Canada’s Oceans Protection Plan: Year in review

By BCShippingNews
November 6 2017
Istock photo
By Yvette Myers, Executive Director, OPP Pacific Region, Transport Canada

Canada’s coasts and waterways are an important facet of Canadian life and culture, especially in British Columbia. In November 2016, the Government of Canada launched the historic $1.5-billion Oceans Protection Plan, the largest investment ever made to protect Canada’s coasts and waterways, while also growing our economy.

The Government of Canada takes pride in collaborating with Indigenous groups, provincial and municipal governments, coastal communities, and the marine industry. In the last year, the government has launched more than a dozen innovative initiatives and, in the coming years, will continue to dedicate resources to improve Canada’s marine safety system, build and enhance emergency response capacity, and protect the marine environment. This is the first plan of its kind, dedicated to protecting our oceans.

The Oceans Protection Plan’s initiatives and associated investments will have a positive impact on British Columbia, from protecting local whale populations and removing abandoned boats, to enhancing 24/7 emergency response capacity.

Protecting the environment and responding to marine emergencies

Creating response plans tailored to local needs and conditions improves our ability to respond to a spill. The Regional Response Planning initiative pilot project aims to develop a risk-based approach to environmental response planning in northern British Columbia. It will allow for data collections in other key areas nationally. The pilot project is tailored to the unique conditions and risks that exist in the region. Planning is done in collaboration with Indigenous and coastal communities, as well as stakeholders, other levels of government, and private sector organizations.

The Canadian Coast Guard is complementing this work by enhancing 24/7 emergency management and response capacity within its Regional Operations Centre in Victoria to better plan and co-ordinate effective response during an incident. At the same time, Transport Canada is adopting the Incident Command System — an all-hazards management system used internationally — to strengthen our response to marine incidents and enable us to work seamlessly with partners such as the Canadian Coast Guard.

It is important for Indigenous communities to also become part of Canada’s strengthened marine emergency response. The Coast Guard will work with them to design and launch new Indigenous Community Response Teams. Interested Indigenous communities will gain the skills to support search and rescue missions, environmental response, and incident management.

To boost marine emergency prevention and response capacity, the Canadian Coast Guard will also establish six new radar stations, modernize emergency response equipment, increase tow capacity (including tow kits on existing large vessels and two leased towing vessels), and establish a new emergency response depot in Port Hardy. Seven new lifeboat stations will be built across the country, a national investment of $108.1 million over five years with ongoing funding of $12.2 million. Four of these new lifeboat stations will be located in British Columbia, in Victoria, Hartley Bay, Port Renfrew, and Nootka. Environment and Climate Change Canada will improve marine weather services in high risk areas by providing more detailed weather information. 

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