Transport Canada serving Canadians
From Transport Canada
Transport Canada and its employees contribute to the safety and well-being of Canadians around the clock, whether it’s in the air, on the ground or on water. This is a regular series of articles on the services we deliver.
Transport Canada’s Victoria Harbour: a dynamic safety partnership in a unique setting
Victoria Harbour is Canada's only certified water airport and port that is home to cruise ships, floatplanes, passenger ferries, recreational boaters and kayakers.
Tourists flock to the area every year, especially during the summer months. Per year, there are approximately 30,000 flights (an average of 100 flights per day) and over 250 cruise ship visits. Since it’s an extremely busy harbour, maintaining and controlling the traffic on the water and in the air is paramount.
Transport Canada owns and is responsible for the administration of Victoria Harbour, which spans from Ogden Point all the way to the Selkirk Trestle Bridge. The department ensures that all the sectors of the harbour—transportation, recreation, and industrial—are able to coexist in a way that maximizes safety and security, while also protecting the natural environment.
Communication and partnerships are vital to the safe management and operation of the harbour. Transport Canada chairs a committee in which safety issues and new or evolving risk scenarios are discussed. It works closely with all its safety and regulatory partners in the harbour: NAV CANADA, the Canadian Coast Guard, the Victoria Police and Fire Department, and the RCMP.
The department ensures safety with a detailed traffic scheme, which has been in place for almost twenty years. It includes runways, lanes, and different zones that keep traffic flowing for all the diverse users. The Harbour Master, her office team and the Harbour Patrol ensure that traffic scheme information is distributed widely so that everyone using the harbour knows the rules.
Transport Canada’s Harbour Master, Mariah McCooey, plays a pivotal role. Her main responsibility is to operate the harbour on a day-to-day basis by managing both water and floatplane activities. Other parts of her job are the daily safety monitoring of vessel traffic, coordinating special events, enforcement duties and managing the airport’s emergency planning and response.
Mariah has worked for Transport Canada for over three years, but being on the water has been a part of her identity long before her time with the department. She grew up on a sailboat and has sailed all over the world on a variety of vessels. Mariah spent ten years on the East Coast with the Canadian Coast Guard, as has also earned a Master’s degree in Maritime Management.
The dedication of highly skilled employees like Mariah and her team allows Transport Canada to proudly uphold the highest safety standards in managing Victoria’s Harbour, now and for years to come.
Two Years In, Canada’s Oceans Protection Plan Making a Difference
Over the past two years, Canada’s Oceans Protection Plan has transformed the way Transport Canada engages Canadians on marine safety and saw the start of over 50 innovative projects.
Launched in November 2016, the Government of Canada has made sustained progress on new and improved ways of protecting our oceans. Working in partnership with Indigenous peoples and collaborating with coastal communities and marine stakeholders, the Oceans Protection Plan is making a difference in the lives of Canadians.
“With the Oceans Protection Plan, I think the biggest takeaway for me is actually seeing some of the items moving forward,” explained Kevin Obermeyer, CEO of the Pacific Pilotage Authority. He added: “So often with government it’s a long time in the process, but I am really happy to see how fast this is moving.”
To mark the second anniversary of the Plan, and everything that has been accomplished in the first 730 days, Transport Canada has released a Report to Canadians. The report highlights the many accomplishments already achieved through the Oceans Protection Plan, including:
1) Providing emergency response and waterway management training to Indigenous communities in British Columbia to support the important role they play in marine safety in their communities.
2) Funding over 40 new projects to address abandoned and derelict vessels through the Abandoned Boats Program and the Small Craft Harbours Abandoned and Wrecked Vessels Removal Program, for a total of over 100 boats so far.
3) Introducing measures to reduce the risk of vessel strikes and entanglement in fishing gear to endangered North Atlantic Right Whales in the Western Gulf of St. Lawrence.
4) Establishing a Reconciliation Framework Agreement in partnership with 14 Pacific North and Central Coast First Nations in British Columbia, to address marine planning, shipping, marine safety and oceans protection.
5) Significantly increasing aerial surveillance of our Arctic waters under the National Aerial Surveillance Program to identify marine pollution and, securing land in Iqaluit to construct a new aerial surveillance aircraft hangar.
“I have worked on the Oceans Protection Plan since May 2017, helping coordinate the national whole of government approach to engagement for this massive undertaking,” said Phoebe Miles, Manager, Community Engagement and Partnerships, Oceans Protection Plan. “The work we are doing is indeed transformational. We are doing business in a new way, and we’re making a difference,” she added.
On November 7, 2016, at a Vancouver naval base, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau launched the Oceans Protection Plan, the largest single investment ever made to protect Canada’s coasts.
“Canada’s economy, environment and history are inextricably linked to our coastal regions. The $1.5 billion Oceans Protection Plan unveiled today will make Canada a world-leader in marine safety and takes a powerful step toward co-management of our coasts with Indigenous and coastal communities, together making sure they remain healthy, clean, and safe for generations to come.”
— The Rt. Hon. Justin Trudeau, Prime Minister of Canada
To mark the 2nd Anniversary of the Oceans Protection Plan, Transport Canada created a highlight video that was shared on the Prime Minister’s Twitter account and reached over 5 million users.
Transport Canada joins international effort to combat marine pollution
As a Transport Canada surveillance plane flew through the night sky with its lights off and cabin glow dimmed, the crew prepared to carry out a special mission.
The operation – code named 30 Days at Sea – was simple: join international forces for the first-ever global action to combat marine pollution. Transport Canada and Environment and Climate Change Canada were proud to partner with INTERPOL and 276 law enforcement and environmental agencies from 58 countries.
Two Transport Canada National Aerial Surveillance Program aircraft flew after sunset along the East Coast for the first two weeks in October and the West Coast for the last half of the month. They were searching for something harming our planet and those who live on it – pollution from passing ships.
Vessels likely had no idea they were being watched by infrared technology as our planes quietly hovered 5,000 feet above. Two surveillance officers on board monitored the sensor equipment to look for oil pollution and illegal garbage dumping.
During this international operation, Transport Canada’s planes flew almost 100 hours over 640 vessels. More than 20,000 vessels were also monitored through the aircraft’s automatic identification system. As the lead for pollution prevention in Canadian waters, Transport Canada keeps a watchful eye over ships through our National Aerial Surveillance Program.
Before the crew took off for nighttime surveillance, they arranged clearance to fly in restricted airspace and received an exemption to fly the plane without lights. During a pre-operation briefing, the crew flagged vessels, and developed a flight plan based on the weather and areas with the most vessel traffic.
As our planes patrolled the oceans in search of polluters, our marine safety inspectors and Environment and Climate Change Canada officers jointly inspected vessels, in addition to their usual operations.
Marine safety inspectors used information from the National Aerial Surveillance Program flights to decide on which vessels to inspect during the operation.
The hours-long inspections focused on oil, sewage and garbage. Engineers also tested the equipment on board to make sure it functioned properly and questioned the crew on emergency and operating procedures. Information from these inspections and overflights is being compiled and could lead to future investigations.
Effective pollution prevention regulations protect Canada’s waterways through the watchful eyes of our inspectors, officers and flight crews. We are proud of our robust regime to keep our waterways clean and sustainable for years to come.
Transport Canada testing innovative drone technology to safeguard North Atlantic right whales in the Gulf of St. Lawrence
Transport Canada is taking action through Canada’s $1.5 billion Oceans Protection Plan to protect and support in the recovery of the North Atlantic right whale. Not only has Transport Canada implemented speed restrictions in the Gulf of St. Lawrence to help prevent vessel strikes, we are also testing new drone technology to monitor this iconic species.
While some of our experts are developing new regulations for remotely piloted aircraft systems, known as drones, a team of Transport Canada employees in the Aircraft Services Directorate is testing drones in real-life conditions. It’s using remote pilot stations and flying drones beyond the pilot’s line-of-sight to find and track North Atlantic right whales in the Gulf of St. Lawrence.
Exploring the waters around Anticosti Island
In August 2018, experts from Transport Canada, Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Iqaluit-based Arctic UAV and the University of Alaska Fairbanks conducted a three-week drone mission in Gaspé, Quebec.
Using a Sea Hunter drone and flying as high as 4,000 feet, the team flew more than 5,500 kilometres (2,970 nautical miles) around Anticosti Island. They captured data and images with the drone’s onboard cameras and sensors.
Transport Canada experts supervised the trials and gave technical support on the ground. At the Michel-Pouliot Gaspé Airport, whale experts from Fisheries and Oceans Canada studied the data and images. They wanted to figure out if whales were present in the busy shipping lanes between Gaspé and Anticosti Island, whether in calm or rough seas or in clear or stormy skies.
Studying the data and images
We’re using these trial results to help us find new ways to find and track North Atlantic right whales and to better protect them from boats and fishing nets.
Fernando Mojica, Director of Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems, is pleased with the outcome of this latest mission. He looks forward to working with partners on more missions in the future, particularly those that advance beyond visual line-of-sight capabilities in Canada:
“Transport Canada will continue to consider new opportunities to deploy innovative remotely piloted aircraft systems in a safe manner. We’re working with a wide range of stakeholders, including international organizations, standard-setting bodies, academia and industry, to advance drone work through research and development and trials.”
Looking to the future
This was Transport Canada’s second successful mission working with Fisheries and Oceans Canada. In March 2016, the department tested the use of drones for icebreaking operations off the coast of Newfoundland and Labrador. Having completed four missions, including two previous missions at the UAS Centre of Excellence in Alma, Quebec, the team is exploring new ways to use drones to one day detect oil spills, survey ice and marine habitats and monitor activity on the oceans.
Transport Canada adopts new technologies to better serve Canadians
Transport Canada is moving into the digital age in order to save time, money and deliver more efficient services for Canadians. This shift is part of Transport Canada's transformation agenda, a plan to modernize and continuously adapt the way we deliver our programs and services to better serve Canadians and ensure we remain a world-class regulator.
The modernization initiatives that Transport Canada is undertaking will help us better respond to the rapidly evolving demands of the transportation sector, allow for more innovation in our day-to-day work and ensure that our workforce has the tools needed to adapt to and succeed in today's environment.
One of the ways that Transport Canada is adapting to these demands is by embracing new technology through our ambassadors in the Transport Canada Change Ambassador Network. These ambassadors are Transport Canada inspectors across all of the modes (Marine, Civil Aviation, and Surface) whose role is to test out tablet devices as a new mobile technology to carry out their work in the field. This role includes guiding their colleagues in the use of this technology, answering questions on the use of the tablet and its applications, as well as providing feedback to Transport Canada's Information Technology team.
Alessandro Repetto is an ambassador in Transport Canada's Ontario Region Marine Safety and Security branch. He is a Senior Marine Safety Inspector and his role is to carry out statutory inspections on Canadian ships and small crafts as well as cargo inspections on foreign vessels. As an examiner of seafarers, he also administers exams for individuals seeking marine professional certification and issues their certificates of competency.
"The main differences between the new tablets and our old laptops is the portability, the connectivity, and the touch-screen feature," Mr. Repetto explains. "All the activities I carry out involve a substantial amount of preparation and reporting, which has been simplified by adopting new technology and processes."
"Thanks to the tablet's portability, I always have access, even when offline, to a database containing all the acts and regulations I need for my work, which I can show and explain to clients. The device reduces the time I need to complete an inspection and ensures that I do not overlook any items."
Adopting tablet technology has helped Transport Canada inspectors across all modes work more efficiently, providing faster service to Canadians. All of this is part of Transport Canada's effort to save time, money and deliver better services to Canadians in order to create a safe, secure and efficient transportation system.
"Being an ambassador has provided me with a sense of accomplishment in my contribution to make Transport Canada more efficient in carrying out its mandate," said Mr. Repetto.
Transport Canada focuses on collaboration to protect our Arctic Coast
Transport Canada is protecting, preserving, and restoring Canada’s oceans and sea routes, including our Arctic Ocean, in partnership with Indigenous, coastal and Inuit communities. In May 2018, Transport Canada published the new Guidelines for Passenger Vessels Operating in the Canadian Arctic, representing over a year of joint work between Transport Canada, Northern communities and land claims organizations, multiple government partners, and stakeholders.
"The guidelines identify regulations, best practices, and key partners in Canadian Arctic marine transportation," explains Desmond Raymond, the Regional Director of Marine Safety and Security in Transport Canada’s Prairie and Northern Region. "We’re really proud of generating concrete solutions that will help passenger vessels, such as cruise ships, transit through the Arctic and promote good relationships with Canadian Arctic communities."
The department led a Working Group of representatives from Northern communities and land claims organizations, federal and territorial governments, academia, and industry to develop the guidelines. Community consultation sessions were held in Pond Inlet, Nunavut and Inuvik, Northwest Territories to incorporate community input from both the eastern and western shores of the Arctic coast. Twenty best practices related to land claims agreements, hunting and guiding operations, and the use of monuments on land were added to the guidelines as a result of the community consultations.
The Working Group will meet annually to review and update the guidelines so that they continue to meet the needs of both passenger vessels and Arctic communities. Alana Swain, Senior Marine Safety Inspector in Transport Canada’s Prairie and Northern Region, is part of the team that put together the Guidelines and she emphasizes that they are evergreen, "Transport Canada will continue to work with our partners to keep the guidelines current and strengthen them so that they remain a valuable resource for all who use them."
Protecting the Arctic marine environment and all users of Canada’s oceans and waterways is of paramount importance. The collaboration on the guidelines shows Transport Canada’s ongoing contribution to safe Arctic marine transportation that assists passenger vessels and protects our coasts.
Transport Canada’s Office of Boating Safety helps save lives
For one of Transport Canada’s small vessel officers, boating safety is so woven into her DNA she can’t help but educate the public, even when she’s on vacation.
When at her family’s cabin, Michelle Maruk has approached boaters about missing safety equipment and left her business card or licence applications on the windshields of cars towing boats. Her boating safety radar is always on the lookout.
“I never turn it off, even if I spot a boat along the highway,” said Ms. Maruk, an officer with Transport Canada’s Office of Boating Safety.
When Ms. Maruk is working, she’s just as passionate and proactive about boating safety. She once convinced a couple launching their boat into the water to lounge on the beach until family brought lifejackets for their two young children.
And even though four young men teased her about boating safety at a trade show, Ms. Maruk prepared them for a future emergency with a Boating Safety Guide. The next year, the young men came back to thank her – they rescued a family thrown into frigid waters when their boat capsized. They had read the tips in the guide.
Preparing Canadians like those four young men can help save lives if they know how to respond in an emergency. This is why Ms. Maruk and her Office of Boating Safety colleague, Honey Walsh, are so dedicated to what they do.
“People think that it won’t happen to them so it hits home when it does,” Ms. Walsh said. “It affects so many people – loved ones, the people who witness the incident and first responders.”
Ms. Maruk’s passion for boating safety stemmed from a drowning she witnessed when she was 15 years old. To pay for university, she taught water and boating safety courses and worked as a lifeguard. When she joined the Office of Boating Safety in 2007, it was a perfect fit.
Since that time, Ms. Maruk has noticed a change – more and more people wear lifejackets when they’re on the water. Before, many carried lifejackets on board but not as many people wore them. The shift is, in part, due to the work of the Office of Boating Safety and partner organizations in promoting how to stay safe on the water.
“We saw a real improvement in the number of people who were actually putting life jackets on and wearing them before they left the dock,” Ms. Maruk said. “This is very positive. That is one of the key pieces of safety equipment.”
With around 35 employees across the country, the Office of Boating Safety partners with boating safety organizations to promote safe boating and deliver prevention-based programs across the country. The office – established under the Canadian Coast Guard in 1995 and transferred to Transport Canada in 2003 – also trains law enforcement on pleasure craft regulations and provides them with safety information to pass along to boaters when they’re on patrol.
The office provides information and education on safe boating practices to help reduce the number of people who die in accidents on the water.
Before you head out on the water this summer, remember these boating safety tips:
- Leave a sail plan with friends or family on the shore
- Make sure you have the required safety equipment
- Check the weather forecast
- Make sure everyone wears an approved lifejacket
- Never boat impaired
“We want boating to remain a fun and safe activity for everyone on the water,” Ms. Walsh said.
From oil spills to manhunts, Transport Canada Director of Flight Operations reflects on an exciting career serving Canadians
From surveying oil spills to assisting the Royal Canadian Mounted Police in the search for suspects, Steve Buckles, Director of Flight Operations at Transport Canada’s Aircraft Services, has seen just about everything during his many years of service.
Mr. Buckles has worked for Transport Canada for over 31 years. As he gets ready to retire this year, he reflects on the past and looks towards Transport Canada’s future for providing aviation services to Canadians.
Mr. Buckles joined the department on its 50th anniversary after working for 15 years as a bush pilot flying helicopters across Canada. In this role, he participated in a variety of operations, including fighting forest fires, tagging polar bears, and supporting off-shore oil rig production and exploration programs. He got his start with Transport Canada flying helicopters for the Canadian Coast Guard in Prince Rupert, British Columbia.
“The best parts of my job are the people I work with and the excitement that comes from being involved a dynamic national operation where every day brings another challenge,” says Mr. Buckles. “It is very satisfying to be able to make a difference and work with my team to ensure operations run smoothly as we meet those challenges.”
In his current role, Mr. Buckles oversees the delivery of aviation services to other government organizations, including Environment and Climate Change Canada, National Defence, Canadian Coast Guard, Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Royal Canadian Mounted Police, and the Transportation Safety Board of Canada, as well as to Transport Canada. Mr. Buckles leads a team that operates a fleet of 13 airplanes and 26 helicopters. His team also trains over 250 Transport Canada aviation inspectors from across the country.
Over the years, Mr. Buckles has also had the opportunity to participate in some unique operations. In June 2014, he was part of the team that assisted the Royal Canadian Mounted Police during the search for a suspect alleged to have fatally shot three police officers and injured two others in Moncton, New Brunswick. The National Aerial Surveillance Program Dash 8 aircraft he manages was deployed to assist in the search, and used heat-sensing equipment to help detect the suspect in a wooded area, where he was detained by law enforcement.
Mr. Buckles also coordinated Transport Canada’s efforts to assist the United States Coast Guard in monitoring the response to the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in April 2010 in the Gulf of Mexico. Mr. Buckles was part of the team that deployed the National Aerial Surveillance Program aircraft along with 13 employees from Transport Canada and Environment and Climate Change Canada.
While Mr. Buckles has enjoyed many exciting career highlights during his time with Transport Canada, he is most proud of the day-to-day services his team provides to Canadians. He enthusiastically discusses their many achievements, including:
- Spending a winter supporting Canadian Coast Guard operations on an icebreaker near Sachs Harbour, Northwest Territories;
- Establishing a 24/7 response capability to support Health Canada during the 2014 and 2015 Ebola crisis in West Africa; and
- Modernizing Transport Canada’s fleet of aircraft.
As he works towards his retirement, Mr. Buckles notes there are many exciting projects on the horizon for Aircraft Services. He is confident the group will continue to grow stronger while maintaining a high degree of aviation safety.
“During my years at Aircraft Services I’ve seen major changes and many ups and downs,” says Mr. Buckles. “I believe we borrow from the future and when it is time to move on we need to give it back in better shape than when we received it. I hope I’ve been able to do that with this organization. It has been a privilege to work here – and it’s been quite a ride!”
Transport Canada defends Canada’s waterways and coastlines
The heart of Canada’s marine security operation looks like a spy agency war room right out of a Jason Bourne movie.
The “watch floors” used by Canada’s three Marine Security Operations Centres are covered by wall-to-wall screens that display marine traffic from all over the world.
Analysts study intelligence information that streams into the centres, including live video feeds from Transport Canada planes. The rooms are designed to allow key decision makers to be present to get real time information during live operations.
“These centres have been effective in preventing potential threats,” said Malick Sidibé, Transport Canada’s Director of Marine Security Operations. “All this information comes together to give us a good sense of whether we should allow a vessel to enter our waters.”
Unique Government of Canada collaboration
The centres in Esquimalt, British Columbia, Halifax and Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, are part of Canada’s marine-focused defence against such threats as terrorism, espionage, drug and human smuggling. They keep watch on Canada’s marine transportation system to anticipate potential threats to the maritime industry.
To assess current and emerging marine threats, many federal departments work together in the centres. They include Transport Canada, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, Canada Border Services Agency, the Department of National Defence, Fisheries and Oceans Canada, and the Canadian Coast Guard. This unique collaboration enables a coordinated response to potential threats.
This whole-of-government approach to marine security helps protect more than 300 commercial ports and harbours across the country. And that is significant, considering they handle roughly $210 billion worth of goods a year.
“That level of business is critical to the economy and it could be at risk if there is no security,” Mr. Sidibé said. “We are talking here about competitiveness for Canadian ports.”
The national maritime picture
Transport Canada plays an important role in detecting, assessing and facilitating response to marine threats through the centres, which monitor more than 1,000 vessels every day. The centres:
- contribute to the up-to-the-minute picture of activity off Canada’s expansive coastlines and on Canadian waterways;
- watch for threats and contribute to risk assessments of marine facilities, ports and vessels; and
- enforce marine security regulations. Each vessel has to report to Transport Canada 96 hours before entering Canadian waters. The centres can also share threat information with Canadian ships sailing in international waters where there’s a possible security threat.
Transport Canada inspectors advise marine facilities and ports about possible threats to security. Every year, the centres also conduct more than 7,000 risk assessments of vessels entering Canadian waters.
Strengthening marine transportation security on water and land
Marine Security Operation Centre staff start each day with a coordination meeting to share land and water surveillance and reconnaissance information between partner agencies to ensure a secure marine transportation system.
The Niagara-on-the-Lake Centre is different from the other centres since the United States Coast Guard and United States Border Patrol are also stationed in the building. With more than 3,700 kilometres of Great Lakes and St. Lawrence River coastline to cover, this unique collaboration enhances the security of the Great Lakes St. Lawrence Seaway on both sides of the border.
Beyond physical threats along Canada’s waterways, cyber-security is also top of mind for the centres. In the last few years, marine facilities and ports are reporting a growing number of marine cyber-security incidents. Phishing emails sent to ports or marine facilities in an attempt to access their networks is an example of a cyber-security incident.
The Marine Security Operations Centres make a significant contribution to the broader Canadian efforts to strengthen maritime security.
Cooperative Truck Platooning: Transport Canada’s Innovation Centre testing new trucking technologies to reduce emissions and improve safety
It’s 6:00 a.m. on July 11, 2017. Transport Canada’s Dominique-Pierre Dion has been on the road for a week. He is responsible for bringing a convoy of test vehicles equipped with automation technologies developed by the University of California in Berkeley. Once the trucks arrive at Transport Canada’s testing facility in Blainville, Quebec, Dominique-Pierre will work closely with his TC colleagues and partners from Berkeley, to test and evaluate cooperative truck platooning systems.
Truck platooning uses wireless communication and automation to create a convoy or “platoon” of two or more trucks, which follow closely behind one another on the road. Each truck in the platoon uses information from its own in-vehicle sensors and data it receives via wireless link from the first truck in the line. This information helps each truck measure and adjust its position in line based on the speed of the truck in front of it. Every truck in the platoon is operated by a professional driver who controls steering and can take over accelerating and braking at any time, if required.
Why is Transport Canada testing truck platooning? Because these technologies could reduce fuel consumption and improve road safety. Studies show that reducing the spacing between moving vehicles in a convoy reduces the aerodynamic drag they experience. This translates to reduced environmental impacts since each vehicle uses less fuel and releases less carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.
Long-haul trucks accumulate high annual mileage, mostly at highway speed, so cooperative truck platooning systems could save truckers lots of money. Transport Canada’s tests and demonstrations of this technology—which have included track testing and wind tunnel testing—showed a range of fuel savings between 4.5 and 18 per cent, depending on the platoon formation.
The United States, countries in Europe and Asia have also been studying truck platooning. Dominique-Pierre, who has been with Transport Canada for the past 10 years, is proud to serve as the lead project manager for testing this new technology. In addition to training drivers to operate their trucks at speeds of 105 kilometres per hour with following distances as close as four metres, Dominique-Pierre participated in some of the tests himself to evaluate the impact of other traffic cutting in between the trucks in the moving platoon.
Thanks to Dominique-Pierre and his team, Transport Canada is continuing its long-standing collaboration in this field of study with the National Research Council Canada, Environment and Climate Change Canada, and has established new international partnerships that foster scientific research, creativity, and innovation to advance transportation, improve safety, and keep our planet green.
Transport Canada explores technology to protect vulnerable road users
‘Share the road’ is a common message in our cities as more cars, trucks, pedestrians, and cyclists all compete for the same space.
Road design plays an important part in protecting vulnerable road users such as cyclists and pedestrians. Technology can also play a crucial role.
In September 2016, Minister of Transport Marc Garneau announced a new task force to improve the safety of vulnerable road users. As a member of this task force, Transport Canada is exploring new technologies that can help.
“Heavy trucks are a small portion of the vehicles on our roads, but over-represented in fatal collisions with pedestrian and cyclists,” says Dominique Charlebois, a senior crash avoidance research engineer with Transport Canada. “A big factor are blind spots.”
According to Mr. Charlebois, a truck driver’s high seating position makes it harder to see pedestrians and cyclists. Trucks also make wide turns, and their back wheels could hit pedestrians or cyclists that get too close.
To address these concerns, Mr. Charlebois and other Transport Canada engineers are looking at 360-degree cameras, sonar, radar, and other types of smart camera system technology to help drivers see and detect cyclists and pedestrians. How? They recently equipped a dump truck with sensors, on a closed-circuit track north of Montreal at Transport Canada’s Motor Vehicle Test Centre in Blainville, Quebec. The aim was to see if the truck sensors would give the driver enough warning to avoid a cyclist or pedestrian.
“We created common situations a truck driver would face – tight turns, difficult sightlines, as well as pedestrians and cyclists near the vehicle,” says Mr. Charlebois.
Early results were promising enough that several Canadian municipalities expressed an interest in testing the sensors on trucks in their regions.
“We think these sensor systems have some potential, but a test track isn’t the real world,” says Mr. Charlebois. “The only way to understand how drivers might accept the warning system is to expose them to it as a driving aid as they do their usual work. This will tell us if the sensors work on real roads, day and night, in all kinds of areas, and in different weather and traffic conditions.”
Municipal trials of the sensor systems are scheduled to begin in 2018. Transport Canada will review results and share them with the vulnerable road user task force. In the meantime, Mr. Charlebois is quick to remind everyone that technology is here to help, but is not a perfect solution.
“As promising as these truck sensors are, keep in mind, there’s no technology system that can replace your efforts,” says Mr. Charlebois. “Road safety is everyone’s responsibility, and we all have to do our part to stay safe and be aware of our surroundings at all times – after all, it might just save your life.”
Meet a Transport Canada Pilot: Working with Canadian Coast Guard to protect coastal communities and waterways
The Canadian Coast Guard provides important maritime services to Canadians and works to help make Canada's waters safer, and more accessible and secure. Transport Canada helps, through its Aircraft Services directorate, which operates and maintains the Coast Guard's safe and reliable fleet of iconic red helicopters.
Roughly seven-million Canadians live in coastal areas, where communities depend on the ocean's resources and tourism to make a living. To protect and serve these Canadians, the Canadian Coast Guard relies on helicopters to respond in a rugged and harsh environment.
Transport Canada pilot Trevor Devine works with Aircraft Services in Victoria. He's a seasoned helicopter pilot with nearly 30 years flying experience. After receiving his pilot license in 1988, he flew commercially for a number of companies in northern British Columbia until he joined Transport Canada in 2005.
As a regional Supervisory Helicopter Pilot, Mr. Devine does more than fly people around. For example, he:
- Schedules and assigns duties to Transport Canada pilots based in Victoria
- Serves as the Pilot-in-Command of Canadian Coast Guard helicopters, working closely with the department's Regional Operations Centre
- Works with his team to fly technicians and equipment to maintain aids to marine navigation, including communications and radar sites, and lighthouses.
You may have seen Mr. Devine with comedian Rick Mercer on a recent episode of the Mercer Report as they went behind the scenes of the Canadian Coast Guard's tracking and communications systems on the Pacific Coast. Mr. Devine flew Rick and his crew in a Canadian Coast Guard helicopter to different locations for filming. The day included watching Rick rappel down the tower at Mount Parke to inspect an antennae.
Mr. Devine has had many other memorable experiences during his career at Transport Canada. His favourite was flying on the south end of Banks Island in the Arctic in 2007, and spotting a heard of Muskox forming a circle to protect one of their young from a hungry wolf pack.
Mr. Devine loves his job. It allows him to follow his lifelong passion— flying— while serving Canadians and protecting some of our nation's most important natural resources.
Concerned about your vehicle’s safety? Transport Canada can investigate your safety concerns
When something goes wrong with your car, you likely tell your mechanic or dealership, but you may also want to tell Transport Canada— and here’s why.
In early 2015, Transport Canada received a defect complaint from the owner of a Kia Soul. The owner complained about receiving burns from the heated driver’s seat. Transport Canada’s defect investigations team looked into it and verified there was a safety problem. The department then notified Kia, which in turn issued a defect notice and offered to correct the problem.
“Some defect investigations can be long and difficult. They include gathering and analyzing data as well as conducting tests to determine if a safety defect exists,” said Karine Sirois, Defect Investigator for Transport Canada. “In the case of the Kia Soul, we confirmed there was a problem and identified its root cause. If that owner hadn’t notified Transport Canada, it’s possible the defect could have gone unnoticed, and others injured.”
Transport Canada plays an important role in recalls. Last year, 662 recalls affected nearly 5.5 million vehicles, tires, and child car seats in Canada; 1.1 million of these were influenced directly by Transport Canada’s defect investigations team.
Transport Canada also plays a role in getting the word out about recalls. While manufacturers are responsible for notifying owners of safety defects affecting their products, we spread the word by posting recalls online. This year alone, Transport Canada has posted 84 recalls and vehicle safety messages on Facebook and Twitter. Re-tweeting these messages has reached nearly 3.5 million accounts!
The department also maintains the Motor Vehicle Safety Recalls Database, where Canadians can see if any recalls affect their vehicles. The detailed database goes back to 1975, and covers many makes and models.
While Transport Canada is responsible for regulating the safety of new vehicles, child seats, and tires, it is the owners’ responsibility to act on a recall and have the repair work done.
“If there is a recall on something you own, get the recall work done as soon as possible,” says Louis-Philippe Lussier, Chief of Defects Investigations and Recalls at Transport Canada. “Never ignore a recall notice. We often see cases where someone has a safety scare because they didn’t bring their car to the dealership to get the recall work done.”
We recommend checking the Transport Canada Defect Investigations and Recalls web page to see what recalls might affect your vehicle, tires or child car seats. Anyone who experiences a vehicle safety issue should tell Transport Canada.
“No one likes having a safety issue with something they own. If you tell us your story, it could help others from experiencing that same problem,” says Mr. Lussier. “Recalls prevent injuries and save lives, so if you’ve experienced something you think may be unsafe, let us know so we can investigate it.”
To report a safety defect to Transport Canada, you may fill in our online defect complaint form, or speak with a defect investigator by calling 1-800-333-0510.
Transport Canada helps Ukraine establish maritime administration
Canada’s newest export to Ukraine is its maritime expertise.
Since Canada is a leader in developing and applying many marine conventions, protocols and policies, Ukraine’s Ministry of Infrastructure sought Canada’s help to reform its civilian maritime sector.
Transport Canada chose Toni Becherrawi, a senior marine inspector with the department, to help the Ukrainian government accomplish two objectives: develop a maritime administration that meets international standards and prepare its administration for the mandatory audit by the International Maritime Organization. This United Nations organization sets out international maritime standards and governs the maritime sector globally.
Ukraine’s new maritime administration is modelled after Canada’s – one with high standards designed to provide the country with a safe and efficient marine transportation system worthy of public confidence.
Mr. Becherrawi made his first 10-day trip to Ukraine last year to observe the maritime sector. He reported on the state of Ukraine’s civilian maritime sector, including an outline of what he believed the Ukrainian government needed to do to elevate its marine standards. He also offered possible solutions to many of the challenges Ukraine faced.
“It is a tremendously huge and great challenge,” he said.
His roadmap received a positive response. Mr. Becherrawi offered the Ukraine government a solution to most of the challenges they faced with the marine administration. But to Mr. Becherrawi, he was just doing his job.
“It was exciting. I was not expecting that,” Mr. Becherrawi said. “It made me proud. I was able to fly our flag a little bit higher. It was really, really exciting.”
In addition to the roadmap, Mr. Becherrawi also helped establish a project management system that included a team on the ground. He helped develop an action plan and will advise Ukraine on the implementation of the International Maritime Organization mandatory instruments.
It is expected that the newly established management system will help Ukraine during its first mandatory International Maritime Organization audit next year.
Ukrainian government officials and Canada’s ambassador to Ukraine signed a formal partnership agreement in July to further advance Mr. Becherrawi’s work. The occasion marked a significant milestone in Canada’s partnership with Ukraine.
“We always like to show that kind face,” Mr. Becherrawi said. “We are willing to help.”
Mr. Becherrawi, who is working on his PhD in marine emissions, joined Transport Canada as marine inspector in 2009. Before this, he had a 17-year career in Germany working as a seafarer, a marine engineer, surveyor and a technical superintendent managing a fleet of ships.
Meet the Transport Canada Inspectors: Ensuring dangerous goods move safely in Atlantic Canada
One by one, trucks rumble up to the weigh scales in Amherst, Nova Scotia. It is the annual Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance truck blitz at the Nova Scotia — New Brunswick border. This event allows federal and provincial partners to get up close and personal with drivers and their rigs.
Provincial commercial vehicle enforcement officers, with help from inspectors Wally Chivers and Cluny Nichols of Transport Canada’s Atlantic Region Transportation of Dangerous Goods team, will thoroughly inspect trucks carrying “dangerous goods”.
“We are looking at all aspects of the Transportation of Dangerous Goods Regulations (Regulations). This includes making sure shippers have properly identified, contained and shipped their dangerous goods; and drivers can prove they are properly trained,” said Wally Chivers, a 26-year veteran of the Transportation of Dangerous Goods team. “We are checking for compliance with the Regulations in those areas. More than that, though, it is a great opportunity to meet and develop relationships with drivers and the companies they represent. We have noted that the better those relationships are, the safer the loads will be.”
According to the Regulations, trucks carrying dangerous goods must be clearly marked with signs that identify the specific products they carry. Drivers must have verifiable training certificates to transport dangerous goods. Products must be shipped in containers that meet specific safety standards.
“Matching documentation to loads and training requirements, and checking means of containment is important,” said Cluny Nichols. “But so is talking to the driver and hearing where they’re coming from, where they’re going, the types of products they’re carrying, and how their day is going.”
The Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance safety blitz is also a great opportunity for federal and provincial partner departments to get a better idea of how their respective teams function. Colleagues from the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, representatives from several Nova Scotia government departments, and safety officers from transportation and hazardous response companies work side by side at the scales, conducting compliance inspections and monitoring the safe movement of all types of goods during this particular event.
While inspectors take enforcement action as required, they agree their most important role is educating and working with industry to help drivers understand how Transport Canada’s standards and regulations keep Canada’s roads safer. Wally has been to dangerous goods spill sites over the course of his career, and says his team’s efforts in promoting the importance of complying with the Regulations — with a focus on safety and preventing accidents — has made a positive impact on the transportation of dangerous goods.
Sept-Îles Lake: A pilot project for safer, more environmentally-friendly recreational boating
Transport Canada’s Office of Boating Safety is responsible for the regulatory framework governing recreational boating. The Pleasure Craft Courtesy Check Program is a key activity for the Office of Boating Safety that promotes and increases awareness among boaters of boating safety and safety issues in the context of the Canada Shipping Act, 2001.
The Pleasure Craft Courtesy Check Program is provided free of charge and is very popular with recreational boaters and participating municipalities. The Program is offered in partnership with the Canadian Coast Guard’s Inshore Rescue Boat Service and the Canadian Coast Guard Auxiliary, which covers the St. Lawrence and Saguenay Rivers.
Statistical analysis of boating incidents in recent years shows a greater vulnerability on inland waterways compared to bigger waterways, such as the St. Lawrence River. Because of this, the team at the Office of Boating Safety, in Transport Canada’s Quebec Region, under the direction of Sophie Noël, felt there was a need to expand their partnerships in order to extend the Pleasure Craft Courtesy Check Program to inland waterways.
Following significant engagement and consultation with select municipalities in the Greater Quebec City area, the municipalities of Saint-Raymond (Sept-Îles Lake); Fossambault-sur-le-Lac; Lac Saint-Joseph; and Sainte-Catherine-de-la-Jacques-Cartier —with the participation of the Jacques-Cartier regional county municipality (Lake Saint-Joseph) — agreed to work with Transport Canada to offer the Program in their areas. The Canadian Red Cross also decided to incorporate the Program into its regular activities related to waterways in the Mauricie and Lac-Saint-Jean regions.
Transport Canada-trained students to carry out boater awareness activities, which include performing courtesy inspections, explaining the regulatory requirements relative to boating safety, and providing information on specific characteristics of the waterways that recreational boaters use or plan to use. The students also promote the importance and utility of nautical charts, and answer boaters’ questions.
In 2016, more than 2,000 boats were inspected in the Quebec Region and Transport Canada student inspectors met with between 5,000 and 6,000 recreational boaters. These numbers are expected to increase in 2017 as a result of various new initiatives implemented this year.
The Office of Boating Safety, Quebec Region, is pleased to have new partners who, like Transport Canada, are committed to continually improving safety and protecting lives, health, property and the marine environment through education and increased awareness.
Fighting fire with fire
It’s a cold February day near Quebec City as firefighters are hard at work battling a blaze, and Transport Canada is on the job. Orange flames leap into the air around a black rail tanker car as grim first responders point their hoses at the fire.
But, this isn’t a scene from a disaster movie, it’s real-life training organized by Transport Canada for firefighters who may one day have to deal with a real accident in their hometowns.
Rail incidents involving flammable liquids can deteriorate quickly. An effective response needs an entire team of highly-trained first responders and experts. That’s why TC helped organize two full-scale training exercises to help firefighters get the best preparation for the worst situations.
The first one, sporting the fiery code name “Vulcan”, took place last year in British Columbia. The second, “Athéna”, was held at the Institut maritime du Québec in Lévis in February 2017, and involved fire departments from small communities around the area.
To design and deliver the training, specialists from CANUTEC, Transport Canada’s Transport Emergency Centre, and from the department’s Emergency Response Assistance Plan program, worked with experts from the rail and petroleum industry and other related fields.
CANUTEC is a national advisory service that offers 24/7 advice and support to responders handling dangerous goods emergencies. The centre is staffed by scientists specializing in chemistry or related fields and trained in emergency response. Every year, CANUTEC deals with approximately 1,000 emergency situations and handles over 25,000 telephone calls.
Vulcan and Athéna included online training, classroom activities, practical scenarios and field simulations. Participants learned about the risks involved with flammable liquids, potential physical hazards on a derailment site, and what steps to follow when they are called to an incident. They were also taught about industry best practices and the different tactics and strategies they can use.
A key component was promoting teamwork and making sure everyone understood their role. When this many players are involved, coordination is a must for timely, safe incident resolution.
For Vulcan, a derailment site was available. With Athéna, organizers had to innovate. A virtual prototype was developed to simulate a derailment involving flammable liquids. The prototype provided a complete, realistic view of a site, including smoke and fire. An outdoor prop at the Institut was also modified to deliver a more realistic experience.
Participants’ knowledge was tested before and after the exercise. Feedback will be essential for determining how helpful and effective the exercise was. The eventual goal is to develop a national training program for first responders.
Just like putting out a fire, success wouldn’t be possible without partnership and teamwork. Transport Canada worked closely with Defence Research and Development Canada, and is grateful to the following organizations for providing staff or equipment for Exercise Athéna:
- Canadian Pacific
- Canadian National
- École nationale des pompiers du Québec
- Emergency Response Assistance Canada (ERAC)
- Genesee & Wyoming (G&W)
- Institut maritime du Québec (French only)
- International Safety Research
- Railway Association of Canada
- Suncor Energy
- Williams Fire and Hazard Control
Transport Canada is on duty 24 hours a day, making a real contribution and difference in the lives of Canadians.