The Canadian Safe Boating Council was organized in 1991 to improve communications regarding safe boating issues between government departments and agencies servicing recreational boaters' interests and private companies and organizations in the recreational boating field.
In the early 1990s various regulatory issues were discussed. A major issue was the life jacket types and colours which resulted in making PFDs more comfortable and acceptable.
Annual meetings were held and developed into educational discussions regarding safe boating. In 1998 this became the annual Conference (later the Symposium) with seminars and discussions regarding current issues. The Symposium rotates annually across the country to encourage participation from all regions.
CSBC also pooled safety brochures from their members and distributed them as a kit at the beginning of the boating season.
In 1997 the Canadian Safe Boating Awards (CASBA) event was created to increase publicity of safe boating through the media. This event has been held annually the first Sunday of the Toronto International Boat Show ever since, a convenient time when many boating leaders are attending the Toronto International Boat Show.
In 2000 the membership structure was modified to allow individual membership and a non-voting category was created for additional individuals of a member's organization.
In 2001 CSBC commissioned the ‘Will It Float?' study to evaluate the desirability of mandating PFD wear. This study started serious mandatory wear discussions in Canada.
In 2003 we started to formalize annual spring launch events and received funding from the Office of Boating Safety.
In 2005 the annual safe boating launch was changed to its current format in which extensive safe boating materials are prepared for electronic distribution through the Canadian media where it is broadcast to the public. It is called Safe Boating Awareness Week. Two years later the US National Safe Boating Council decided to make a similar program in the US. Both organizations then used the title North American Safe Boating Awareness Week campaign.
Funding for SBAW comes in part through the Transport Canada Boating Safety Class Contribution Program along with contributions from other organizations and a significant level of volunteer contribution. Of note, MADD Canada and the BC Marine Trades Association have provided considerable support to the campaign in previous years. In 2010, Ready Set Inflate (RSI) was added to SBAW. RSI is a world record attempt for inflatable lifejacket inflations and a strong hook to get media involved in promoting lifejacket wear.
In addition to Safe Boating Awareness Week, the CSBC is active in many other areas of boating safety outreach. Since 2007, the CSBC has promoted cold water awareness through two significant programs; Cold Water Boot Camp and most recently, Beyond Cold Water Boot Camp. Both of these programs educate the Canadian public and Canadian first responders about the risks of cold water immersion and provide important information about rescue and rewarming of hypothermic victims.
In 2010, the CSBC launched SmartBoater.ca, a dynamic web site for educators, the media and the general public. It is quickly becoming 'the place where boaters click' to get all sorts of information about safe and responsible boating. Both SmartBoater.ca and the cold water programs are supported by NIF funding by the National Search and Rescue Secretariat.