Canada’s Ports welcome Feds’ Oceans Protection Plan, Transportation 2030

OTTAWA, Ont.– The Association of Canadian Port Authorities has welcome the federal government’s steps to protect Canada’s oceans and coasts as announced in the Oceans Protection Plan. Following on the steps of the Transportation 2030 Vision announced last week, and the significant support for trade-enabling and green infrastructure within last week’s Fall Economic Statement, ACPA said the Oceans Protection Plan is an additional essential element for protecting the marine environment while growing Canada’s economy.

“Essentially we’re really pleased to see the marine protection measures. Port authorities are involved in and committed to marine safety. Measures announced will only serve to support and augment that commitment. Overall we see it as a positive thing,” Wendy Zatylny, President of the association, told Canadian Shipper.

Financial pressures could certainly be a concern to watch for, she added.

“The programs themselves have not yet been designed-we don’t know what the impact will be for the ports,” Zatylny said of the announced $1.5 bn spend.

“We are pleased to see marine protection and commerce well-resourced and supported in this plan. We see the integrated and collaborative approach of the government to build the knowledge, networks and assets that will be needed to safely and sustainably grow marine shipping and the economy as a positive foundation for the future,” she said.

It is a positive that the federal government is viewing the gateways/corridors as a system and with a systems approach, she added.

“The transportation supply chain is a system-you can’t view one element in isolation. We have to be looking at all four coasts, including the St. Lawrence Seaway. We look forward to working with the government to maximize the systems approach. Canada has an incredible opportunity to become a leader in supply chain and logistics. It is 12th now in terms of supply chain efficiency. We should be in the top ten most efficient countries in the world and we’re not-we’re hoping government will use the spend to move Canada into the top ten,” Zatylny said.

ACPA has also welcomed the overall approach as well as the enhanced support for infrastructure, trade corridors and green technology laid out in “Transportation 2030”, Minister Garneau’s vision for the future of the transportation system in Canada.

“Transportation infrastructure such as ports are key enablers for sustainable economic development and the government’s pledge to invest an additional $81 billion – including $10.1 billion in trade-enabling infrastructure – is a major opportunity to build for the future,” Zatylny said. “Although there are many details to be filled in, this is very much a good foundation to work from.”

The association also recognized the government’s commitment to the idea that a clean marine environment and a strong economy go hand in hand. Noted Zatylny, “ACPA members have long been actively engaged in environmental protection and sustainable transportation initiatives, and welcome the opportunity to build upon this base.”

For ports to fully leverage the funding and the announced Canada Infrastructure Bank, it is vital that a national transportation strategy be developed that recognizes the value of small and large projects, inland as well as tri-coastal transportation, and trade corridors that span the country. An ACPA – Transport Canada study of port infrastructure requirements found a capital investment requirement of $5.8 billion to meet growing demand. Of this, $1.9 billion (or 33%) is related to the rehabilitation of existing port assets. Public funding of strategic port infrastructure is critical to assist in maximizing Canada’s economic output.

“Ports can continue to be powerful trade enablers for Canada, but to do so we have to be flexible and able to adapt to changing market forces. Measures such as the removal of barriers to financial flexibility would empower port authorities to pursue trade-related opportunities and reduce current restrictions that may serve as obstacles to growth. We live in a highly-competitive world and it is critical that Canada has the policies in place to ensure we are able to maintain continued growth and prosperity,” she concluded.

“We look forward to working with Minister Garneau and his colleagues to make this a reality.”