Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to speak today to this bill and particularly to speak as someone who comes from the city of Surrey which is on the wonderful Fraser River with all of the complexities and challenges it brings, including having a port authority.
When I look at the amendments that we are debating, I am very concerned about what I have seen historically and what is coming through the bill, which would be corrected by the amendment and I hope that it will be.
The people who sit on a port authority need to be representative of the community in which they serve. That is often not the case. They are often, at least in my experience, appointments from wherever. They have been people who are known but they have not always been people who are representative of the needs, in our case Surrey. There is a much better way I think to comprise a board that will understand the unique and niche needs of a particular port and the responsibilities of a particular port authority.
They may be municipal councillors, other elected people, other people in the community who come from different kinds of backgrounds, but there needs to be some kind of balance so that the cities or towns know that there is a public oversight going on. There are very few ports up and down the Pacific coast that are not under considerable construction, have considerable work going on and in our case, and considerable expansion going on. People are very interested and concerned about the direction the expansion will take.
Those decisions should be made by people who are trusted and in a process that is accountable. I wish we could find another word for transparency, perhaps ways that can be seen and understood by the public. For instance, could we explain to the next door neighbourhood the rationale by which certain land is being acquired and certain construction is underway? The city of Surrey is probably one of the most exciting cities and one of the cities that is the most lacking in infrastructure dollars from both the federal and provincial governments.
The infrastructure dollars did go in part to transportation, but the infrastructure dollars that are necessary for the work that will go on to the ports will be a competition now among port authorities and whoever else is applying for those infrastructure dollars. It will make it more difficult, I think, for cities with growing infrastructure needs to access those dollars.
There is a great deal of discussion and consideration in Surrey, in Nanaimo, and in growing communities about municipal consultation for land use. We have seen land that is used very badly where there was no consultation, no thought about what it will look like in five years, what it will mean to industry, and what it will mean to residents.
There must be that opportunity for municipal consultation. It does not mean only consulting the people on the board or saying no witnesses came to committee to put forward a statement. Many people would not have known this was going on. They had no opportunity to have input into this or to make some comments about how the land is going to be used around our ports, and in our case I am talking about Deltaport.
I want to speak now to the compliance within port authorities and municipal planning processes.
We worked so hard, and every growing city would say that, to have a municipal planning process that worked in partnership with other planning processes that were going on that affected that city, whether it was transportation, regional planning, or whatever that might be.
There must be a way to have real consultation between port authorities, that is, the federal government, and the municipalities. That is critical because municipalities will find themselves on the same path with their port authorities as they have with other authorities which they work with, both federally and provincially.
I see your signal, Mr. Speaker. So, on behalf of the amendment, and also on behalf of Surrey and Deltaport, and our need for infrastructure and not to compete with everybody else for all the dollars that are there, I would very much encourage people to look at this amendment.