Victoria Harbour is Canada's only certified water airport and port that is home to cruise ships, floatplanes, passenger ferries, recreational boaters and kayakers.
Tourists flock to the area every year, especially during the summer months. Per year, there are approximately 30,000 flights (an average of 100 flights per day) and over 250 cruise ship visits. Since it’s an extremely busy harbour, maintaining and controlling the traffic on the water and in the air is paramount.
Transport Canada owns and is responsible for the administration of Victoria Harbour, which spans from Ogden Point all the way to the Selkirk Trestle Bridge. The department ensures that all the sectors of the harbour—transportation, recreation, and industrial—are able to coexist in a way that maximizes safety and security, while also protecting the natural environment.
Communication and partnerships are vital to the safe management and operation of the harbour. Transport Canada chairs a committee in which safety issues and new or evolving risk scenarios are discussed. It works closely with all its safety and regulatory partners in the harbour: NAV CANADA, the Canadian Coast Guard, the Victoria Police and Fire Department, and the RCMP.
The department ensures safety with a detailed traffic scheme, which has been in place for almost twenty years. It includes runways, lanes, and different zones that keep traffic flowing for all the diverse users. The Harbour Master, her office team and the Harbour Patrol ensure that traffic scheme information is distributed widely so that everyone using the harbour knows the rules.
Transport Canada’s Harbour Master, Mariah McCooey, plays a pivotal role. Her main responsibility is to operate the harbour on a day-to-day basis by managing both water and floatplane activities. Other parts of her job are the daily safety monitoring of vessel traffic, coordinating special events, enforcement duties and managing the airport’s emergency planning and response.
Mariah has worked for Transport Canada for over three years, but being on the water has been a part of her identity long before her time with the department. She grew up on a sailboat and has sailed all over the world on a variety of vessels. Mariah spent ten years on the East Coast with the Canadian Coast Guard, as has also earned a Master’s degree in Maritime Management.
The dedication of highly skilled employees like Mariah and her team allows Transport Canada to proudly uphold the highest safety standards in managing Victoria’s Harbour, now and for years to come.