OUR MISSION: To be a leading voice in promoting safe, quiet waterways and respectful boating practices through education, advocacy and legislative change.

SQL Spring 2024 Newsletter

VORRs and Wakesurfing


Hello and happy spring!


It has been a very mild winter but the official coming of spring is still exciting! And while not always at the cottage, Safe Quiet Lakes Board of Directors have been working on our causes.


I participated at Transport Canada’s Recreational Boating Advisory Council meeting in January. Several issues were discussed including the recent passing of their VORR 7.1 for wakesurfing and their new Vessel Operation Restriction Regulation 2022 package, which will speed up the process for municipalities to apply. There were also updates around noise emissions and a discussion around the possibility of introducing life jacket requirements.

I am very happy to announce that we have some new directors joining our board: Mike Cossar, Barb Bridgeman and Dale Porter. We are looking forward to their fresh ideas and keen energy. 


As we get closer to cottage season please reach out and let us know what you are interested in hearing about and how you may want to get involved.

Warm regards,

Diana Piquette

Chair, Safe Quiet Lakes


We’ve heard from many of you about your concerns over the impact wakesurfing has had on our lakes. Transport Canada has announced new VORR regulations for wakesurfing. Here’s what you need to know:

What’s a VORR?

The federal government, through Transport Canada, has sole jurisdiction over boating on any body of water in Canada -- big lakes, rivers and ponds. However, municipal authorities can ask for a Vessel Operating Restriction Regulation (VORR) on waters in their jurisdiction. The VORR can apply to a complete body of water or a part of it, such as distance from shore, and time of day restrictions. Examples of a VORR are speed restrictions or prohibitions on certain boating activities.

Can anyone apply for a VORR?

The municipality must be the applicant for a VORR. The application is a long process. It must carry out a cost-benefit analysis, show that all other reasonable approaches failed, and that all stakeholders were consulted and most agree. Grounds for a VORR are public safety, environmental and public interest. It can take the government up to two years to approve, although this process is being sped up.

What is the issue with wakesurfing?

According to Transport Canada, many communities and environmental groups have raised concerns about the environmental impact of wakesurfing, which can erode shorelines with excessive wave action and cause safety issues for other boaters in high traffic areas due to the speeds involved. Although some groups have also raised concerns about wakeboarding, Transport Canada views this activity as being different than wakesurfing as it does not necessitate the creation of a wake.


Can a municipality restrict wakesurfing?

As of December 20, 2023, municipalities now have the option of applying for a prohibition that specifically targets issues generated by wakesurfing. Previously, wakesurfing was included in VORR Schedule 7, which is a blanket ban on all towing sports – waterskiing, tubing, wakeboarding, wakesurfing. As a result, some local authorities refrained from applying for any restrictions at all, leaving safety and environmental concerns from wakesurfing unaddressed.

The new regulations passed in December created a separate VORR category for wakesurfing: VORR 7.1. This means a local authority can address wakesurfing issues without impacting other watersports. The restriction can apply to certain areas or certain times of the day. Transport Canada says the change is the result of consultations with marine stakeholders that have taken place since 2022.


Does the wakesurfing VORR ban wakesurfing boats?

The restriction does not prohibit the use of wakesurfing boats, just the activity of wakesurfing. More information on the new wakesurfing VORR can be found here.


Each year members of the boat industry, boating safety organizations and the public nominate people, programs and organizations for the annual Canadian Safe Boating Awards (CASBAs)


Safe Quiet Lakes is proud to announce that our nominee, OPP Sgt. Dave Moffatt, was named the Marine Professional of the Year for the 2023 CASBAs, held Jan. 21, in Toronto at the National Yacht Club.


Sgt. Moffatt, the Provincial Marine and ATV Coordinator for the Ontario Provincial Police, is responsible for training the OPP’s 380 marine officers along with those from municipal police services, the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forests, and First Nation band constables, and oversees 170 vessels within Ontario. He is well-known among lake associations for his dedication to promoting safe boating.


This year marked the 25th CASBAS, founded by the Canadian Safe Boating Council. We congratulate Sgt. Moffatt and thank him for his efforts to make boating safer. 


SQL is a non-profit organization made up of volunteers. Our mission is to be a leading voice in promoting safe, quiet waterways and respectful boating practices through education, advocacy and legislative change. Since 2011, we have been working to ensure the enjoyment of the lakes for all, for generations to come.


Your generous support funds our progress. We are so grateful for the support of many community leaders, lake associations and municipalities. These funds advance our annual education campaigns, amplify our advocacy and help us develop partnerships across the boating community.


We have been busy planning for boating season and, with your help, are looking forward to making this the best season yet. Your gift of $20, $50, $100, $1,000 or more would help us to:

·        Create new education materials

·        Improve our presence at summer events 

·        Support our advocacy activities

·        Broaden our partnerships throughout Ontario and Canada 

·        Prepare for our next survey in Summer 2025


You can send your donation through our secure website. Is there a particular initiative you would like to know more about? Please contact Nancy, our fundraising chair at donate@safequiet.ca.  

MLA raises safety, noise and environmental concerns about proposed JW Marriott outdoor concert venue

The Muskoka Lakes Association partners with SQL on a number of initiatives to promote safe and quiet lakes, and also does other work to help protect Muskoka. The MLA has a strong history of advocating for responsible development, reasonable taxation, protection of water quality and the environment since its founding in the 1890s. 


We recently learned that the JW Marriott on Lake Rosseau is considering creating an outdoor concert venue in a field beside their hotel for over 10,000 people. The proposal is to host a multi- day outdoor concert on the upcoming July long weekend.


The resort has not released their plans, but Live Incorporated – which would be running the proposed venue – has indicated that facilities will include a permanent structure to house visiting bands.


The MLA, while supportive of responsible economic growth in Muskoka, has shared a number of concerns with the Township of Muskoka Lakes, including the fact that 10,000-plus concert goers could be travelling in sensitive areas – on an already busy long weekend. Other significant concerns raised by the MLA include noise, sanitation and pollution, accommodations, and public safety.


The MLA will continue working with the Township of Muskoka Lakes to understand what, if any, approvals are required, and ensure our association’s concerns are addressed. Muskoka Lakes Mayor Peter Kelley has said he is concerned about the disruption to local residents and the natural environment, and the safety and security of residents and visitors, and is meeting with JW Marriott officials to better understand their plans and discuss mitigation or alternative options.


This is just the latest of the MLA’s ongoing history of advocacy activities. Recent actions have included a campaign to significantly downscale the Starboard development in Gravenhurst; advocating for changes to the Muskoka Lakes Official Plan; calling on the federal government to designate floating homes as homes, not vessels; and more.


Everyone who cares about the future of Muskoka and wishes to support our advocacy work in Muskoka Lakes, Seguin, Bracebridge and Gravenhurst is welcome to join the MLA at mla.on.ca.

Join us in helping to keep our waterways safe

We build partnerships to encourage conversations about respectful boating and to lead change through education and advocacy. Your donation will help drive our programs.

Have questions? Contact us at outreach@safequiet.ca

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