The downloading of services to the nation's port authorities is expected to be a major topic at the Association of Canadian Port Authorities' 55th Annual Conference to be held in Nanaimo the next three days.
The Nanaimo Port Authority is hosting this year's conference, which will see approximately 200 delegates from 18 port authorities from across Canada gather at the Vancouver Island Conference Centre to discuss issues pertinent to the nation's shipping communities and elect a new board of directors.
Federal Minister of Transport Lisa Raitt will address delegates on Sunday, as well as Kurt Nagle, president and CEO of the American Association of Port Authorities, Anne Callaghan, U.S. Consul General in Vancouver, and
George Anderson, Nanaimo city councillor.
Bernie Dumas, president and CEO of the NPA, said port authorities operate as businesses that receive no direct funding from Ottawa and are expected to generate their own revenues.
He said that due to ongoing federal cuts to the Canadian Coast Guard, Transport Canada and other federal agencies directly linked to the nation's waterways, many of Canada's port authorities, including the NPA, are concerned that they will be increasingly expected to pick up the tab for many services and programs.
They include paying for such things as buoys and other navigational aids within each of the port authorities' boundaries.
"Many aspects of monitoring and the management of Canada's harbours have already been downloaded to us and we're very concerned," Dumas said.
"We want to work with the government to meet these challenges and I expect that this will be a major point of discussion at the conference."
However, Dumas said he's not expecting any major announcements or policy initiatives from Raitt at this time as she just recently took over the transport portfolio. "I believe she may engage us in general discussions around tanker traffic, including those carrying crude oil and natural gas, in Canadian waters," he said.
This year, a new offering for delegates is a trade show, providing exhibitors with an opportunity to showcase their services and network with the delegates and executives.
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