Proceedings of the Standing Senate Committee on
Energy, the Environment and Natural Resources
Issue 14, Evidence of May 6, 2003
OTTAWA, Tuesday, May 6, 2002
The Standing Senate Committee on Energy, the Environment and Natural
Resources, to which was referred Bill S- 10, concerning personal watercraft in
navigable waters, met this day at 6:15 p.m. to give consideration to the bill.
Senator Ione Christensen (Acting Chairman) in the Chair.
The Acting Chairman: Honourable senators, our first panel is made up
of Mr. Norm Dyck from the British Columbia Marine Trades Association; Ms.
Patricia Nelder from the Atlantic Marine Trades Association; and Mr.Mariash from
the Mid-Canada Marine Dealers Association Inc.
Thank you for being here.
Mr. Norm Dyck, Government Relations, British Columbia Marine Trades
Association: Honourable senators, I am here representing two organizations.
They are the British Columbia Marine Trades Association, which has roughly 300
members, and the 10,000 boaters who belong to the Council of British Columbia
Yacht Clubs. I thank you for your invitation to appear before you.
It might be of interest to the Honourable Senator Spivak that I grew up in
Manitoba and boated there until 1969, after which I relocated to the West Coast.
I have boated in the lakes with which Senator Spivak is familiar.
A detailed brief has been submitted on our behalf. I will summarize a few of
our main points.
Boating in British Columbia is an extremely popular activity. Because of our
moderate climate and sheltered waters it is a year round activity, which I
appreciate, coming from Manitoba.
We estimate that there are roughly 500,000 recreational boats in British
Columbia, which range from relatively large yachts to canoes, kayaks and, of
course, personal watercraft.
As well, we have large sports fishing and marine tourism industries. The
point we are endeavouring to make is that recreational boating in British
Columbia is an important part of our economy. Indeed, it is a significant
contributor to the economy of Canada.
First, we believe that Bill S-10 has the potential to impact adversely on
recreational boating and, by extension, on our economy.
Second, we see Bill S-10 as identifying one type of vessel for special and
discriminating treatment. We feel this will set a dangerous precedent. We are
concerned by the proposed delegation of regulatory authority to what we see as
non- elected, possibly unrepresentative, single interest groups who may have
interests that could be detrimental to Canadians as a whole.
We believe recreational boating should be an activity available to all
Canadians. We also submit that some of the rationale put forward in Bill S-10 is
flawed and contains some inaccuracies. We suggest there are more injuries and
deaths occurring on the water attributable to canoes, kayaks and other small
vessels. In recent years, manufacturers of personal watercraft have become
leaders in the reduction of noise and emissions through their development of new
technology engines. Today, personal watercraft are among the quietest, least
polluting of the engine-powered boats.
It has been suggested that the boating restriction regulations are
inadequate. While we may not always have supported all proposed boating
restriction regulations, the federal government regulatory policy has been
helpful in ensuring that, for the most part, unnecessary legislation was not
The requirement to consider options to regulation and to consult with all
stakeholders in the development of regulations helps ensure this. We fear that
local, non-elected and single interest groups may not wish to follow a similar
process. Given the requirements of the federal government regulatory policy, we
believe that the boating restriction regulations are the appropriate vehicle for
restrictions on the water.
Finally, we note that the right of navigation, which followed common law to
Canada, was enshrined in the Constitution Act of 1867. A number of court
decisions have held that legislation as it relates to navigation rests entirely
with Parliament. This suggests, we submit, that Bill S-10 may well be
Since recreational boating is such a popular year-round activity that
contributes significantly to the British Columbia economy, we do not wish to see
it adversely impacted by Bill S-10. Bill S-10 clearly discriminates against
personal watercraft. We believe they are no more dangerous or noisy, and pollute
less, than most outboard-engine- powered vessels. The boating restriction
regulations, along with the requirements of the regulatory policy, ensure a fair
and appropriate boating restriction regulatory process. No further legislation
is necessary. The right of navigation on our waterways is an exclusive federal
government responsibility. We believe this is appropriate and we do not wish to
see it changed.
To conclude, the British Columbia Marine Trades Association and the Council
of British Columbia Yacht Clubs respectfully requests the committee to recommend
the rejection of Bill S-10. My apologies for the length of my statement,
however, it does reflect our serious concerns and I thank the committee for
allowing me to make this presentation.
Ms. Patricia Nelder, Executive Director, Atlantic Marine Trades
Association: The Atlantic Marine Trades Association is an association of 60
businesses involved in the marine recreational industry and marine trades in
Atlantic Canada. I must clarify that. We do not necessarily represent businesses
in Newfoundland at this point. We represent businesses in Prince Edward Island,
Nova Scotia and New Brunswick. They are marine dealers, yacht brokers and other
businesses involved in recreational marine.
I wanted to raise something here that confuses me terribly, and that is
thatthis started out as Bill S-26 and now it is Bill S-10. I believe Senator
Spivak is the initiator of this bill.
Senator Spivak: Bill S-26 died on the Order Paper when the House
prorogued and came back as Bill S-10.
Ms. Nelder: It was with the Transportation Committee in its initial
form, and now it is in the Standing Senate Committee on Energy, the Environment
and Natural Resources.
Senator Spivak: That is the Senate's decision, believe me, it is not
Ms. Nelder: I also understand that you are the co-chair of this
Senator Spivak: I am the deputy chair.
Ms. Nelder: How does that work?
Senator Spivak: As a matter of fact, Senator Kenny, who just left, had
a bill that had to do with fuel in the government fleet at a time when he was
the deputy chair. First, I cannot decide whether the bill is passed or not on my
own. It is my colleagues, and surely you are not suggesting that they would be
Ms. Nelder: I have no idea. I was curious as to how the committee
process works. That was the only reason I brought it up.
Senator Spivak: These are private members' bills. They have to go
through the committee, the Senate and the House of Commons. They go through the
same process as other bills and it is ultimately the decision of the members of
the Senate and the members of the House of Commons.
Ms. Nelder: When the bill was first set in motion, was it at the
Transportation Committee because you were on that committee?
Senator Spivak: It is not my decision where this bill goes. It is the
decision of the leader of the Senate.
Ms. Nelder: These are such different committees.
Senator Spivak: Yes, and the bill involves transportation, energy and
the environment. These are the two committees to which it would normally go.
The Acting Chairman: The decision is also affected by the workload of
different committees at different times. It could have been that the last time
around, this committee had a full load of legislation to deal with, so it would
have been sent to a committee that would have similar concerns.
Ms. Nelder: I understand now. I was very curious about that because we
do not get a lot of information in Atlantic Canada about what goes on in Ottawa.
Please forgive my ignorance.
Senator Spivak: Certainly you do. You have all those senators down
Ms. Nelder: Our association believes that Bill S-10 is not in the best
interests of the Canadian boating public. We find the proposed framework
somewhat duplicative and potentially confusing, since the existing boating
restriction regulations already provide a method by which concerned citizens can
petition the federal government for boating bans, speed limits and power limits.
The stated purpose of Bill S-10 would set a precedent, giving local authorities
and associations the ability to propose to the minister that particular types of
boats be banned from our waterways.
Atlantic Canada's contribution to recreational boating in this country is not
huge. The Maritime population is 1.7million. We have 34,882 kilometres of
coastline and about 8,484 inland lakes that could be used for navigational
purposes. As you can see, we have a lot of water to go around.
As the water is a federal jurisdiction, the use of navigable waters is for
all Canadians andis regulated by the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans through
the Canadian Coast Guard. We notice that recreational boaters are able to travel
to different bodies of water. They can launch their recreational boats and enjoy
the many waterways of Canada, or moor them in different areas, availing
themselves of yacht clubs and marina facilities. Leisure time is important to
residents of Atlantic Canada, and many enjoy boating in all its forms and the
many geographical opportunities to get out on the water.
We have personal watercraft on our inland waters and some brave people
actually use them on the coast as well. We have a very short boating season and
the PWC is not the most ideal craft for our climate, as we do not have many
weeks in the summer when they can be ridden without a wetsuit or other
As in other areas of Canada, we have a two-to-four-week period in July and
August when there are many boating and recreational activities taking place on
and beside the water. In some situations, it certainly does make sense to have
regulations to ensure the safety of waterways. We have no dispute about that
Right now, our Maritime Office of Boating Safety is holding public
consultations on applying boating regulations restrictions, including a blanket
shoreline speed limit on inland waters in the Maritime Provinces. This blanket
shoreline restriction exists in all provinces west of Quebec, and it mandates a
speed limit of 10 kilometres per hour in waters within 30 metres of the
shoreline. There are various exemptions to the BRR, and certainly when we are in
tidal waters, we do not necessarily have this restriction. It would not be a
restriction on the coast.
There is a Web page that shows where all these boating restrictions are
As I understand it, the process involves a group approaching the Office of
Boating Safety, which helps them go through the public consultation process and
then puts through the application to restrict boating in certain areas. We have
two applications on two lakes in the Halifax-Dartmouth region at the moment. A
full public consultation is underway at present to restrict some of the boating
on those lakes.
Our Office of Boating Safety is well connected to the boating public in the
Maritime region. The staff of the Office of Boating Safety works with our
association, with the Nova Scotia Boatbuilders Association, with businesses in
the recreational marine trades, with other boating organizations, such as the
Canadian Power Squadron and the Canadian yachting associations through their
regional divisions, and with safety organizations such as the Lifesaving Society
and the Red Cross. They work with fish and wildlife organizations, with
municipal, provincial and federal governments, and with local and federal
law-enforcement agencies. Their presence at all boat and recreational shows in
the region ensures that boating regulations are well understood in the
Boating restriction regulations cover all vessels up to 15 gross tons. Of
primary concern are safety and the environment. The application for a BRR must
come from a recognized group supported by the municipal government.
Full public consultation with Canadians must be carried out. It must be
proved that a problem or risk does exist. Alternative solutions are analyzed.
The benefits of the restriction regulation must outweigh the costs and no
unnecessary regulatory burden must be imposed. The new regulation must solve the
problem and must be enforceable.
If there is a health, safety and environmental reason that a local authority
or association wants to have powerboats restricted, then the situation can be
addressed through the boating restriction regulations, which are designed for
that purpose. We see no need for Bill S-10. It unfairly singles out one type of
power vessel, the personal watercraft. The precedent it sets is bad for the
recreational marine industry. If Bill S-10 bans one type of vessel, then the
precedent is set for more bills to be proposed that ban other particular
Allowing Bill S-10 to proceed will take away federal jurisdiction overlakes,
rivers and inland waterways of Canada and, in effect, take them away from
Canadians and provide them for the exclusive use of the residents of that lake,
river or inland waterway.
Mr. Ray Mariash, Secretary-Treasurer, Mid-Canada Marine Dealers
Association Inc.: Honourable senators, it is a pleasure to be here. It is
nice to be in our capital city. We are based out of Winnipeg and represent
marine dealers, retailers and suppliers in the Manitoban and Northwestern
The Mid-Canada Marine Dealers Association is a non-profit organization. One
of our primary purposes is to run the Winnipeg boat show. We like to say the
Winnipeg boat showis the largest boat show between Toronto and Vancouver.
Being a non-profit organization, when we generate profits from our boat show,
we try to put those back into the boating industry. We have given you a written
submission. However, some of the items we put our money into are water-safety
training programs involving all types of boating, such as sailing, canoeing and
personal watercraft. We supply equipment to our local community college to train
mechanics in the marine industry. We sponsor fishing seminars for children.
Manitoba is the only province in Canada where the number of angling licences is
We promote fishing in our province. We do on-the-water programs for all types
of watercraft, including personal watercraft.
That is the gist of what our organization does.
The previous presenters have explained the positions of their associations.
Our position supports what they have said. I do not think it would do any good
for me to repeat what is in our written submission. We support what other trade
associations have already submitted tonight. We also support the CMMA, which
will be making a presentation later on.
We are very much against Bill S-10. As an association, we feel that education
of the boating public is a more desirable way to promote safety and etiquette on
On a personal note, I know that personal watercraft can be annoying if they
happen to spend time in front of your cottage. I happen to have a cottage down
the road from Senator Spivak. Again, we have had people with small fishing boats
do certain things.
The boating restrictions have been changed to include an age restriction on
personal watercraft. We run training programs that teach boating etiquette and
personal watercraft etiquette to people using these craft. That is the route to
As Mr. Dyck has pointed out, personal watercraft have changed over the years.
They were primarily designed by the snowmobile industry. They have gone to great
lengths to reduce the noise and pollution these craft create. They have come a
We support the CMMA and our fellow associate members in wanting to see Bill
S-10 quashed. In Manitoba, hockey and curling are our winter activities.
However, boating is our summer activity. We do not feel it should be restricted
to people who have the exclusive use of a cottage on a lakefront. The waterways
are there for everyone. Whether you are a canoeist, a yachter or a sailor, you
should have access to the waterways and be able to use your personal choice of
Boating is a healthy lifestyle for our children and should be promoted more.
We have the most freshwater in the world. We should be looking to promote this
among our youth, not creating more restrictions. To balance that, yes, there
must be personal boating etiquette.
Senator Milne: Mr. Dyck, you spoke about personal watercraft being far
safer than rowboats, canoes or kayaks. If you have some statistics to back that
up, the committee would appreciate having them rather than just a verbal
Mr. Dyck: I am sure those statistics are available. I get kidded about
this quite a lot because my office is in a bit of a mess. I have so many files
in it. On the issue of personal watercraft, I have so many files that I cannot
say which one I would be referring to when I made that statement. On the West
Coast, where hypothermia is a serious problem, in addition to drownings, a
combination of the smaller craft tend to be more of a problem than personal
watercraft per se. Personal watercraft involved in collisions are obviously
problematic. However, that is rare. I was referring in particular to the number
of deaths that result from drownings and hypothermia when people fall out of
Senator Milne: Do you have the statistics to show us or is this just a
personal observation or a colloquial use of the word ``statistics''? Usually,
when I hear that word, I want to see some figures in front of me. If you could
provide these statistics, it would be appreciated.
Mr. Dyck: I will look through my files to see if I can do that.
Senator Spivak: Mr. Mariash, you are down the road from us.
Mr. Mariash: We are on Falcon Lake.
Senator Spivak: You know that on West Hawk Lake a young man was
decapitated a few years ago when he was wake jumping with a PWC. That alerted me
to the problem. Serious things happen; this is not because PWCs are a nuisance.
Ms. Nelder, I will begin with your statement about the way in which full
public consultation with Canadians must be carried out. You list the problems
and the alternative solutions, and you are quite right.
In 1994, Quebec, British Columbia and the Canadian Coast Guard, having
received many complaints about personal watercraft, and with the approval of
everyone involved, went to the cabinet to ask for a schedule in respect of
developing some restrictions on PWCs. At the time, they were not contemplating a
ban. It was approved and gazetted. Then the industry came along and said that
this was not the way to deal with the issue, but that education was the way to
proceed. Thus, it was quashed and no schedule was put in place.
All of your statements talk about the waters being for everyone to enjoy.
That is true, of course, yet there are thousands of lakes where boaters are told
that they cannot water ski or do other such activities. This is no different.
There are different restrictions on different boats for different waterways.
There are schedules in the boating restriction regulations. We are asking for a
schedule to be put in place for personal watercraft. That is no different. There
are two reasons. First, when you talk about power-driven vessels, all boats on
the lake would have to be banned, and you do not want that at all. You may want
to restrict only one particular kind of boat, such as the PWC with a two-stroke
engine. The local people may want to deal with that. If the minister would
include a schedule for PWCs, this bill would be irrelevant. So far, that has not
My other point is about the words ``unconstitutional'' and ``navigation.'' If
you look at the bill, the minister will not approve any restriction that impedes
the navigation of waters. It is absolutely for that reason, because
municipalities have been acting on their own. This is definitely federal
jurisdiction, and we even went so far as to get a letter from constitutional
experts to say that there is no constitutional problem because it conforms to
the existing legislation.
I hope that clarifies my interest in this bill and why we are looking at a
specific schedule under the boating regulations. That would be perfect.
In Falcon Lake, a group of people got together to try to do something about
restricting personal watercraft because it is a small lake. They were told by
the RCMP not to bother. At any stage of this 20-step process, which could take
as long as four years, some non-elected bureaucrat could say, that is it. That
I would like to ask a question of Mr. Dyck. I want to know whether canoeists
and kayakers support your position. They have been coming before us in support
of the bill. Have you contacted all the canoeists and kayakers?
Mr. Dyck: Obviously we have not contacted them all, and there are
different canoe and kayak associations. The members of the British Columbia
Council of Yacht Clubs— we do not all have yachts— have a full range of boat
sizes but there are many avid paddlers. Certainly, when we surveyed our members,
they felt that this was the way to go. The main concern was the precedent that
it may set. We frequently have some disagreements with the Coast Guard about
proposed boating restriction regulations. We have invariably been able to sort
those out because the process is very fair, we think.
Senator Spivak: I agree with you on the boating regulations. In 1994,
this was opposed. Would you be in agreement with the minister adding a schedule
for PWCs, which do not meet the standards of other small vessels? In the
Memorandum of Understanding, MOU, with the marine manufacturers, they agreed to
certain things and PWCs are in a specific category. What is your opinion on
Mr. Dyck: The answer is yes. At the end of the day, after the
consultation and the determination that there was a problem — and we went
through the appropriate procedure set by the regulatory policy — then we would
be prepared to see it there. That is the gist of it. We feel that we have a good
system in place. I cannot confirm whether the industry intervened to sidetrack
the original attempt to put in a boating restriction; it may have, but I do not
know. Our position is that the boating restriction regulation process is the
proper way to proceed.
Senator Spivak: You are talking about this concept as if it were new.
As you know, the boating restriction regulations have thousands of schedules for
different activities. I think you have answered my question by saying that if
there were a schedule in place that referred to PWCs as a distinct class, you
would not object, provided all the consultation had been done.
Mr. Dyck: I hate to see PWCs singled out. Perhaps there could be a
speed restriction or a total prohibition of a specific size of motor.
Senator Spivak: The regulation need not ban the PWC, but rather it
could restrict it in certain ways.
Mr. Dyck: A PWC is just another vessel. It may seem a little strange,
Senator Spivak, my being an advocate, at my age, for personal watercraft
Senator Spivak: No, it is simply business.
Mr. Dyck: It was not until about 10 or 12 years ago that someone
talked me into riding one. Perhaps it changed my thinking about the use of these
vessels as a pleasurable activity on the water.
Senator Spivak: The point is that they are really ``thrill'' craft.
They are meant to go fast and around in circles.
Canada is great for boats. Who wants to get rid of boats? People who live in
a certain area and do the proper consultations should have some say as to how
boats are used on the waters. That is true of all boats. That is why the boating
regulations are there.
Ms. Nelder: May I say one thing? I have a 17-foot powerboat with a
65-horsepower engine on the back. I go around in circles with my boat, with my
kids on the back, because we are out there for thrills. We go out in waves; we
make just as much noise as a PWC. I am sure I can behave quite dangerously in
that boat, so what is the difference between that and a PWC? It is more the
driver than the boat itself. Any boat is a lethal weapon in the wrong hands.
Senator Spivak: You understand my point. There are restrictions on
Ms. Nelder: I am required to operate it safely.
Senator Spivak: No, there are other restrictions in some areas. You
probably have a huge waterway. On very small lakes — for example, a lake next
to my lake, Hunt Lake — no motorboats are allowed. That is definitely a
Ms. Nelder: I do not understand the difference between my misbehaviour
on that 17-foot boat with a 65-horsepower outboard on the back and a PWC. I have
friends who have been cut in half by 17-foot boats with 65-horsepower engines on
the back. I do not really see the difference between being decapitated by a PWC
or a 17-foot boat.
Senator Spivak: You are quite right. Should there not be a way,
through the boating regulations, to restrict the use of those boats in areas
where they are unsafe? There are all kinds of areas where those boats would be
absolutely welcomed. In fact, one municipality, I believe it is in Saanich, has
banned PWCs illegally. You must be aware of it. Next door to it, there is
another, much bigger lake, and people are quite happy with PWCs.
I think there is an element of local choice here. People have a right to
enjoy their cottages and their boats, but they should not be allowed to run hog
wild. There are all kinds of boating restrictions and schedules. What I am
suggesting here is there ought to be one for PWCs. Believe me, it is not I who
am making the decision. It will be the local community. It is the local
communities who have asked, for example, for a ban on boats on Hunt Lake.
Mr. Mariash: I do not understand this issue of scheduling and what
that gives you. In putting in scheduling for personal watercraft, does that mean
a bunch of cottagers can get together and say, ``We do not want personal
watercraft on our lake''? Is that where we are going?
Senator Spivak: We are saying that at the moment, they cannot do that,
not without banning all boats from their lake. That does not make any sense. In
many lakes, people need their boats to go back and forth.
Ms. Nelder: Do people not use their personal watercraft to go back and
Senator Spivak: I do not want to get into an argument with you.
The Acting Chairman: Let us get into questions and answers rather than
debate because we will not be able to solve anything here. If you can ask a
question, they can respond to it.
Mr. Mariash: Is every boat scheduled? Are canoes and pleasure craft
scheduled? I do not understand the scheduling of personal watercraft. I do not
understand the process.
Senator Spivak: There are thousands of schedules. I cannot tell you
what they all contain.
Senator Kenny: It is customary for senators to ask questions of
witnesses, not the other way around.
The Acting Chairman: If you could limit yourself to questions and our
guests can limit themselves to responses thereto.
Senator Spivak: You are quite right. I have another question. We have
asked for the statistical information on safety, and I also wanted to ask you
about enforcement. I know that there are all kinds— this is not necessarily
just PWCs. There is a limited presence on waters to enforce regulations. I am
wondering what kind of investment you think would be required on the part of
provinces and the federal government to see that things are adequately enforced?
Mr. Dyck: I do not think I can give you costs, but you may find this
of interest. You may be aware that I chair the Recreational Boating Advisory
Council on the West Coast. I have written personally to four Attorneys General
of British Columbia requesting the adoption of the Contraventions Act, which
would allow proper enforcement on the water. The last Attorney General finally
responded and said, ``We are not going to do that.''
Recreational boaters, for the most part, support proper enforcement on the
water. As I say, the Recreational Boating Advisory Council on the West Coast has
written four Attorneys General requesting that that be set up, and we just do
not seem to be able to get that.
On the West Coast, enforcement is basically the job of the RCMP. The
Vancouver police have a couple of boats, and Fisheries and Oceans Canada
officers have been advised that they may enforce recreational boating
regulations. That is about the extent of enforcement on the West Coast, although
we support more.
Senator Baker: Perhaps the witnesses could elaborate on the exchange
you were having with the senator regarding what I presume is your main point,
that what is being suggested is a new category. Could you elaborate on your
exchange with the senator a moment ago?
Mr. Mariash: The senator was saying there is no schedule in the
boating regulations for personal watercraft, and I asked if every other boat is
scheduled. The point we are getting at is if a group of people on a given lake
decide the canoeists are bothering them, can we decide to ban them from that
lake? Can we decide to eliminate personal watercraft? Can we eliminate ski boats
or any other boats? ``Your boat looks just a little too big; maybe we should ban
40-foot boats on this lake.''
On most of the lakes in my province where there are bans on the use of boats,
it is a conservation issue to do with fishing, specifically with a stocked trout
lake or a certain type of fish that you want to protect.
There are regulations regarding speed limits in marinas— no-wake zones.
Those apply to all types of boats and watercraft. Certain small craft can make a
bigger wake than larger boats. Therefore, no-wake zones apply to every
watercraft. We do not see the point in singling out a specific type of boat. I
do not understand the scheduling process, so I am not up to speed on what that
means for regulations.
We did cover an issue about safety. Operators have to have boat safety
certificates now, and a number of people in our organization took the boat
safety course and the instructor's course. They are asking for statistics;
currently, you have to have a boat safety operator card for boats that are four
metres and under, and gradually it will increase.
I said, ``Why a boat four metres and under?'' They said that those boats are
involved in most drownings. That is the type of boat that has the most accidents
— so we are talking about 13- and 14-foot boats. I imagine that statistic is
out there somewhere, as well as drowning statistics.
Senator Baker: Do you believe that statistic — that the majority of
cases of drowning would be in vessels that are under 12 or 13feet long?
Mr. Mariash: From my understanding after taking the boat safety course
and the instructor's course, they are the people who put that all together. I
assume it is information gleaned from Transport Canada and the Canadian Coast
Guard. I believe they came up with the information that was provided. I am sure
we can find statistics that show where most of the drownings and most of the
Senator Baker: It is an interesting point. The three witnesses have
had an association with the boating industry over the years. Have you ever seen
a study or had any proof given to you that that, in fact, is correct?
Ms. Nelder: The Lifesaving Society puts out the drowning statistics
and that document is available. I actually have a copy in my office at home. I
would be happy to forward it to you.
Senator Baker: No, I am just wondering if it is correct that 12- to
13-foot boats or smaller are involved in the majority of accidents. I have never
seen any vessels that are less than 13feet long. I have seen them on television.
Ms. Nelder: Imagine an aluminum fishing boat with an outboard.
Senator Baker: There is no such thing as an aluminumfishing boat with
an outboard that is less than 13 feet long.
Ms. Nelder: Yes, there is, on the lakes. They are made in Canada.
Senator Baker: I always thought they would have been 14feet. The
smallest canoe is what, 15feet long?
Ms. Nelder: No, they come smaller than that.
Senator Baker: Would you actually get into a canoe that is less than
Ms. Nelder: No, I am a rower, so my rowboat is seven foot seven. These
are the boats that get overloaded in the springtime and people fall in the water
and drown. That is partly the reason for singling out those four metres and
Senator Baker: When we get to the end of this progression of
regulations by the federal government that will cover the entire boating
industry, do you have an opinion of where we will be?
Mr. Mariash: People might just get turned off by so many regulations
and decide to go and do something else, like take up bowling.
Ms. Nelder: We do notice where I am from that people have a bit of a
problem with the idea of having to have a licence to drive a boat when they have
been driving a boat their entire lives. Most people living in the Maritime
Provinces do go out in boats quite often.
The most important part of the educational aspect is to get to the younger
people, to the 16-year-olds. I do not think we will ever convince people in the
Maritimes who are over 50 that they have to get a licence to operate a boat.
Senator Spivak: Mr.Mariash, how many PWCs are there in use? We have
contradictory figures, because a year ago the estimate was 80,000 to 100,000. We
heard more recently it was 50,000. Have you any idea?
Mr. Mariash: The last statistics I saw were for North America wide,
and there are industry people who can bear that out. They all belong to a
collective group and pool their numbers, so they are valid numbers, but I was
under the impression that the personal watercraft industry peaked around 1992
and the numbers have declined since then. It became a mature market. I spent 15
years of my life working for an engine manufacturer and, like I say, when
personal watercraft came into the marketplace, they were noisy. They did things
that were the complete opposite to what the outboard manufacturers do. When I
worked for an engine manufacturer we were always conscious of noise. How can you
make them quieter? How can you sit on a lake on the shore at your cottage and
watch the boats go by and make the least amount of noise possible? That is what
the manufacturers are after. When the personal watercraft came along, they were
the complete opposite. They were the snowmobile on water. They were noisy, the
horseless buggy of the 1990s.
I feel the industry has changed. The manufacturers recognize these problems.
That is why we are here. They were noisy, produced a lot of smoke and did a lot
of other things. The whole industry has changed in 10 or 12 years, and they are
some of the quietest vehicles out there now. The actual number of personal
watercraft, in my opinion, has declined since 1992. The sales are not there. It
is a mature industry.
Senator Spivak: Have you any idea of the number of people who have
bought these new four-stroke and direct- injection PWCs in the last five years?
Mr. Mariash: How many have been purchased?
Senator Spivak: Yes.
Mr. Mariash: You would have to ask the industry representatives. They
usually pool that information to know their market. They would be able to supply
I know when I worked in the motor industry they pooled all numbers — how
many engines were sold by Outboard Marine Corporation, how many were sold by
Mercury. Those numbers are easy to obtain. I am not a seller or a buyer of
personal watercraft, but my customers are, and I feel the industry has gone
180degrees in the opposite direction. It has really tightened up the quality of
Senator Baker: On the legal point that you raise, I would like, first,
Mr.Mariash, your personal opinion in a concise statement of what you think
should happen to Bill S-10. Second, provisions in the bill allow for some
municipal authorities to regulate water navigation. How dangerous is that as a
principle of law?
Mr. Mariash: My personal opinion is that we should rely on proper
education of boaters, whether they are using a canoe or a yacht. We have taken
that step by requiring operators to have a boat safety certificate. We have
created age restrictions on the use of personal watercraft. I think you have to
be 16-plus to operate one now, where previously a 10- year-old could ride one.
I believe that we have sufficient regulations in place right now for the use
of all boats on the waterways. I am not totally clear on Senator Spivak's issue
of scheduling personal watercraft into the regulations. I do not understand the
process. I feel the regulations that we have are adequate. They are there to
control no-wake zones and speed limits. There are speed limits on the Red River
in the City of Winnipeg. Those regulations were brought in and they seem to be
adequate. I believe operator education is the answer, and our association is in
the forefront of educating people in our area about proper boating etiquette,
whether it is powerboats or personal watercraft or sailing boats.
Senator Baker: Could I get a concluding sentence from each of the
other two witnesses after Mr. Mariash answers my question about the legal
ramifications of allowing the municipalities to enact such legislation?
Mr. Mariash: It will create a quagmire in the court system.
Ms. Nelder: Our association does not like Bill S-10 because of the
precedent it might set for putting different types of vessels into a schedule,
as Senator Spivak is suggesting. I would be concerned that, as Mr. Mariash said
earlier, a 40- foot boat or a 20-foot boat would be next. I do not agree at all
with the idea of scheduling in different types of boats.
As regards municipalities controlling waters, we would not agree with that
because it would be far too difficult to police. We have a federal act in place,
and the Coast Guard and the Office of Boating Safety are looking after our
federal waterways and recreational boating.
Mr. Dyck: We feel that the current boating restriction regulations,
which are tied to the regulatory policy, are just fine and you do not have to
come up with any new bill to address a problem, as long as these schedules
address the problem and not a particular kind of watercraft.
If you have a speed, noise or pollution problem, then you address it.
However, you do not go after a particular type of vessel.
Senator Spivak: Madam Chairman, I would like to correct the esteemed
senator. This bill would not allow municipalities to regulate. They cannot
regulate. It is the minister who puts in a schedule, and there are thousands of
them. They refer to all kinds of boats. That is what the regulations are.
The Acting Chairman: Thank you for appearing this evening.
We will now hear from our next witness, Mr.Marshal Paulo.
Mr. Marshal Paulo, President, Collision Analysis Ltd.: Honourable
senators, Collision Analysis Ltd. is located both in Calgary, Alberta, and San
Collision Analysis Ltd. was formed in 1979 to provide forensic consulting to
insurance companies, law firms and governmental bodies. Prior to 1979, I was a
member of the Transport Canada Multidisciplinary Accident Investigation Team,
where my role was twofold. First, it was to attend the scenes of serious motor
vehicle accidents and evaluate the safety devices and safety systems in motor
vehicles. Second, it was to enforce and monitor the Canadian Motor Vehicle
Safety Act, which, as many of you know, is a set of regulations that apply to
any manufacturer, assembler or importer of automobiles in Canada.
My academic background includes a master's degree in safety engineering from
the University of Southern California. For those not familiar with safety
engineering, it is an all-encompassing discipline that includes human, vehicle
and environmental factors. My degree was specifically geared towards
transportation safety, which includes, of course, air, land and marine.
My involvement with personal watercraft on an intense research and testing
level began in 1998, when a client in California asked me to evaluate the case
of Cuenlass v. Yamaha. I believe the third article in your brief
adequately describes the case, and, specifically, the problem. Ignoring any
sensationalism in the article, I think the author has accurately described the
problem and its magnitude.
My evidence here today will take a little different twist from what you have
heard thus far. I have some comments on what we have heard. I have in my hand
something called a ``Pleasure Craft Operator's Card,'' which is in my name. I
would like to comment on it. It was issued on February26, 2003. Incidentally, I
also have my yachting licence from the U.S. Coast Guard from when I lived in
I was at a boat show and walked by a booth that was advertising the writing
of the exam for such a licence. I said, ``What do I have to do?'' I was told
that I had to pay$40 to write the exam. I asked, ``What do I have to get?'' I
believe it was a score of 65 per cent or 75 per cent. I paid the$40, wrote the
exam and received this in the mail. No one asked me if I had ever seen a
personal watercraft. No one asked me if I had ever seen a yacht. No one asked me
if I had ever driven a car. I passed the exam. Incidentally, I am proud of that.
I got 100 per cent.
The Acting Chairman: Was it a multiple-choice exam?
Mr. Paulo: Yes, it was.
Senator Spivak has asked me to speak to the problem of safety with respect to
personal watercraft. It is an honour and a privilege to be here with you
tonight. I want to thank her for this opportunity.
My role today will be to discuss with you the most pertinent issues regarding
personal watercraft safety, their unique handling characteristics and their
accident and injury-causing potential. We have heard today that they are no
different from any other boat or craft. Yes, they are. I will show you why.
First, I wish to address the definition of ``personal watercraft.'' According
to the Society of Automotive Engineers' engineering standards commission of the
United States, it is a craft of less than four metres in length that uses an
internal combustion engine powering a water jet pump as its primary source of
propulsion. It is designed to be operated by a person or persons sitting,
standing or kneeling on the craft rather than in the confines of the hull.
Personal watercraft are powered by either two-stroke or four-stroke engines,
which drive a hydro pump that draws water up through a tunnel, pressurizing it
and forcing it out of a nozzle.
I am showing you the back end of a personal watercraft right there, and that
is the nozzle of which I am speaking. The water is pressurized and shoots right
out the back, propelling the vehicle forward. Not only does it propel it, it
also steers it in unison with the handlebars. When the bars are turned to the
left, this nozzle pivots to the left. It shoots the water to the left and turns
the vehicle in the opposite direction.
It both propels and steers it. When the throttle is released, or the engine
is killed, there is no directional control whatsoever.
There are currently five major players in the industry. They include
Kawasaki, which makes what we have come to know as Jet Skis. There is Yamaha,
which makes the Waverunners. We have the all-American Polaris and the Canadian
Bombardier, which goes by the name of Sea-Doo.
The new kid on the block is Honda, which entered the arena in 2002 on the
heels of Arctic Cat's departure.
At the present time, there is some controversy over the number of units out
there. We have heard that the market is declining and there are fewer machines.
There are not fewer machines, but there are fewer machines sold each year. The
National Transportation Safety Board study, parts of which are in your brief,
shows a chart that tells you what the market is and how many units have been
sold per year. My information is that in 2001 in the United States, there were
in excess of 1million units. In Canada, my numbers suggest that there were in
excess of 50,000. I cannot get any closer than that at this time. You will hear
the representatives of the industry arguing that personal watercraft have no
greater fatality rate than conventional powerboats. This does not address
serious injuries or fatality rates. The National Transportation Safety Board
report I spoke about states that personal watercraft represent only 10 per cent
of the recreational boat use. Yet they account for 51 per cent of all accidents.
I put it to you that this is overrepresentation.
I would like to discuss the unique handling characteristics and we will begin
with stopping distances. These vehicles have no brakes— none at all. The only
means of deceleration is the friction created between the hull of the personal
watercraft and the water. Our testing has revealed that from a speed of 30 miles
per hour, the stopping distance is 155feet. Honourable senators, that is
one-half the length of a football field. From a speed of 45 miles per hour, the
stopping distance is 220feet— about two-thirds the length of a football field.
Given an impending danger, the alternative to braking — and that is not an
option with personal watercraft — is to steer away from the hazard. The
handling characteristics of the personal watercraft dictate that the operator
applies throttle and then turns away — not reduced throttle. That is the only
away to avoid an obstacle — apply throttle. That is counterintuitive. When as
children we learn to ride a bike, we are told to stop peddling and to turn away
from the danger. It is the same thing with a motor scooter and with a car— you
let off the accelerator and turn away from any impending danger. We never
learned to apply the throttle before turning away from a hazard. That was
imprinted at an early age. The PWC is counterintuitive. At the first notion of
danger, we have a propensity to release the throttle.
During my research on the Cuenlass case, I came across an alternative
design on the Internet. It was a simple rudder system and I purchased a number
of them over the Internet. They were about $80per unit and I have since
discovered that they can be produced for about $6per unit. I fastened them to
the nozzle on the original equipment of the manufacturer, Yamaha. We conducted a
great number of tests and found that it gave the personal watercraft excellent
turning ability, even when the throttle was off.
I presented this alternative design to a jury in Los Angeles in February 2002
and the result was an $8.3-million spanking to Yamaha. During the trial, Yamaha
severely criticized this rudder system. They believed that if it ran over a
swimmer, it would severely cut him. Subsequently, my company designed and
developed an on-demand rudder system that deploys only when the throttle is
released. It retracts with pressure. I would like to show you how that rudder
system works and how easy it is to solve this problem.
Before that, here is a standard lower leg of a five-horsepower Yamaha engine.
We can see the prop and the lower leg. This is the fin and it acts like the
rudder does on our system— the add-on rudder system. When you let off the
power, you can turn the motor and still have steering control.
This course was taken from the Society of Automotive Engineers', or SAE,
proposed ``J'' standard. This will be the chute and the triangle is the target
area. The personal watercraft will be coming in through this entrance chute.
This is the off-throttle buoy. When I hit the first buoy, I let off the
throttle. When I hit the second buoy, I turn full left. The object is to avoid
this triangle. The triangle represents a swimmer. The second set of buoys at 13
feet apart represent a personal watercraft. The base of the triangle is 26feet
and represents a 26-foot boat. To make the course realistic, that is what the
First, in the video you will see two runs, one immediately after the other.
The first run will be with the original equipment of the manufacturer. The
second run will be with our rudder system applied to the PWC. You will be able
to see the significant difference between the two.
I would like to address a few other items that we have heard about, such as
drowning statistics. We heard that drowning statistics were higher for canoeists
and other boaters than for riders of personal watercraft. One reason is that
almost all personal watercraft operators wear life jackets. They do not drown
but they die from blunt trauma and brain injury. It is easier to enforce the
wearing of life jackets. You cannot see who is wearing a life jacket in a boat;
you do not need to wear a life jacket in a big boat, as long as you have one on
board. Whereas on a PWC, you have to wear a life jacket and it is easily
enforceable. That is why there are not as many people drowning, but there is a
high rate of head injuries and blunt trauma.
I will give you my summary and recommendations. My recommendations may go
beyond those mandated by Bill S- 10. I am appealing to all senators to consider
further action that would save lives and reduce injuries in this country.
Ultimately, I would like to see Canada take the lead in personal watercraft
safety. This is not unreasonable considering that the largest producer of these
craft is a Canadian company, Bombardier.
I would also like to see a higher standard of training by the Canadian Coast
Guard, and specifically, a hands-on course for personal watercraft operation
licensing. This, senators, is the reason. I walked in, paid my $40and
immediately got it.
It is absolutely necessary that we implement some level of regulation of the
personal watercraft rental agencies. If you look at the U.S. Coast Guard report,
or the NTSB report, you will see that 24 per cent of all accidents involve
The rental business is big in Canada, as it is everywhere else. You can go to
any lake in the summer in Canada and rent a personal watercraft for $80 an hour.
For the most part, the instructions are non-existent. Customers are asked
whether they have ever ridden one before. If they say yes, they are sent off
with a life jacket and told not go within 100feet of the shore. That is the
limit of the instruction people are getting.
I believe you have a schedule on CHIRPP, Canadian Hospitals Injury Reporting
and Prevention Program. They provide valuable statistics with respect to
personal watercraft injury. However, the data lack accident causation and do not
address fatalities. I would recommend a comprehensive study be conducted in
Canada to obtain a true Canadian picture of PWC accidents and injuries. From a
review of the U.S. data, we find that 10 per cent of the boats, that is,
personal watercraft, give us 51 per cent of the accidents. There is no reason
for our numbers to differ significantly from the U.S. numbers. If there is, I
would like to know it.
This is the video of which I spoke. There is your off-throttle steering and
the little rudder system that adds on. This is steering on demand. In a
half-second the rudder deploys when you leave off the throttle. Apply the
throttle and the rudder retracts. The rudder deploys when needed.
This particular machine was a 1998 Bombardier. This first run was with the
original equipment of the manufacturer, right through the entire target zone.
The next one will be with that rudder system. Look at the manoeuvrability. It
totally avoided the target. This is with the original equipment. It missed the
swimmer but got the personal watercraft and the big boat. This is with the
rudder system. Again, perfect manoeuvrability, both right and left. The speeds
are 29 to 30 miles per hour.
We will see what happens at 32 miles per hour. It totally missed the target.
Let's speed this up and see what happens at 42 miles per hour. With no rudder
system, it goes right through the centre of the target zone. This is with the
rudder system. It totally avoids the entire triangle. Again, there is no rudder
system. That is the manoeuvrability, or lack thereof, of our personal watercraft
Have another look. This is the original equipment from the manufacturer.
Those steering handlebars are turned completely in one direction, and there is
absolutely no response.
The Acting Chairman: That is without the rudder. The directional
thrust from the water pumps is being turned with the handlebars but it is not
Mr. Paulo: Exactly. That is because when the throttle is off, there is
no thrust of water out of that nozzle.
The Acting Chairman: If he had kept the throttle on and turned his
handlebars, it would have worked.
Mr. Paulo: If the throttle is on it has beautiful manoeuvrability.
This was being videoed from the shore and many people asked whether I was
worried about the rocks. I told them that I had spent a few hundred hours on
these, I know why I am here, I know what it does, and do not worry. If I got
into trouble, which I did not, I gave myself plenty of safety distance. If I got
myself into trouble, and it has happened to me in other testing instances, I hit
the throttle and I had beautiful manoeuvrability.
The Acting Chairman: In this case, he is coming full on at 40
kilometres an hour and he throttles off and turns, but nothing happens. If he is
coming at 40 kilometres an hour and throttles off with the fin, he turns.
Mr. Paulo: Yes, with the rudder. As soon as you let off the throttle,
the rudder system drops down, and that is why you have that turning
It is time our regulatory bodies called upon the personal watercraft
manufacturers to clean up this mess. This is 2003. Safety does sell. It is
demanded. We have identified the problem, we have a solution and now we have to
force the manufacturers to remedy that problem. The big five will tell you they
are doing their best to improve off-throttle steering.
The Acting Chairman: Perhaps we are straying from the actual proposed
legislation, which is to give persons living in particular areas the ability to
have these types of watercraft banned, if in fact that is their wish. You have
It is certainly laudable and perhaps something that should be looked at, but
it does not apply to the bill that Senator Spivak is putting forward.
Mr. Paulo: That is my presentation on the safety aspect of the
The Acting Chairman: It is impressive and certainly brings out some
points for the consideration of the committee.
Senator Kenny: Could you tell me the purpose of describing to us the
different stopping distances of the watercraft?
Mr. Paulo: The purpose is to show you that these machines have no
manoeuvrability and no braking power whatsoever. With a boat you always have
reverse. I have a 30-foot express cruiser, and on many occasions I have pulled
it into neutral and back into reverse to avoid sailboats and other targets.
Senator Kenny: When you were conducting these tests, can you describe
what instructions were given to the operator?
Mr. Paulo: I was the operator.
Senator Kenny: Can you describe what instructions you gave yourself?
Mr. Paulo: The test protocol for the first set of tests was to stay as
close to 30 miles per hour as possible, and upon entry into the test course,
release the throttle at the first set of buoys and allow a half-second
spool-down, so there is no thrust, in order to measure the steering capability
of the unit.
Senator Kenny: Did the ``protocol,'' as you refer to it, involve you
maintaining the same body posture throughout the exercise?
Mr. Paulo: Yes, with little or no body movement at all.
Senator Kenny: In each case you were relatively stationary on the
watercraft, and are those the results we saw?
Mr. Paulo: That is correct.
Senator Kenny: Had you decided to, for example, shift your body weight
significantly to the left or to the right, would the craft have behaved in a
Mr. Paulo: No, sir.
Senator Kenny: Would the craft have behaved exactly as you described?
Mr. Paulo: There would have been no noticeable difference. We have
conducted those tests.
Senator Kenny: Do you have pictures of them?
Mr. Paulo: I do not have them here, but we do have those tests. We
conducted those on different machines — Bombardiers, Yamahas, Kawasakis —
and there is no noticeable difference.
Senator Kenny: Are you saying that a personal watercraft would proceed
in a straight line, notwithstanding the fact that someone might be pulling on
the handlebars and shifting their weight from the centre, for example, to the
right- or left-hand side?
Mr. Paulo: That is correct. I have stood on the machine in order to
get my centre of mass high enough to tilt the machine over and produced no
noticeable difference that would help to avoid the target.
Senator Kenny: Was this true with all makes and models?
Mr. Paulo: We tested only certain models of Kawasakis, Yamahas and
Bombardiers. We did not test every kind of hull, no.
Senator Kenny: Do you have a financial interest in the rudder system
you showed us that did provide steering capability?
Mr. Paulo: I have no financial interest at all. In fact, within seven
days of our testing, Bombardier filed a patent on a nearly identical unit. It
was developed for people to use. We do not have a patent, we have not filed a
patent, and we have no interest in filing a patent. It is there to be used, and
we would like someone to put it to use.
Senator Spivak: I am curious about the injuries. First, you said that
most of them are trauma injuries. Are there any other kinds of injuries unique
to personal watercraft? Have you analyzed the causes? Are the accidents due to
the inability to steer properly and the counterintuitive necessity to put on the
throttle when you are heading into some danger? What other reasons are there?
Mr. Paulo: These are American statistics. I do not believe we in
Canada have reliable statistics. I do not see any reason why they should differ.
In the U.S., the NTSB reports that personal watercraft represent 10 per cent of
all powerboats but 51 per cent of all accidents. Out of that 51 per cent of all
accidents, 24 per cent involved rentals and 24 per cent involved no off-throttle
With respect to injuries, we are seeing a lot of head injuries from people
hitting docks and other boats. There is one personal watercraft striking
another. There have been a number of them. There have been rear-enders, with one
riding up the back of another into the abdomen and the upper thorax. We are
beginning to see a number of unique injuries when occupants slide and fall off
the rear of the machine with legs apart. We have had some horrendous vaginal and
rectal injuries. One particular lady has had 27 surgeries. She will never be
They are horrible injuries. I have never seen then on aircraft, motorcycles
or automobiles. This is brand new to me. We have had a number of such incidents.
The Acting Chairman: Thank you, Mr.Paulo.
Our next presentation will be from Mr. Komanoff. Thank you for being here,
Mr. Charles Komanoff, Author-Researcher, Komanoff Energy Associates:
Madam Chairman, honourable senators, I cannot tell you how honoured I feel to
have been invited to appear before you, especially considering I am from south
of the border. I have a very special feeling and affection for Canada. I am
honoured to be here.
This photograph is intended to remind me, and hopefully all of us in this
room, of why we are here. It was not taken in Canada. I took it last August from
a canoe, with my family sort of turned the other way, on a lake in the
Adirondacks, perhaps 150 miles southeast of here, where we are fortunate enough
to be ``rental cottagers,'' if you will. The quiet of this lake, and other
lakes, is very important to me personally and, clearly, to millions of my
countrymen and millions of your countrymen.
My presentation mostly has to do with the noise from jet skis. However, I
want to add an embellishment to a statistic given by Mr.Paulo. He reported that
according to the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board, jet skis accounting
for 10 per cent of motorized craft were involved in 51 per cent of either
accidents or injury-causing accidents. From that, one might be tempted to divide
the 10 into the 51, come up with 5 and say, ``They are 5 times more likely per
hull to be involved in some sort of mayhem.'' From those numbers, which are
similar to numbers that I developed in my booklet, ``Drowning in Noise,'' the
ratio is about nine-fold. I am a mathematician and former math teacher. Give me
any excuse and I will turn to the arithmetic. I will be happy to explain how it
could be that a type of craft that accounts for 10 per cent of boats and 51 per
cent of accidents could actually be 9 times per craft more prone to accidents
rather than 5. By the way, in my booklet, in footnotes 32 and 33, I have data,
also for the United States, but from the Coast Guard, covering 1997. This was
published in 2000. There were roughly 5,000 vessels involved in collisions. I
looked at collisions between two craft. A little fewer than 2,500 involved jet
skis. That was about half the total. At that time, it appeared that jet skis
accounted for eight per cent of all boats— not motorized boats, but all
registered boats. They are statistics similar to those of Mr.Paulo.
To the extent that we are addressing a risk and a danger, let us please make
the critical distinction between risks that all of us voluntarily take upon
ourselves as swimmers, canoeists or kayakers, doing things that cannot
conceivably, except in the most rare circumstances, endanger anybody else, and
on the other hand, activities that cause danger to other people. When a person
drowns while canoeing, of course it is a tragedy. When a person operating a
thrill craft strikes and maims somebody else in the water, or in another craft,
it is more than a tragedy. I will leave it to you to apply the appropriate word.
I am really here to talk about noise. What I want to convey to you is that in
sharp contrast to what the earlier panel of witnesses said, noise from jet skis
is unlike that from conventional motorboats.
A visit to any lake or bay where jet skis are being used will instantly
dispel the notion that they are really no different. Let me deconstruct that and
give you three reasons why.
First, jet skis are designed and used differently from motorboats in ways
that make them likely to be more annoying to more people. They are marketed and
used for only one purpose, the thrill of speed. Look at the magazines and you
will see that. Look at the people operating them and you will see that. They are
seldom driven at less than full throttle.
Motorboats, as often as not, are heading for a fishing spot or a picnicking
spot, then people douse the engine and drop anchor. However, jet skiers are in
constant motion; they rarely have a destination in mind. They are using their
vehicles continuously as a recreational end in themselves.
Second, unlike most motorboats most of the time — I know there are
exceptions — jet skis continually leave the water. This magnifies the noise in
two ways. First, without the muffling effect of the water, the engine's exhaust
is much louder. The engine, the whole craft, is up there out of the water; there
is no muffling capability at that moment. Then, when the jet ski enters the
water, each time, it smacks the surface with an explosive ``whump,'' and
sometimes with a whole series of them.
Contrary to the notion that it is inexperienced 10-year-olds or the
occasional miscreant who might be operating a jet ski in this inconsiderate and
anomalous way, leaving the water is central to the whole idea of jet skiing. It
is integral to the fun. The ultimate thrill seems to be to take to the air and
bounce off the water repeatedly— and this is very easily accomplished. You can
jump the wake from a passing motorboat, you can have two jet skis in a duet of
wake creation and riding, or you can go in a circle and over the wake just from
your own machine, into the air and back down, over and over.
Furthermore, jet skis do not have to deliberately jump to leave the water.
Because of the short hull, a jet ski ridden fast on even a slightly choppy
surface will lift out of the water naturally, eliminating the water's
sound-muffling action and creating that ``whump.''
We begin now to see the answer to the question, ``Is it the craft or is it
the operator?'' Well, it is both. By the operator's intent and by the design of
the vehicle, jet skis wind up out of the water a great deal of the time.
Let me try to put some quantification on all this. I brought about half a
dozen of these, but this is the second and last slide. I will shorten and
How is jet ski noise different? Leaving the water adds about 8 to 10decibels
to the noise level that would be measured if the jet ski was in the water, which
is how many of the tests have been done.
Third is what I call ``rad,'' or radical moves. I put ``adds 12 to
15decibels'' in quotes, because you will not see these extra decibels on a noise
metre. Let me go back to my text and explain why.
The rapid manoeuvring and frequent speed changes are another characteristic
of jet skis. They are designed and marketed for weaving, sharp turning, spinning
doughnuts and generally erratic throttle use. In all these manoeuvres, the jet
impeller does not have a consistent water throughput, so there is no consistent
load on the engine. As a result, the engine speed rises and falls through a wide
range from moment to moment with each manoeuvre. The result is that
characteristic, penetrating whining sound, rising and falling rapidly in pitch
like a dentist's drill, and forcing the attention of anyone within earshot.
The variable nature of this noise helps explain why jet skis are so uniquely
bothersome. A tenet of psycho-acoustics, the science of how people hear and
perceive sound and noise, is that varying noise is more disturbing than a steady
noise. The reason is that varying noise demands the hearer's involuntary
continuous attention; it is harder to tune out.
In the booklet, ``Drowning in Noise,'' my colleague and I estimated this
effect — it is based on the standard deviation of the amplitude of the sound,
and it is all there in rather technical terms in our monograph — even though
you will not see this on the noise metre. You will see this; leaving the water,
the amplitude is louder. This is a psychological perceptual effect that causes
the jet ski to seem an extra 12 to 15decibels louder, on average, as a result of
this erratic manoeuvring.
When you combine these, adding the 8-to-10 decibel physical and the 12-to-15
decibel perceived effect, you get 20 to 25decibels more, which translates, in
the subjective sense, to 4 to 6 times as loud. The way this works, adding 10
decibels to a sound makes it feel twice as loud. If you add 20decibels, it is
twice, and then twice that, which is 4 times as loud. So, 20decibels — 8 plus
12 — is 4 times as loud; 25decibels is 6 times as loud, compared to an
outboard motor with the same noise rating that would be measured by some neutral
authority if both boats were staying in the water.
The final translation of this is that not only are an 80-decibel jet ski and
an 80-decibel outboard motor not the same, the jet ski feels 15 to 30 times
closer. Each time you double the distance from a noise source on open water, the
sound level goes down by 5 decibels. So if you do 20 of these, you will get
about a 15 or 20 times factor. If you do 6, that translates into 30. Imagine
having two boats or two craft, one 15 to 30 times closer than the other — you
can see that one will be far louder.
We have heard about singling out and discriminating against jet skis for
regulatory treatment. We could say that it is the builders and the sellers of
jet skis who have singled themselves out by virtue of an inherently noisy
mechanical design and a marketing strategy to match. With few exceptions, jet
ski noise levels are higher than those of other boats and the quality of the
noise is far more grating and obtrusive.
This devastating combination of quantity and quality cries out for proactive
governance. Vesting communities with ``home rule'' powers has begun to take
place in the United States. If it could be done across Canada, that would not
only benefit the millions of Canadians who seek out waters for some modicum of
peace, quiet, solitude and closeness with nature, it would send a signal to my
country to do the same. Millions of people in North America will be grateful to
you if you can take that step.
Senator Spivak: What about the new machines, which it is claimed are
far less noisy?
Mr. Komanoff: That is my question, too. What about the new machines?
Over the past several years, I have tried to get information from the
counterpart in my country to the Canadian Marine Manufacturers Association —
the Personal Watercraft Industry Association — to quantify and document the
purported and highly touted reductions in noise from newer machines.
I would like to share something that I read in the New York Times in
May 2002. The Executive Director of the PWIA in the United States had a letter
published that claimed their machines were 70 per cent quieter than the 1998
models. I wrote her and asked for the basis of this claim and for the test
information, evidence and documentation. This is a four-paragraph letter from
her from May 28, 2002. I will read the first couple of sentences:
I am in receipt of your letter requesting more information on PWIA's
assertion that today's PWCs are 70 per cent quieter than 1998 models.
Unfortunately, I cannot share with you the basis for this fact because it is
based on the manufacturer's proprietary information.
I was not asking for the engine design that achieved supposedly lower
emission levels. I was simply asking for numbers, sound levels, test results,
test protocols and anything that could document this important claim that is
influencing public policy. I was turned aside. I do not know the exact nature of
the correspondence, but around that same time, in the summer of 2002, Senator
Spivak's office proffered a number of questions to the Canadian Marine
Manufacturers' Association. I believe some of them were along the same lines,
and my understanding is that no replies have ever been received.
We are operating in a vacuum. We are asked to take these assertions on faith.
My own sense of things, based on anecdotal observation, because that is all I
have to go on, is that any improvements in engine and craft design that would
lead to lower sound emission levels are being eroded, if not entirely offset, by
the constant evolution toward higher and higher horsepower craft, larger jet
skis and greater seating capacity for more people, so that at the end of the
day, there is no measurable improvement in newer models as compared to the
earlier ones. Again, if that is not correct, show us the data, please.
Senator Spivak: I have one question, if I may. Some of the American
research, I believe, shows that there are new soundless machines, but the old
ones are still out there. They claim that, given present trends, it would take
until about 2030 before all the old ones would be off the water. Do you have any
information on that? Does that show up in any of your research?
Mr. Komanoff: I have not seen that information, but in ``Drowning in
Noise,'' I looked at future years.
Senator Spivak: It is the complete transformation from the current
two-stroke engine into —
Mr. Komanoff: Right. I did total noise projections based on certain
schedules — perhaps that is a loaded word — of the introduction of newer
machines with hypothetical reductions in decibel levels per machine. I basically
found that by 2005, the increase in the number of jet skis in service— an
increase in the total number of craft still in operation, even though sales
appear to have peaked in the mid- to late-1990s — would more than offset the
introduction of supposedly quieter models unless there were some profound
revolution in design; and unless that revolution were reflected, or captured, in
sales far more rapidly than any market penetration model would predict.
The Acting Chairman: The proposed legislation is designed in such a
way that it gives options to persons who would like, as a group, to have PWCs
prohibited in certain areas. Do you have similar legislation in the United
States? If you do, how effective is it? Is it federal or state legislation?
Mr. Komanoff: The United States is a real patchwork when it comes to
regulations in general, but particularly in regulating watercraft. New York
State, where I live, enacted a ``home rule'' bill several years ago that I
believe is very similar to Bill S-10. I may be walking on thin ice here, but it
invests municipalities with the authority to regulate, or ban, if they choose
to, the use of jet skis.
San Francisco has imposed a distance rule. The San Juan Islands, San Juan
County in Northwest Washington, about 40 or 50miles south of British Columbia's
Juan de Fuca Strait, banned jet skis entirely six years ago. That ban has held
up against court challenges by the jet ski industry. In New York State, I
believe several dozen municipalities have taken advantage of the authority
granted by the legislature several years ago and have banned jet skis within
The Acting Chairman: It is state or municipal legislation that is
being used in those cases.
Mr. Komanoff: Yes.
The Acting Chairman: It has been effective and has stood up to court
Mr. Komanoff: Yes, it has. Certainly, the bans in effect are clear
enough. Nobody has tried to take a jet ski onto a lake within a banned
jurisdiction and operate it.
The Acting Chairman: Are there statistics to indicate how that has
affected the sales of PWCs?
Mr. Komanoff: It cannot be good for the jet ski industry. My own sense
of the economics is that people who are no longer able to use a jet ski at their
favourite spot do not leave the lake and take up bowling, as may have been
suggested. Rather, they switch to another form of water recreation, whether
motorized, non-motorized or both. People who like to be on the water, like to be
on the water. If you take away the ability to use a jet ski, they will not
abandon the water for the rest of their lives. They will find some other way to
enjoy the water, hopefully in a way that would be more compatible with the
desires of the other 98 per cent of people who want to use that lake but who,
under the present circumstance, feel that their enjoyment is impaired by the
noise, the danger and the spectacle of people using jet skis.
Senator Spivak: I have another question, based on what you are saying.
In that court case, it was specifically and properly defended that jet skis
are not like other boats. Do you recall that case?
Mr. Komanoff: I am not familiar enough with the twists and turns of
Senator Spivak: That is easily researched. None of the national parks
allow jet skis.
Mr. Komanoff: I am sorry that I left that out. The national parks are
under federal jurisdiction. There are several dozen U.S. national parks,
monuments, seashores and wildlife refuges that have significant water bodies.
People have been accustomed, over the last 10 or 15 years, to using jet skis.
During the Clinton administration, many of those were declared off-limits and
others were declared off-limits with a grace period. I believe that the great
majority of those bans, or pending bans, are actually in effect or going into
effect. Thus, a great number of those national parks, seashores, monuments, et
cetera, either do not, or soon will not, allow the operation of jet skis.