Evidence of meeting #110 for Transport, Infrastructure and Communities in the 42nd Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament’s site, as are the minutes.) The winning word was capacity.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

Sonterra Ross  Chief Operating Officer, Greater Victoria Harbour Authority
Peter Xotta  Vice-President, Planning and Operations, Vancouver Fraser Port Authority
Ewan Moir  President and Chief Executive Officer, Nanaimo Port Authority
Matt Jeneroux  Edmonton Riverbend, CPC
Derek Ollmann  President, Southern Railway of British Columbia
Geoff Cross  Vice-President, Transportation Planning and Policy, New Westminster, TransLink
Brad Bodner  Director, Business Development, Canadian National Railway Company
James Clements  Vice-President, Strategic Planning and Transportation Services, Canadian Pacific Railway
Roger Nober  Executive Vice-President, Law and Corporate Affairs, BNSF Railway Company
Marko Dekovic  Vice-President, Public Affairs, Global Container Terminals
Rob Booker  Senior Vice-President, Operations and Maintenance, Neptune Bulk Terminals (Canada) Ltd.
Serge Buy  Chief Executive Officer, Canadian Ferry Association
Brad Eshleman  Chair, BC Marine Terminal Operators Association
Zoran Knezevic  President and Chief Executive Officer, Port Alberni Port Authority
Gagan Singh  Spokesperson, United Trucking Association
Rosyln MacVicar  Regional Director General, Pacific Region, Canada Border Services Agency
Robert Lewis-Manning  President, Chamber of Shipping
Roy Haakonson  Captain, President, British Columbia Coast Pilots Ltd.
Robin Stewart  Captain, Vice-President, British Columbia Coast Pilots Ltd.
Michael O'Shaughnessy  Director, Logistics, Teck Resources Limited
Greg Northey  Director, Industry Relations, Pulse Canada
Joel Neuheimer  Vice-President, International Trade and Transportation, Forest Products Association of Canada
Parm Sidhu  General Manager, Abbotsford International Airport
Gerry Bruno  Vice President, Federal Government Affairs, Vancouver International Airport Authority
Geoff Dickson  President and Chief Executive Officer, Victoria Airport Authority
Peter Luckham  Chair, Islands Trust Council, Islands Trust

2:20 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Judy Sgro

That's fine. I'm glad you had a few minutes to figure out who wants to go first.

Go right ahead.

2:20 p.m.

Captain Roy Haakonson Captain, President, British Columbia Coast Pilots Ltd.

Good afternoon, Madam Chair and honourable members. B.C. Coast Pilots are honoured to be before you today and to have you listen to us.

I'll start with pilotage and its work in the principal gateway for Canada's ever-growing trade with Asia. The number of ships transiting the complex coastline of British Columbia and the busy Fraser River increases every year. Pilots play a vital role in ensuring that Canada's dependence on trade and public expectations are protected through this often congested environment.

B.C. coast pilots and Fraser River pilots use their expert knowledge of local waters to safely conduct bulk carriers, tankers, cruise ships and, for that matter, all commercial vessels. Pilots are responsible for the entire B.C. coast, including Vancouver Island, Haida Gwaii and, of course, the Fraser River.

As Captain Burgess indicated at the hearings you held in Niagara, the near-perfect safety record of Canadian pilots is directly connected to the fact that pilots are able to exercise their professional judgment on navigational matters in an independent way, free from commercial pressure.

Although public and environmental safety is always our paramount consideration, pilotage also plays a very important role in supporting our country's international trade. As the saying goes, 90% of everything has, at one point or another, transited on a vessel in a pilotage area.

The increased volume of traffic and size of vessels is of particular significance on the west coast, where there appears to be a heightened sensitivity to anything that may negatively impact the environment. Increasing public confidence in the transportation system, particularly in the marine transportation system, is critical to maximizing the efficiency of Canada's west coast trade corridors.

There are available solutions. Pilots are always available. We would always look forward to working with the government to address society's concerns.

Pilots play a significant role in advancing Canada's competitiveness, and we have provided you with two case studies focused on the dynamics of facilitating safe and efficient passage of ever-larger and ever-deeper-drafted vessels. Given the dynamics of world shipping and the trend toward ever-larger vessels, the challenge to all ports, and in particular major hub ports, is to adapt to this change. If a port fails to invest in critical infrastructure aimed at both increasing capacity and ensuring smooth intermodal lines, shipping lines will divert their cargo to other ports.

The second case study we brought to your attention brings up a good example of this phenomenon, but in a positive way for B.C. and for Canada as a whole. By developing new navigational procedures in collaboration with our partners from industry, pilots have been able in recent years to safely handle larger container ships at berths that were originally designed to accommodate much smaller vessels. This not only resulted in productivity gains and savings of tens of thousands of dollars per ship for shippers and shipowners, but it also allowed Vancouver port and Prince Rupert port to increase their share of containerized imports moving to the U.S. As the case study demonstrates, the positive economic impact of shifted traffic coming through Canadian ports is very important, in the order of $150 million a year.

In closing, there is another dimension to the Pacific trade corridor that highlights the flexibility of Canada's pilotage system and the role it plays in maximizing efficiency. Pilotage practices for vessels moving between Canadian and American waters on the west coast are an example of refreshingly pragmatic border crossings.

As you know, the international boundary was established in such a way that travelling to and from a Canadian destination requires transit through American waters, and vice versa for the Americans. For example, 70% of Canada's Pacific shipping travels through Haro-Boundary Pass, which connects the Juan de Fuca Strait and the Salish Sea along the international boundary. Through these waters, inbound vessels from sea to a Canadian port are piloted by B.C. coast pilots, even though the transit through Boundary-Haro is in U.S. waters.

2:30 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Judy Sgro

Do you have a closing remark?

2:30 p.m.

Capt Roy Haakonson

The relationship that Canada has with the U.S. is one of the important reasons.... The important reason that this was successful, with U.S. pilots in Canadian waters and Canadian pilots in U.S. waters, was that it was made out of a common-sense approach to piloting shared waters.

Through pilotage authorities, administrations and industry, and the two countries working co-operatively together, we've reached an agreement to establish practices that make crossing the border a model of pragmatism.

2:30 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Judy Sgro

Thank you very much. We will get back to you.

For final comments, we'll go to Mr. Lewis-Manning, for five minutes.

2:30 p.m.

President, Chamber of Shipping

Robert Lewis-Manning

Madam Chair and members of the committee, thank you for having us today.

Just before I kick this off, perhaps I can give a reminder that tomorrow is World Maritime Day. It's also the 70th anniversary of the International Maritime Organization, of which Canada was a founding member. So there's lots to celebrate and there are some positive things happening.

Our organization represents the interest of shipowners, their agents, and service providers responsible for moving people and commodities globally to and from western Canada. Our members' ability and capacity to move products and people safely, in a timely manner, and competitively is good for Canadians, good for our economy and also good for our environment. Commercial marine carriers compete in a global marketplace. They generally view the Canadian market positively, but they have certain reservations associated with the supply chain's efficiency and productivity, regulatory agility, and data and infrastructure.

The Government of Canada has made the largest-ever one-time investment in coastal protection, and we fully support the programs under the oceans protection plan. Now that this plan is implementing specific programs, this effort should include a greater focus on ways to improve our supply chain's competitiveness, as this will be beneficial to protecting both our marine ecosystems and the Canadian economy. There are already strong indicators that efforts to increase coastal protection will also require the marine sector to innovate in the way it operates and the technologies it employs. For this to be effective, the national transportation strategy must strive to drive innovation that makes our marine transportation framework nimble and adaptable so that it can fully support the coastal protection initiatives and also remain competitive.

As stated in the review of the Canada Transportation Act that was chaired by David Emerson, there needs to be a whole-of-government approach to a national transportation strategy, with an oversight body that requires all affected government departments and agencies to work collaboratively toward common goals. Currently, there is some lack of coordination in policies and priorities and an absence of data-sharing that results in an increase in administrative burdens and inefficiencies.

While the Transportation Modernization Act has initiatives under way to improve supply chain visibility, it is equally important for the government partners to come together in a common strategy to clearly articulate the vision for safety and environmental protection to marine users and stakeholders, as they are intrinsically linked.

Understanding our supply chain holistically is essential to Canada's economic competitiveness. I think you heard that in droves this morning. The continuous growth in volumes of cargo and passengers, together with the limited availability of industrial land for marina operations, requires terminals and berth capacity to be utilized very efficiently. We are witnessing some traditional and also some new constraints to our supply chain that are resulting in negative impacts to the economy and even some of our local coastal communities.

For example, break-bulk cargo is nearly impossible to import into western Canadian ports right now. It's causing delays and increased costs to projects in British Columbia and Alberta, as cargo is diverted through ports in the United States. This should have been within our collective ability to predict, based on the supply chain data relating to efficiency and productivity. Efforts like the Vancouver Fraser Port Authority's supply chain visibility project are positive. We are optimistic that the port's modernization review will also benchmark the performance of our ports and supply chain with competing jurisdictions such that priorities for policy development and future funding are focused appropriately.

There have been successive tranches of infrastructure investment by the public and private sector that have supported an expanding international trading market. We are encouraged by the Government of Canada's intentions to facilitate this in the future through the national transportation corridors fund.

Future funding initiatives should better leverage the expertise of ocean carriers and their awareness of global trading trends. Infrastructure should include marine infrastructure that facilitates safety, environmental protection, and data management and integration. Ocean carriers that operate in the global marketplace know that certain commodities are less competitive in Canada. A focused effort on measuring the throughput of our ports and collaboratively engaging on ways to improve the situation would be positive for many sectors of the Canadian economy and would ultimately support better coastal protection.

Thank you again for the opportunity to speak. We look forward to answering any questions.

2:35 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Judy Sgro

Thank you all very much.

Mr. Jeneroux, go ahead.

2:35 p.m.

Edmonton Riverbend, CPC

Matt Jeneroux

Thank you, Madam Chair.

Thank you for being here today, everybody. I have a number of questions that I would like to get in here, if I can.

Mr. Lewis-Manning, I'm wondering if you could comment or provide us with your opinion on the current moratorium on crude oil shipments to and from ports in northern British Columbia.

September 26th, 2018 / 2:35 p.m.

President, Chamber of Shipping

Robert Lewis-Manning

I've appeared before this committee before on Bill C-48. We certainly had concerns about the fact that a risk assessment was not included in the draft bill, and one of our recommendations was to include some sort of risk assessment on a periodic basis in that piece of legislation.

2:35 p.m.

Edmonton Riverbend, CPC

Matt Jeneroux

I noticed that, in May 2017, you issued a press release expressing your disappointment. Have you seen any movement on this since that time that would help?

2:35 p.m.

President, Chamber of Shipping

Robert Lewis-Manning

We have not. I think the perspective that I can provide you with is the precedent. There may be good reasons for taking action in some way. The important part is making sure that the signals to the international trading market on why it's happening are clear. Without the pure risk assessment, we thought that it wasn't a clear signal.

2:35 p.m.

Edmonton Riverbend, CPC

Matt Jeneroux

Okay. Outside of the government, have you seen anybody else send signals that this is not helpful, again addressing the competitiveness piece that you make a point of in your press release? I'm hoping there's some movement to address the global competitiveness on this. I haven't seen anything. I'm just curious whether you've seen anything.

2:35 p.m.

President, Chamber of Shipping

Robert Lewis-Manning

One thing we've seen is a statement from the International Chamber of Shipping, which represents approximately 85% of the global shipowners' market.

2:35 p.m.

Edmonton Riverbend, CPC

Matt Jeneroux

What did they say?

2:35 p.m.

President, Chamber of Shipping

Robert Lewis-Manning

They expressed a concern about the approach—not necessarily the outcome, but the approach.

2:35 p.m.

Edmonton Riverbend, CPC

Matt Jeneroux

Okay, perfect. Thank you for that. It helps clarify some things.

I want to shift to you, Ms. MacVicar. Thank you for appearing before us, and thank you for what you do for the border here in Canada.

I have a couple of quick questions. On marijuana changes, we asked your counterpart in the Niagara region about the impact this would have on your business. He had some comments. I'm curious to hear whether you can put into your own words what changes October 17 will bring, or whether that will happen, on your end.

2:35 p.m.

Regional Director General, Pacific Region, Canada Border Services Agency

Rosyln MacVicar

In short, I would say that our key message is, don't bring it in and don't take it out. That's something we are emphasizing with folks. Despite the fact that cannabis will become legal and regulated in Canada, it's illegal now and it will remain illegal to transport cannabis across Canada's international boundary. This applies to the use of cannabis for medical purposes. It applies to anyone using cannabis who may have it on their person at the time of entry. The requirement is for someone to declare it if they have it, and we're doing what we can to educate and inform Canadians about what it will mean for them when they cross the border.

2:40 p.m.

Edmonton Riverbend, CPC

Matt Jeneroux

What exactly is CBSA doing to educate?

2:40 p.m.

Regional Director General, Pacific Region, Canada Border Services Agency

Rosyln MacVicar

We're using a combination of things, either through social media or through mainstream media, to inform Canadians about what the changes will mean. In addition to that, we have developed and designed signage that will be very prominently featured at the point of entry so that people will understand what is required of them.

2:40 p.m.

Edmonton Riverbend, CPC

Matt Jeneroux

Okay. Excellent.

We also had a good opportunity to view the Fort Erie and Buffalo site. They gave us a good overview of how they plan it. I think it was about two weeks out, in terms of preparation for certain sporting events. The football games in Buffalo were what they referred to. Is that a similar...?

2:40 p.m.

Regional Director General, Pacific Region, Canada Border Services Agency

Rosyln MacVicar

It's the same, yes. We do a lot of work in terms of planning and forecasting, based on events that occur on either side of the border.

2:40 p.m.

Edmonton Riverbend, CPC

Matt Jeneroux

Are you doing anything, then, specific to marijuana and cannabis, in terms of staffing levels or other things, in preparation for October 17?

2:40 p.m.

Regional Director General, Pacific Region, Canada Border Services Agency

Rosyln MacVicar

We're not increasing our staffing levels as a result of that change.

2:40 p.m.

Edmonton Riverbend, CPC

Matt Jeneroux

Okay, thank you.

2:40 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Judy Sgro

Thank you very much.

We will now move to Mr. Hardie.