First Na­tions ves­sel traf­fic pro­gram set to launch

$1.5B joint plan aimed to pro­tect ecosys­tems

National Post (Latest Edition) - - FINANCIAL POST -

VAN­COU­VER• Trans­port Min­is­ter Marc Garneau says ef­forts to pro­tect Canada’s coast­lines from ves­sel spills in­cludes an “un­prece­dented level of col­lab­o­ra­tion” with Indige­nous com­mu­ni­ties.

Garneau an­nounced a pi­lot project un­der the $1.5-bil­lion ocean pro­tec­tion plan to help Indige­nous com­mu­ni­ties mon­i­tor ves­sel traf­fic while speak­ing to the Cham­ber of Ship­ping in Van­cou­ver on Tues­day.

The project is be­ing launched this fall in 10 com­mu­ni­ties in­clud­ing Haida and Gitga’at Na­tions on Bri­tish Columbia’s north coast to test and de­velop new mar­itime aware­ness in­for­ma­tion sys­tems in or­der to have a bet­ter un­der­stand­ing of the traf­fic around them.

“The sec­ond step, of course, is that the First Na­tions will be in­volved in the re­sponse be­cause very of­ten they’re the first ones there any­way and they have an in­ti­mate knowl­edge of the lo­cal wa­ters,” he said.

Ex­act plans on how to im­prove emer­gency re­sponse, pro­tect ecosys­tems and man­ag­ing ves­sel traf­fic are be­ing de­vel­oped be­tween gov­ern­ment agen­cies and First Na­tions, he said.

“We value and need their knowl­edge and ex­per­tise to be suc­cess­ful,” Garneau said.

Re­spond­ing to ques­tions about how the new Indige­nous rights frame­work an­nounced by the gov­ern­ment in Fe­bru­ary should be ap­proached by sec­tors work­ing with both par­ties, Garneau told the ship­ping in­dus­try to be “open-minded.”

“It’s not just a ques­tion of re­spect, it’s a ques­tion of ac­tu­ally act­ing,” he said. “Some or­ga­ni­za­tions will be in­volved more than oth­ers ... but it re­ally, lit­er­ally, is a new way of think­ing about how we achieve rec­on­cil­i­a­tion in this coun­try.”

Garneau said $1.2 mil­lion has also been awarded to Aqua- Guard Spill Re­sponse Inc. of North Van­cou­ver for equip­ment to sup­port the coast guard in spill clean-up.

The an­nounce­ment comes days af­ter thou­sands in B.C. protested the ex­pan­sion of the Trans Moun­tain pipe­line, which would in­crease tanker traf­fic to the Bur­rard In­let.

The project must al­ready ad­here to 157 con­di­tions put for­ward by the Na­tional En­ergy Board, Garneau said, and the oceans pro­tec­tions plan will also con­trib­ute to in­creased marine safety.

Garneau said the pipel i ne ex­pan­sion has been ap­proved by the f ed­eral gov­ern­ment, and while it doesn’ t have unan­i­mous pub­lic sup­port, most Cana­di­ans want to see it built.

“We think the ma­jor­ity of Bri­tish Columbians are in agree­ment with us,” he said.


Trans­port Min­is­ter Marc Garneau an­nounces a new Oceans Pro­tec­tion Plan, in col­lab­o­ra­tion with Indige­nous com­mu­ni­ties, at a ship­ping con­fer­ence in Van­cou­ver Tues­day.


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