Regional Advisory Council (RAC) on Oil Spill Response - Pacific Region
The Pacific Regional Advisory Council (RAC), is established under Part 8 of the Canada Shipping Act, 2001. This council is involved in and/or impacted by marine oil spills and the oil spill response regime and can meet, identify, discuss and realize opportunities.
The RAC is an advisory body and is able to make recommendations on the full range of policy issues affecting regional preparedness and response, and may request information from Transport Canada, Canadian Coast Guard or response organizations on equipment placement, plans, resources, costs, training, exercises, or reviews undertaken of response operations, in pursuit of their mandate to advise and report on the adequacy of preparedness in the region. The mandate is significant, and through its unusual ability to report to the Minister or Standing Committee, the RAC has the power to make its voice heard.
There are also RACs serving the following regions:
For more information, please contact:
Compliance and Enforcement
Transport Canada - Marine
501-1230 Government Street, Victoria, BC
Tel: (250) 363-0200
The Regional Advisory Councils (RAC) on Oil Spill Response are regional councils in which the parties involved in and/or could be impacted by marine oil spills. There are currently six RAC’s. These councils are established by the Minister of Transport under the current Canada Shipping Act 2001 Part VIII Section 172. Regional Advisory Councils have a mandate to comment on CSA 2001 Part VIII, sections 167 to 171. In accordance with the Canada Shipping Act 2001, these councils are to be representative of the communities and the interests likely to be affected by an oil spill.
The Canada Shipping Act 2001 outlines Canada's marine oil spill preparedness and response regime. The private sector regime seeks to ensure that Canada is better prepared to respond to ship-source oil pollution incidents. An important component is ensuring the appropriate level of response infrastructure is in place in the event of an incident. The establishment of private-sector response organization, providing a response capability to a maximum of 10,000 tonnes, was introduced for the first time in legislation through Chapter 36 of the previous Canada Shipping Act.
For a complete description of the Canada Shipping Act 2001, please consult the following web site: http://www.tc.gc.ca/eng/acts-regulations/acts-2001c26.htm
The Councils form an integral part of the ongoing partnership approach to preparedness and response in Canada. Their discussions provide the opportunity for members to address areas of mutual concern and to provide advice to the Minister of Transport.
In June 1989, following the Exxon-Valdez spill, the Canadian federal government appointed the Public Review Panel on Tanker Safety and Marine Spills Response Capability (the Brander-Smith Panel). The Panel submitted its final report in October 1990, to which the government made a preliminary response in November of that year.
The Brander-Smith report concluded that a catastrophic marine oil spill—a spill of over 10,000 tonnes—can be expected once every fifteen years in Canadian waters. A major spill (100 to 10,000 tonnes) can be expected once a year.
During 1991 to 1993 considerable planning work was undertaken by the Canadian Coast Guard (CCG), Transport Canada Marine and Environment Canada, in consultation with the private sector on the development of the two main elements of a private-sector funded response capability.
There were proposals to amend the Canada Shipping Act and thus implement improvements to Canada’s spill response capability.
A public accountability mechanism was required in each region to provide those potentially affected by a spill with a means of ensuring that the marine environment was adequately protected by this regime, and a means of offering ideas, advice and recommendation to the Federal Government.
An important initiative of Chapter 36 was the requirement to establish Regional Advisory Councils on Oil Spill Response (RAC) in a number of geographical areas. First meeting of each RAC took place in 1996.
These councils are presently composed of seven members, drawn from potential polluters and members of the public. They are appointed by the Minister of Transport, for a three year terms. Members elect a president and Vice President; Transport Canada Marine assists the Council as secretariat.
The RAC is purely an advisory body, with no authority to make policy, direct operations, approve plans, review technical standards or resolve disputes. It may, however, make recommendations on the full range of policy issues affecting regional preparedness and response. To accomplish this, the RAC may request information from Transport Canada, the Canadian Coast Guard, Environment Canada and Response Organizations (ROs) on a number of issues such as, equipment placement, plans, resources, costs, training and exercises. In addition, RACs may request information undertaken of any marine response operation as a post morteum review to an incident so as to effectively advise and report on the adequacy of preparedness in the region. The RACs mandate is significant, and through its unusual ability to report to the Minister of Transport, it has the power to make its voice heard.
RAC Membership Criteria
RAC members represent a balance of communities and interests that might be affected by an oil spill in their respective areas, who can represent the general public interest or persons with a knowledge and experience in marine environmental matters. The Assistant Deputy Minister of Safety and Security (ADMSS), acting on behalf of the Minister, appoints RAC members for a term of up to three years with the possibility of renewal.
They may be a part of / members of:
- Fishing and aquaculture interests
- Environmental groups
- Aboriginal interests
- Port authorities
- Business and business associations, e.g. tourism associations or agencies
- Shipping interests and oil handling facilities
- Representatives from academia, marine law and other disciplines
RAC Terms of Reference
Marine, Fire and Safety
EnviroEmerg Consulting, Manager
RAC Vice President
BOWTECH, President and
Minette Bay Ship Docking LTD.
Manager, Prince Rupert Division
Marine Insurance Co. Director
Parks Canada Advisor
International Forest Products Limited
Manager, Coastal Woodlands
Seaspan, Port Captain
Role of the Regional Advisory Councils (RACs)
- The central role and mandate of the RACs is:
- to advise on an adequate level of oil spill preparedness and response in each region; and
- to promote public awareness and understanding of issues and measures with respect to preparedness.
- The RACs serve as an advisory body to the Minister of Transport and to the Assistant Deputy Minister of Safety and Security (ADMSS), Transport Canada (TC) and shall advise and may make recommendations related to marine oil spill preparedness and response in accordance with Part 8 of the Canada Shipping Act, 2001 (CSA 2001). The main focus of the RACs will be on sections 167 to 171 of Part 8.
- While their mandate is purely advisory, the RACs play an important role in the maintenance of an adequate level of preparedness and response to marine oil spills in their respective regions.
- RACs must recognize that preparedness involves the effective management of three factors:
- The risk of spills of various kinds and magnitudes;
- Ensuring appropriate response under probable conditions; and
- All formal RAC communications in the way of correspondence and reports shall be conducted through the President.
- In the event that RACs are unable to reach consensus on a matter, decisions shall be taken by majority vote with the President casting the deciding vote in the event of a tie, and minority opinions noted in the record of decision.
- Where the RAC makes a report, minority views will be part of that report.
- RACs have no budget or authority to undertake independent studies or enquiries, unless requested by TC. However, RACs may request information from the Response Organizations (RO), Canadian Coast Guard (CCG) in the Arctic and TC with respect to plans and resources, preparedness capacity, fees and response data for their region.
- RACs are not a technical committee and do not review standards or other technical requirements. However, RACs may wish to satisfy themselves that such standards, or changes to standards, result in adequate levels of preparedness.
- The ADMSS may make changes, from time to time, to the Terms of Reference (TOR) of the RACs with respect to provisions of CSA 2001.
- RAC meetings should be held in different areas of each region. Consideration should be given to the additional and associated costs and the logistics of fulfilling this requirement; including the feasibility of having RAC members travel varying distances.
RAC Membership: Terms and Conditions of Appointment
- RACs are established by the ADMSS, as delegated by the Minister of Transport, pursuant to Section 172 of CSA 2001.
- The ADMSS, acting on behalf of the Minister, appoints RAC members for a term of up to three years with the possibility of renewal.
- RAC membership must be composed of a balanced cross-representation of individuals, groups and companies, included but not limited to: fishing or aquaculture interests; aboriginal interests; environmental groups; port authorities; businesses or business associations; tourism associations or agencies, including municipalities; as well as shipping interests and oil handling facilities, whose interests are potentially affected by a spill.
- The ADMSS may appoint to each RAC no more than seven members; all of whom must reside within the geographic area represented by that RAC.
- RAC members should be representative of the different geographic areas within their region.
- Potential polluters shall not constitute a majority on any RAC.
- Representatives of ROs may not be RAC members.
- RAC members must table any change in the status of their interests related to the regime and in the event of a conflict of interest, will refer the matter to the ADMSS.
- Membership of a person appointed to a RAC should cease when that person no longer represents the interests of the constituency being served.
- RAC members or their alternates are entitled to be reimbursed, in accordance with Treasury Board directives, the travel, living and other expenses incurred in connection with their travel to attend RAC meetings while absent from their ordinary place of residence.
- New RAC members must be familiar with the RAC TOR, and Section 167 to 171 of CSA 2001 in particular.
Electing a President
- Pursuant to Section 172. (4) of CSA 2001 each RAC shall elect one of its members to be President.
- A President will be elected by a majority vote of the membership of that RAC and will serve for at least a one-year term.
- Election of a President should take place no later than the second meeting following the vacancy of the position.
- Each member is entitled to one vote by secret ballot.
- The Secretariat to the RAC will conduct the secret ballot to elect the President.
- Members of their respective RAC are eligible for election or re-election to the post of President.
- RACs will also elect a Vice-President to act in the absence of the President.
- When possible, a new President will be nominated every three years.
Role of the President
- The President of a RAC will chair the meetings of that Council.
- The President will work with the Secretariat to determine the RAC’s agenda, location, and time of meetings.
- The President of the RAC will also be a member of the National Advisory Council.
- The President may invite any appropriate representative of Environment Canada and the Canadian Coast Guard to regular RAC meetings, and may also invite individual persons or bodies to provide advice and guidance to the RAC.
- The President may request technical advice and administrative support from the Council’s Secretariat.
Role of the Secretariat
- Transport Canada will provide Secretariat services to the RACs and, in this regard, may enlist the assistance of Environment Canada.
- The Secretariat will ensure that Council members have sufficient background information to assist them in their deliberations.
- The Secretariat will ensure that the appropriate Transport Canada personnel are notified of their required attendance at a RAC meeting for the purpose of offering information and advice.
- The Secretariat will provide administrative support to the Council such as:
- Arranging meeting places for the RAC.
- Advertising RAC meetings to help ensure public participation.
- Distributing the agenda and background information to all RAC members at least 2 weeks prior to RAC meetings.
- At the direction of the RAC President, arranging for presentations and briefings to RAC members.
- Recording minutes of RAC meetings, which should contain a record of discussions, decisions taken and follow-up action proposed.
- The Secretariat of each RAC will send a draft version of the minutes to the RAC members who attended the meeting for review and comment. A final version of the minutes will be sent to all other RAC Secretariats once the minutes have been approved.
- The Secretariat will maintain and at the request of the RAC President update the Regional RAC webpage.
- The Secretariat will process the payment of expense claims.
- RAC meetings are open to the public unless the Council is satisfied that a public meeting would not be in the public interest; in which case the meeting or any part of it may be held in private.
- RACs should hold two public meetings per year. Any additional meetings can be held under extenuating circumstances with the agreement of the RAC members and preapproval received from TCMS.
- All members are expected to attend RAC meetings.
- The presence of a simple majority (i.e. 50% + 1) of appointed RAC members is required for any RAC meeting to take place.
- Members who cannot personally attend a RAC meeting may participate via conference call, or other available technology, by advising the RAC President in advance of the meeting and allowing sufficient time for the execution of the required arrangements. This option is granted at the discretion of the President and is only available if no voting is to be effected during the meeting.
- A RAC member who will be absent from a meeting where a vote is to be effected, may provide a proxy to the Secretariat or may assign his/her vote, in writing, to an appointed member of that Council who will submit a ballot on the absentee’s behalf.
Minutes of RAC Meetings