Navigation Protection Program – Overview

Review of the Navigation Protection Act

On June 20, 2016, Minister of Transport Marc Garneau announced the launch of a review of changes to the Navigation Protection Act, which will include taking time to seek and consider the views of Canadians.

This review is one part of a broader strategy to review environmental and regulatory processes that apply to resource development and infrastructure investment projects.

The strategy aims to:

  • rebuild trust in environmental assessment processes;
  • modernize the National Energy Board; and
  • restore lost protections and introduce modern safeguards to the Fisheries Act and the Navigation Protection Act.

You can learn more about Transport Canada’s review, as well as the other parts of the Government’s review of environmental and regulatory processes at:

Who we are

The Navigation Protection Program (NPP) is a Transport Canada (TC) program specializing in the administration and enforcement of the Navigation Protection Act (NPA).

Learn more about the Navigation Protection Act.

The NPP resides within Transport Canada’s Programs area and is headquartered in Ottawa. NPP regional managers, officers and support staff work from TC’s regional offices located across the country.

Locate an NPP regional office

What we do

A main activity of the NPP is administering the NPA through the review and authorization of works in navigable waters. The majority of work in this area involves evaluating impacts to navigation and acting to minimize risks to navigation through our decisions and compliance activities.

Most of the information provided on this site is related to the NPP’s activities regarding works. A “work” is defined as any structure, device or thing—temporary or permanent—made by humans that is in, on, over, under, though or across any navigable water. It also includes the dumping of fill or the excavation of materials from the bed of any navigable water.

The NPP also administers and enforces other provisions of the NPA. The provisions of the NPA are organized into different regimes:

  • Works – our main activity, described above
  • Obstructions – management of obstructions in scheduled navigable waters
  • Depositing/throwing and dewatering activities – enforcing the prohibitions against depositing or throwing material, such as mine tailings, into navigable waters, and dewatering of navigable waters

The first two regimes are focused primarily on Canada’s busiest waterways, which are listed on the schedule to the NPA. The prohibitions apply to all navigable waters in Canada.

The principal products and services of the NPP, in summary, are reviews of notices relating to works that may interfere with navigation, and decisions under the Act.

The NPP also has responsibilities under the Canada Shipping Act, 2001. We conduct reviews and render decisions under navigation-related authorities, including the Receiver of Wreck Program and the Private Buoy Regulations.

How we serve Canadians

NPP staff work closely with our clients—usually the owners of works—and our other partners, including the TC Aboriginal Consultation Unit and Environmental Management, throughout the process of managing the submissions to the NPP which fall within our areas of responsibility.

Our regional managers and officers are directly involved in activities and operations which can impact navigation, and are often the first point of contact for our clients. Headquarters personnel provide national coordination and serve as a resource providing expertise to support the work carried out in the regions. Together we serve clients in Canada’s industrial sectors, all levels of government, stakeholders in the tourism and recreation sector, private property owners, and the general public.

Although our initial client is usually the applicant who seeks an answer as to whether and how he or she may proceed with a work, the NPP review and approval of a work is performed in the service of public interests that go beyond the applicant’s requirements. Considerations may include the safety of navigation, access to waterways, and recreational and traditional use of navigable waters, as well as the environmental effects of the work.

Service Standards for the Navigation Protection Program regulatory review and authorization of projects substantially interfering with navigation in scheduled waters:

  • Revised Navigation Protection Program service standards are currently being developed in support of the implementation of the Navigation Protection Act on April 1, 2014.
  • Performance target: The target for achieving this standard will be defined one year after the Navigation Protection Act coming into force.
  • Performance results: Annual service performance information for the 2015-16 fiscal year will be published in Fall 2015.
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