no doubt aware that in the past few years Transport Canada has been making changes to regulations for canoes and kayaks. Here is a summary of what you need to know as of 2014, with updates from March 2015 regarding guided excursions.

Safety Gear

The requirements for canoe safety gear are essentially the same however the "manual propelling device" is no longer listed. If you're a C1 or big canoe paddler take some time to check the requirements that are pertinent to your type of canoe and situation.

The Transport Canada minimum safety equipment requirements are found here.

All RCABC instructors and club members must carry the Transport Canada safety gear requirements for the trip to be sanctioned by RCABC.

Guided Excursion Guidelines (Commercial)

The "Guided Excursion" guidelines apply to canoe instructors and leaders in a commercial setting. The changes are to the interpretation of the law in the Canada Shipping Act. TC's interpretation now makes a distinction between volunteer and commercial activities, even though the actual wording of the Shipping Act law doesn't. If in doubt, follow the Non-Pleasure Craft or "Guided Excursion" guidelines as they are good practice anyway.

. Using a checklist, the guidelines lay out specific requirements for:

  • Pre-Trip Meetings
  • Emergency Contacts & Float Plan
  • Hypothermia Prevention
  • Wearing Helmets and PFDs or Lifejackets
  • First Aid Kit (check the minimum requirements)

In order for the courses to be sanctioned by RCABC these requirements must be met.

TC Guided Excursion Compliance Guide TP15204E

If you are in a canoeing leadership role, RCABC has long advocated following the principles reflected in these guidelines. The difference now (as of 2010) is that leaders are now considered Non-Pleasure Craft and regulations in the Canada Shipping Act of 2001 now apply to us and are enforceable. As you read the Compliance Guide, realize that:

  • the guidelines apply only to the lead canoe (or leaders).
  • the lead canoe(s) are considered NON-Pleasure Craft and the rest of the group are considered Pleasure Craft.
  • these guidelines are not exactly the law; they are suggestion or interpretations of the Canada Shipping Act. If you don't take them literally you must meet the intention of the law in the Canada Shipping Act of 2001.
  • the Pleasure Craft / Non-Pleasure Craft designation applies to the role of the paddler/leader, and is not boat specific. In other words whatever canoe you are using that day to lead or guide in is considered a Non-Pleasure Craft. The same canoe could be used the next day by your students and it would then be considered a Pleasure Craft.

Registration of Canoes and Kayaks

The good news is you don't have to register your canoe. There has been a bit of flip flop on this, but to Transport Canada's credit they have decided that self propelled craft do not have to be registered.


CBC Video - The Risks of Outdoor Adventure

This CBC Marketplace television show is an interesting view of risk associated with outdoor adventure. It discusses some issues such as waivers that are not well understood by many outdoor guides, instructors and adventurers. While it's not an in depth look into the outdoor adventure industry, it is worth watching!

Instructor Search Now Functioning

The instructor search feature is found in the "Courses" menu and is called "Find an Instructor". It allows you to search for instructors of any RCABC type in any combination of zones in BC. Note that only instructors who have chosen to advertise and are current members are searched for and displayed. If you'd like to change that preference, log in to your account in the "Members" menu.

Parks Canada Requests Certification Guidelines from RCABC

Parks Canada, Paddle Canada, RCABC and other provincial canoe and kayak organizations are working on creating guidelines for canoeing certification requirements when leading trips in National Parks. In other words, if a guide, teacher or club were running a trip in a National Park, Parks Canada would require the leader(s) to have a minimum certification level that RCABC will recommend and they will approve at some point in the future. Their stated purpose is to reduce their liability.

Our Vice President and Instructor Coordinator have been working on these guidelines since last year. In late January, 2014 there was a new request from the coastal Parks Canada administration (includes only Pacific Rim and Gulf Islands NPs) . This was triggered through a request to lead a school group canoe trip into a National Park area. Parks Canada has been committed to working with all provincial and national organizations with the goal of determining the best certification guidelines that each organization has to offer.

Certification Logging

The executive has set up a certification logging system for our database. Certifications have always been recorded in the database, but RCABC has never had the option to observe and work with the data in an easy way. While this hasn’t necessarily been problematic, it’s obviously in our best interest to have a clearer picture of our certification activity. The new system will do the following:

  • notify the executive of new certifications or re-certifications by email
  • permanently record the log
  • record details such as the type of certification, date, master/IT, student member # and name, etc.
  • enable the executive to search for and report certification changes for a given time period

The result is that we will have better information on our instructor activity, allowing us to make better decisions in the future. The system started recording in mid-June with 39 certification additions or changes logged to date. Re-certifications accounted for 14 of the logs and most of the rest were new Lakewater Instructor certificates.

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