Boat Motor Noise - Update


Earlier posts on this site have highlighted the work of the Decibel Coalition to raise awareness of the impact of excess boat motor noise and the inherent difficulties in enforcing existing regulations.


Background


The Small Vessel Regulations currently require that all power-driven vessels be equipped with a muffler. This requirement helps make sure that the engine noise from power-driven vessels is limited to avoid disturbing the environment and others using the waterway.


While a muffler is required, the regulations don’t include any performance standards for mufflers or engine noise emission limits.


These gaps have led to concerns that vessel engine noise sometimes exceeds acceptable levels. Police have also noted that it’s hard to enforce the current requirements as they lack the technical expertise needed to identify whether a muffler is properly equipped or not.


Current Situation


Last year the Decibel Coalition, representing lake associations and municipalities from BC to Quebec, made a presentation to the Transport Canada (TC) Marine Advisory Council (CMAC) highlighting the problem of controlling excessive engine noise, asking for Transport Canada to introduce legislation to control decibel levels.


Since then TC developed a series of potential options to address concerns related to pleasure craft engine noise emissions and opened their "Let's Talk" site to solicit public opinion. On 9 November 2022 reported on the results of this consolation. The presentation can be reviewed here.


Outcome


Transport Canada is exploring amendments to the Small Vessel Regulations that would:

  • Introduce requirements for manufacturers and importers of new pleasure craft to ensure vessels are compliant with ISO Standard 14509 Small Craft – Airborne sound emitted from powered recreational craft for pleasure craft which are manufactured, rebuilt, or imported into Canada after the amendment date.

  • Introduce further requirements for pleasure craft in operation to not exceed a set decibel limit when tested in accordance with Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) Standard J2005 Stationary Sound Level Measurement Procedure for Recreational Motorboats

  • Harmonize decibel limits with those in place in other jurisdictions

  • Support field enforcement measures that are proportional to the issue

Next Steps

1. Develop regulatory package to address amendments based on the selected option 2. Provide updates at next CMAC (Spring 2023)