Transportation 2030: Waterways, Coasts and the North

"Waterways, Coasts and the North" is one theme under Transportation 2030, the Government of Canada's strategic plan for a safe, secure, green, innovative and integrated transportation system.

On this page

Our goal for this theme

  • Build world class marine corridors that are competitive, safe and environmentally sustainable
  • Enhance Northern transportation infrastructure
  • Improve Canadians’ lives by reducing environmental impacts, including air pollution, and embracing new technologies

What Canadians told us

In 2016, we consulted Canadians about our transportation system. Here is what they told us about waterways, coasts and the North:

  • We need to make marine transportation safer and more competitive
  • We should use existing port capacity and short-sea shipping
  • Canada Port Authorities and other federally regulated marine organizations need:
    • harmonized regulations
    • better management and ways of spending and tracking money
  • Taking advantage of new marine innovations will support an improved marine system
  • Government, industry, Indigenous groups and communities must work together on an approach for:
    • marine transport
    • coastal environmental protection
    • the competitiveness of ports
  • We need to address the infrastructure deficit in the North, as it affects both economic opportunities and transportation safety, especially with climate change and extreme weather challenges
  • The federal government should work closely with the territories and Indigenous groups on a long-term Northern transportation infrastructure strategy that responds to the unique needs of the North’s communities and geography

Where we go from here

To meet our goals for transportation affecting waterways, coasts and the North, we committed to:

  • Develop an oil tanker moratorium for the northern coast of British Columbia
  • Build stronger protection for our coastlines and coastal areas
  • Work with territorial governments, Indigenous people and communities in the North to address basic transportation infrastructure needs and adapt the transportation system to a changing climate
  • Look at ways to realize the full economic potential of our coasts and waterways over the long term (including the Great Lakes–St. Lawrence Seaway system)
  • Develop a long-term plan to address the problem of abandoned vessels and wrecks
  • Make sure our actions support work on government priorities such as:
    • trade and transportation investments under the Phase 2 Infrastructure Plan
    • a Pan-Canadian Framework on Clean Growth and Climate Change
    • protection of our sensitive coastal areas

Budget 2017 support

The budget confirmed:

Budget 2019 support

To improve and build infrastructure in northern Canada, Budget 2019 earmarked $400 million over eight years for Arctic and northern regions under the National Trade Corridors Fund. This brings the total funds for these regions to $800 million, and funding would start in 2020-21.

Our progress

Oil tanker moratorium on British Columbia's north coast

In May 2017, the Government of Canada introduced legislation to ban oil tankers carrying more than 12,500 metric tonnes of crude or persistent oil from the northern coast of British Columbia.

Non-persistent oils, like liquefied natural gas , can still be shipped through this area. To limit the impact of the moratorium , shipments below 12,500 metric tonnes are still allowed.

The legislation includes strong penalties of up to $5 million for anyone who violates the Act.
On June 21, 2019, the Oil Tanker Moratorium Act received royal assent and works hand-in-hand with the Oceans Protection Plan.

Oil tanker moratorium

Changes to coasting trade

As part of Transportation 2030, the Government of Canada changed laws through the Transportation Modernization Act to improve the transportation system, this included changing the Coasting Trade Act.

As of December 10, 2018, vessel owners can use any registered vessel without a coasting trade license to move shipping containers between locations in Canada (on a non-revenue basis).

This will help:

  • support the marine industry’s business flexibility
  • deal with the current container shortage and could reduce the cost of trade

The Act also amends the Canada Marine Act so Canada Port Authorities may access funding through the Canada Infrastructure Bank.

Coasting trade in Canada

Pilotage Act Review

On May 22, 2018, we released the final report of the Pilotage Act Review (part of the The Prime Minister of Canada announces the National Oceans Protection Plan). This review was done to support the delivery of safe, efficient and environmentally responsible marine pilotage services into the future.

Following much analysis and consultation, the review delivered 38 recommendations. These recommendations will inform government decisions on how pilotage services are delivered in Canada.

Pilotage Act Review Final Report

Pilotage Act Review

Abandoned Boats Program

On May 31, 2017 we launched the $6.85 million Abandoned Boats Program to protect the country's coasts and waterways. This new program:

  • funds the removal of abandoned and wrecked small boats that could be harmful to Canadian waters
  • educates small boat owners about how to dispose of their boats when they are no longer able to use them
  • supports research on boat recycling and environmentally responsible boat design

Abandoned Boats Program

National Trade Corridors Fund

The $2 billion Minister Garneau announces the National Trade Corridors Fund second call for proposals to address transportation challenges is Canada’s territorial North includes $400 million to address the unique transportation priorities of Canada’s north, including safety, adapting to climate change resilience, and supporting socio-economic development opportunities. Nearly all of this funding has been committed to 15 projects, chosen through two merit-based calls for proposals, that will improve transportation for Northerners.

Budget 2019 set aside $400 million more in funding for northern communities, bringing the total amount for northern regions up to $800 million.

Transportation in the North

To support northern transportation needs for the future, we are working with Indigenous groups, territorial government representatives and industry stakeholders to develop an Arctic transportation policy framework.

This framework would help us better address the unique transportation needs of the territorial North. We are looking at North-specific policies, programs and regulations to improve social and economic opportunities.

Management of the St. Lawrence Seaway

On July 14, 2017, we confirmed a five-year extension to the Government of Canada's agreement with the St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corporation to manage, maintain and operate the Seaway. This extends the existing agreement until March 31, 2023. It will provide stability for the St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corporation and the marine transportation industry.

In addition, we are conducting a review of the St. Lawrence Seaway to examine:

  • opportunities for further development
  • the Seaway's competitiveness and sustainability
  • its management structure

Canadian Navigable Waters Act

On February 8, 2018, the Government proposed changes to laws through the Canadian Navigable Waters Act (Bill C-69).

This act, if passed, will:

  • restore lost protections for the public right to navigate on all navigable waters in Canada
  • make federal processes and decisions open, accessible and transparent

Protecting Canada's Navigable Waters

Ports Modernization Review

On March 12, 2018, we launched a review of Canada Port Authorities.

This review aims to:

  • modernize port operations
  • optimize the role of Canada Port Authorities in the transportation system
  • identify potential policy, legislative and regulatory changes to help Canada Port Authorities to strengthen their position in Canada’s economy

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