Bolstering Marine Safety

Canadians expect the environment and the economy to go hand in hand. An important part of this is protecting our oceans and keeping them healthy, clean and safe for future generations. The regulatory framework that supports Canada’s marine safety regime is built on international and domestic cooperation. It is also supported by more than 100 regulations enabled by almost 30 Acts, international agreements and commitments — all focused first and foremost, on preventing accidents from occurring.

To further bolster our marine safety system, the government invested $1.5-billion for the historic Oceans Protection Plan (OPP). Since the OPP’s launch, there are over 50 programs being rolled out to strengthen Canada’s marine safety, expand scientific research and better protect our ecosystems. These include:

To ensure the best protections for our coastal communities and marine environment, the government has invested in new and stronger safety measures along the west coast. These include more Canadian Coast Guard emergency response stations, new environmental response equipment and significantly improving the radar coverage of shipping traffic.

The Government of Canada will also mitigate the environmental effects related to the Trans Mountain Expansion (TMX) project by building on existing federal programs and implementing new measures. The Canada Energy Regulator (CER) will continue to regulate the project throughout its life cycle.

CER’s 156 Conditions

Following a 22-week reconsideration process, the CER submitted its Reconsideration Report on the project with an overall finding that the TMX project is in the Canadian public interest and should be approved subject to 156 conditions and 16 new recommendations.

All 156 of the CER’s proposed conditions are within the scope of its regulatory authority and Trans Mountain Corporation (TMC) would be required to meet them for the project to proceed. Conditions imposed by the CER are legally binding.

The conditions cover a wide range of areas, including: emergency preparedness and response; protection of the environment; pipeline safety and integrity; consultation with affected Indigenous communities; socio-economic considerations; commercial support for the project prior to construction; and TMC’s financial responsibilities. Of these 156 conditions, a number address marine safety.

The government has also asked the CER to amend six conditions to respond to concerns from Indigenous communities and address outstanding impacts to Aboriginal and Treaty Rights.

To view the full list of conditions, visit the CER’s condition compliance web page.

CER’s 16 Recommendations

The CER made 16 recommendations related to marine shipping. These include: managing and monitoring the cumulative effects on the Salish Sea; measures to offset increased underwater noise and increased strike risk posed to Species at Risk Act-listed marine mammal and fish species; enhancing marine oil-spill response; improving marine shipping and small vessel safety; reducing greenhouse gas emissions from marine vessels; and co-developing the Indigenous Advisory and Monitoring Committee.

The government has a broad response strategy to address the 16 recommendations. Eight of these (#8 to #14, and #16) deal directly with marine safety. These include:

  • continuing work with the U.S. to address transboundary traffic issues;
  • taking action through the Pan-Canadian Framework on Clean Growth and Climate Change to reduce greenhouse gas emissions for marine shipping;
  • continuing to engage the Indigenous Advisory and Monitoring Committee;
  • expanding the mandate of the Office of Boating Safety to encourage safe boating practices and compliance with regulations;
  • improving the Maritime Situational Awareness and Automatic Identification System; and
  • establishing a national approach to managing anchorages through the OPP.

Accommodation Measures

As part of the re-initiated Phase III consultations, consultation teams had an expanded mandate to discuss specific accommodation measures to address the concerns of potentially affected Indigenous groups. The government has put forward eight accommodation measures to focus on capacity building, long-term relationship building, marine safety, spill prevention, response capacity, cumulative effects, fish and fish habitat, quieter vessels and further terrestrial studies.

The Marine Safety Equipment and Training Initiative responds to concerns regarding the safety risk posed by increased tanker traffic interacting with Indigenous communities marine activities along the tanker route and shipping lanes. It will support enhanced safety for Indigenous vessels in these areas by providing funding for safety equipment and training. Specific program parameters will be co-developed in partnership with Indigenous communities in the project area.

The Enhanced Maritime Situational Awareness Initiative, launched as part of the OPP, is a web-based system that provides Indigenous and coastal communities with access to near real-time maritime information, such as vessel traffic, weather and other key maritime data. The government will work with interested Indigenous groups in the project area to identify three additional pilot communities to act as hubs, coordinating feedback from all participating communities.

Trans Mountain Corporation Measures

To comply with the CER’s conditions, TMC is responsible for tracking the implementation of its commitments to the project. This includes supporting the government’s efforts to establish and enforce marine safety regulations that ensure a world-class tanker system.

To view the full list of TMC commitments, visit the Commitments Tracking Table.

Complemented by generational investments in Canada’s oceans and clean technology, the TMX project is clear evidence that Canada can grow its economy, deliver natural resources to international markets, safeguard the environment and advance reconciliation with Indigenous peoples.

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