Garneau launches roundtable discussions on port modernization



McKeil Marine's Evans Spirit  won the International Bulk Journal's 2016 Ship of the Year Award during the IBJ's Salute to Excellence in the Maritime Bulk Industry gala awards ceremony in London, UK on November 21.
"It's a fantastic way to closeout our 60th anniversary year: having a vessel named after our founder, Evans McKeil, win this prestigious international award," said Steve Fletcher, President and CEO of McKeil Marine.
Acquired by McKeil in 2015, the Evans Spirit is a cargo ship with the shallow draught characters of a tug and barge; however, compared to a tug-and-barge unit, she can transport approximately 40 per cent more cargo about 50 per cent faster on a very similar amount of fuel.  She is in service throughout the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence River.
Evans Spirit was shortlisted for 2016 Ship of the Year competing with three other vessels: CS Bright, Mitsui OSK Lines, Japan;  Damen Shipyards, Netherlands; and MN Baroque, Swiss Marine, Switzerland. The award is presented to the owner, operator or builder of an outstanding individual bulk ship. Judged on operational efficiency, design innovation, safety and environmental protection, the Evans Spirit was selected as winner. (Photo Paul Beesley).

By Leo Ryan


Federal Transport Minister Marc Garneau has chaired a first roundtable in Ottawa with Canadian port officials to discuss the port system and what Transport Canada can do to ensure this country is well positioned to innovate and compete for years to come.

"Ports are a critical part of Canada's transportation network and trade corridors," said Mr. Garneau on May 8 when meeting with top executives from the 18 Canada Port Authorities (CPAs) and Wendy Zatylny, President and CEO of the Association of Canadian Port Authorities (ACPA). The 18 CPAs, including Vancouver, Montreal, Prince Rupert and Halifax handle more than 60% of Canada's commercial marine cargo.

"Collaboration with marine stakeholders and Canadians will help shape the future of Canada's port system, so that it continues to support sustainable and inclusive growth," Mr. Garneau said.

In the coming weeks, Transport Canada will host a series of roundtables and meetings with Indigenous peoples, provincial governments, municipalities, broader domestic and international marine stakeholders, and Canadians. The roundtables are the next step in a review of Canada Port Authorities that was announced in March.
Findings of the review are expected in 2019. The review will optimize the role of ports in the transportation system as strategic assets that support inclusive and sustainable growth and trade, Transport Canada stated.

Once viewed as an option, privatization of both seaports and airports is reportedly no longer being seriously considered at Transport Canada.
In a comment to Maritime Magazine in March, Ms. Zatylny declared: "In addition to greater funding and financial flexibility, CPAs are looking in a broader sense as they adapt to a changing global environment that includes such developments as the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), Canada's free trade agreement with the European Union, blockchain data management and artificial intelligence."



A number of Canadian ports have also expressed concern over relatively little support so far for vital infrastructure projects received from the National Transportation Corridors Fund. And latest federal spending plans have given priority to "people" transportation (public transit) rather than ports, bridges and railways.

"The current port system has served Canada well in supporting regional economic development and international commerce," Transport Canada indicated. "However, a lot has changed since Canada Port Authorities were established 20 years ago. This change is expected to continue at an ever increasing pace."

The CPAs were created in 1998 to operate on commercial basis from the federal government.

Transport Canada wants to hear what Canadians and marine stakeholders have to say about how our ports can turn current and future challenges into opportunities. The public is invited to provide input on the review. Information is available on the website.