As we reported in our last posting on this topic, we have posed buoy related questions to Transport Canada. We needed to provide some additional detail for a question on alternate shapes for buoys that are being used by members (see the attached photos) we received the following response from Transport Canada:

“Solely based on the photos, it appears that the colours of the buoys are in compliance.  The one on the left is missing contact information and the one on the right is missing PRIV and contact information.  Please note that a mooring buoy must be in full compliance at the time of inspection.”

If you have additional questions related to buoys, please forward them to info@swoa.ca.

Questions to Transport Canada
A number of our members have posed questions regarding buoys over the winter.  We posed the following questions to Transport Canada and received the following responses:

Was any tagging of buoys undertaken last fall on the east side of Anstey Arm and north of Sicamous?  These members are concerned that, due to the Covid-19 pandemic, they are being discouraged from travelling between Alberta and BC and thus will not, in the foreseeable future, be able to find out if their buoys had been tagged.

TC Response: TC did not tag any buoys in Anstey Arm or the area from Bastion Bay northbound last year.

As a follow-up question, has Transport Canada scheduled any further inspection trips to Shuswap Lake for the spring and early summer of 2020?

TC Response: Due to COVID-19, we have not scheduled any further inspections for the foreseeable future. 

A number of members have raised concerns regarding the info required to identify the owner of buoys that otherwise meet the regulation.  They are specifically concerned with the detail (name and address) of the owner and how the public display of this information could expose them to security concerns at the place of residence. Is there a way, such as having the information stamped onto a less conspicuous stainless steel plate that is attached to the buoy, that would be acceptable?

TC Response: Contact information required to be on the buoy should include a name and phone number.  An address is not required.  This is so that the owner can be notified of any issues that arise from the buoy.  A stainless steel plate with name and phone number is acceptable as long as it is there when we conduct compliance inspections.  They don’t fade in the sun or wash off. The letters PRIV are still required.

We needed to provide some additional detail for other questions that were posed and are working to provide that information to Transport Canada. If you have additional question, please forward them to info@swoa.ca.


Buoys Removed and Tagged

SWOA has been tracking the issues related to non-compliant buoys since the fall of 2017 when we first heard that Transport Canada, along with the CSRD, were tagging buoys along Shuswap Lake. Over the past two years, information reported in the Salmon Arm Observer documents that as many as 86 buoys have been removed in Shuswap and Mara Lakes, and this fall, a further 186 buoys have been tagged in the North Shuswap as being noncompliant with the Shipping Regulations and potentially subject to further action in the spring or summer of 2020.

Throughout this process, SWOA has been concerned with the tagging process as the notices have been left attached to the buoys enclosed in a Ziploc bag and zip tied to the buoys.  We have corresponded with Transport Canada on the topic, specifically as the notices were easily detached from the buoy by wave action, leaving only the zip tie attached. This is especially problematic as many waterfront owners will have closed their cabins for the year and if the notices are lost (as we expect will be the case), how will the owner of the buoy know that their buoy had been tagged unless they had heard via the beach grape vine.

Transport Canada have been clear on identifying the criteria that a buoy needs to meet to satisfy the Canada shipping regulations (a copy of the notice they have been using which includes the specifications to be met is posted on SWOA’s website).

As well, in correspondence recently received from Transport Canada they have stated:

" Our (Transport Canada’s) goal is not to pull buoys from the water, it is to ensure compliance with the regulations…. There is no stipulation that Transport Canada is to provide notice prior to pulling a non-compliant buoy, however in the interest of procedural fairness, we provide the notices. ”

The SWOA Board will continue to track the Transport Canada activities on Shuswap and Mara Lakes, advocate for our members  and keep our membership informed on this  and related issues. Currently we are following up with the CSRD and hope to have a further discussion with Transport Canada.

Lastly, we encourage you to talk to your waterfront neighbours or anyone that may be monitoring your cabin for the winter to determine if your buoy has been tagged. If so, we encourage you to get in contact with Transport Canada to start the process of getting a replacement buoy that will meet the regulations.

A copy of the tag notice (Compliance of Buoys under the Private Buoy Regulations) can be found by clicking here.

Has your buoy been tagged?
As we had reported earlier, approximately 600 mooring buoys were tagged by Transport Canada for noncompliance.  Just under 400 buoys were tagged on Mara Lake and just over 200 along the North Shuswap.  Because of the large number of buoys that will need to be replaced, the manufacturers have not been able to meet the demand and many replacement buoys are on back order.

SWOA  has been informed that should any of our members have a buoy that has been tagged and their new buoy has been back ordered, that they are advised to contact Transport Canada using the phone number on the tag, the number on the tag, and the name of the dealer who is holding the back order and the expected delivery date.  Transport Canada is aware of the backlog of buoys and will consider this when they start their enforcement in late September and October.

Important notice to members.
About 600 buoys in the Celista area were tagged in early June by Transport Canada and the CSRD.  If you arrive at your cabin later this summer there may be a zip lock bag attached with a notice indicating that your buoy is non-compliant with Transport Canada Regulations.  Click here to view a copy of the notice.

If you have a zip lock bag still attached or just a black zap strap, your buoy has been tagged for non-compliance.  Click here to view a photo of a tag/bag that may have  been destroyed by a storm or leak.

SWOA strongly suggest you contact Transport Canada (604-775-8867 or NPPPAC-PPNPAC@tc.gc.ca) and bring your buoy into compliance to prevent removal this fall.

Click here for full Transport Canada Private Buoy Regulations

In the past few years SWOA has heard that at various locations on Shuswap lake Transport Canada and the CSRD have flagged non-compliant or apparently abandoned buoys.  Transport Canada’s goal is to locate the owners of these buoys to help them comply with current standards.  If an owner cannot be identified then after a reasonable amount of time the buoy could be deemed abandoned and possibly removed. Last fall, Transport Canada issued a contract to a local company to remove up to 41 non-compliant buoys. We have not received reports of this process being heavy handed or onerous from our members but please let us know if you have any problems.

So what should you do if your buoy is “tagged”. First, included with the tag should be information on how to contact Transport Canada. SWOA’s advice is to make contact with Transport Canada and initiate the process for making sure your buoy is deemed “compliant”. Also, this will identify your buoy as not being abandoned

The current guidelines for private buoys, including mooring buoys, do not stipulate that any particular brand, shape or size of buoy should be used, only that it meets the following requirements:

  • minimum above-water dimensions of 15.25 cm (6 inches) in width and 30.5 cm (12 inches) in height.
  • All private buoys must display, on two opposite sides, the capital letters “PRIV”. These letters are to be as large as practical for the size of the buoy and contrasting in colour (white when the background colour is red, green or black, and black when the back-ground colour is white or yellow)
  • The buoy owner’s current name, address and telephone number must be easy to read, in a permanent manner.
  • The body of the buoy must be white.
  • The top 1/3 of the buoy must be orange.
  • If a light is used it must be yellow.
  • If reflective tape is used it must be yellow

There are commercially available buoys that meet these requirements but homemade buoys are also acceptable.

Within the CSRD, docks and moorage buoys are regulated by Lakes Zoning Bylaw No. 900.  This bylaw applies to Electoral Area C (South Shuswap), Electoral Area E (Rural Sicamous) and Electoral Area F (North Shuswap).

This Bylaw was adopted August 16, 2012 and is not retroactive.  If what you placed in the water complied with the regulations of the day, then your structures are legal under local regulations.  If you have existing legal structures in the water, you will not be forced to remove or replace them as a result of the Lakes Zoning Bylaw being introduced. 

Click here to view Transport Canada Regulations

In November, 2017, SWOA was asked if they would be interested in providing input into possible revisions to Bylaw 900, specifically into the section dealing with dock sizing. Although SWOA responded at the time that it would definitely be interested in providing input, it wasn’t until may 2018 that we received word that the CSRD was planning to move ahead with changes to the bylaw and that they did want to discuss these with SWOA. A tentative date (June 25) has been set for these discussions.

The first indication of the scope of the proposed changes was brought forward to the Area Director’s Meeting (a sub-set of the CSRD Board) at their June 7th meeting. CSRD staff reported to the area directors that some changes to account for metric/British unit conversions (the bylaw uses metric widths/areas but industry still works with British units) and recommended that the permitted surface area of docks be increased to at least 30 square meters from the current 24 sq. m. Based on the information available to date SWOA has not determined that the rationale behind the proposed changes is sound and will want to discuss this further at the June 25th meeting.

In preparation for our meeting with CSRD staff, we would like some feed back from our members on the following questions:
1. What is the length of your dock?
2. What is the length of your boat?
3. Do you consider that it is safe to enter/exit your boat at the dock in stormy conditions?

Please send your response to info@swoa.ca. We will keep your information confidential.

We will keep you up to date on the results of our meeting with CSRD staff and the opportunities that SWOA members will have to provide further input on the proposed changes when they are formally brought forward for review after first reading by the CSRD Board.


Mooring Buoys
One of the topics that we do get questions about is mooring buoys. When are they allowed, are there standards for their installation, who can permit the installation?
First, Shuswap and Mara Lakes are charted waters under the Federal Navigable Waters Protection Act, and therefore buoys are regulated under that Act using the Private Buoy Regulations. Sounds complicated – it can be if you want to place a buoy in a narrow or congested part of the lakes but generally most cabin owners will find that they can place a buoy in front of their cabin without needing a permit as long as the buoy meets some criteria:

1.  It should not be closer than 5 m from either property line (as it extends from the high-water mark and perpendicular to the shoreline;
2. It should not be closer than 20 m from another buoy;
3. Is your vessel less than 12 m in length;
4. Does your buoy meet the swing criteria (this varies with the depth of the water where the buoy is anchored (see the regulations at https://www.tc.gc.ca/eng/programs-675.html);
5. Does the buoy meet the colour and size regulations set out in the regulations and meet the identification requirements (marked as PRIV, Orange on top and have your contact information name and phone number) attached to the buoy)?
6. Finally, if a buoy has not been used for two years it can be removed.

A copy of the moorage portion of the federal regulations has been posted on the SWOA website (http://www.swoa.ca/?p=1363&preview=true).

CSRD Bylaw 900 and Buoys
In addition to the federal regulations, the CSRD planning bylaws for the lake (Google CSRD - Bylaw 900 to find an electronic copy) also provide some guidance. Generally, it is consistent with the federal regulation but does add the regulation that you are allowed one private mooring buoy for either waterfront or semi-waterfront properties as long as you have less than 30 m of waterfront. In some areas of the lake (classifications FG1 and FW1) you are allowed a second buoy if you have more than 30 m of waterfront.

If you are in an area with an Official Community Plan, the CSRD requires an application for a Foreshore and Water Development Permit. The cost is $350 and the CSRD will check against conformance with Bylaw 900 before issuing the permit.