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Old 07-23-2013, 12:16 AM   #1
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Canadian Charts - write your MP!

I copy here - and to the Cruisers and Sailors forum - a letter I just wrote to the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans. I will share any reply.

If you have similar views I would take a few minutes and send them to the Minister too!

---------------------------------------------
The Honourable Gail Shea
Minister of Fisheries and Oceans
gail.shea@parl.gc.ca

I am writing to register my firm belief that the policy, approach, and costs for Canadian electronic charts is both out of date and inappropriate.

I acknowledge that this has no doubt been voiced to the Ministry many times - hence the positioning FAQ statement on the web site attempting to justify the current standard. http://www.charts.gc.ca/help-aide/faq-eng.asp#cq1 I respectfully disagree.

You will no doubt have heard the approach the US takes, whereby they view that taxpayers already pay for the department, so that electronic charts should be supplied free (hard copy printed formats still have a charge to cover reasonable printing costs). I do not believe that we necessarily blindly follow what the US does, but the point does resonate. My view is instead based on the following:

* There is almost no incremental expense in making charts online free, and indeed the infrastructure and operation to do so is likely lower than the current standard for encryption, registering etc. Making them available free will likely lower costs and streamline operations.
* From a safety perspective I suggest that the Ministry should be doing all in its power to make our waters as safe as possible. Making charts widely available removes another barrier to mariners being educated and aware. The expense of a single rescue likely eclipses the revenues from electronic chart sales.
* There is clearly the precedent of making government authored material widely and freely available. Tides and Marine weather are just two examples.
* Even if the Ministry adopts the position of 'user-pays', note that I have already purchased hard-copy charts for most most of the coast - as required by regulation. I therefore suggest that I have already paid for access and I simply want an electronic duplicate available I can load on on an additional electronic charting system. (I have additionally purchased a copy of charts via an iPad Navionics license, so basically I have already paid twice!)

The licensing and revenue-generating model for Canadian charts is out-of-date in today's world, I expect it does not contribute significant additional revenues once operational and management overhead is factored in, it does not contribute to marine safety, and it is in effect double-charging for something I already have.

I would like to hear your comments against these points and what may be done to address the underlying concerns.

Respectfully,
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Old 07-23-2013, 01:18 AM   #2
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You do realize of course that the government of the day signed a virtual deal with the devil when they offered up that ninety-nine year contract with the Canadian Hydrographic Service. It would cost us canucks a whellbarrow full of money to get out of that pact; but I fully agree; chats should be free of charge.
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Old 07-23-2013, 01:25 AM   #3
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I actually didn't know about a 99 year deal. That said, I can't image that the price of any charts would be fixed in it. Maybe make them available for $0.27?
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Old 07-23-2013, 01:37 AM   #4
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I could be wrong about ninety-nine years, but after a long drawn out, beer driven conversation on the topic that is what my father-in-law told me. The guy is a serious blue water boater and not normally prone to exageration.
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Old 07-23-2013, 07:18 AM   #5
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I agree. Beeing American, my input may not be welcome to Ottawa. I just purchased a CD of Canadian charts. It would be nice if they didn't leave out some key charts from the package. After you pay all the money for the charts, you would expect to get them all. But no, I still have to go through them, find the ones that are missing, and buy paper.
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