Welcome to another year — one that will not resemble the previous year and one that is surely destined to provide new opportunities but also unparalleled challenges and change for marine transportation in British Columbia. While tradition dictates that this editorial piece should provide a forecast of commercial markets and the like, this will be a much more focused effort deliberately intended to grasp your attention. Suffice it to say that the commercial doldrums of 2016, which moderated somewhat in 2017, are now being replaced with a more optimistic commercial marketplace.
Commercial marine transportation is facing unprecedented pressure to adapt to a changing environment and this will only accelerate in complexity and scope over the coming year. The primary causes of these pressures include the continued growth of trade in Western Canada and the increasing demand for Canadian exports; a heightened awareness, and in certain cases anxiety, towards shipping by coastal communities; and the Government of Canada’s aggressive approach to marine protection. Of course, all of this is inherently connected and, at times, the lack of synergy in approach to expanding trade and increased environmental protection results in the very concerns expressed by coastal communities.
The demand for change will manifest itself in various ways, including new legislation and regulations, regional practices and procedures, but also innovative approaches to governance of waterways. Certain features of this change will be very progressive and supportive of trade, while other aspects could be perceived as extremely misdirected. The government’s Oceans Protection Plan will include a significant portion of the funded programing but even more programing is expected to emerge once the federal government tables its 2018 Budget.
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