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Harbour authorities

Harbour authorities are incorporated, not-for-profit organizations. Their board of directors and members represent local interests. Each harbour authority is a unique and independent legal identity. They are responsible for managing, operating and maintaining one or more public fishing harbours through a lease agreement with the Small Craft Harbours program.

Transcript: The importance of harbour authorities in coastal communities

Luc Legresley, President, Harbour Authority of Newport, Quebec

Luc Legresley: (Speaking in French) I've been with the harbour authority since 1995. I started out as a municipal representative, I was a municipal councillor and since then, because of the interest I've taken and the importance of the wharf in the community, for my 18 years I've always been a representative here and I've stayed ever since.

Jamie Craig, President, Harbour Authority of Toney River, Nova Scotia

Jamie Craig: With the harbour authority run by fishers, we see what we need to have done. We see where things can, you know, when things need to be changed. We change them so that it suits our needs and it works.

Kevin Ault, President, Harbour Authority of Grand Rapids, Manitoba

Kevin Ault: My name is Kevin Ault from the local Harbour Authority representing Grand Rapids Fisherman's Coop. We've been here for about 15 years. The harbour authority has looked after our dock. There's 2500 people that live here in Grand Rapids. There are 92 fishermen that have fishing quotas. And then there are so many people that have recreation vehicles and it is important for the community to have it in place.

Cindy Blicq, Gimli Harbour, Manitoba

Cindy Blicq: The harbour is a gathering place. It's in the centre of town. It's obviously the centre for the commercial fishing as well as for the boaters. But its also a gathering place for people in the community.

Rick Tanaka, Port Hardy Harbour, British Columbia

Rick Tanaka: The value of having our harbour authority managed by somebody who lives here if its doled out at some company or somebody who doesn't live here and what they don't have any vested interest in and they're just doing their job and they don't care about, you know, these people live here. They are my neighbours, and they care and they use the harbour themselves. Its huge, it needs to be.

Armand Caron, Deputy Mayor, Shippagan, New Brunswick

Armand Caron: (Speaking in French) Being all people from the community, well them, they live here. So they're in a position to grasp, even I'd say in relationships whether it's with industry, whether it's with the fishers, whether it's with the municipality, and it establishes a close relationship and that in my opinion is fundamental, and I can imagine for people in the industry, that they have people from the community who are there, I'm certain it's a win-win situation. The government wins, but the community wins too.

Roland Andrews, Port de Grave Harbour, Newfoundland and Labrador

Roland Andrews: We have people that come here all the time and visit it, and it's just the place to go. And its importance is second to non for everything that develops on the peninsula. SO having local management, local participation, eh, it's the way to go. Without question!


The creation of harbour authorities helps the Small Craft Harbour program:

Harbour authorities establish and enforce rules, and represent the needs of users at the community level.

They are also responsible for charging and collecting fees from users to cover operation costs. Fees collected from users are reinvested in harbour maintenance, operations and repairs.

While harbours are locally-operated and managed, the Small Craft Harbours program provides the following:


The Harbour Authorities program was created in 1988 and has continued to grow since then. Harbour authorities currently operate and manage approximately 700 small craft harbours across Canada.

About 5,000 people generously dedicate their time to these harbour authorities, and their efforts average 200,000 hours per year, which exceeds 100 full-time positions. Each year, harbour authorities generate approximately $30 million in revenue, which is reinvested in the harbours or the communities.

The continued success of the program is largely thanks to the dedication and participation of these volunteers.

Advisory committee

The National Harbour Authority Advisory Committee (NHAAC) provides advice to the Small Craft Harbours program on matters of national interest. In addition, members exchange information and success stories, which has cultivated a strong national network.

The committee consists of three harbour authority representatives and one alternate member from five regions: Pacific, Ontario and Prairies, Quebec, Maritimes and Gulf, and Newfoundland and Labrador. These members are appointed by their Regional Harbour Authority Advisory Council (RHAAC).

Committee meetings are held at least once a year. They are co-chaired by the committee chairperson and the director general of the Small Craft Harbours program.

Records of discussion and committee terms of reference are available by contacting your regional office.

Joining a harbour authority

While the board of directors is made up of volunteers, some harbour authorities have paid staff. If you want to have a say in the management of your local authority's facilities, we encourage you to join.

By joining your local harbour authority, you will be:

You may locate any harbour authority across Canada through the lists of harbour authorities and harbours.

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