Archived - Government Response - Report on the Marine Infrastructure (Small Crafts Harbours) - Covering Letter

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Mr. Wayne Easter, M.P.
Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans
House of Commons
Ottawa, Ontario
K1A 0A6

Dear Mr. Easter:

I am pleased to respond on behalf of the Government of Canada to my colleagues on the Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans.

The government welcomes the opportunity to respond to this report, and believes it was a positive overall reflection on the Small Craft Harbours (SCH) program, and the level of commitment the employees across the country demonstrate to providing the best possible service to their fellow Canadians.

The government firmly believes in the value of this program, as evidenced by $100M announced in Budget 2001. This much-needed funding will allow SCH to undertake the urgent, safety-related repairs required at active fishing harbours across the country.

The SCH program focuses its efforts on core fishing harbours necessary to the industry. As a result, all recreational harbours as well as derelict and low activity fishing harbours are being divested. Core harbours owned by the government are leased to Harbour Authorities (HA), enabling communities to tailor the operations to their specific needs with the assurance that the government retains landlord responsibilities for major maintenance of the facilities. There are currently 518 HA managing 635 harbours across Canada. I would like to highlight just two examples of successful HA management in different environments.

The Harbour Authority of Lark Harbour and York Harbour, in Newfoundland, made a tough decision to close one of the three harbours it operated to concentrate resources at the remaining two, which allowed them to make significant improvements to safety and services. The Deputy Mayor of York Harbour pointed out that we sometimes have difficulty getting volunteers for the board because it is a lot of responsibility and many fishers are reluctant to enforce rules on their peers, but as the community sees what the HA is accomplishing, they take increasing pride in it. The fishers really appreciate what is being done at the harbours and they see that the HA is all about improvements".

In British Columbia, SCH worked with the False Creek Harbour Authority (FCHA) to reduce the risk of fire through a Fire Safety Plan and Fire Prevention Systems. The Harbour Authority has also initiated a popular Fish Sales Dock, which has been recognized as "the best place to buy local seafood" by The Georgia Strait. The city councillor has praised both of these initiatives. "The cooperation between SCH and the FCHA demonstrates that productive partnerships are possible between government and private organizations. The technical expertise of SCH in the area of marine management and engineering are a considerable asset that you should be proud of".

The government is firmly committed to supporting a program that provides such positive results for Canadians.

To do justice to your specific recommendations, I am pleased to attach an itemized response.

Yours truly,

Robert G. Thibault