Evidence of meeting #89 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 boats.

A recording is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

Patrick White  Founder and Executive Director, Project Naval Distinction
Vice-Admiral  Retired) Denis Rouleau (As an Individual
Sara Anghel  President, National Marine Manufacturers Association Canada
Patricia Heintzman  Mayor, District of Squamish
Anne Legars  Administrator, Office of the Administrator of the Ship-source Oil Pollution Fund
Andrew Kendrick  Vice-President, Operations, Vard Marine Inc.

5:05 p.m.

NDP

Sheila Malcolmson NDP Nanaimo—Ladysmith, BC

The market is not getting—

5:05 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Judy Sgro

Thank you very much.

I'm sorry, your time is up, Ms. Malcolmson.

On to Mr. Hardie.

5:05 p.m.

Liberal

Ken Hardie Liberal Fleetwood—Port Kells, BC

Thank you, Madam Chair. I will be splitting my time with Ms. Goldsmith-Jones.

Mayor Heintzman, I recall in my Squamish days commuting back and forth on the Sea-to-Sky Highway and going past Britannia. In those days, I think we had the Prince George, before it caught fire and made an even bigger mess.

Are they still using Britannia as a graveyard for old ships?

5:05 p.m.

Mayor, District of Squamish

Patricia Heintzman

It's definitely a problem area. I don't think it gets quite the volume that Squamish does, but it's definitely a problem area as well.

The interesting thing about Howe Sound is that it's very deep. As soon as you go offshore a little, it's 600 feet to 1,000 feet deep. There is all sorts of stuff that's way, way down there. Sometimes the problem is that if it sinks, it's gone.

5:05 p.m.

Liberal

Ken Hardie Liberal Fleetwood—Port Kells, BC

Right.

I recall travelling with the fisheries committee last year up to Prince Rupert. We were sitting in Smile's restaurant having fish and chips, and looking out under the docks there were piles of engine blocks. Sometimes the debris isn't the whole vessel, it's part of it.

Is that an issue as well?

5:05 p.m.

Mayor, District of Squamish

Patricia Heintzman

Absolutely.

Any part of the boat that breaks off, falls off the boat, the vessel, ship—

5:05 p.m.

Liberal

Ken Hardie Liberal Fleetwood—Port Kells, BC

Right.

Ms. Legars, it seems that we have an ongoing challenge in identifying the owners of vessels. Even when we know who they are in some cases, we can't find out where they are. We've had whole vessels with crews abandoned on the west coast.

Do you have any comment on that, or any remedies that you could perhaps suggest?

5:10 p.m.

Administrator, Office of the Administrator of the Ship-source Oil Pollution Fund

Anne Legars

Well, the issue is essentially the ships that do not have to be registered. When you don't even have a registry it's difficult to find the official owner. Even so, we may have a former owner who sold many years ago but the registry has not been updated, so we are trying to track back and so on and so forth.

The act leaves us some leeway in terms of the definition of “shipowner”. The person who is actually in charge of a vessel may be, under some section of the act, deemed the owner, so we can try to catch this person, but it's not that easy. Definitively having a registration system that is a bit more accurate would help.

5:10 p.m.

Liberal

Ken Hardie Liberal Fleetwood—Port Kells, BC

If it's under 300 tonnes it's not required to be registered?

5:10 p.m.

Administrator, Office of the Administrator of the Ship-source Oil Pollution Fund

Anne Legars

It will not be required to be insured. It's not required under 1,000 tonnes for the time being.

5:10 p.m.

Liberal

Ken Hardie Liberal Fleetwood—Port Kells, BC

In the order of magnitude, then, how big a vessel would that be up to the limit of not necessarily having to be insured? What size of vessel would we be talking about?

5:10 p.m.

Administrator, Office of the Administrator of the Ship-source Oil Pollution Fund

Anne Legars

Can you rephrase that?

5:10 p.m.

Liberal

Ken Hardie Liberal Fleetwood—Port Kells, BC

If a vessel under 300 tonnes doesn't need to be insured, how big a vessel is a 300-tonne vessel?

5:10 p.m.

Administrator, Office of the Administrator of the Ship-source Oil Pollution Fund

Anne Legars

It can be an ocean-going vessel. It's already a good-sized vessel, but not an extra-large one. It's a good size. All the fishing vessels, usually, will be under that size. The fishing vessels and former fishing vessels are really the majority of the problem ships that we have in the fund.

5:10 p.m.

Liberal

Ken Hardie Liberal Fleetwood—Port Kells, BC

Thank you.

I'll turn my time over now to Ms. Goldsmith-Jones.

5:10 p.m.

Liberal

Pam Goldsmith-Jones Liberal West Vancouver—Sunshine Coast—Sea to Sky Country, BC

Thank you very much. I'm really excited to be here, particularly on this issue.

I have a question for Mayor Heintzman.

To give a bit broader view of the situation on the west coast, we worked hard to get the title of this legislation to include barges and docks that are abandoned and holding drums of oil and.... Secondly, the squatter situation is serious. A man in Pender Harbour died in December because he was living in a 23-foot steel-hulled boat with no electrical service—no services—and lit a fire to stay warm. Can you comment on how this abandoned and derelict vessels issue intersects with homelessness on the west coast?

5:10 p.m.

Mayor, District of Squamish

Patricia Heintzman

We had a very similar situation, essentially, where someone who was quite destitute lit a fire. I can't remember if he died of carbon monoxide poisoning before the fire, but it was tragic.

The other issue with this is that there is garbage and there's human waste. There are all those other issues with regard to people who don't have a lot of means living on boats that are barely seaworthy, and in close proximity, of course, to your oceanfront interface. It's a huge challenge. This is where all these things intersect. If we deal with this homelessness problem, we'll ideally be able to have fewer people living in places that aren't safe for them and aren't safe for the environment.

5:10 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Judy Sgro

Thank you very much.

Mr. Fraser.

5:10 p.m.

Liberal

Sean Fraser Liberal Central Nova, NS

Thank you very much. I'd like to give our guest, Ms. May, an opportunity to ask questions for a few minutes.

February 7th, 2018 / 5:10 p.m.

Green

Elizabeth May Green Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

That's terribly kind of you. Thank you, Sean.

First of all, as someone who called Farley Mowat one of my very best friends in life—he was my daughter's godfather—I feel moved to make sure the committee knows that the Farley Mowat, christened by the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, would not have come to the sad fate it did had it not been arrested by the Department of Fisheries and Oceans and resold through that process. The ultimate owners had no connection to the Farley Mowat or its environmental purposes.

I'll turn my attention to the excellent testimony we've heard. I welcome this legislation. I represent the area of Saanich—Gulf Islands and I absolutely echo everything we've heard from Sheila Malcolmson, Pam, and Mayor Heintzman. This is a constant source of grief in our area, and as you said, Mr. Kendrick, we have this problem because our boats survive the winters. The problem of derelict and abandoned vessel problem is far greater on the west coast of Canada where vessels are left in the water over the winter, and is compounded, as Pam Goldsmith-Jones just stressed, by the crisis of homelessness with people moving into these vessels. They are abandoned, derelict, and sometimes inhabited. It's a very serious problem.

I welcome this effort to deal with the problem, but I wonder if in the time that I have—since, as you've gathered, I'm not a member of this committee—I will have an opportunity to put forward amendments. To each of you, where do you think amendments would best be focused? I noted the rye humour in your point, Mr. Kendrick, that there will be lots and lots of paperwork involved and the process will be slow. Given your experience—and I'll start with you and move then to Madam Legars—what would you most like to see changed about this legislation to make it as effective as possible?

5:15 p.m.

Vice-President, Operations, Vard Marine Inc.

Andrew Kendrick

I think the legislation itself is good. I think the implementation is what you need to work on. Part of the early stage of this must be education. People don't know what they're supposed to be doing. Most boat owners are very informal. A minority have their boats in marinas and a minority are members of sailing clubs. You have to figure out how you get the message to people that there is a legal obligation for many of them to be licensed and that the licences have to be kept up to date. If that's not done, you can't manage what you can't measure. I'll leave it at that.

5:15 p.m.

Mayor, District of Squamish

Patricia Heintzman

I would agree 100%. Something we've talked about in the District of Squamish is how the federal government and local communities like Squamish can create a bit of a joint communication strategy to educate people about this bill, provide options, and bring some clarity, particularly on smaller vessel issues. It would be good to understand how the ocean protection program and the abandoned boats program really integrate with this particular act. We're not 100% sure how they do, because the language talks about 75% federal government and 25% other for dealing with wrecks, however, the act also implies that it's a federal government responsibility. It's a little bit ambiguous.

I think resources for enforcement and really understanding how we can implement some of the good intention of the act are important.

5:15 p.m.

Administrator, Office of the Administrator of the Ship-source Oil Pollution Fund

Anne Legars

I would also stress the educational part because shipowners, especially in the pleasure craft section, have to understand that they while they own an asset, they also own the liabilities that go with it. That's one element.

It's not necessarily something that will go in the act. It can be done through things besides the act, such as parallel initiatives. In my short five-point list I listed a number of things that we see coming, which aren't necessarily coming through that specific legislation, but are coming through that wave of initiatives.

How can we address the inventory? You need money at some point to do that.

For the issue of the ships below 300 tonnes, if you have no insurance, you may have an issue. What's the best way to have that covered by insurance? We there are now some discussions with the provinces, and so on and so forth. In the long run, it's what would probably help make a difference.

Also, with respect to pleasure crafts, they need.... The fund is a repository of a problem that happened higher up in the food chain and we are at the end of it. Basically, the ships for which you have a strong regulatory framework with strong enforcement and mandatory insurance will not end up being a liability for the fund. The ships for which you have fewer regulations, which are usually the smaller ships, and for which you have less enforcement and no insurance, are the ones that become a liability for the fund.

Basically if you want to avoid paying for something at the end of the day, you have to boost the regulatory and enforcement side. At the end of day, that's where you'll see fewer liabilities that are not covered.

5:20 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Judy Sgro

Thank you very much.

Mr. Shields.

5:20 p.m.

Conservative

Martin Shields Conservative Bow River, AB

Thank you, Madam Chair.

I appreciate the witnesses today and the topic that you are clarifying.

Your Worship, you talked about many coastal communities. Have you worked with your provincial organization of municipalities? Have you worked jointly with other municipalities on this topic?