R v. Lewis

In Constitutional Issues in Maritime Law on (Updated )

The issue in this case was the constitutional validity of the Boating Restrictions Regulations under the Canada Shipping Act. Specifically, the challenge was to restrictions imposed on anchoring in False Creek, Vancouver. The accused were charged with anchoring without a permit. The defence was that the Boating Restrictions Regulations was an attempt by the Federal Government to legislate in respect of property and civil rights, a provincial jurisdiction, and were contrary to the Charter of Rights. The Court first noted that there is a common law right to navigation which includes a right to anchor but said this was a right to anchor for a reasonable time, not permanently. The Court then considered the constitutional validity of the regulations which required a consideration of the pith and substance of the regulations having regard to both their purpose and effect. The Court had little difficulty in concluding the regulations were in pith and substance in relation to navigation and therefore valid. The Court next turned to the Charter of Rights. The argument was that the regulations were contrary to s. 7 of the Charter which provides that everyone has the right to life, liberty and security. Essentially, the accused argued that they needed to anchor in False Creek for reasons of safety and could not obtain anchorage elsewhere. The Court accepted that False Creek was a safe anchorage and that alternative moorage facilities were limited, however, the Court found that the accused anchored in False Creek for economic or lifestyle reasons, not for reasons of safety or shelter.