Nanaimo group applauds review of Canada's ports

By Ian Holmes
March 13, 2018 - 5:26pm Updated: March 14, 2018 - 7:22am

A review of how all 18 federal ports will be done by the federal government, including an examination of how the Nanaimo Port Authority is run.Dominic Abassi/NanaimoNewsNOW

Federal transport minister Marc Garneau announced a review of all 18 federal ports. He then answered questions about the review process at a news conference in Ladysmith Monday.Ian Holmes/NanaimoNewsNOW

Odai Sirri of the Nanaimo Marina Association has been a longtime critic of how the Nanaimo Port Authority operates.Ian Holmes/NanaimoNewsNOW

NANAIMO — A review of Canada's federal ports will be closely watched by a Harbour City group hoping to sink the Nanaimo Port Authority.

Federal Transport Minister Marc Garneau announced a “ports modernization review” will take place over the next year to examine how they operate.

Garneau said how much of a say local communities have in running local port authorities will be a discussion point on the table.

“How much do Indigenous peoples who are around the port authorities in some cases play a role? These are some of the things we will be looking at over the course of the next year,” Garneau said at a Ladysmith news conference Monday.

Garneau stressed port authorities have for the most part worked well since their inception in 1998, but said shipping, technology and environmental factors have all changed during that time.

“We think that after 20-years it's a good opportunity for us to review how our port authorities are run to make them even more efficient, but also to allow the public and stakeholders the chance in making suggestions about how we can make it even better.”

A series of round table meetings will involve Indigenous, port authority, local government and marine sector representatives, among others. Opinions and ideas can be shared on a federal government feedback page here.

The Nanaimo Marina Association's Odai Sirri, who's been a driving force behind efforts to replace the Nanaimo Port Authority, said there will be more public consultation in Nanaimo on behalf the Marina Association.

“Now that the federal government has come forward with their announcement it makes it a lot easier for us to engage in that conversation in a public way.”

Sirri has long claimed the NPA doesn't consult properly with local stakeholders, lacks accountability and has unfairly spiked local marina lease rates. He supported a non-profit society to take over from the NPA.

The NPA is the landlord for Nanaimo's harbour, managing all area activities, which include two deep sea docks, the cruise ship terminal and several marinas.

There are 18 port authorities across Canada, including three others in B.C., Vancouver, Port Alberni and Prince Rupert.

Port authorities are mandated to be financially self-sufficient, operating at arms-length from the federal government.


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