The idea of establishing the Harbour Authority Association of BC (HAABC) came about in 1997, when a board director of Steveston Harbour Authority requested General Manager, Arnold Walter, to look into the formation of an association. A meeting was called in April of 1997 and a cross-section of harbour managers, board directors, and representatives from DFO Small Craft Harbours Branch attended.
In that October of 1997, all harbour authorities were asked to attend a formation meeting in Parksville, BC. This resulted in the idea of a Harbour Authority Association for BC being formalized. Rob Grant of Port McNeill was nominated and elected Chairman, Arnold Walter of Steveston Harbour Authority was nominated and elected Secretary/Treasurer, and Dick Maughan of French Creek was nominated and elected Vice-Chairman.
Their task was to complete the legal entities of forming the association under the passed mandate as follows:
"To establish effective communications between Harbour Authorities, foster a good working relationship, exchange information and network, establish a professional standardized policy manual, and educate users, staff and directors."
As well, the association is receiving requests from marine related industries to establish an associate membership in order that they can be part of our association.
In November 1998, the association was officially incorporated under the Societies Act of British Columbia.
In September of 2009 the board of directors rewrote the mandate of the HAABC to more concisely reflect the goals and purpose of the association. The revised mandate:
"To establish effective communication between HA’s through information exchange, networking, and education."
A full bylaw review was started in 2010 and will be presented to the membership for approval at the 2012 AGM.
We believe that our association is becoming stronger and more vibrant each year, and we are continually working to ensure the needs of the membership are met.
What is a Harbour Authority?
A Harbour Authority is a non-profit, locally controlled organization whose board of directors have links with the community. It exists solely for the management and maintenance of the harbour facility.
The term harbour, as it is used here, refers only to property and water lots, under the jurisdiction of the Department of Fisheries and Oceans. The Small Craft Harbour facilities remain public.
The Harbour Authority operates on a pre-approved annual budget negotiated with Small Craft Harbours and is responsible for the day-to-day operation and management of the harbour. The Harbour Authority generally meets at various intervals with Small Craft Harbours to discuss budget projections and make necessary modifications.
Who determines the level of service?
A Harbour Authority agrees to manage the harbour as a public facility. The level of service to be provided can then be determined by the Board of Directors.
Under what authority are Harbour Authorities established?
The Small Craft Harbour facilities will be leased from the Department of Fisheries and Oceans under the authority of the Fishing and Recreational Harbours Act.
Responsibilities of a Harbour Authority
Harbour Authorities are normally responsible for:
- Day to day operations of the facilities
- Setting rates and collection of user fees
- Allocation of space at the harbour (berthage, off-loadin, etc.)
- Hiring staff to operate and manage the facilities
- Maintaining a general ledger of income and expenditure
- Undertaking minor repairs and maintenance
The Federal Government, as owners of the property, remains responsible for major maintenance.
A Harbour Authority hires the staff who are responsible for administering the policies and operation of the harbour on a day to day basis.
Responsibilities usually include:
- Collection of user fees
- Harbour operation (garbage, signage, etc.)
- Minor repairs
Will harbour service fees set by Harbour Authorities require approval by the Small Craft Harbours Branch before becoming effective?
The fees which the Harbour Authorities charge the harbour users is a matter which will be decided by the board of directors.
What are the Harbour Authorities financial obligations?
The non-profit Harbour Authority will be responsibility for the management and minor day-to-day maintenance work as identified in the budget.
The Harbour Authority operates on a pre-approved annual budget negotiated with Small Craft Harbours and is responsible to keep an updated set of books which may be audited by the Department at any time. The Harbour Authority generally meets at various intervals with Small Craft Harbours to discuss budget projections and make necessary modifications.
Who determines what is a minor maintenance?
Minor maintenance is determined by the Regional Small Craft Harbour staff in consultation with the Harbour Authority. The minor maintenance responsibilities would be clearly identified as an schedule to the agreement and would be reviewed on an annual basis.
Who approves and funds capital projects for major maintenance?
Under the terms of the agreement, Small Craft Harbours will retain the overall responsibility for the physical condition of the harbour. Major harbour repairs will continue to be dealt with by the Small Craft Harbour Program, at the discretion of the Minister.
Will a Harbour Authority pay property taxes? "Who is responsible for paying these taxes?"
The federal government does not pay municipal taxes, however, it may make a "payment-in-lieu of taxes" to a Municipality. Any grant payment is sent out directly through the Municipal Grants section of Government Services Canada (PW-GSC).
Under a Harbour Authority agreement the facilities are no longer eligible for payment through the Municipal Grants section of Government Services Canada (PW-GSC). Therefore any property taxes would be paid for by the Harbour Authority.
What is the disadvantage of joining a Harbour Authority?
The main disadvantage of becoming involved in the Harbour Authority process is that volunteering to serve as a director can involve a commitment of time and effort.
Why form a Harbour Authority?
Why is Small Craft Harbours encouraging the formation of Harbour Authorities?
Harbour Authorities bring harbour management and operations into the community so that services are maintained in line with local needs. Presently, harbour revenues go to the federal government and do not directly benefit the harbour. In contrast, a locally controlled non-profit authority puts every cent it makes back into the maintenance and management of the facility. Since there are no shareholders, the money generated by the operation goes directly toward improvements.
What are the advantages of a Harbour Authority?
- Local control of harbour operations
- Revenue collected is used to provide services
- Repairs are done quickly and efficiently
Which projects are the highest funding priority?
Projects needed to maintain safety for people and vessels.
How is a Harbour Authority Formed?
After public consultation and discussions with the harbour users, local community, and the commercial fishing industry, a non-profit corporation would be created under Part II of the Canada Corporations Act.
The Board of Directors of this non-profit corporation would then negotiate the details of Harbour Authority Agreement with Small Craft Harbours Branch.
Who selects the Board of Directors, and is it limited to fishermen or can it include representation from other users or community organizations?
The Authority's Board of Directors can be composed of local or industry people nominated by local entities and appointed to the Harbour Authority because of their business acumen and varied backgrounds. In addition, there can be directors at large, elected by the harbour users.
Harbour Authority discussions can commence at the request of the local community. If a community is interested, a group often puts forward a letter of intent. This letter of intent is not a legal binding contract. It is just a way of saying yes, we are serious and would like to talk about the future management of the facilities.
Discussions are carried out with a study group to determine the way in which the community can have the harbour managed. Once that is done, the responsibilities for Small Craft Harbours and the proposed Harbour Authority are listed. These responsibilities are included in schedules that are attached to the final agreement. This agreement is a standard document used right across the country, but it is modified to suit the individual harbour. The schedules are how we reflect the needs of each harbour.
Finally, an agreement is reached that is beneficial to the local community and all that remains is signing on the dotted line and the Harbour Authority is in place.