Ontario Boating Is For Families Now More Than Ever
How many times have you heard that expression over the radio in Lakelands" play lands? I know I"ve heard it a gazillion times and it always makes me smile. It"s a friendly reminder that if you are boating in Ontario, you are going to have to leave your alcohol consumption on dry land and not bring it on to the lakes, rivers, and creeks that make up this province"s glorious water wonderlands.
The laws that govern motorised vehicles and licensing in the province of Ontario have become the strictest in the country since the about 2005. People were just not doing the connection between a car and a boat, and drinking on the water was not taken as seriously as it should have. When you add in the limitations of seasonal usage with respect to boats and skidoos, you are left with far more serious accidents and more impending tragedies in cottage country with alcohol abuse and operating motorised boats and skidoos. For a while there local vendors that operate rentals in this industry, and have commercial businesses along the trails and lakeside saw a serious drop in their business. Coupled with the soaring insurance premiums required to maintain this kind of business, it has made it more of a challenge to find a "cheap" deal for renting a boat, Seadoo or snowmobile. You can really understand why when you look at the rising costs of running and maintaining a boat rental business. At first the stricter laws appeared to take the "fun" out of boating. But honestly, I am glad that the laws changed and the OPP got tougher and tougher on the ATV trails, the lake areas and the skidoo trails. I have seen so many terrible things happen on vacation. I have been to funerals for people who were too drunk to know better. And at the end of the day, anything involving young children and motorised sports absolutely MUST be taken seriously and managed over with a sober state of mind.
I often will see ads for cottage renters wishing to get a "boat included" in their cottage rental for the week. Sometimes, if you are renting from a resort that has a lot of extra services, and the proper commercial licensing and insurance coverage, this type of an arrangement is possible and usually is reflected in the weekly or weekend rate you are paying. I have often been asked if I would consider including my own boat in the rental. And my answer has always been "sorry but no"" I do include a pedal boat with 4 adult life jackets. And my canoe is also available with separate waiver to be signed, because again, I want to ensure that my guests understand the risks involved in using a canoe with unfamiliar lakes. It is a wise move to anyone out there to educate your guests. But motorised boats must have the proper Boater"s License and expertise to commander the water craft. Instead I advertise for local vendors in this type of business and they give my guests better rates and will help me advertise my cottage rental. Would you rent out your house to a complete stranger and thrown in your car as an added perk?
Fishing and hunting has become far more strictly governed now more than ever in Ontario. Anyone above the age of 18 MUST have a proper license, and only fish at certain times of the year, and for certain varieties. Again, experienced anglers know the laws and will update accordingly. It"s the tourist types or the occasional city folk, who will navigate into unchartered areas of Ontario and decide to go fishing on the fly and end up getting cited by a Fish Marshal or ministry agent, or worse: lose their boat or sometimes even their car for illegal fishing acts. I am not kidding you at all. Do something illegal in fishing in the province of Ontario, it as serious a crime as any other federal offense in the conservation authority, and you will find yourself in very hot water. The best way around this is to educate and learn through the locals and through some of the vendors that you are dealing with for bait and tackle, or where you are obtaining the licensing and your equipment. ASK questions.
All in all, the province has become a lot safer for families to go out and license and insure themselves appropriately to enjoy a week at the cottage with a nice reliable boat for the whole family. They will bring their bottled water, or Snapple, or some soft drinks, love the sunset or sunrise, toss few casts into the water, and maybe find themselves some dinner. Either way, it"s a great past time to make some quality memories with the kids.
Ontario boating now is for families now more than ever". It used to be a segregated group of people that needed the thrill of tubing and water skiing, and the die-hard fisherman who had to be up at 3 am. Now boating in Ontario has become geared and marketed to families of all cultural and economic backgrounds. OPP are making the right moves to keep the trails and lakes safer for all to enjoy.
by: Alexis Gibson