From – Andrew Hurlbut – GBA Fire & Safety Chair, Key River GBA Representative
In the spring of 2016 the Canadian Marine Advisory Council proposed that there be public consultation on changes to the Small Vessel Regulations. “Subject to certain exceptions, the Small Vessel Regulations require all vessels over 6 meters to carry flares on bodies of water where they can be more than one nautical mile from shore.” For now it is the law that they be carried and also be replaced when they expire.
Concern has been expressed by the recreational boating community and enforcement agencies over the difficulty of dealing with expired flares and the environmental impact resulting from their disposal. Also the number of flares required by legislation was seen by many as excessive especially because of improvements in electronic communications and search and rescue alert systems among other reasons.
Transport Canada is proposing an option to reduce the number of flares for multiple vessel categories by 50%.
“The proposed amendments would allow a 50 percent reduction in the number of each type of flare required to be carried if the vessel [is being operated within   nautical miles from shore and] is equipped with a means of two-way radio communication, a 406 MHz PLB or EPIRB. In addition, the proposed amendments include additional options for the carriage of some smoke signals
as an alternative to handheld or rocket flares for vessels operating primarily in daylight.”
This proposal is slated to go to Canada Gazette Part 1 soon for initial review and comments. The next step is to go to Canada Gazette Part 2 when it becomes law. The timing will depend on the number and type of comments received from the public as well as the schedule of other regulatory changes proposed by other departments. So for now it is a matter of wait and see what changes they ultimately make and when they take effect. We will monitor the process.
It should also be noted that the U.S. Coast Guard allows the use of some electronic flares – a great option that is more environmentally friendly, reduces the hassle of disposal and replacement and will cost less over time. They are in the process of developing standards for these devices. Transport Canada has said unofficially that if the U.S. Coast Guard develops a standard for these devices, they will consider it as well.
In the meantime the current laws apply. If you have any doubt as to your compliance contact Transport Canada or check out the Small Vessel Regulations at http://laws-lois.justice.gc.ca/eng/regulations/SOR-2010-91/.
Go to the safety equipment section.