Area Response Planning Initiative

This initiative looks for ways to make Canada’s Marine Safety System stronger by doing more to protect Canada’s marine environment and communities from the harmful effects of ship-source oil pollution spills.

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Overview of Pilot Project

The pilot project aims to help Canada choose the best way to adopt a regional, risk-based preparedness and response system for ship-source oil pollution spills across Canada. Using a risk management framework, regional task forces will develop Area Response Plans that allow regulatory flexibility for regional differences and levels of risk.

The current National Oil Spill Preparedness and Response Regime has been in place since the mid-1990s and has a strong safety record. This regime, which is based on a national standard level of preparedness, will continue to be in place during this pilot project.

The Government of Canada will use the best practices and experiences learned during the pilot project to refine our spill response approach across Canada. The Area Response Planning pilot project will seek to identify where we can make improvements to further strengthen this regime and ensure that it remains responsive to changing demands and practices.

Risk Management Framework

The Area Response Planning pilot project aims to identify elements a ship-source oil spill prevention and response regime must include, such as:

  • risks that exist in an area;
  • ways to reduce or address these risks;
  • ways to prevent spills;
  • scenarios that could occur; and
  • environmental sensitivities.

Transport Canada is already developing an Area Risk Assessment Methodology to identify credible risk from ship-source oil spills and will pilot the methodology in four areas of Canada. Results will provide valuable guidance as regional Task Forces, whose members include representatives from the federal government, Response Organizations (organizations that are certified by Transport Canada to clean up oil spills) and participating provincial governments, develop the pilot Area Response Plans.

The Four Pilot Areas

We encourage stakeholders and Indigenous groups in the four pilot areas to participate in these efforts and help us identify best practices.

The four areas are:

  • the southern portion of British Columbia (BC);
  • the St. Lawrence (Montréal to Anticosti Island) (QC);
  • Port Hawkesbury and the Strait of Canso (NS); and
  • Saint John and the Bay of Fundy (NB).
Area Response Planning Initiatuve Pilot Areas map showing The Southern portion of British Columbia (British Columbia, The St. Lawrence Pilot Area (Montréal to Anticosti Island, in Saint John and the Bay of Fundy Pilot inNew Brunswick, Port Hawkesbury Pilot & Strait of Canso in Nova Scotia

Area Risk Assessment Methodology

This risk assessment model considers geography, environmental sensitivities and traffic volumes in an effort to identify region-specific risks and sensitivities. Planners will then incorporate localized risks into region-specific Area Response Plans. This will help each regional Task Force assess the appropriate level of preparedness and spill clean-up equipment for the risks that exist in its area.

We encourage stakeholders and Indigenous groups to review the Area Risk Assessment Methodology and submit their comments to by June 30, 2016.

How to Get Involved

We encourage stakeholders and Indigenous groups in the pilot areas to actively participate in the response planning process, including the development of area risk assessments and area response plans.

During this pilot project, there will be various opportunities to contribute. For example, we are currently accepting comments on the Area Risk Assessment Methodology and will make information about other opportunities available shortly.

Government of Canada officials will be in the pilot areas to actively seek feedback from interested stakeholders and Indigenous groups at various meeting dates, times and locations.

In addition, the Community Participation Funding Program (CPFP) can help eligible Indigenous groups and local communities participate in the Area Response Planning pilot project.

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