Yup you actually read that correctly. Usually I stay well outside the political stage and keep my opinions silent. Personally I think there are too many people yelling political nonsense on Facebook these days. Trust me, this is not that. In this instance I felt I NEEDED to raise my voice to a real issue with such a simple solution. Please bear with me while I describe the issue, solution and why I created a government registered petition.
Believe it or not, but Canada is one of a very few countries in the world that does not provide basic nautical charts of our waters for free. Now understand I’m not talking about extended charts that detail marinas, stores, services, ect. I’m just talking about basic nautical charts that show safe depths, hazards, navigational aids and protected marine zones.
Of course the government does have those charts in both paper and the 2 most popular digital formats. However, they are asking $5400 to download those charts ($600 per area, there are 9 areas). Let me try and put this into perspective. Those exact same type of charts showing EVERY piece of USA territorial water (yes, Hawaii, Puerto Rico, USVI and Samoa are included) are provided %100 free to ALL mariners (by the US government). USA is not the only other country to provide this service, here is a small list of other countries.
Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, France, Germany, Hungary, Netherlands, Poland, Romania, Serbia, Slovakia, Switzerland!
Alright, so maybe you asking “Why should we provide free charts of our waters?”. That is a fantastic question that I hope to answer with these 5 simple points.
Safety – Providing access to basic charts for every boat, no mater the size will increase safety for all mariners. Isn’t it worth it if it saves one life?
Environment – Allow mariners to avoid protected and environment sensitive areas. Keep mariners from anchoring or fishing in areas that can damage sensitive reefs.
Tourism – Encourage tourism of Canadian waters by making safe charts available to ALL mariners.
Cost – Preventing potential wrecks. What is the cost to remove one wreck. Once the wreck is removed the cost may not end. The ongoing damage from any spills or physical damage can not be calculated (e.g destroyed lobster area). Beyond the monetary cost is the environmental cost of a wreck.
Exploration – Having access to quality free charts will remove a barrier for the “average” person to explore our waters.
Now I hope those 5 points were enough to convince you! If so, then please click the link below to add you voice to my petition.
If that wasn’t enough to convince you, then let expand on a couple of those points. I will not touch on safety as it’s the low hanging fruit, the no-brainer!
Imagine you are an American living somewhere along one of the Great Lakes. You have spent years exploring your local waters and are looking for a new adventure. Why not head up to Canada and explore some of the water there. Of course the first thing you do is research charts so you can plan a route and safe passage. Imagine your surprise when you discover it will cost you $600 to just download a small portion of the Canadian charts. The exact same type of charts provided by the USA government for free. Would you still continue your trip?
Maybe you are a German that spent the last 5 years cruising the Caribbean but have decided this season you will run up the coast of the USA. You get all the way to Boston and decide, “Why not add another country to my list and see Canada”. You are now faced with a $600 bill to download a small portion of water you might spend 2-3 weeks in. Would you continue up to Canada or turn around and explore more of the USA instead (all charts are free there).
It matters not whether you live in an area with water. This is a point that affects all Canadians. Tourism spreads tourism and the more people that come, the more that will want to come!
Maybe you thought this point was silly or a stretch. Maybe it is, maybe its not. I suspect anyone with a boat that has gone out with their family will understand this point. For those that have never done this here is why its important. Imagine going out with your family and not worrying about exploring those bays you avoided because you had no idea of the depth, or nature of the bottom. Maybe you find that perfect bay where you hide away for a weekend of fishing, swimming and picnics.
The government provides maps of all Crown Land to support this kind of exploration. Should we not also provide it for the water?
Still not convinced.. Well I’m not sure there is anything else I can say to convince you. However, if I have made sense and you agree, then please take the few minutes and click the link to add your voice. I truly believe our voices can make a change here! Please do not delay, we only have 120 days to collect signatures!