EVALUATION OF THE SMALL CRAFT HARBOURS PROGRAM

Final Report March 2013

Evaluation Directorate


Table of Contents

Acknowledgements


The Evaluation Directorate acknowledges and thanks all individuals who gave of their time and input for this evaluation of the Small Craft Harbours program. In particular, the Evaluation Directorate acknowledges and thanks all harbour authority board members and managers who took the time to share their thoughts through site visits, phone interviews and an online survey. The Evaluation Directorate also acknowledges the time and effort on the part of Small Craft Harbours staff given to the evaluation team from the planning phase through to reporting.

Acronyms


List of acronyms
CLC Canada Lands Company
DFO Fisheries and Oceans Canada
DNHP Divestiture of Non-Core Harbours Program
FTE Full-time equivalent
GDP Gross Domestic Product
GIS Geographic Information System
HAAC Harbour Authority Advisory Committee
IPI Information Portuaires/Port Information (Program database)
PWGSC Public Works and Government Services Canada
SCH Small Craft Harbours
SCHMIR Small Craft Harbours Management Information Retriever

Executive Summary


Introduction

This report presents the results of an evaluation of the Small Craft Harbours (SCH) program. The evaluation assessed the program’s relevance and performance, the latter including effectiveness, efficiency and economy, in accordance with Treasury Board’s Policy on Evaluation. The Department of Fisheries and Oceans’ Evaluation Directorate conducted the evaluation between April 2012 and February 2013.

The evaluation covers all activities undertaken by the program during the period from 2007/08 through 2011/12. This includes the program’s main activities as well as special initiatives: projects undertaken as part of Canada’s Economic Action Plan, 2010 storm damage repairs, and a four-year Divestiture of Non-Core Harbours Program. The evaluation also addresses two funding mechanisms used by the program, the SCH Divestiture Class Grant Program and the SCH Class Contribution Program, which is scheduled for renewal in March 2013.

Program Profile

Prior to 2011/12, the Small Craft Harbours program was aligned with the Departmental strategic outcome of Safe and Accessible Waterways. The program was realigned in 2011/12 with the strategic outcome of Economically Prosperous Maritime Sectors and Fisheries.

With the help of volunteer harbour authorities, the program operates and maintains a national inventory of harbour infrastructure to provide commercial fishers and other harbour users with safe and accessible facilities. In 1995, the program narrowed its mandate to focus only on harbours that were deemed critical to Canada’s commercial fishing industry.  As a result, all recreational and non-core fishing harbours were to be divested. As of April 1, 2012, 1034 of these harbours were divested with 307 still remaining to be divested.

The program focuses on harbour maintenance, harbour administration and support, and harbour disposal. Maintenance activities involve assessing the physical condition of harbours and prioritizing and funding repairs. Through harbour administration and support, the program provides guidance and tools aimed at helping harbour authorities develop the management, governance and planning expertise needed to efficiently administer the harbours. Finally, the goal of harbour disposal is to reduce the program’s infrastructure inventory to focus solely on core fishing harbours. This involves finding interested parties willing to acquire non-core fishing or recreational harbours.

Evaluation Methodology

The evaluation drew on the following lines of evidence: review of program documents; brief scan of the available literature on infrastructure administration and disposal in other countries and jurisdictions; review of administrative data; semi-structured interviews with 55 key informants from all regions, including the National Capital Region; site visits with 13 harbour authorities in three regions; and two online surveys, one with program staff in all regions (77 respondents), and the other with Harbour Authority Advisory Committee members (30 respondents). The evaluation was also informed by some previous evaluations, audits and a lessons learned assessment for Canada’s Economic Action Plan.

Evaluation Findings and Recommendations

Relevance
The Small Craft Harbours program continues to be relevant to industry needs. The program manages 761 core harbours that serve an industry that annually contributes $5.2 billion to Canada’s economy. These harbours are essential to the commercial fishing industry, given that about 90% of the Canadian fish harvest is landed at harbours operated through the Small Craft Harbours program. In addition to serving commercial fishers, the program is facing increasing pressure to serve a wider range of users such as aquaculturists, Aboriginal fishers, water taxis, ecotourism operators, etc. and meet changing needs. 

The purpose of core harbours is aligned with federal and departmental roles and priorities by supporting strong economic growth. The program is also contributing to Canada’s Northern Strategy through the construction of a commercial fishing harbour in Pangnirtung, Nunavut. 

Effectiveness
The evaluation found that Small Craft Harbours is meeting its current performance targets pertaining to harbour performance, facility conditions, percentage of harbours managed by harbour authorities, and percentage of harbours divested annually. The harbour authority model has proven to be effective in ensuring core harbours have appropriate oversight. Harbour authorities, which are volunteer-based organizations, are responsible for operating 92% of the program’s core harbours and contribute an estimated $29.3 million annually to harbours operations through revenue generation and volunteer time.

The program’s Class Contribution Program is a key tool for supporting eligible recipients under two broad categories of activities: 1) harbour capacity building and 2) operational capacity and support. However, many harbour authorities experience difficulty in covering all their operating and minor repair costs and continue to rely on Small Craft Harbours program for financial assistance and guidance. Also, in spite of initiatives to improve program affordability, maintenance budgets remain insufficient to maintain all harbours, which raises concerns about safety liability.

The evaluation found that core harbours contribute to economic prosperity in many ways that go beyond the economic return on the sale of fish catches alone.  In many cases, commercial fishers are pursuing spin-off activities that bring in extra revenues. For example, some harbours have expanded their services to cater to tourists, recreational boaters or aquaculturists.

The commercial fishing industry is constantly evolving and needs are changing.  For example, there are fewer but larger fishing vessels and new needs for specialized equipment to accommodate the emerging aquaculture industry. Fisheries management decisions, such as licence transfers, can also have a significant impact on harbour needs. These changes and fluctuating demands are key external factors that affect the program’s results.

The program is also faced with several barriers that limit progress in disposing of the 307 non-core fishing and recreational harbours that remain in its inventory. These barriers include, for example, complex and costly repairs or demolition; costly environmental remediation; a lack of interested parties or local capacity to take on all operating and maintenance costs; jurisdictional issues; lengthy treaty negotiations; reversionary clauses; and a lack of funds specifically designated for harbour disposal.  Further progress to disposal is likely to continue at a slow pace.

Efficiency and Economy
The program is well governed and functions as efficiently as possible within the constraints of its available resources and mandate. Program management has undertaken various steps to achieve efficiencies through the hiring of internal engineering and technical staff, making use of increased contracting authorities for projects under Canada’s Economic Action Plan and for storm damage repairs, and leveraging harbour management capacity from harbour authorities. 

However, the program has limited ability to fulfill its current mandate with the available resources. Its large harbour inventory requires regular maintenance and is wearing away at the program’s limited budget.

The program is well aware of these constraints and has recently launched a process to develop a Long Term Strategy that will propose options for the sustainability of the Small Craft Harbours program in the long term in support of economically prosperous maritime sectors and fisheries. Recognizing that there is no single solution that would address all the program’s constraints, it is likely that some combination of strategies will be required to help the program substantially improve its affordability.

Compared to many other departmental programs, Small Craft Harbours benefits from a good information database. However, at the time of the evaluation, data on harbour performance and harbour facility conditions was not entirely up to date. Evidence indicates that procedures for entering such data in the program’s database are not systematically or promptly being followed. The program’s main performance information management tool, the Small Craft Harbours Management Information Retriever (SCHMIR), is not yet being fully used by all regions.

Recommendation #1: Recognizing that current program resources and delivery mechanisms do not enable the Small Craft Harbours program to completely fulfill its mandate, it is recommended that the Senior Assistant Deputy Minister, Ecosystems and Fisheries Management continue to support the Small Craft Harbours program’s efforts to identify and test alternatives that will improve the program’s affordability and long-term sustainability. It is recommended that approximately two years be given for alternatives to be developed and adequately piloted. The program should provide interim progress reports to its senior management, as required by the Evaluation Directorate for the program’s Management Action Plan updates or more frequently. Evidence in support of the final decisions regarding the long-term strategy that is chosen should be well documented.

Recommendation #2: Recognizing the importance of complete, reliable, accessible and timely information to support decision making and reporting, it is recommended that the Small Craft Harbours program develop and implement a workplan to ensure that requisite information, including administrative and performance data collected by regions, is captured and updated in the program’s database Information portuaire / Port information (IPI) on a timely basis, and that the Small Craft Harbours Management Information Retriever (SCHMIR) continues to be rolled out across all regions in line with the timelines and priorities established in the workplan.

1. Introduction


1.1 Context of the Evaluation

This report presents the results of an evaluation of the Small Craft Harbours (SCH) program. The evaluation is in accordance with Treasury Board’s Policy on Evaluation, which requires all direct program spending, including grant and contribution programs, to be evaluated every five years. The evaluation was undertaken by the Department of Fisheries and Oceans’ Evaluation Directorate in 2012/13, in accordance with the Departmental Evaluation Plan. Suggestions and recommendations have been made regarding improvements to the program and to inform future decision-making.

1.2 Scope of the Evaluation

The evaluation focuses on the program’s relevance and performance, the latter including effectiveness, efficiency and economy, as specified in Treasury Board’s 2009 Policy on Evaluation. The purpose is to assess whether there is a continuing need for the Small Craft Harbours program and the extent to which the program has achieved its intended outcomes.

The evaluation covers all activities undertaken by the program during the five-year period from 2007/08 through 2011/12. This includes the program’s main components and additional initiatives: projects undertaken as part of Canada’s Economic Action Plan; 2010 storm damage repairs; and a four-year Divestiture of Non-Core Harbours Program. Lessons learned from the program’s Economic Action Plan initiatives were previously reported as part of the reporting requirements for the Plan.

The evaluation also addresses two funding mechanisms used by the program, the SCH Divestiture Class Grant Program and the SCH Class Contribution Program. These mechanisms allow for the conversion of operating funds from Small Craft Harbours’ main budget for use as grants and contributions. The grant program was previously evaluated in 2006 and again in 2011. Findings from these two evaluations along with information for 2011/12 were taken into account in this evaluation. The Evaluation Directorate included the grant program in this evaluation to facilitate having only one evaluation for the entire program every five years going forward.

1.3 Report Structure

The executive summary provides a brief summary of the evaluation findings, conclusions and recommendations. Section 2 presents an overview of Small Craft Harbours’ mandate, activities. Section 3 describes the evaluation methodology, followed by a discussion of the main findings in section 4 and conclusions and recommendations in section 5. Annex A presents the key issues, questions, indicators and data sources used for the evaluation. Annex B presents a chart to assist readers in locating within the report findings related to specific evaluation questions.

2. Program Profile


2.1 Mandate

The federal government introduced its Fishing and Recreational Harbours Act and subsequently the Small Craft Harbours program in 1977. The Act enables the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans to acquire, contribute to, maintain, operate and repair fishing and recreational harbour facilities across Canada. As a policy, and in light of limited resources, Small Craft Harbours has focused on properties owned by the Department that are located in harbours identified in a schedule under the Fishing and Recreational Harbours Regulations, although departmental ownership is not a prerequisite of the Act.

The Small Craft Harbours program is part of the Department’s Program Alignment Architecture. Until 2011/12, the program was aligned with the strategic outcome of Safe and Accessible Waterways. In 2011/12, it was realigned with the strategic outcome of Economically Prosperous Maritime Sectors and Fisheries.

The program introduced a harbour authority model in 1987, with the intent of transferring operations and management of commercial fishing harbours to local not-for-profit organizations composed of fishers and other local community representatives. Today, 92% of commercial fishing harbours are managed by harbour authorities, with most of them established between 1987 and 2000. The management of the balance of core harbours is the responsibility of the program.
 
A 1995 Program Review narrowed Small Craft Harbours’ mandate to focus on maintaining only those fishing harbours deemed critical to Canada’s commercial fishing industry, referred to as core harbours.1 All recreational and non-core fishing harbours were to be divested. The program’s vision for core harbours is as follows:

The existence of a critical, affordable, national network of safe and accessible harbours, in good working condition, that meets the principal and evolving needs of the commercial fishing industry, while supporting the broader interests of coastal communities and Canada’s national interests. These harbours will be fully operated, managed and maintained by viable professional and self-sufficient harbour authorities representing the interest of users and communities.2


1  The terms “core” and “non-core” are used only in reference to harbours owned by the Crown.
2  www.dfo-mpo.gc.ca/sch-ppb/vision-eng.htm / www.dfo-mpo.gc.ca/sch-ppb/vision-fra.htm

2.2 Expected Results

For the period evaluated, the program had three key expected results:

  • Commercial fishing industry has access to harbours that are open, safe and in good repair.
  • Harbour authorities are able to effectively manage and maintain core commercial fishing harbours.
  • Recreational and non-essential fishing harbours are divested.

The first two results were modified in 2011/12 to reflect the program’s new alignment with the Department’s strategic outcome of Economically Prosperous Maritime Sectors and Fisheries. The revised expected result is as follows:

  • A national network of safe and accessible harbours, managed by local harbour authorities, meets the needs of Canada’s commercial fishing industry and coastal communities.

2.3 Program Activities

Small Craft Harbours has three main components:

  • Maintenance ― maintain a network of safe and accessible core harbours in good working condition that contribute to the commercial fishing industry
  • Harbour administration and support ― operate and maintain harbours primarily through harbour authorities
  • Harbour disposal ― divest non-core harbours or demolish them by removing infrastructure and restoring habitat as required

Maintenance
Maintenance includes such activities as assessing the physical condition of harbours, prioritizing needed infrastructure repairs, undertaking major maintenance work and repairs, and following through on any minor work that cannot be afforded by harbour authorities. These projects require engineering expertise, either in-house or external, in designing and overseeing repairs and construction.

Harbour Administration and Support
The program has been instrumental in the formation and evolution of harbour authorities since introducing the model in 1987. Harbour authorities are local not-for-profit organizations, representing commercial fishers and local communities that operate and maintain core harbours. The model enables the program to have a network of local people on-site at its facilities across Canada, which would not be possible otherwise without significant additional financial resources.

The program provides guidance, tools, training (e.g. via regional seminars), and other support aimed at helping harbour authorities to develop capacity in such areas as board governance, financial management, harbour operations and maintenance, and so forth. Each harbour authority has a lease agreement with the program to operate, maintain and manage federally owned property as a public commercial fishing harbour. The requirements of a lease agreement, such as the specific costs to be covered by a harbour authority and the services to be provided, vary according to the individual circumstances and capacity of each harbour authority. Harbour authorities are responsible for such aspects as setting and collecting user fees, ensuring environmental management plans are in place and monitoring the condition of the harbour. In the few instances where there is no harbour authority, the program is responsible for the management of the harbour, but has no on-site presence. The level of direct oversight is therefore considerably limited compared to where there is a harbour authority presence.

Harbour Disposal
Subsequent to the program’s mandate change in 1995, the Small Craft Harbours program started to implement its divestiture initiative. The goal was to reduce the program’s harbour inventory from over 2,150 harbours to approximately 750 core harbours critical to the commercial fishing industry. This initiative involves finding interested parties willing to take title of non-core fishing or recreational harbours. A harbour is offered, at a nominal cost, first to other federal departments and then to the province, municipality, local not-for-profit organization or First Nations community. Prior to transfer, these harbours are (1) brought to a reasonable state of repair by Small Craft Harbours and then transferred to the recipient or (2) transferred to the recipient “as is”, with a grant in-lieu of repairs (via the SCH Divestiture Class Grant Program). Once ownership has been transferred, harbours must be kept publicly accessible for at least five years. Where there is no interest expressed through this process, a harbour is offered at market value through a public tendering process. If there is no interest in a harbour, then as a last resort the harbour’s infrastructure is demolished or removed or transferred to the reversionary rights holder (e.g., provincial government). Reversionary rights held by provincial governments typically require that the land be returned to its original state before being transferred, thereby necessitating that the harbour be demolished.

2.4 Program Logic Model and Performance Measurement

The logic model shown in figure 1 on the following page was developed for this evaluation and covers key activities undertaken by the program during the five-year period from 2007/08 through 2011/12. It reflects the three main components discussed above, namely harbour maintenance, harbour administration and support, and harbour disposal, and the related outcomes. It also reflects the fact that the program was aligned with the strategic outcome of Safe and Accessible Waterways until 2010/11 when it was realigned with the strategic outcome of Economically Prosperous Maritime Sectors and Fisheries.

The program developed a performance measurement strategy in 2012/13, to be implemented in 2013/14. It is also developing two other related measurement strategies, one for its SCH Class Contribution Program and another for its SCH Divestiture Grant Program.

Figure 1. Logic Model for Evaluation of the Small Craft Harbours Program

logic model

2.5 Program Stakeholders

Commercial fish harvesters are primary beneficiaries of the program. Over the last decade, aquaculturists have been emerging as another key stakeholder. Aquaculture falls under federal jurisdiction in British Columbia, whereas it is considered to be under provincial jurisdiction (farming) elsewhere in Canada. Other stakeholders include the fish and seafood processing sector, local engineering and construction businesses, other industry service and supply firms, tourism operators, other harbour users and communities at large. Ultimately, consumers of Canadian fish and seafood products in Canada and abroad benefit from the program.

Other federal organizations that contribute to or benefit from the program include Transport Canada, Industry Canada, Canada Border Services Agency, Environment Canada, Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada, and Public Works and Government Services Canada (PWGSC). Within Fisheries and Oceans Canada itself, the Canadian Coast Guard benefits from the program, and Ecosystems and Fisheries Management decisions impact on the program.

2.6 Program Resources

The program’s budget, expenditures and human resource allocations for the five-year evaluation period are shown in Table 1. The program spent virtually 100% of its budget. Harbour maintenance and repair costs represent the largest portion of program expenditures. Higher expenditures in the last three years reflect additional monies received as part of the federal government’s Economic Action Plan and to repair harbour damage resulting from a 2010 fall hurricane and severe winter storms at the end of 2010.

Table 1. Resources 2007/08 – 2011/12
Resource 2007/08 2008/09 2009/10 2010/11 2011/12 Total
Budget ($ million) 98.6 99.7 218.6 208.4 166.5 791.8
Expenditures ($ million) 98.9 99.1 218.9 204.0 161.5 782.3
Human resources (full-time equivalents)3 118.4 128 171 185 167  

Source: Program Financial Data


3 Full time equivalent (FTE) utilization includes permanent as well as temporary resources (12 FTEs for DNHP from 2008/09 to 2011/12 and 12 FTEs for EAP from 2009/10 and 2010/11).

As indicated previously, in addition to the program’s base budget (referred to as A-base funding), the program received additional funding (referred to as B-base funding) from 2008/09 to 2011/12. The table below provides a breakdown of the program’s A-base and B-base expenditures for the five-year period evaluated.

Table 2. Breakdown of Program Expenditures ($ million)
  2007/08 2008/09 2009/10 2010/11 2011/12 Total
A-base
Regular
95.7 91.6 96.1 92.6 81.1 457.1
Pangnirtung harbour 1 0 0 0 0 1.6 1.6
Storm damage 2 0 0 0 1.2 7.1 8.4
Total A-base 95.7 91.6 96.1 93.8 89.8 467.0
B-base Divestiture of Non-core Harbours Program 0 3.9 4.1 12.9 19.5 40.4
Pangnirtung harbour 1 0 0.5 4.4 7.6 15.1 27.6
Economic Action Plan –  Harbour repairs and dredging 0 0 112.3 86.3 0 198.6
Storm Damage 2 0 0 0 3.4 37.1 40.4
Other (Slippage, Special programs, etc.) 3 3.2 3.1 2.0 0 0 8.3
Total B-base 3.2 7.5 122.8 110.2 71.7 315.3
Total A-base and B-base 98.9 99.1 218.9 204.0 161.5  
B-base as % of Total 3.21% 7.58% 56.10% 54.01% 44.37%  
  1. $10.7 million assigned in Budget 2008 plus $17 million from the Economic Action Plan budget for 2009/10 and 2010/11. In addition to this $27.7 million, the program used $12.8 million from its A-base funding to cover the remaining costs, for a total project cost estimated at $40.5 million.
  2. In addition to $56.6 million in B-base funding for 2010/11 through 2012/13, DFO was asked to contribute $15 million from its A-base funding to cover a portion of storm repair costs.
  3. Special programs includes an amount from Transport Canada for a contribution towards the Digby Harbour ($1.3 million in 2008/09 and $1.7 million 2009/10) and departmental funding for the construction of harbours to support the Aboriginal fishery ($2.2 million in 2007/08).

Source: Program Financial Data

2.7  Governance

In addition to the National Capital Region, the program operates in five regions across Canada: Newfoundland and Labrador; Maritimes and Gulf; Quebec; Central and Arctic; and Pacific. At the national level, the Senior Assistant Deputy Minister, Ecosystems and Fisheries Management Sector, has overall accountability for program development and delivery. The Director General, Small Craft Harbours, is responsible for the program in consultation with the program’s National Management Committee, which the Director General chairs.

The National Management Committee, consisting of the program’s regional directors and national directors, serves as the decision-making and priority-setting body for the program. It is responsible for developing and implementing national plans, policies, guidelines and procedures, and overseeing national operations. The National Management Committee is supported by three committees that correspond to the program’s functional streams: the National Engineering Committee, the National Client Services Committee, and the National Integrated Program Planning and Analysis Committee.

The National Harbour Authority Advisory Committee and its regional counterparts made up of representatives of harbour authorities serve to advise national and regional program staff on the Small Craft Harbours program’s priority initiatives, harbour authority issues and development needs as well as other issues of national or regional interest.  In doing so they provide valuable insight and advice, which serves to influence the program’s decision making processes.

The program follows the Department’s matrix management model. Depending on the region, the Regional Director has a line reporting relationship to either the Regional Director General or the Associate Regional Director General, and a functional reporting relationship to the Director General of Small Craft Harbours. In the regions that have an Area Management model (i.e., Quebec, Maritimes and Gulf, and Newfoundland and Labrador), some aspects of program delivery are the responsibility of the Area Directors. The relationship between the program’s Regional Director and the Area Director is defined in the Service Level Agreement for the Area.

2.7  Risk Profile

In conjunction with the Department’s Corporate Risk group, Small Craft Harbours held regional sessions to discuss risks and develop risk heat maps at the national and regional level. Nine risks were subsequently validated and summarized in a March 2010 Risk Profile: financially driven asset deterioration; PWGSC capacity to deliver; human resources; divestiture risk; contractor risk; increased accountability requirements; unpredictable catastrophic events; harbour authority risk; and organizational transition to the delivery of nationally consistent levels of service. The evaluation team reviewed the risk document, which helped to inform various aspects of the evaluation, both in terms of context and further areas for exploration as part of the evaluation.

3. Methodology


3.1 Evaluation Approach and Design

The evaluation used a program logic approach combined with multiple lines of evidence drawing on both qualitative (e.g., interviews, program documents) and quantitative data (e.g., administrative data). The evaluation team consulted with program personnel on the scope of the evaluation and to obtain administrative data and program documents for review, and to identify key informants and stakeholders to be contacted. Program personnel reviewed and provided feedback on the logic model, evaluation matrix, interview guides, surveys, preliminary findings and the evaluation report.

The evaluation was conducted with program staff and stakeholders in the National Capital Region and the program’s five other regions: Newfoundland and Labrador, Maritimes and Gulf, Quebec, Central and Arctic, and Pacific. The various sources of input for this evaluation provided the basis for corroborating the evidence (triangulation) to arrive at valid findings and conclusions.

3.2 Key Issues and Evaluation Questions

The evaluation matrix in Annex A presents the key issues investigated (relevance, effectiveness, efficiency and economy), the specific evaluation questions addressed and the corresponding lines of evidence used for each question. The evaluation team developed the questions based on Treasury Board’s Policy on Evaluation, a review of program documents and evaluation planning discussions with key program personnel.

3.3 Data Sources and Collection

The evaluation drew on the following lines of evidence to gather qualitative and quantitative data:

  • A document and website review covered material from the Small Craft Harbours program, Fisheries and Oceans Canada and other federal government sources.
  • Brief literature scans on port and airport divestiture, and public infrastructure issues in Canada. There is some but little in the way of readily available material on small craft harbours for commercial fishers in other countries, such as the United Kingdom, the United States, New Zealand and Norway. Much of the literature focuses on fisheries management (e.g., quotas) and status of fish stocks.
  • The evaluation used administrative data on the status of harbours and maintenance projects from the program’s national database Information Portuaires/Port Information (known as IPI), Newfoundland and Labrador Region’s Small Craft Harbour Management Information Retriever, which is being rolled out nationally, and Detailed Inventory program binders containing summary information from IPI.
  • Semi-structured interviews were held with 55 key informants: 38 program representatives (Senior Assistant Deputy Minister, Directors General, Directors, and chiefs/senior managers in each region including the National Capital Region), and 17 harbour authority representatives. The majority of interviews where conducted in person, with the exception of phone interviews conducted with key informants in two regions, Quebec, and Central and Arctic.
  • The evaluation team conducted site visits with 13 harbour authorities: six in the Newfoundland and Labrador Region, three in the Maritimes and Gulf Region, and four in the Pacific Region. 
  • An online survey of program staff (excluding junior and administrative staff) in all regions assisted in evaluating program outcomes. The survey had a response rate of 66%, 77 respondents out of 116 invited.
  • An online survey of Regional Harbour Authority Advisory Committee members provided further input on the program. Of the 39 members invited to participate, 30 completed the survey, giving a response rate of 77%.

Survey percentages used in the report exclude “undecided or don’t know” and “not applicable” responses. In many instances, these exclusions are minimal. The actual number of responses on which a percentage is based is indicated in brackets as follows: (n=xx).

The interviews, site visits and surveys contributed to an understanding of the perceptions, opinions and experiences of individuals who have significant experience with the Small Craft Harbours program.

3.4 Limitations and Mitigation Strategies

Input from Harbour Authorities
Harbour authorities are key stakeholders and important partners in delivering the program. The evaluation team was not able to conduct an online survey with the entire population of harbour authorities as several of them are not accessible by email, and given time constraints a survey by mail was not a practical alternative. Instead, the evaluation team decided to survey an informed subgroup of harbour authority representatives, specifically the Harbour Authority Advisory Committee members in each region. Given that this sub-group is not necessarily representative of all harbour authorities, the survey results cannot be generalized to the entire population of harbour stakeholders, but they nevertheless provided some insight and informed the evaluation in combination with the other lines of evidence.

Survey of Program Staff
Results from the survey of program staff could not be compared across regions or functions due to too small a number of respondents in each region or function. Reporting at that level would not be valid and could threaten the anonymity of the respondents. Regional variations were nevertheless examined through the triangulation of various sources including the survey, interviews, documents and site visits. Where pertinent and feasible, such variations were highlighted in the evaluation report.

Performance Data
Compared to many other departmental programs, Small Craft Harbours benefits from a good information database. However, at the time of the evaluation, most recent repairs and improvements to harbour facilities had yet to be entered in the program’s IPI database. Data on harbour performance and harbour facility conditions is therefore not entirely up to date. The evaluation team decided to retain this line of evidence as part of the findings but factored in the possibility that performance and facility condition ratings may actually be higher than shown in the database.

Site Visits
Only a very small number of the761 core harbours could be visited. The evaluation team decided that the evaluation would be best served by visiting a few well-functioning harbours that showcased some innovative practices, in order to obtain input that could be used for illustrative purposes. As such, these harbour authorities and their harbours are not representative of core harbour operations in general. However, the site visits afforded the evaluation team a better understanding of harbour authorities, including some of the issues and challenges that are likely shared in common with other harbour authorities. The report indicates when this line of evidence is used.

4. Major Findings


4.1 Relevance

Overall Findings
The evaluation examined whether the Small Craft Harbours program continues to be relevant. Specifically, it looked at whether the program addresses an essential need, whether it is aligned with federal and departmental priorities, and whether the program’s mandate is in keeping with federal jurisdiction. The evidence indicates the program continues to be very relevant on all three accounts.

4.1.1 Continuing Need


Key Findings: Small Craft Harbours’ 761 core harbours serve an industry that contributes $5.2 billion annually to Canada’s economy. Harbour maintenance and operations activities are fundamental to providing services at these harbours. The program faces increasing pressure to serve a more diversified clientele and meet changing needs. In addition, the program has another 307 harbours in its inventory for disposal or to be otherwise dealt with.


Economic Activity: Commercial Fisheries
Commercial fisheries contribute $5.2 billion annually to the Canadian economy.4 Much of this harvest is destined for export markets, with Canada exporting approximately 85% of all fish and seafood landed by Canadian fish harvesters. Exports of wild capture fish and seafood products are worth nearly $3.6 billion. Approximately 80,000 Canadians make their living directly from fishing and fishing related activities.5

Purpose of Harbours
From a technical perspective, the purpose of a harbour in general is to provide relatively still water conditions, through natural features or by design, to reduce wave action and water movement in order to provide safe places for mooring commercial fishing vessels and loading and off-loading equipment and harvests. Such conditions are essential for the safe operation of vessels.

Commercial fishing harbours in Canada are an essential and integral part of the industry’s ability to function and contribute to the economy. About 90% of Canada’s commercial fish harvest is landed at commercial fishing harbours operated through the Small Craft Harbours program.6

In addition to serving commercial fishers, the evaluation found through its site visits, document review, survey of Harbour Authority Advisory Committee members and key informant interviews that several core harbours benefit other users, such as aquaculturists, tourism operators, water taxis, the Canadian Coast Guard for mooring its vessels and the Canada Border Services Agency, which uses core harbours to conduct inspections of foreign vessels and travellers. In many instances, commercial fishing harbours provide a focal point for community partnerships and events, forming an integral part of community life and livelihood.

Harbour Maintenance and Operation 
As with any major capital investment, routine maintenance and repairs are an important part of ensuring the longevity of an asset, maximizing its useful life, with major repairs, renewal and upgrades being a necessity over the long term. According to the administrative data for the period evaluated, the number of core harbours to be maintained ranged from 742 in April 2007 to 761 as of April 1, 20127. Many harbours were built years ago and require extensive work to maintain them in good working condition. 

Harbour authorities, introduced in 1987 as the service delivery model for core harbours, have become the backbone in managing and operating commercial fishing harbours and monitoring harbour conditions. While harbour authorities have been in place for many years, most rely on the program for ongoing guidance, advice and other forms of support to ensure that program requirements and industry needs continue to be met. As such, the SCH Class Contribution Program is a key tool to help the program develop harbour authority capacity. Contributions are also the only flexible tool available to the Fisheries and Oceans minister to exercise his authority to meet the requirements of the Fishing and Recreational Harbours Act.

As of April 1, 2012, 571 harbour authorities managed 702 core harbours, with Small Craft Harbours responsible for managing the balance of 59 core harbours. As noted previously, the program is not able to provide the same level of oversight at these 59 harbours as is possible where harbour authorities are present.

Changing Dynamics
Increasing demands are being placed on the program as a result of a changing and growing industry and user base. Most notably, five factors contribute to increasing demands on Small Craft Harbours:

  • A growing aquaculture industry ─ both shellfish and finfish
  • Economic development as part of Canada’s Northern Strategy
  • Changes in the size of fishing vessels ─ most harbours were not designed to accommodate the larger vessels of today
  • More Aboriginal fishers entering commercial fishing ─ their communities are requesting commercial fishing harbour infrastructure
  • Increasing demand to support other harbour users, such as recreational boaters, sport fishing, tourism businesses ─ contributes to local economies while helping to support harbour authorities and the commercial fishing industry.

Harbour Disposal
As of April 1, 2012, the program still had 307 non-core harbours to be dealt with.8 While the SCH Divestiture Class Grant Program provides a needed tool to facilitate the transfer of non-core harbours to interested parties, evidence shows that disposal of the remaining infrastructure still faces important barriers. This strategy is proving to be increasingly costly due to a number of complex factors that are not readily overcome.

The challenges include, for example, treaty negotiations, jurisdictional issues relating to First Nations land claims, provincial reversionary clauses, a lack of interested recipients (especially for harbours that are not in good condition) and expensive infrastructure removal and environmental rehabilitation costs. Reversionary clauses apply in some instances where the program has been using provincial property under an agreement with the province. The clauses stipulate that if the program no longer requires the property, it must return the property to the province with the infrastructure removed or in a condition that is acceptable to the province. This essentially precludes interest on the part of anyone else to take over a non-core harbour, and there is no incentive for a province to overturn the clause. An additional challenge facing the Small Craft Harbours program with respect to harbour facilities slated for divestiture is the growing liability at many of these sites as the condition of facilities deteriorates over time.  Funding for the maintenance of these non-core facilities was withdrawn in the years following the 1995 Program Review decision and, as such, the program has not had the required funding to maintain the facilities in good condition. The program estimates the value of urgent repairs at recreational and non-core fishing harbours, for which there is no dedicated budget, at approximately $30 million over the next ten years.

Until the remaining harbours are disposed of, they remain part of the program’s inventory and must be dealt with in some fashion.

4.1.2 Alignment with Federal and Departmental Priorities


Key Findings: The purpose of core harbours aligns with federal and departmental priorities of economic growth and prosperity.


Economic Prosperity
The program aligns with the federal government’s outcome of strong economic growth, as the program contributes to the Department’s strategic outcome of economically prosperous maritime sectors and fisheries. It also serves Canada’s Northern Strategy, which includes the growth of commercial fisheries and identifies infrastructure as an area requiring attention. More specifically, the strategy mentions development of a commercial fishing harbour in Pangnirtung, which is being undertaken by Small Craft Harbours.  The harbour is designed to accommodate sizeable fishing vessels to meet the operational needs of the local fish plant. The presence of a harbour will support economic expansion in the territory and employment in Pangnirtung.

Furthermore, evidence from many of the site visits, key informant interviews and the survey of Harbour Authority Advisory Committee members indicates that some core harbours, if not many, are in reality multi-purpose harbours. The program’s mandate is to serve the commercial fishing industry, but this does not preclude serving other commercial and recreational interests, which in turn contribute to the economic viability of the harbour and the fishing industry.

4.1.3 Alignment with Federal Roles and Responsibilities


Key Finding: The program is aligned with federal jurisdiction.


Legislation
The Constitution Act, 1867 provides the Parliament of Canada with exclusive legislative jurisdiction over sea coast and inland fisheries, navigation and shipping. Pursuant to this jurisdiction, Parliament enacted the Fishing and Recreational Harbours Act in 1977. Small Craft Harbours operates in accordance with this Act, the corresponding Fishing and Recreational Harbours Regulations and the Federal Real Property and Federal Immovables Act.

No Overlap or Duplication
The evaluation found no evidence of the program overlapping with or duplicating the mandate of other federal government departments. Fisheries and Oceans Canada is clearly responsible for commercial fishing harbours. However, there are differing opinions among the stakeholders consulted as to whether other federal departments or agencies have a role to play and what that might be. For example, the view was expressed that Infrastructure Canada could, perhaps, coordinate whole-of-government discussions around funding infrastructure renewal, given its lead role with respect to public infrastructure.  

4 Small Craft Harbours Business and HR Plan 2008-09 to 2010-11, Fisheries and Oceans Canada
5 Canada’s Wild Fisheries: Facts and Figures, Fisheries and Oceans Canada, 2012
6 Report on Plans and Priorities, Fisheries and Oceans Canada, 2010-11
7 The increase in number of core harbours over this period is due to some harbours that had previously been categorized as “undecided” with respect to being core or non-core shifting into the category of “core”.
8  Of the 307, 278 are slated for disposal. Final decisions for the remaining 29 are pending and are dependant on further zonal analysis. However, as this is not definite at this point in time, the program has 307 non-core harbours slated for disposal.

4.2 Effectiveness

Overall Findings
The evaluation examined Small Craft Harbours’ ability to maintain harbours in good repair; harbour safety and accessibility; efforts to improve the program’s affordability; steps taken to mitigate environmental impacts; the contribution of harbour authorities; core harbours’ contribution to commercial fishing communities; and the disposal of non-core harbours. Finally, the evaluation looked at factors external to the program that affect program results.

The following points highlight the key findings emerging from the evaluation:

  • The program’s maintenance budget (A-base) is insufficient to maintain all core harbours in fair or better condition, and to maintain non-core harbours to be divested, which impacts on harbour safety and accessibility.
  • Initiatives to improve program affordability, the most significant being the introduction of harbour authorities in 1987, which currently contributes the equivalent of $29.3 million annually in volunteer time and revenues, have not countered the shortfall.
  • The program has taken appropriate steps to mitigate environmental impacts arising from its operations.
  • Core harbours can, and several do, contribute to economic prosperity by serving more than the commercial fishing industry alone.
  • Disposing of non-core harbours has become increasingly difficult, and further progress is uncertain due to substantial barriers.
  • Program results are affected by changes in core harbour use and fisheries management decisions on such matters as licensing.

As shown in Table 3, the program is meeting its current performance targets: an estimated 70% of core harbours have a performance rating of fair or better; 82% of facilities at core fishing harbours are in fair or better condition; harbour authorities manage 92% of core harbours; and 5% of the remaining non-core harbours were disposed of annually. 9

9 Small Craft Harbours assigns harbour performance and facility condition ratings using the following five-point scale


: 1 – derelict and unsafe; 2 – poor; 3 – fair; 4 – good; and 5 – very good.

Table 3. Small Craft Harbours Performance Targets and Results
Performance Indicator Target Result Achieved
Percentage of core fishing harbours with performance rating of fair, good or very good * 70% 70%
Percentage of facilities at core fishing harbours in fair, good or very good condition * 80% 82%
Percentage of existing core fishing harbours managed by harbour authorities by March 31, 2015 * 95% 92%
Percentage of recreational and non-core harbours divested annually ** 5% 5%

Sources: *2011-12 Departmental Performance Report; **2010-11 Departmental Performance Report

4.2.1 Harbour Maintenance


Key Findings: Although the program is meeting its target of 80% of facilities at core fishing harbours in fair or better condition, the program faces persistent budget constraints and increasing demands. These factors significantly limit the program’s ability to maintain all of its facilities at core harbours in at least fair condition. The program has taken various steps over the years to improve the program’s affordability, but the base budget continues to fall short in meeting program needs, and staff are concerned about liability related to the safety of facilities. Work progressed on the construction of a new harbour in Pangnirtung such that it is expected to become operational in 2013.


Budget Limitations
A-base funding has been insufficient to ensure all core harbour maintenance and dredging requirements are met. This is evident from the document review, administrative data, interviews and the program’s need for and use of additional B-base funding for infrastructure repairs dating back to 2002. Due to the shortfall, the program gives priority to safety-related repairs at core harbours over those at non-core harbours. It also gives priority to harbours urgently requiring repairs, and there has been a tendency to focus on larger harbours. While construction costs have increased, Small Craft Harbours’ A-base funding declined by 6%, from $95.7 million in 2007/08 to $89.8 million in 2011/12.

There is no A-base funding for divestiture of non-core harbours, including for repairs pre-divestiture. Both the staff who were surveyed and those who were interviewed acknowledged the program’s difficulty in undertaking repairs on non-core harbours. Those who were interviewed expressed concern about increased safety liability risks at these and other harbours requiring repairs. As previously mentioned, the program estimates the value of urgent repairs at non-core harbours, for which there is no dedicated budget, at approximately $30 million over the next ten years.

Even with significant injections of B-base funding since 2002/03, the program has not had sufficient resources to overcome chronic deterioration problems and implement a schedule for proper lifecycle maintenance. For the period 2002/03 through 2006/07, the program received $100 million in additional funds for an Infrastructure Repair Program to help address an extensive backlog in needed repairs. Evidence from a 2007/08 evaluation of the program indicates that this funding allowed small repair projects to proceed where further delay would have created more serious problems and more costly repairs. However, it was insufficient to reduce the rate of infrastructure deterioration. At the beginning of the evaluation, 19% of facilities at core harbours were reportedly in poor or worse condition.

The program next received additional funds in 2009/10 and 2010/11 as part of the Economic Action Plan, $200 million in total, for harbour repairs and dredging. This funding, which in effect doubled the program’s entire budget for the two years, financed 272 repair and maintenance projects at over 220 core harbours. In the fall and winter of 2010, three significant storm events hit Atlantic Canada, Quebec and Manitoba.  Small Craft Harbours applied to the Government’s Management Reserve for funding to repair harbours that suffered damage from the storms. In March 2011, the Government of Canada provided $71.6 million over three years to bring damaged harbours to their pre-storm condition. A condition of accessing the Management Reserve is that departments cost share in the funding arrangement. As such, of the $71.6 million received, $56.6 million is being funded from the Management Reserve and $15 million is being sourced from existing DFO resources (of which approximately $13 million is being funded from the Small Craft Harbours regular program budget).

The extent to which these repairs addressed the core harbour facilities in poor or worse condition, or improved those in fair condition, is not known, as most of these repairs were not yet reflected in the program’s administrative database at the time of the evaluation. It must also be noted that storm damage repairs were not intended to improve harbour facility conditions but, rather, to bring them back to their pre-storm condition. At the end of 2011/12, the data indicated no statistically significant change since 2006/07 with 18% of facilities at core harbours reportedly in poor or worse condition. The percentage would need to drop below 17% in order for there to be a statistically significant reduction. However, the situation may be more positive than indicated, given that recent improvements may have yet to be entered in the program’s database.

Still, it is clear the program has insufficient A-base funding for proper maintenance of its harbours in fair or better condition. The program’s A-base expenditures for 2009/10 and 2010/11 totalled $191.1 million, whereas the Economic Action Plan expenditures totalled $198.6 million, a 104% increase over the base budget. Having to rely on substantial funding beyond the program’s base budget indicates that the program lacks sufficient funding for lifecycle management.

Furthermore, the program has had to reallocate monies from maintenance and repairs for other activities. It has reallocated about $1.5 million annually from its A-base maintenance and repair budget to harbour disposal, for which no A-base funding has been available. In addition, approximately $15 million was diverted to cover shortfalls in funding provided to design and construct a harbour in Pangnirtung, Nunavut. For a number of years, the program has also provided supplemental funding in the amount of $500,000 to Central and Arctic region for maintenance of non-core harbours (mostly large recreational harbours) and $500,000 to Quebec region for dredging projects (dredging in Quebec represents approximately 65% of its overall maintenance budget – an amount far above that in other regions).

New Harbour Construction
A 2004 Nunavut report, Safe Harbours – Healthy Communities, identified the lack of marine infrastructure as the most significant impediment to the development of Nunavut’s emerging commercial fishery. The report requested that Fisheries and Oceans Canada construct seven commercial fishing harbours in Nunavut as part of its Small Craft Harbours program. As previously noted, growth of commercial fisheries and development of supporting infrastructure is part of Canada’s Northern Strategy. 

The 2008 federal budget provided $10.7 million towards the planning and construction of Nunavut’s first commercial fishing harbour, located in Pangnirtung. In addition, the Economic Action Plan included $17 million over two years to accelerate work on the Pangnirtung harbour. Cost estimates for Economic Action Plan projects required a quick turnaround time, precluding rigorous planning and resulting in less accurate cost estimates. The monies allocated subsequently proved insufficient to cover the costs of the new harbour, such that Small Craft Harbours had to allocate approximately $13 million from its maintenance budget to complete the project.

As of late 2012, construction work in Pangnirtung was well advanced, with the expectation that the harbour would be operational in 2013. A harbour authority is being put in place and is expected to be operational by the summer of 2013. The harbour consists of several components including a breakwater, a fixed wharf, a marshalling area for cargo, a sealift ramp and a dredged channel and basin. The project has been very complex due to its size, remote location and very short construction season. As a result, it required more involvement and oversight on the part of senior management.

Harbour Safety and Accessibility
According to the SCH IPI database, the program has met its performance target of 80% of facilities at core harbours in fair or better condition over the five-year evaluation period. Similarly, both program staff and Harbour Authority Advisory Committee members consider harbours to be safe and accessible to a fair to great extent. Despite large injections of B-base funds over the evaluation period, the number of facilities at core harbours with fair or better condition ratings has remained essentially the same with only a 1% difference between 2007/08 and 2011/12. 

Given that the administrative database had not, at the time of the evaluation, yet been updated to account for all projects undertaken as part of the Economic Action Plan or storm damage repairs, it is not possible to determine whether harbour safety has, on balance, remained static, improved or declined for the five-year period from April 2007 through March 2012. Still, very few claims have been made to the program’s Third Party Liability Insurance, suggesting that safety has thus far been successfully addressed.    

Although 80% of harbours are in fair or better condition, this does not preclude staff concerns about safety liability, particularly at non-core harbours. Barricades help to reduce liability risks, but they are not always respected, and they do not prevent further deterioration of harbour infrastructure. There is no clear jurisprudence as to what constitutes “due diligence” with respect to harbour safety and whether barricading is a sufficient strategy. The extent of the Department’s liability has not been tested.

Two other concerns have emerged in the past few years. First, derelict vessels pose potential safety, accessibility and pollution hazards. The problem is of particular concern in the Pacific Region. Second, dredging is needed to keep some harbours accessible. However, the high cost of dredging often means reduced dredging volumes and less frequent dredging operations. In some instances, it may be possible to designate some areas of a harbour for use by smaller vessels and dredge only those areas being used by larger vessels. There currently are no practical and affordable solutions for dealing with derelict vessels or dredging needs.

Efforts to Improve the Program’s Affordability
In an effort to direct as much of its budget as possible to maintenance and to advance disposal of non-core harbours, the program has taken steps to improve the program’s affordability. Most notably, the harbour authority model introduced in 1987 realizes significant value for the program on an annual basis, currently estimated at $29.3 million. Amalgamating harbour authorities is another more recent strategy that has been introduced. In one case, six harbour authorities amalgamated into one, which reduced operating costs because of increased negotiating power. Through amalgamation, the harbour authority was able to obtain group rates for equipment purchases and inspections and for vessel insurance. The harbour authority was also able to hire a harbour manager responsible for all six sites, which reduced the number of small maintenance contracts required at each harbour. In addition, the program now has only one harbour authority to liaise with. In another instance, the program has worked with harbour authorities to consolidate services in one harbour that were previously provided at two or three harbours. Another example of the program’s effort to improve program affordability is the reduced frequency of National Harbour Authority Advisory Committee meetings from twice to once a year, with associated cost savings.

The program also took recent steps to reduce costs associated with maintenance and repair projects. For example, it hired its own engineering and technical staff to plan and manage projects, rather than rely solely on PWGSC. In 2010, based on a pilot project conducted over a number of years in Îles-de-la-Madeleine, Quebec Region projected that the permanent hiring of internal engineering capacity would increase the region’s maintenance project spending capacity by 10%.10 According to interviews with program staff, this proved efficient both in terms of cost and time. Quebec Region found that the technicians it hired reduced the cost of dredging projects, enabling the program to allocate more of its budget to maintenance work. Having in-house engineering staff enabled Small Craft Harbours to do project design work itself and be more knowledgeable in dealing with contractors and ensuring design work is appropriate to the program’s needs. In one instance, program engineers were able to produce plans for repairing a damaged breakwater and tendered the project days after the incident occurred. Had consultants been engaged to address this issue, several weeks would have passed, at which time the cost of repairs would have increased due to greater damage to the breakwater. For the Central and Arctic Region, this also proved particularly beneficial given PWGSC’s limited availability to serve their large territory.

Under Canada’s Economic Action Plan and the implementation of storm damage repairs initiative, the program obtained approvals to raise its competitive construction contract approval authority from $400,000 to $1.5 million and to add a competitive architectural and engineering contract approval authority of $250,000. This saved time and money by reducing the need to go through PWGSC contracting processes. For example, Central and Arctic Region reported that between 2009/10 and 2010/11, 68 contracts valued at approximately $15 million were awarded through the Department’s procurement section under the increased contracting authorities for construction and architectural and engineering services. Without these increased authorities, 42 of the 68 contracts would have been tendered through PWGSC, likely resulting in increased costs to the program and more time needed to complete projects.

Even with these efforts, the extent of maintenance and repairs required to bring all core harbours and facilities to fair or better condition substantially exceeds available funding.

10  Ports pour petits bateaux – Région du Québec (2010). Techniciens basés dans les secteurs maritimes. Analyse d’opportunité. 2 novembre 2010.

4.2.2 Mitigation of Environmental Impacts


Key Findings: The program’s mitigation of environmental impacts is appropriate.


The evidence suggests that appropriate precautions are in place to ensure that any environmental impacts arising from harbour maintenance, administration and disposal are mitigated. No issues or problems emerged from the five lines of evidence used to assess this. The program has ensured that various measures are in place, including environmental management plans, installation of waste oil tanks, signage, and readily accessible spill kits, as noted during site visits. The Harbour Authority Manual includes instructions pertaining to environmental management, and program operations have been subject to supervision by Habitat Management staff. The program further encourages compliance with environmental management guidelines by rewarding good stewardship practices through its Harbour Authority Recognition Program.

4.2.3 Harbour Administration and Support


Key Findings: Harbour authorities operate 92% of the program’s core harbours. They currently contribute an estimated $29.3 million annually to harbour operations with the revenues they generate and volunteer time they provide. Harbour authority capacity varies considerably, but many experience some degree of difficulty in covering all operating and minor repair costs. Harbour authorities are unlikely to become self-sufficient financially in the foreseeable future. As well, they continue to rely on the program for direction, guidance and advice. The program’s class contribution program is a tool that provides the Small Craft Harbours program with a funding mechanism to support harbour infrastructure and harbour authority capacity and development.


Core Harbours Operated by Harbour Authorities
The program has never had the resources to provide local, on-site management of its core harbours and to oversee harbour conditions in a preventive way at its vast national network of harbours. The harbour authority model introduced a means of providing on-site oversight and management of Small Craft Harbours’ commercial fishing harbours that would not have been otherwise possible without significant additional financial resources.

For the five-year period evaluated, the percentage of core harbours managed by harbour authorities remained consistent at 92%. The program currently has a target of achieving 95% by the end of March 2015. In March 2012, the number of core harbours operated by harbour authorities totalled 702.

One regional difference emerged. All core harbours in the Maritimes and Gulf Region and close to 95% in the other regions are operated by harbour authorities, with the exception of Central and Arctic Region, which has 65% of its core harbours operated by harbour authorities. Most core harbours in the Central and Arctic Region are widely dispersed across the three Prairie provinces. According to program staff, it may take up to four days to conduct a site visit, with travel time to and from a harbour authority requiring about three days alone. This severely limits the program’s ability to support harbour authorities in this region.

Cost-effectiveness of the Harbour Authority Delivery Model
Evidence from interviews, the staff survey and site visits suggests that the program’s harbour authority model on the whole has proven to be very effective in ensuring core harbours have appropriate oversight. Harbour authorities make a valuable contribution to the program, significantly stretching the program’s resources. They contribute a considerable amount of revenue and volunteer effort, as noted previously. Revenue generation alone is currently estimated at $24 million annually, all of which is used to defray operating and routine maintenance costs. Volunteer effort represents another estimated $5.3 million annually. Without this contribution, the program would need additional funding.

Harbour Authority Capacity
For the purpose of this evaluation harbour authority capacity was defined as comprising the following:

  • Ability to generate sufficient revenues to cover operational and minor repair costs
  • Ability to govern effectively
  • Presence of business skills
  • Ability to recruit and retain volunteers and staff

While program staff, particularly on the East coast, are insistent that a fair number of harbour authorities have insufficient capacity to effectively and efficiently operate their harbour, harbour authorities themselves are rather positive.

As shown in Table 4, fewer than one third of program staff think that harbour authorities generate sufficient revenues to cover minor repair costs without Small Craft Harbours financial assistance. Harbour authority survey respondents are somewhat more positive.


Table 4.  Harbour Authority Capacity to Generate Sufficient Revenues
Results achieved to a fair or great extent Program
% Agree
(n=# responses)
Harbour authorities
% Agree
(n=# responses)
Harbour Authorities generate sufficient revenues to cover operational costs without SCH financial assistance 63% (n=70) 70% (n=30)
Harbour Authorities generate sufficient revenues to cover minor repairs without SCH financial assistance 36% (n=67) 56% (n=30)

Sources: Program Staff Survey; Harbour Authority Advisory Committee Member Survey

The difference in perception is even more pronounced with respect to harbour authorities’ management, planning and governance expertise.

Table 5.  Harbour Authority Management, Planning and Governance Expertise
Have sufficient capacity to a fair or great extent in… Program
% Agree
(n=# responses)
Harbour authorities
% Agree
(n=# responses)
Management and operations 65% (n=71) 94% (n=30)
Planning expertise 36% (n=70) 86% (n=30)
Governance expertise 44% (n=68) 84% (n=30)
Volunteers 49% (n=71) 64% (n=30)

Sources: Program Staff Survey; Harbour Authority Advisory Committee Member Survey

These differences in perspective could suggest that harbour authorities are unaware of the extent of program staff’s expectations with regard to their capacities. However, it is also plausible to think that the Harbour Authority Advisory Committee member survey respondents are representative of a sub-set of harbour authorities that generally have more capacity than the average harbour authority. This may be due to the fact that such harbour authorities are more likely to volunteer or be selected to represent their peers on Small Craft Harbours’ advisory committees, or that they have developed such capacities as a result of being involved in these committees, or both. In the absence of a definitive answer to this question, the difference in survey results should be interpreted with caution. One may nevertheless observe that, when it comes to harbour authorities’ capacity to cover minor repairs without Small Craft Harbours financial assistance, a large proportion of representatives from both groups think that it is insufficient.

Evidence also indicates that harbour authority capacity differs markedly across and within regions.

For harbour authorities, moorage and berthage fees are generally the main source of revenues, augmented in some instances by revenues from subleasing of land, facility or storage rentals, fuel sales or advertising. In Newfoundland and Labrador region, the primary source of revenue is a percentage charged for offloading of fish. Some harbour authorities operate at a high level of autonomy and generate enough revenue to employ staff. Some are able to cover most of their operating and management costs, but have very little for maintenance. Some harbour authorities are able to diversify their revenue base, for example by attracting recreational users or upgrading and expanding facilities to provide a broader range of services for commercial users. Some benefit from a third party looking after such services as waste disposal or electricity.

Factors cited to explain these differences include the following:

  • Type of fishing industry and local market conditions – which affect the profitability of the industry, hence the number of active fishers and their ability to pay user fees
  • Length of fishing season – year round in the Pacific Region and in the southern tip of Maritimes and Gulf Region
  • Number of harbour users – which affects the harbour authority’s ability to achieve  economies of scale
  • Sharing of services across multiple harbours and/or amalgamation of harbours under the governance of one harbour authority – to generate economies of scale
  • Harbour infrastructure capacity to accommodate more users and/or evolving user needs – and thereby collect more/higher user fees
  • Presence of recreational boaters – as a source of extra revenues from moorage and boat launching fees
  • Presence of tourists as potential clients of spin-off harbour business ventures – such as boat tours, ice cream parlours, boat rentals, museums
  • Attitudes and expectations of fishers regarding berthage fees – which affect their willingness to pay and harbour authority boards’ willingness and capacity to collect
  • Political visibility of the harbour – ability to leverage political support and investments in the harbour and its spin-off ventures
  • Dominant business model (i.e., mostly owner-operated businesses on the East Coast versus mostly hired crews on the West Coast) – hired crew businesses tend to have more financial capacity to weather fluctuations in market prices

Acknowledging harbour authorities’ uneven capacity to cover all expected expenditures, the program’s lease agreements, specifically the schedules, are tailored to each harbour authority’s circumstances such that there is considerable difference in the type and extent of operating and maintenance costs covered by one harbour authority to the next. This flexible definition of program requirements raises the issue of consistent and equitable treatment of program stakeholders. Differences between, in particular, the West and East coasts is a source of tension within the program. While acknowledging that cultural and circumstantial factors affect harbour authorities’ willingness and ability to expand their revenue generation activities, the program is currently exploring ways to improve the financial stewardship of government assets where there are indications that harbour authorities could better maximize the financial returns of their harbour facilities.

One aspect of the program’s activities consists of providing guidance and support to help harbour authorities develop their capacity to administer their harbours autonomously. Although it operates with relatively limited resources, the program has taken positive steps in improving its guidance and support to harbour authorities that need it. Following the program’s functional review exercise, it has restructured its regional services and assigned dedicated stream and staff to client services. Staff conduct site visits, occasionally attend harbour authority board meetings when invited, address harbour authority requests for assistance and information, and develop training tools and materials. The Website offers tools and documents, among them the Harbour Authority Manual. In addition, the program holds conferences which provide harbour authorities with an opportunity to learn and network. Finally, the program administers a Harbour Authority Recognition Program to formally acknowledge the work, accomplishments and efforts of harbour authority members in three categories: 1) individual commitment; 2) harbour authority achievement; and 3) harbour authority environmental stewardship. As shown in the following table, surveyed harbour authority representatives are generally satisfied with the advice and guidance they receive from Small Craft Harbours personnel, with the exception of annual business planning and raising funds from other sources. Small Craft Harbours is currently in the process of developing a Compendium of Funding Sources which will be made available to harbour authorities to assist them in this regard. It is however also in these two areas that about a quarter of the 30 respondents indicated they did not need assistance, reinforcing the finding that capacity varies widely across harbour authorities.

Table 6. Satisfaction with SCH Advice and Guidance
Somewhat or very satisfied with SCH advice or guidance on… % Agree
(n=# responses)
Long-term planning 90% (n=24)
Emergency response 88% (n=27)
Board governance 85% (n=25)
Maintenance and operations 84% (n=29)
Insurance and liability issues 79% (n=29)
Environmental management 78% (n=26)
Legal issues and enforcement of rules 71% (n=29)
Annual business planning 66% (n=20)
Raising funds from other sources 53% (n=19)

Source: Harbour Authority Advisory Committee Member Survey

Survey results shown in Table 7 below, plus feedback from the site visits, indicate that harbour authorities value direct contact with Small Craft Harbours frontline staff and managers the most. This finding echoes a 2010 survey taken at a regional harbour authority training event that was attended by over 200 participants. Table 7 also indicates that survey respondents found program documents on insurance particularly useful. Overall, respondents appear to appreciate the resources the program makes available to harbour authorities. It should however be noted that a fifth of the respondents were not aware of or had not used documents contained in the website Toolbox, and over a third did not know about or had not used the Harbour Authority Corner. The 2010 survey taken at a regional harbour authority training event found that 60% of the respondents had not visited the program’s website in the previous two years. These two lines of evidence together suggest that use of the program’s website may be somewhat limited.

Table 7. Usefulness of Tools and Recognition Program for HAAC Members' Harbour Authorities
Activity or tool is somewhat or very useful % Agree
 (n=# responses)
Direct contact with frontline SCH staff 90-100%
(n=29 to 30)
Direct contact with SCH managers
Website Toolbox documents – Insurance
Harbour Authority Bulletin 83-89%
(n=23 to 28)
Training events - SCH
Harbour Authority Recognition Program
Website Toolbox documents – Volunteers and Governance
Training events - regional
Harbour Authority Forum
Website Toolbox documents – Environment
Website Toolbox documents – Maintenance and Operations 71-78%
(n=18 to 24)
Harbour Authority Corner
Harbour Authority Manual
Website Toolbox documents – Finance and Management 63%  (n= 24)

Source: Harbour Authority Advisory Committee Member Survey

As noted in Table 8, the majority of respondents expect their harbour authority will continue to need program advice over the next five years. This finding is noteworthy given that most harbour authorities have been in place for at least 15 years and that the survey respondents are presumed to represent harbours that have above-average capacity in the first place by virtue of having volunteered or been elected to represent harbour authorities on their Regional Harbour Authority Advisory Committee. This finding could perhaps be attributed to the turnover within harbour authority boards and difficulties recruiting new volunteers. It might also be due to the need for more extensive training of harbour authority board members than the program is able to provide. The evaluation scope did not allow for an examination of these hypotheses.

Table 8. Anticipated Need for Program Advice over Next Five Years
Advice needed to a fair or great extent % Agree
(n=# responses)
Long-term planning 79% (n=29)
Insurance and liability issues 77% (n=30)
Legal issues and enforcement of rules 75% (n=28)
Environmental management 72% (n=29)
Emergency response 72% (n=29)
Maintenance and operations 70% (n=30)
Board governance 63% (n=29)
Raising funds from other sources 62% (n=29)
Annual business planning 59% (n=29)

Source: Harbour Authority Advisory Committee Member Survey

An additional source of support for harbour authorities comes from harbour authority associations. Harbour authority capacity is supported in the Pacific Region by a Harbour Authority Association of British Columbia, formed in 1997. The association serves as a focal point for harbour authorities to exchange information and benefit from their collective experience. The association receives a funding contribution from the program to provide some of the support that program staff provide in other regions. For example, the association organizes harbour authority training events and invites Small Craft Harbours staff to participate. These activities free up staff time in the Pacific Region to attend to other program duties. Elsewhere, program staff are involved in arranging these events. Newfoundland and Labrador has a newly created harbour authority association, and as such, it is too soon to assess results. Presumably, the associations lessen some of the dependence on the program by facilitating direct communication, learning and support among harbour authorities.

With respect to the Harbour Authority Advisory Committees, both regional and national, most of the committee members surveyed see these committees as contributing to the sharing of best practices. Program staff who were interviewed expressed some differences of opinion. Several see the committees as providing a means for the program to test and verify new ideas, consult with industry about needs, develop better policy and be more accountable. A few observed that the committees provide a means for sharing knowledge and best practices and that the committees are working well. Others raised the issue that committee members are not always actively representing all harbour authorities in their region.

Assistance for Harbour Capacity Development: SCH Class Contribution Program
The Fishing and Recreational Harbours Act (FRHA)governs the administration and development of the Department of Fisheries and Oceans’ fishing and recreational harbours in Canada. The Act enables the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans to acquire, contribute to, maintain, operate and repair fishing and recreational harbour facilities across Canada. The SCH Class Contribution Program allows the Minister, in accordance with Sections 4 and 5 of the FRHA, to provide financial assistance to eligible recipients in support of the acquisition, development, construction, improvement or repair as well as the management, maintenance, safety and accessibility of eligible fishing and recreational harbours.

Prior to 2004, Small Craft Harbours used a Departmental Class Contribution Program for this. The contribution program provided up to 100% financing for a wide range of activities. In 2004, the Departmental Class Contribution Program’s terms and conditions were revised and became more restrictive in nature. For instance, a funding ceiling was established whereby no more than 75% (rather than 100%) of costs associated to an eligible activity could be funded.  Many smaller potential recipients, such as HAs and other non-profit associations and groups, are often unable to provide the remaining 25% associated to the cost of a project. The scope of eligible activities was also reduced and became more restrictive than that of activities included in the FRHA, the enabling act of the Small Craft Harbours program.

The SCH Class Contribution Program, introduced in 2008/09, addresses these limitations. The contribution program is a funding mechanism that allows funds from Small Craft Harbours’ base budget to be expended as contributions. A total of up to $20 million may be used for contributions over five years, from 2008/09 through 2012/13, at a maximum of $4 million per year. These limits serve only as maximum expenditures, not targets. The program is subject to renewal at the end of the fifth year.

Issues have been raised regarding the use of the SCH Class Contribution Program for conducting maintenance work at DFO harbours that supports harbour authority capacity building.  The SCH Class Contribution Program and the Fishing and Recreational Harbours Act are not fully aligned with Government of Canada accounting and transfer payment policies. According to both of these authorities, Small Craft Harbours may provide contributions to harbours authorities for construction at DFO sites leased to, operated and managed by these non-profit local groups. The Transfer Payment Policy states that Government should not derive any direct benefit from a contribution. Whether the Government reaps direct benefits from these contributions is questionable. The program is currently seeking clarity from the Treasury Board Secretariat on this issue.

For the first four years, Small Craft Harbours made 25 contributions totalling close to $5.4 million. Another seven are anticipated for 2012/13 with a value of close to $1 million. Altogether, the projected contributions for the five years total over $6.3 million. Of the program staff surveyed, 76% (n=59) think that the Class Contribution Program contributed somewhat or a lot to achieving program results.

Limitations of the Harbour Authority Model
Although the harbour authority model is seen as the cornerstone of service delivery for the Small Craft Harbours program it, nevertheless, is not without some particular challenges. Volunteers are at the core of this model, as they form the boards that govern the harbour authorities. In many cases, where the harbour authority is not able to hire staff, they also deal with much of the practical, day-to-day work, if not all of it. Many of the same volunteers have been serving for years, some for 20 or more, and volunteer fatigue is widespread. They are concerned about having no one to take over from them. Many harbour authorities have experienced difficulty recruiting new volunteers to replace long-serving members.

Some board members also expressed concern that program staff tend to interact more with harbour authority staff or the harbour manager rather than the board itself. They feel that good interaction with boards is as important, if not more so, than a recognition program in acknowledging board members’ volunteer contribution.

As Small Craft Harbours is a national program, it would be ideal to have consistent levels of harbour service across all regions. However, harbour authority capacity varies from region to region, reflecting each region’s economic context and the regional circumstances of the fishing industry. This has given rise to a difference in how the program interacts with harbour authorities and the degree of autonomy expected of them between the East and West coasts and Central Canada.

The program’s vision statement refers to self-sufficient harbour authorities yet, as outlined in the previous section, this appears to potentially be unrealistic both financially and in terms of their needs for other supports.

Both the site visits and interviews with staff revealed that the role of harbour authorities and their arm’s length relationship with the Department is at times ambiguous. The harbour authorities indicated that while they appreciate the flexibility to adapt and tailor management of their harbours to their own specific circumstances, such as being able to set their own fee structures, they feel the program overlooks them at times. For example, they would welcome better communication with the program regarding capital projects for their harbours. Without such interaction, harbour authorities expressed the feeling that they are kept from fully seeing the big picture. On another point, the program looks to harbour authorities to take legal action on problematic situations, such as derelict vessels, whereas some harbour authorities consider it the Department’s responsibility for dealing with such legal matters. A number of harbour authorities visited are increasingly concerned about the legal liabilities they face.

When unexpected costs arise, such as major costs associated with derelict vessels or even minor legal costs, there appears to be some lack of clarity and a difference of opinion as to what should rightfully be borne by the harbour authority and what is appropriate for the program to bear. In these instances, it is not automatically clear as to what constitutes operating and minor maintenance costs, including such items as legal costs. As a result, the responsibility for new costs encountered is ambiguous.

The evaluation also found that lack of clarity exists with respect to harbour authorities’ right and capacity to enforce rules and regulations. The program’s 2010 risk profile states that legislative changes may be needed, without specifying which ones. Several program staff and harbour authority board members visited also suggested that the Fisheries and Recreational Harbours Act should be modified because it lacks formal recognition of harbour authorities, thereby limiting their legal standing. However, other key informants contend that, under provincial tenant legislation, harbour authorities are sufficiently protected and, as lessees, have sufficient powers and the authority they need to take action or call on others to take action when needed. The program also provides insurance coverage to the harbour authority volunteers to limit their liabilities. The evaluation evidence collected on this issue is inconclusive.

Finally, some First Nations communities in the Pacific Region do not consider the harbour authority model appropriate for them. The operation and maintenance of harbours is regarded as an essential government service akin to providing other forms of public infrastructure. As well, these communities also lack revenues to cover operational and maintenance costs.

4.2.4  Core Harbours’ Contribution to Commercial Fishing Communities


Key Findings: Core harbours are an important contributor to the economic vitality of the communities they serve. They not only provide the necessary infrastructure for commercial fishing but also support other local industries and attract spin-off commercial ventures.


Almost all program staff and Harbour Authority Advisory Committee members surveyed see core harbours as contributing to the local economy and meeting the needs of the commercial fishing industry to a fair or great extent. However, commercial fishing has been undergoing significant changes in recent years. For example, there are fewer but larger fishing vessels, and ones that need a range of specialized gear in order to harvest different fisheries species. Core harbours were not built to accommodate today’s fishing vessels nor are they designed to meet the needs of the emerging aquaculture industry. They also do not always readily accommodate other users that could contribute to the economic viability of the harbour authority, such as commercial recreational fishing operators. According to several of the harbour authorities visited for this evaluation, many core harbours serve more than just commercial fishers and have maintenance and repair needs beyond the scope of Small Craft Harbours’ mandate.

The presence of core harbours and commercial fishers contribute to the local economy in many ways that transcend the economic return on the sale of fish catches alone. For example, commercial fishers may use various local suppliers for fuel and equipment. Harbour authorities and program staff engage local engineering firms and contractors to undertake maintenance work. In more than one region, commercial fishers are pursuing spin-off activities that bring in revenues beyond fish harvesting. For example, some are engaged in deep-sea fishing operations for tourists. The aquaculture industry is growing on both the East and West coasts, with the potential to generate further economic activity in the local communities and provide additional revenue generation opportunities for harbour authorities, provided that harbours can accommodate the increased aquaculture activity.

Where core harbours serve a diversity of commercial interests and recreational users, commercial fishers benefit by having their fees subsidized by higher fees charged to other users. There is also a potential for ripple effects in the local economy. For example, restaurants, canteens, accommodation, museums and shops can thrive with the presence of more local harbour users and tourists. A number of the harbour authorities visited for this evaluation make a conscious and concerted effort to expand their services and facilities in order to be economically viable.  By welcoming and accommodating tourism or finding ways to provide more services for commercial fishers and other industries, they strengthen their foothold and the economic base for their immediate community. On the other hand, as noted by key informants, core harbours that attract non-core users can lead to overcrowding and competing demands for harbour services and maintenance.

4.2.5 Harbour Disposal


Key Findings: The Small Craft Harbours Divestiture Class Grant Program and Divestiture of Non-Core Harbours Program have helped Small Craft Harbours dispose of an increasing number of non-core harbours. To date, the program has disposed of 1,077 harbours, representing 71% of the non-core harbours slated for disposal. However, the current disposal strategy appears to be increasingly difficult to pursue given several complex barriers. The low rate of progress projected going forward presents a substantial diminishing return on investment of staff time and effort in pursuing this strategy.


Funding for Harbour Disposal
With the decision to dispose of non-core fishing and recreational harbours in 1995, the program’s base budget was reduced by $18 million. As noted previously, the program has subsequently had to access its maintenance funds from its regular program budget for core harbours to assist with disposal, which has proven to be a far lengthier and more complex task than envisaged. In order to aid further progress with disposal, the program received $24M from a special two year fund announced in the 2000-01 Federal Budget (Harbour Disposal Program) and, more recently, received one-time funding in 2008 Federal Budget for a Divestiture of Non-core Harbours Program, providing an additional $45 million to be spent over four years.

The Small Craft Harbours’ Divestiture Class Grant Program, which has been in place for over 10 years, is not a funded program. Rather, it is funded by the program’s A-base and is a means whereby the program can use part of the ~$1.5 million it annually reallocates from its harbour maintenance budget to provide grants to eligible recipients to take over ownership of recreational and non-core fishing harbours.

Harbour Disposal
Since the decision in 1995 to dispose of non-core fishing and recreational harbours, the program has disposed of 1,077 harbours. Between 1995 and 2007, it disposed of 71% of the total 1,35511 harbours identified for disposal, with a further 126 or 9% disposed from 2007/08 through 2011/12. The Divestiture of Non-core Harbours Program contributed to the disposal of 106 harbours for the period 2008/09 through 2011/12. The average rate of 26.5 disposals per year compares favourably with the 20 harbours disposed of in 2007/08, an increase of 33%.

A key finding, however, is that the annual rate of disposal for the first 12 years averaged 6%, compared to an annual average of 1.7% for the last five years. This finding is consistent with the program’s strategy to start with the least expensive and uncontroversial divestitures. The remaining harbours are much more difficult and costly to divest.

Further progress is likely to be very slow and difficult at best given the several barriers to disposal identified. These barriers include, for example, complex and costly repairs or demolition; costly environmental remediation required by many of the remaining harbours; a lack of interested parties or local capacity to take on all operating and maintenance costs; jurisdictional issues; lengthy Aboriginal treaty negotiations; reversionary clauses; and a lack of funds specifically designated for harbour disposal. Demolition costs can be very expensive, especially when habitat remediation and other environmental costs need to be factored in.

Harbour disposal poses a particular challenge for the Central and Arctic region, given the large proportion of non-core harbours located on its vast territory. Furthermore, as shown in Table 9 below, compared to other regions Central and Arctic has a substantially larger inventory of high capacity non-core harbours to divest. Most of these harbours are being used actively by recreational users. Divestiture efforts are slow, due in part to reversionary clauses requiring complex negotiations with the province of Ontario and the high cost of repairs required at these large harbour infrastructures. Safety liability risks at these harbours, should maintenance repairs be delayed due to limited funding, are particularly high.

11 This total includes 29 harbours for which the status remained “undecided”.

Table 9. Harbour Capacity of Non-Core Harbours
Region Harbour Class
A B C D Total
Pacific 2 6 19 2 29
Central & Arctic 48 23 54 6 131
Quebec 2 3 30 8 43
Maritimes & Gulf 0 0 25 14 39
Newfoundland & Labrador 1 5 49 10 65
Total 53 37 177 40 307
Legend:
A: greater than 800 vessel meters
B: 300-900 vessel meters
C: under 400 vessel meters
D: low/no activity

Source: Program Detailed Inventory, April 1, 2012

A 2011 evaluation of the grant program concluded that, even if there was additional funding to assist with disposal, further progress would be slow due to mandatory environmental assessments and the high cost of repairs for the remaining harbours. Not only is it difficult to divest the remaining 307 harbours but demolition does not appear to be a viable option. Assuming that the program could continue to dispose of 5% of the remaining harbours each year, the rate it achieved over the past five years, it will take more than 30 years to dispose of the approximately 307 remaining harbours.

4.2.6 Factors External to the Program Affecting Results


Key Findings: Changes in core harbour use and fisheries management decisions emerged as the key external factors affecting program results.


Changing Demands
Some harbours are experiencing congestion problems with core users. Larger fishing vessels, more transient fishers, new commercial fish harvesters and aquaculturists are all contributing factors. The growing presence and economic importance of other harbour users, such as tourism operators and small marine-related industries, place additional demands on the provision of harbour facilities and services, as well as further pressure on the wear and tear of the existing infrastructure in some regions. The program also receives requests to reclassify some non-core harbours as core harbours to accommodate new commercial fishing activity.

A June 2012 publication from Infrastructure Canada, Building a Better Canada Together, includes the observation that what used to be one severe storm in 100 years is now one in 20 or 25 years, and what used to be one in 50 years is now one in seven or eight years. The severity of these storms is further reflected in the observation that the highest number of insurance claims used to be due to fire but now there are more storm water damage claims. The actual timing and location of the impact of these storms, and the extent of their damage to any given harbour and resulting repairs required, is obviously unpredictable.

Responding to additional work demands when storm damage or other additional funding is made available (such as with the Economic Action Plan) places additional workload on program personnel.

Fisheries Management Decisions
Policy changes, for example with regard to licencing or fishing quotas, can have a significant impact on the program and repercussions for both program staff and harbour authorities. For example, fisheries management decisions have contributed to the emergence of larger fishing vessels active in several fisheries. These vessels require a range of specialized fishing gear and use harbours over a longer period of time as they are involved in a greater number of fisheries. This in turn has significant implications for the infrastructure facilities required and the distribution of fishing vessels across harbours on both a homeport and transient basis.

Similarly, a number of policy initiatives in the mid-1990s to transfer salmon licences to First Nations’ fishers substantially reduced the fleet size in the salmon fishery. This not only had implications for infrastructure requirements but also significantly increased the number of derelict, abandoned and unwanted vessels. As a result of reducing the licence base of the salmon fishery, many marginal vessels that had been used in the fishery had no place to go and may have been abandoned by their owners. Dealing with these vessels has become a significant and time-consuming problem for both harbour authorities and the program in some regions. In addition to licence reductions, more recent policy initiatives have resulted in significant transfers of various licences and fishing effort to First Nations’ fishers. This has and will continue to redistribute the demand for Small Craft Harbours services across coastal and inland areas.

4.3 Efficiency and Economy

Overall Findings
Overall, the program is administered efficiently and its managers have demonstrated a commitment to reducing the program’s costs while ensuring its long term sustainability.

4.3.1 Efficiency


Key Findings: Small Craft Harbours has undertaken various steps that have improved the efficiency of its operations. No major issues emerged, although there is room for improvement in some areas.


Activities and Processes
Over the years, the program has taken steps to achieve efficiencies, as noted previously in section 4.2 under “Efforts to Improve the Program’s Affordability”. Revenue generated by harbour authorities, currently estimated to be approximately $24 million annually, represents a significant financial advantage to the program. In addition, the harbour authority volunteers contribute approximately $4.3 million per year in volunteer effort. 

Hiring of engineering staff and marine technicians and use of increased contracting authorities have, as previously noted, also contributed to achieving significant savings. Amalgamation of harbour authorities and consolidation of core harbours are recent initiatives that are being explored to further streamline operations and costs.

The overall governance of the program appears to be adequate and functioning effectively. In particular, the recently implemented restructuring of the program’s activities under three functional streams (Client Services, Engineering, and Integrated Program Planning and Analysis) enables better integration of the regional and national perspectives and is lauded by several key informants as a successful improvement. There is also evidence of regular communications and meetings between regional and national directors through the National Management Committee. Almost all staff survey respondents think that projects are planned and managed efficiently to a fair or great extent.
                      
Although program staff in general find that the Department’s matrix management structure functions adequately, nearly half of senior staff who were interviewed see the matrix reporting structure as posing a challenge, either at the departmental or regional and area levels. For example, interviewees noted that regional program funds are under the control of Regional Directors General who sometimes redirect a portion of these funds to other regional priorities. Under the matrix structure, Regional Directors General are responsible for ensuring the integrity of Small Craft Harbours’ administrative data, but this is not part of their performance criteria. Several interviewees in Newfoundland, Maritimes and Gulf, and Quebec regions see Area Service Delivery as adding an unnecessary reporting layer and creating confusion, particularly since the “integration and coordination” rationale for such a matrix management structure is much less prevalent now that other area activities (in particular Habitat Management) have diminished following Deficit Reduction Action Plan decisions. Preference was expressed for line reporting to Small Craft Harbours’ Director General rather than to regional directors general and to regional program directors rather than area directors.

While Small Craft Harbours has been successful in establishing a national organizational structure that is consistent in all regions, it also faces challenges in completing the implementation of national work descriptions for staff positions. Since the approval of a revised organizational chart in 2009, only one National Model Work Description has been completed and posted on the department’s intranet website. Various regions are facing staff turnover and face some difficulties in staffing positions. Delays in providing clear and formal work descriptions are a factor affecting these efforts.

Finally, a large number of program representatives emphasized the need to further increase coordination with other departmental sectors beyond the National Capital Region, particularly with Ecosystems and Fisheries Management sector. Such coordination at both the national and regional levels is important to ensure that harbour planning and management is coherent with departmental decisions impacting on the use of and need for harbour infrastructure, such as the issuance of fishing licenses and permitted boat sizes. While some mechanisms exist for program management to confer with their Department counterparts, more formal and systematic venues are needed at the regional level, in addition to those already in place at the national level, to ensure that information exchange is timely and comprehensive. The Pacific region is an exception to this observation, having developed close collaboration with the Ecosystems and Fisheries Management sector.

Special Funding Envelopes
The evaluation examined the efficient administration of three special funding envelopes received by the program since 2007/2008: Economic Action Plan funding (including for the Pangnirtung harbour), storm damage funding and funding for the divestiture of non-core harbours.

As shown in Table 10, all program staff found that storm damage repairs were administered efficiently. Only two-thirds thought that the repair of non-core harbours for divestiture was delivered efficiently. Results from the interviews suggest that this may be due to the fact that several external factors hinder the progress of harbour disposal activities, resulting in considerable effort being expended for limited immediate returns.

Table 10. Efficient Delivery of Special Funding
Activity was delivered efficiently to a fair or great extent % Agree
(n=# responses)
Storm damage repairs 100% (n=70)
Repair of non-core harbours for divestiture 67% (n=60)

Source: Program Staff Survey

Table 11 below shows that almost all program survey respondents consider that both Economic Action Plan funding and storm damage funding contributed a lot to the achievement of program results (i.e., safe and accessible core harbours; timely repairs and maintenance; mitigated environmental impacts; increased financial independence of Harbour Authorities; core harbours that meet the needs of the fishing industry and contribute to their local economy). Most respondents were also positive about the results achieved with the special funding for harbour disposal.

Table 11. Special Funding Contribution to Program Result
Special funding contributed somewhat or a lot to program results % Agree
(n=# responses)
Economic Action Plan funding 97% (n=76)
Storm damage funding 97% (n=74)
Divestiture of Non-Core Harbours Program funding 84% (n=68)

Source: Program Staff Survey

The centralized approach taken to tightly manage and oversee Canada’s Economic Action Plan projects proved beneficial. However, this additional funding and associated workload diverted attention away from other priorities, projects and activities, including strategic and operational planning, in some cases slowing progress of affected files. The short timelines proved problematic, especially for major capital projects. Economic Action Plan funds involved 272 projects at 220 sites which, in itself, created a tremendous amount of work.

The evaluation also found that enhanced contracting authorities, from $400,000 to $1.5 million for construction contracts and an additional architectural and engineering contract authority of $250,000, contributed to the efficient delivery of the Small Craft Harbours program. Approved for the time period of Canada’s Economic Action Plan and storm damage initiative only, these increased authorities enabled the program to engage the use of DFO Contracting for larger than normal dollar value contracts rather than being required to use a more protracted and expensive PWGSC contracting process. Almost all program staff surveyed thought that the increased contracting authorities contributed somewhat or a lot to achieving the intended program results. Over half of those surveyed had used enhanced contracting authorities and a third of respondents indicated that they would continue to use them if available.

Funding Mechanisms
The evaluation also looked at the efficient administration of the Small Craft Harbours Divestiture Class Grant Program and the Small Craft Harbours Class Contribution Program. As previously mentioned, the SCH Divestiture Class Grant Program facilitates harbour disposal by providing a grant, using funds from the program’s A-base budget, to provide a financial incentive equivalent to the cost of estimated repairs or demolition. Funding assistance under the SCH Class Contribution Program is categorized as either “Harbour Capacity Building” or “Operational and Capacity Support”. As the following table shows, many of the staff surveyed consider both mechanisms to have been delivered efficiently to a fair or great extent.

Table 12. Efficient Administration of Funding Mechanisms
Mechanism was delivered efficiently to a fair or great extent % Agree
(n=# responses)
SCH Divestiture Class Grant Program 77% (n=60)
SCH Class Contribution Program 87% (n=45)

Source: Program Staff Survey

Two evaluations of the SCH Class Grant Program (2006 and 2011) determined that when there are interested recipients this mechanism provides a simpler, faster and less expensive means of harbour disposal than if Small Craft Harbours’ undertook repairs first before transferring ownership. Recipients like the approach as it allows them to tailor repairs to their own needs. Both evaluations found that contribution agreements were not a viable alternative to grants in this instance. However, Small Craft Harbours’ inability to guarantee the availability of grant monies in advance has contributed to some delays and lost opportunities, thereby limiting the effectiveness of this mechanism.

Given that the SCH Class Contribution Program was established in 2008, this is the first time the Program has been evaluated.

The evaluation found no evidence of any notable issues regarding the administration of either transfer payment program.

Performance Measurement
Compared to many other departmental programs, Small Craft Harbours benefits from a good information database.  However, although many of the staff surveyed feel they have sufficient information on the program’s performance to adequately fulfil their job responsibilities, the evaluation found that IPI data is not up to date, and therefore not entirely reliable. For example, at the time of the evaluation, most of the repairs conducted at over 220 core harbours as part of Economic Action Plan projects had yet to be entered in the program’s IPI database.

The program has a data maintenance schedule, in place since 2005, and a 1989 instruction and coding manual with criteria for assessing harbour performance and facility conditions. However, not all regions adhere to the schedule or manual. Further, the coding manual notes that harbour performance ratings are subjective and open to regional and individual interpretation, such that “there will always be regional variances due to the perceived requirements and the personality of the person assigning the rating”.12 Internal audits are noted in the manual as a means of adjusting regional ratings to ensure comparability. However, no evidence of such audits having been undertaken was provided during the evaluation. At the time of the evaluation, the program had identified coding and data entry as a priority requiring attention, with the Director, Integrated Program Planning and Analysis in National Headquarters specifically assigned to address this.

Key informants also indicated that performance data has been used mostly for departmental reporting purposes, citing the Departmental Performance Report and the Report on Plans and Priorities. While the data is considered appropriate for departmental reports, it is felt that performance indicators are too generic for management purposes at the regional level. As a result, some regions use data from other sources and have developed parallel databases to capture the information they need.

A more user friendly interface system, the Small Craft Harbours Management Information Retriever (SCHMIR), was developed by the Newfoundland and Labrador region and made available to the other regions. Among other benefits, SCHMIR enables linkage of data with drawings and photos in a more user-friendly manner than IPI. Adoption of this new system by all regions is however still in progress.

In order to better plan the allocation of its finite resources, the program would also benefit from data on the performance of harbours and harbour authorities. Examples of indicators that might be useful to measure include revenues generated from moorage fees, fish landings, rental fees, and harbour authority governance (e.g., attendance at board meetings and board composition). The absence of data on harbour performance limits the program’s ability to objectively assess harbour capacity and support needs, let alone report on the impacts of program support activities. Development of such indicators is currently being explored by the program as part of its Long Term Strategy initiative and data collection is underway.

12 Appendix C – Harbour Performance Rating, Small Craft Harbours Branch Harbour Condition Survey: Instructional/Coding Manual, 1989.

4.3.2 Economy


Key Findings: In exploring alternative, more affordable means of achieving intended program results (as laid-out in the program logic model) a number of options were considered but none appear to be sufficient on their own. It is likely that some combination of strategies will be required to help the program substantially improve its affordability.


Constraints
The evaluation identified a number of constraints limiting the program’s ability to fulfil its current mandate with the available resources. For one, the program manages an asset base of 761 core harbours and 307 non-core harbours. This large inventory requires regular maintenance and is wearing away at the program’s budget. In order to reduce its assets, the program has been mandated to divest of non-core harbours. By now, the program has disposed of all harbours that could be easily divested. This leaves the program with those that are far more difficult to divest. While special funding envelopes have helped the program reach its performance targets, available resources remain insufficient to ensure proper harbour facility lifecycle management and to rapidly complete the disposal of non-core harbours.

The program’s legal status precludes the generation of revenues to offset harbour maintenance costs. Under Financial Administration Act rules, if the program chose to collect fees from harbour users, such monies would be submitted to the Consolidated Revenue Fund of Canada, so the program would not be at liberty to reinvest them in harbour infrastructure maintenance. As such, the current harbour authority delivery model is the most cost-effective one for the program given that it enables harbour authorities to collect revenues and to reinvest them in harbour operations and minor maintenance. However, harbour revenues are, for a majority of harbour authorities, insufficient to cover all their minor harbour maintenance costs. The program therefore cannot expect a significant financial contribution from harbour authorities to the maintenance of core harbours.

Program management is well aware of these constraints and launched a process, starting in 2012/13, to develop a Long Term Strategy that will propose options for the sustainability of the Small Craft Harbours program in the long term in support of economically prosperous maritime sectors and fisheries. The working documents developed to date for this initiative demonstrate that the program intends to introduce a strategy that addresses the key affordability and sustainability issues flagged as part of this evaluation, taking into account the above-mentioned constraints.

Alternatives for Small Craft Harbours
Canada’s approach to managing commercial fishing harbours is unique. According to a study undertaken for Small Craft Harbours in 1999 on the management of small craft harbours in other countries, fishing harbours are generally owned and operated by local authorities with very little or no involvement from central governments.13 The evaluation did not find any readily available information on managing commercial fishing harbours in other countries pertinent for comparative purposes with Small Craft Harbours. It likewise did not find information pertinent to the divestiture of non-core harbours.

Over the years, Small Craft Harbours has explored a number of options to expedite the disposal of its non-core harbours and to increase the program’s affordability. One such option was approaching Canada Lands Company (CLC), a Crown corporation with a mandate to purchase surplus federal properties to hold and manage them or to improve and sell them, while optimizing their financial value and community benefits. In early 2011, CLC acquired a recreational harbour from Fisheries and Oceans Canada, with the intent of developing the site. It must however be noted that CLC is only interested in financially strategic disposals, for which very few, if any, Small Craft Harbour sites would qualify given significant barriers such as First Nations land claims, environmental remediation costs, infrastructure removal costs, and provincial reversionary clauses.

Another option examined was for the Small Craft Harbours program to become a Special Operating Agency. This would allow a more flexible approach to harbour management and to reinvest revenues that would otherwise go to the federal government’s Consolidated Revenue Fund. As a Special Operating Agency, the program could leverage revenue from recreational harbours in its inventory that have high revenue-generation potential. Still, this option would be complex given the effort needed to change the program’s legal status. In addition, the program would have to adapt to managing a multi-pronged program comprised of administering revenue-generating recreational harbours and supporting harbour authorities in operating commercial fishing harbours.

A significant increase in the program’s A-base budget would help to ensure proper lifecycle maintenance of the program’s core harbour assets, harbour support and upkeep and disposal of its remaining non-core harbours. If the increase is not sufficient to address all program needs, the program will most likely need to continue allocating maintenance funds for other program operations. However, increasing the program’s budget would not address the non-financial barriers to disposing of non-core harbours explained above.

Reducing the number and size of harbour infrastructure owned by Small Craft Harbours would allow the program to concentrate its resources on a smaller number of harbours. This option would require significant initial investments, but would help in reducing overall maintenance costs in the long term. Reducing the program’s asset base would also decrease the government’s liability risk for unsafe or derelict harbours. Much like the proposed option of increasing the program’s budget, reducing the program’s harbour assets would not address non-financial barriers to disposal. In addition, local stakeholders may be strongly opposed to this alternative and attempt to block efforts to remove their harbour from Small Craft Harbours’ inventory.

13 Profile of Small Craft Harbours in Foreign Countries, Sypher: Muller International Inc., 1999.

Going Forward
The evaluation team concludes that none of these three options alone would be viable for Small Craft Harbours. In order to improve the program’s affordability, it seems that some combination of these alternatives is needed. With the main challenges being the diversity of harbour locations, industry and other user needs, harbour conditions and revenue generation, a flexible, multi-pronged program design may be the best solution.  For this reason, the program is encouraged to continue its in-depth investigation of options initiated in 2012/13, to arrive at a strategy that will better support the program’s sustainability over the long term and to then follow through with its implementation.

5. Conclusions and Recommendations


Overall, the evidence shows that the Small Craft Harbours program continues to be relevant to industry needs and aligned with federal and departmental roles and priorities. Small Craft Harbours provides essential services, with its core harbour assets used extensively by the commercial fishing industry and, to a lesser extent, aquaculturists and others. These harbours support an annual contribution of $5.2 billion to Canada’s economy. While the program has focused its mandate on serving the commercial fishing industry, it is apparent that harbour authorities, the fishing industry and local communities stand to benefit and become more economically prosperous where core harbours serve a range of users.

The evaluation also found that Small Craft Harbours is meeting its current performance targets pertaining to harbour conditions, the percentage of core fishing harbours managed by local harbour authorities, and the percentage of recreational and non-core fishing harbours divested annually. The program is well governed and functions as efficiently as possible within the constraints of its allocated resources and mandate. In particular, the harbour authority delivery model has proven to be very effective in ensuring core harbours have appropriate oversight, while leveraging an estimated $24 million annually in revenues that support harbour operations and contributing a further $5.3 million annually in volunteer effort.

Nevertheless, the program faces constraints that limit its ability to fulfil its current mandate with the available resources. Infrastructure deterioration and changing circumstances, such as severe storms and changes in fishing vessel size and gear requirements, place increasing pressure on a program with a maintenance budget that has fallen short over an extended period of time. In addition, given that Small Craft Harbours’ two transfer payment programs, the SCH Class Grant Program for divestitures and the SCH Class Contribution Program, are unfunded programs, Small Craft Harbours has to use funds from its regular program budget whenever grants or contributions under these programs are approved. Efforts to achieve efficiencies, although successful, have proven insufficient to close the gap.

Harbour authorities are at the heart of harbour administration. While they are independent volunteer-based not-for-profit organizations, they are managing program assets and rely on Small Craft Harbours financially and for guidance and advice. A few harbours operate with a considerable degree of independence and self-sufficiency in terms of covering operating and minor repair costs. On the whole though, harbour authorities are not self-sufficient entities nor are they likely to become so, given that they are operating federal assets for which the program ultimately continues to be responsible.

Although the program’s third component, harbour disposal, is aligned with the program’s mandate, progress is increasingly constrained due to significant barriers beyond the program’s control. Further efforts to divest will consume a disproportionate amount of time and effort.

In light of these constraints, it is appropriate that Small Craft Harbours is moving forward with investigating alternatives that will better align the scope of work with available resources.

Recommendation #1: Recognizing that current program resources and delivery mechanisms do not enable the Small Craft Harbours program to completely fulfill its mandate, it is recommended that the Senior Assistant Deputy Minister, Ecosystems and Fisheries Management continue to support the Small Craft Harbours program’s efforts to identify and test alternatives that will improve the program’s affordability and long-term sustainability. It is recommended that approximately two years be given for alternatives to be developed and adequately piloted. The program should provide interim progress reports to its senior management, as required by the Evaluation Directorate for the program’s Management Action Plan updates or more frequently. Evidence in support of the final decisions regarding the long-term strategy that is chosen should be well documented.

Recommendation #2: Recognizing the importance of complete, reliable, accessible and timely information to support decision making and reporting, it is recommended that the Small Craft Harbours program develop and implement a workplan to ensure that requisite information, including administrative and performance data collected by regions, is captured and updated in the program’s database Information portuaire / Port information (IPI) on a timely basis, and that the Small Craft Harbours Management Information Retriever (SCHMIR) continues to be rolled out across all regions in line with the timelines and priorities established in the workplan.

Annex A. Evaluation Matrix


Annex A. Evaluation Matrix
Issue/Question Indicators and Analysis Data Sources
1.   Relevance
1.1 Is there a continued need for the SCH?
  • What are the needs of Canadians regarding SCH? Have they changed over time? In the last five years?
  • How is the program different from other programs? Look for potential duplication of program objectives with other government departments, provinces/territories, municipalities, private sector
  • Key informant and survey respondents opinions regarding the importance of the program
  • Document review
  • Data review
  • Program staff survey
  • Key informant interviews
1.2 Is SCH aligned with Government of Canada and DFO priorities?
  • Compare objectives and vision of the SCH program to federal objectives and priorities
  • Compare objectives and vision of the SCH program to DFO objectives (change in strategic outcomes in 2011/12) and priorities
  • Document review
  • Key informant interviews
  • Site visits
1.3 Is the SCH aligned with federal roles and responsibilities?
  • Assess alignment between the objectives of the SCH program and legislated federal authorities
  • Document review
  • Key informant interviews
2.   Performance: Achievement of Expected Outcomes
To what extent has SCH achieved its immediate outcomes?
2.1  Harbour assets are maintained or restored
  • Availability of funds to undertake required maintenance and repairs
  • Opinions of key informants and survey respondents on extent to which needed repairs and maintenance are conducted
  • Opinions of key informants and survey respondents on barriers to conducting needed repairs and maintenance
  • Document review
  • Program staff survey
  • HAAC member survey
  • Key informant interviews
2.2   Increased number of core harbours operated by HAs
  • Percentage of core harbours operated by HAs, by year and region
  • Opinions of key informants on barriers to increasing the proportion of HA-operated core harbours
  • Document review
  • Data review
  • Key informant interviews
2.3   Increased HA capacity to operate core harbours
  • Key informant and survey respondent opinions on HAs’ capacity to:
    • Raise sufficient revenues to cover their operational costs
    • Raise sufficient revenue to cover minor maintenance repairs
    • Govern effectively (Annual General Meeting each year, at least 5 Board meetings per year, good relationships with community stakeholders, attendance at training events)
    • Manage and plan effectively (conduct annual business plan updates, conduct long-term planning, are ready to respond to emergencies)
    • Retain sufficient volunteers and/or hire staff
  • HA survey respondents’ perceived need for ongoing SCH advice, tools and guidance
  • On-site examination of a sample of successful harbours
  • Document review
  • Program staff survey
  • HAAC member survey
  • Key informant interviews
  • Site visits
2.4   Environmental impacts of harbour operations, repairs or disposal are mitigated
  • Percentage of sites that have an Environmental Management Plan
  • Opinions of key informants and survey respondents on the extent to which environmental plans are followed and environmental impacts are mitigated
  • Opinions of key informants on barriers to mitigating environmental impacts and possible solutions
  • On-site examination of a sample of successful harbours
  • Document review
  • Program staff survey
  • HAAC member survey
  • Key informant interviews
  • Site visits
2.5   Non-core harbours are divested or demolished
  • Number  and percentage of non-core harbours disposed (by region and year) during the period evaluated and number remaining to be disposed
  • Number of non-core harbours divested through DNHP funding vs. non DNHP funding
  • Opinions of survey respondents on barriers to disposal of non-core harbours
  • Document review
  • Data review
  • Program staff survey
To what extent has SCH achieved its intermediate outcomes?
2.6   Increased safety of harbours
  • Number and percentage of core harbours in each safety rating category, per region and year
  • Percentage of core fishing harbours ratings of fair and better by region and year
  • Opinions of key informants and survey respondents on the extent to which harbours are safe and the extent of safety liability risks
  • Document review
  • Data review
  • Program staff survey
  • HAAC member survey
  • Key informant interviews
2.7  Increased accessibility of harbours
  • Decrease in or absence of accessibility issues, use of barricades or other restrictions
  • Opinions of key informants and survey respondents
  • Document review
  • Program staff survey
  • HAAC member survey
  • Key informant interviews
2.8  Harbour facilities increasingly meet the needs of their commercial fishing communities
  • Opinions of key informants and survey respondents on the extent to which harbour facilities increasingly meet the needs of their commercial fishing communities
  • Opinions of key informants and survey respondents on barriers to harbours meeting the needs of their commercial fishing communities
  • On-site examination of a sample of successful harbours
  • Document review
  • Program staff survey
  • HAAC member survey
  • Site visits
2.9  Increased affordability of SCH program
  • Initiatives undertaken to reduce costs and budget implications
  • Examples from key informants and survey respondents of factors influencing the affordability of the program
  • Document review
  • Data review
  • Program staff survey
  • Key informant interviews
  • Site visits
To what extent has SCH achieved its long-term outcomes?
2.10  Network of safe and accessible harbours (up to 2010/11)
  • Roll up of results from 2.6 and 2.7 above
  • Document review
  • Data review
  • Program staff survey
  • HAAC member survey
  • Key informant interviews
  • Site visits
2.11  More economically prosperous commercial fishing industry (2011/12)
  • Opinions of key informants and examples on how core harbours are contributing to an economically prosperous commercial fishing industry
  • Document review
  • Key informant interviews
Unintended outcomes and external factors
2.12  Did the program have unintended results?
  • Opinions of key informants and evidence from documents
  • Document review
  • Key informant interviews
2.13  Are there any external factors and/or challenges that may have impacted the results of the program?
  • Examples from key informants and documents
  • Document review
  • Key informant interviews
3. Performance:  Demonstration of Efficiency and Economy
3.1  To what extent are the program’s activities, structures and processes appropriate to support the achievement of results?
  • Opinions of survey respondents and key informants on the appropriateness and effectiveness of:
    • Governance (i.e., Departmental matrix framework, SCH priority rating system and decision-making framework, National Management Committee, functional committees, National HAAC and regional HAACs)
    • Division and clarity of roles and responsibilities
    • Budget allocation formula and processes across and within regions
    • Communications
    • Program alignment with other DFO sectors
    • Use of internal SCH engineering staff for non-major projects rather than contracting to PWGSC
  • Perceived use and usefulness of SCH advice, tools, guidance and recognition program
  • Perceived effectiveness of funding mechanisms (i.e., SCH Class Contribution Program and SCH Divestiture Class Grant Program)
  • Perceived usefulness of enhanced contracting authorities related to the Economic Action Plan and Storm Damage funding
  • Perceived incremental benefit of additional funding envelopes (i.e., Storm Damage, Economic Action Plan, Divestiture of Non-Core Harbours Program)
  • Document review
  • Program staff survey
  • HAAC member survey
  • Key informant interviews
3.2  Is there a performance measurement strategy and a reporting process / system in place? If yes, is it being used for decision making?
  • Evidence of a performance measurement strategy
  • Existence of a data collection system
  • Availability and quality of performance information
  • Evidence of use of performance information
  • Opinions of key informants regarding usefulness and quality of performance indicators and data
  • Document review
  • Data review
  • Program staff survey
  • Key informant interviews
3.3  Are there best practices and lessons learned from SCH?
  • Examples from key informants, survey respondents and documents
  • On-site examination of a sample of successful harbours
  • Analysis of contextual and operational factors contributing to harbour success
  • Document review
  • Program staff survey
  • HAAC member survey
  • Key informant interviews
  • Site visits
3.4  Could the efficiency of the SCH activities be improved?
  • Examples of possible further efficiency improvements, if any
  • On-site examination of a sample of successful harbours
  • Document review
  • Program staff survey
  • Key informant interviews
  • Site visits
3.5  Are there alternative more cost-effective ways of achieving program goals?
  • Opinions of key informants on ways the priorities and/or design of the program could or should be rethought to make it more economical
  • Suggestions from survey respondents on ways to improve program effectiveness
  • Literature on alternative delivery models for harbours and similar other infrastructure programs
  • Document review
  • Program staff survey
  • Key informant interviews
  • Literature scans

Annex B. Questions and Corresponding Report Sections


The following chart identifies where findings in response to specific evaluation questions are discussed within the report.

Evaluation Questions and Corresponding Report Sections
For the evaluation question Section
Relevance
1.1   Is there a continued need for Small Craft Harbours? 4.1.1
1.2   Is Small Craft Harbours aligned with federal and departmental priorities? 4.1.2
1.3  Is Small Craft Harbours aligned with federal roles and responsibilities? 4.1.3
Effectiveness in Achieving Intended Outcomes
2.1  To what extent have harbours assets been maintained or restored? 4.2.1
2.2  Has there been an increase in the number of core harbours operated by harbour authorities? 4.2.3
2.3  What capacity do harbour authorities have to operate core harbours? 4.2.3
2.4     Are environmental impacts of harbour operations, repairs and disposal mitigated? 4.2.2
2.5     Have non-core harbours been divested or demolished? 4.2.5
2.6     To what extent has the safety of harbours increased? 4.2.1
2.7     To what extent has the accessibility of harbours increased? 4.2.1
2.8     To what extent do harbour facilities increasingly meet the needs of their commercial fishing communities? 4.2.4
2.9  Has the affordability of the program increased? 4.2.1
2.10  Is there a network of safe and accessible harbours? 4.2.1
2.11  Do core harbours contribute to a more economically prosperous commercial fishing industry? 4.2.4
2.12  Did the program have unintended results? None found
2.13  Are there any external factors or challenges that may have impacted the results of the program? 4.1.1;4.2.6
Efficiency and Economy
3.1  To what extent are program activities, structures and processes appropriate to support the achievement of results? 4.2.3; 4.3.1
3.2  Is there a performance measurement strategy and a reporting process or system in place? If yes, is it being used for decision making? 4.3.1
3.3  Are there best practices and lessons learned from Small Craft Harbours? 4.2.3
3.4  Could the efficiency of Small Craft Harbours’ activities be improved? 4.3.1
3.5  Are there alternative more cost-effective ways of achieving program goals? 4.3.2

Annex C. Management Action Plan


Annex C. Management Action Plan
Recommendation

Rationale: The evaluation identified a number of constraints that limit the program’s ability to fulfill its current mandate with the available resources. Its large harbour inventory requires regular maintenance and is wearing away at the program’s limited budget. The numerous barriers to harbour disposal are also impeding the programs ability to divest non-core fishing and recreational harbours. The program is well aware of these constraints and has recently launched a process to develop a strategy and business case to improve the program’s economy and to ensure its long-term sustainability.

Recommendation 1: Recognizing that current program resources and delivery mechanisms do not enable the Small Craft Harbours program to completely fulfill its mandate, it is recommended that the Senior Assistant Deputy Minister, Ecosystems and Fisheries Management continue to support the Small Craft Harbours program’s efforts to identify and test alternatives that will improve the program’s affordability and long-term sustainability. It is recommended that approximately two years be given for alternatives to be developed and adequately piloted. The program should provide interim progress reports to its senior management, as required by the Evaluation Directorate for the program’s Management Action Plan updates or more frequently. Evidence in support of the final decisions regarding the long-term strategy that is chosen should be well documented.

Strategy
The Small Craft Harbours Program will develop a Long Term Strategy, the objective of which is to propose alternative business models for the financial sustainability of the Small Craft Harbours Program into the future. Activities for this initiative include:
  • Collecting robust and consistent data across the country on the Program and the SCH asset base;
  • Using this data to analyse the state of the Program and the SCH asset base as well as the extent to which SCH is meeting the needs of its clients and harbour users.
  • Developing tools for decision making; and,
  • Developing options for alternative Program business models that ensure the sustainability of the Program.
 
Management Actions Due Date (by end of month) Status Update:  Completed / On Target  / Reason for Change in Due Date Output
Data Gathering Phase      
Pilot Project: To complete data definition and requirements for overall inventory analysis and options development. 30 June 2013  

- Decision on essential data and methodology

- Elaboration of data gathering strategy

Roll out to all targeted harbours: To apply findings from the Pilot and collect data on an inventory-wide basis. 31 March 2014  

- Instructions and guidelines with informatics systems support

- Collection of full data set for all targeted harbours

Preliminary Assessment of Options:
Concurrently with the data gathering phase, identify potential options; conduct preliminary analysis and target those options that are most likely to be fully developed.
31 March 2014   - Identification of options that are to be fully investigated and developed
Data Analysis and Options Development:
Following the Data Gathering Phase, make use of inventory-wide data to fully develop and support targeted options and develop recommendations for consideration by Program management.
01 Dec. 2014   - Options fully developed and presented to the SCH National Management Committee for decision
Recommendations to Senior Management:
Present options to Departmental Senior Management and develop implementation plan as appropriate.
31 March, 2015  

- Results presented to senior management

- Memoranda to Cabinet / TB Submissions developed (as required)

Recommendation

Rationale: At the time of the evaluation, data on harbour performance and harbour facility conditions was not entirely up to date. Evidence indicates that procedures for entering such data in the program’s Port Information System (IPI) are not systematically or promptly being followed across Regions. The Small Craft Harbours Management Information Retriever (SCHMIR) and Detailed Inventory, which allows for the manipulation and reporting of this information is not yet being fully used by all regions.

Recommendation 2: Recognizing the importance of complete, reliable, accessible and timely information to support decision making and reporting, it is recommended that the Small Craft Harbours program develop and implement a workplan to ensure that requisite information, including administrative and performance data collected by regions, is captured and updated in the program’s database Information portuaire / Port information (IPI) on a timely basis, and that the Small Craft Harbours Management Information Retriever (SCHMIR) continues to be rolled out across all regions in line with the timelines and priorities established in the workplan.

   
Strategy
SCH recognizes the need to ensure the data integrity of its systems.   This will require work on many fronts including validation of the data fields captured in the application itself, the establishment of clear accountabilities for data entry, a well communicated and monitored data maintenance schedule, proper training for users supported by user support tools and an ongoing Communications Plan to keep users apprised of ongoing and new requirements and functionalities.  The Strategy will be led out of NHQ with the engagement of the SCH functional committees (national committees comprised of Regional and NCR staff) who will identify national system requirements (both IPI and SCHMIR) in support of program needs and departmental reporting and monitoring requirements.  A detailed workplan has been established identifying key milestones and timelines for each of the elements.   Elements include the review and update of IPI screens and reports, associated SCHMIR functionality, accountabilities and data maintenance schedule, user training and ongoing communications requirements.   
Management Actions Due Date (by end of month) Status Update:  Completed / On Target  / Revised Date and Reason for Change Output

For each business stream, coordinate a review of SCH business processes within our systems and renew the IPI screens, SCHMIR pages, and SCH Reports accordingly.

Elaborate a SCH Data Maintenance Schedule resulting from this renewal exercise and implement in all regions.

April 2014 – Finance Stream

August 2014 – Assets and Engineering Stream

January 2015 - Client Services Stream

 

Updated data entry forms in IPI, updated information containers in SCHMIR, changes to existing reports in Cognos.

Communication to all SCH staff regarding accountabilities and timelines as shown in the updated Data Maintenance Schedule.

Initiate a monthly financial reconciliation process between IPI and Abacus to ensure timely, and accurate financial projections and expenditures April 2013 to March 2014   Monthly call letters to regional staff to reconcile Abacus-IPI financial data. Identification and implementation of option(s) for automating the above process