Madam Speaker, as I was saying, we need companies to be responsible for protecting communities from their commercial activities. I think that is very reasonable.
Moving on to the portion of the bill that deals with ports, these are some of the more substantive changes being proposed by the government. I will start by noting the importance of the Marine Act and ports to northwest British Columbia.
Of course, the riding I represent is home to the port of Prince Rupert. It is one of North America's fastest-growing ports. It is currently the third-largest port in Canada, and it is a port that has really transformed the face of that community over more than a decade. With incredible growth and expansion, it is now by far the largest employer in the community and has been bringing a lot of benefits to that place, and some concerns as well.
In 2022, the port of Prince Rupert moved 24.6 million tonnes of cargo through its facility, which is a pretty astonishing volume of goods. Of course, this has benefits and impacts up and down the supply chain. The community I live in, Smithers, which has long been a railway town, has hundreds of railroad workers who work for CN and are involved in the transportation of goods from the port.
Last year the port of Prince Rupert completed some exciting projects. There is the Fairview-Ridley connector road shore power project, which I will talk about in a moment, and work is under way on the South Kaien import logistics park. They are assessing the feasibility of a second container terminal, which reflects their really ambitious plans for growth.
The changes to the Marine Act we are looking at in the bill before us really reflect an attempt by the government to solidify the role of port authorities as public institutions and as publicly accountable entities. I think that is a worthwhile project, but we need to ensure that it is done effectively so that the changes actually result in more accountability, transparency and value to the Canadian public.
The changes to the Marine Act would include enabling port authorities to act as intermodal hubs and establish inland ports, and would establish a regulatory authority for traffic management and a streamlined review of port authorities' borrowing, although I would note the bill stops far short of doing what the port authorities are asking when it comes to their borrowing authority. The bill would require ports to provide more information on their activities and their decision-making to government; expand the eligibility of port authority boards and amend their membership; require them to submit publicly available strategic plans; require periodic reviews of port governance; and require them to establish advisory bodies for indigenous communities, local stakeholders and local governments. Finally, the changes to the Marine Act would establish a regulatory authority to require port authorities to set five-year climate plans and targets. I think that is important, and I will speak to it.
There is a difference between real accountability and window dressing, and I think the port association, which has expressed concerns about the added burden of these regulations, is right to be concerned if they do not effectively increase accountability and transparency. When we look at the advisory committees, for instance, I think there are many examples throughout our country of advisory committees that do not actually perform a substantive role, that are there as a sort of PR project and do not improve governance or adequately reflect the concerns of the community or the stakeholders who are being consulted. As such, for these changes to really have the effect the government is hoping they will, we believe there needs to be some degree of independence and there should be clear linkages to port authority decision-making.
A number of advisory committees are being called for in the legislation. The government is talking about requiring port authorities to set up three advisory committees. I was remiss in not mentioning the port of Stewart, a much smaller port in northwest B.C. but an important one nonetheless. For port authorities in smaller communities, the requirement to establish three different advisory committees might be more than is required. We need to look at how we can amend that to ensure that we are properly reflecting the need for additional consultation and the capacity of the community to provide that consultation.
Let us move on to the requirement for port authorities to set climate plans. I believe this is important. The activities of ports make a small but real contribution to Canada's overall emissions. There are great opportunities at ports to reduce emissions and drive down climate pollution. This requires the establishment of five-year climate plans. There is very little detail in the legislation as to what those plans would include. Our view is that, at the very least, five-year climate plans should align with the other climate accountability legislation the government has passed, legislation that we have worked hard to strengthen. It should also be consistent with Canada's national ambitions around reducing greenhouse gases and our international commitments.
As I mentioned, there are huge opportunities at ports to reduce the climate's impact and drive down emissions, and we are seeing some of those opportunities already realized in British Columbia. Shore power, in particular, is a mature, commercially viable technology that is used extensively throughout the world. Last year in Prince Rupert, the port authority embarked on a shore power project. Shore power essentially allows vessels to plug into electricity and not rely on their diesel auxiliary engines when they are tied up in the port being loaded or unloaded. This not only reduces particulate matter in the local community and improves air quality, but it reduces greenhouse gas emissions significantly.
That project is going to make a huge difference. I believe the shore power project in Prince Rupert will reduce emissions by over 30,000 tonnes per year, which is incredibly significant. There is also a shore power project in Victoria at the cruise ship terminal there, which will see very similar benefits.
There is a need to decarbonize shoreside operations as well, including the container handling equipment. This is the equipment at the container terminal, which currently relies on diesel. That is a huge opportunity, not only to make the port's operation more efficient, but to drive down climate emissions. We also need to make parameters around climate planning more robust if this legislation is truly going to drive change. As I said, we need to align it with national ambitions and international obligations.
I will turn back to some of the pieces around accountability and representation when it comes to port governance. One thing we need to recognize, and I am not sure if it is adequately recognized in this legislation, is the central role workers play in the operation of the supply chain, both rail workers and port workers. One of the things I have heard loud and clear from port workers, particularly in British Columbia, is that there is a need for their perspectives to be incorporated into port decision-making.
Currently, on boards of directors of port authorities, there is space dedicated for local governments and for representatives from the prairie provinces. However, there is no seat on port boards of directors for the workers who allow our ports to function. These workers have specific knowledge, expertise and experience that would be of great benefit to the port authorities.
We have submitted that there should be a seat at the table for working people, for the employees of those port facilities. We believe that by working at committee, we can amend this legislation to ensure that workers have a voice in the conversation and a place in the governance of our port authorities.
A final area of concern for residents is marine traffic and anchorages. It has been raised specifically by residents of the south coast of British Columbia in the vicinity of the southern Gulf Islands.
During the pandemic, we saw incredible congestion at the Port of Vancouver. We saw many cargo and container ships backed up and anchored in various locations throughout the Salish Sea and the surrounding waters, which caused real impacts on residents who live in these small communities.
The residents are very concerned about the use of ecologically sensitive coastal areas as essentially parking lots for these large ships. They are worried about the impact on marine mammals, particularly whales, like the endangered southern resident killer whales. They are worried about the impact of anchor dragging, the risk of collisions with whales, noise pollution, air pollution and light pollution. All these things affect people's lives in a very real way.
It is disappointing to see that, despite the media coverage of their concerns, despite writing the minister repeatedly and making the minister aware of these concerns and impacts, the bill before us would do very little, if anything, to address those concerns.
We will be working very hard to ensure that the concerns of those residents are reflected in meaningful amendments. We are talking about areas that Parks Canada has proposed as national park reserves. These are very special, nationally significant marine areas. We are going to ensure those are protected from the impact of shipping traffic, and I look forward to that.
Bill C-33, as others have said, is not as ambitious as it could be, but we look forward to working, through the committee process, with all parties to strengthen it and see if we can get it to the point where it is supportable.