It's not a stretch to consider ports across Canada as the most important sector of our economy. With 90 per cent of goods coming into Canada by ship and, as the best way to get our resources to foreign markets, a well-run, efficient port can mean the difference between a growing economy and a stagnant one. In assisting Canada's ports, the Association of Canadian Port Authorities (ACPA) has always played a vital role. Now though, with President Wendy Zatylny at the helm, and a mandate that changed significantly upon her arrival, ACPA has become a powerful voice, speaking on behalf of ports to governments and relevant stakeholders on important issues. And, as a credit to her skill, Zatylny has brought unity to that voice.
BCSN: Could you provide a brief background on ACPA and its mandate?
WZ: ACPA has been around for almost 60 years. It was originally formed as the Canadian Ports and Harbours Association and although it has morphed over time — given the creation of port authorities in 1998 through the Canada Marine Act — there have been some significant changes in the past four years. Irrespective of those changes, we have always existed to serve the needs of Canadian ports and the broader marine sector in general.
While our main responsibility is to the corporate members — the 18 port authorities across Canada — we also take the position that a rising tide lifts all boats. So, as we advocate for the health and well-being of port authorities, we hope that we’re creating a more favourable climate for the industry overall in Canada.
We are primarily an advocacy-based organization. In terms of responsibilities, we closely monitor legislation and regulatory developments to make sure our members are informed but also to be as pro-active as possible and work with various government departments so that we’re part of the dialogue that leads to policy changes. It’s always easier and more effective to be part of the conversation beforehand than to try to change decisions after the fact.
BCSN: You’ve been in your position for four years now. Could you describe how the association has changed during this time?
WZ: When I was brought in, part of my mandate was to shift the activities of the association more towards advocacy and to increase the level of work we do with various government departments and with elected and non-elected officials across the country — so, in addition to monitoring policy change, become part of the dialogue and advocate on behalf of the port authorities so that our voices are heard in policy development.
Prior to 2012, ACPA had been focused on organizing events — both annual conferences as well as smaller port-to-government meetings that focused on specific topics. While that was effective in bringing the industry together, it was very labour intensive and did not have the priority of contributing and influencing regulatory policies.