A new B.C. Maritime Industries Strategy will chart the course for a more competitive, modernized marine sector with reduced carbon emissions, and creating more highly skilled jobs to meet growing demands, says the Province.
“B.C. is home to Canada’s largest maritime sector with leaders and businesses at the forefront of marine innovation, clean fuels and technological advancements,” said Brenda Bailey, Minister of Jobs, Economic Development and Innovation, on Wednesday. “By modernizing our maritime infrastructure and better co-ordinating maritime industry contracts and workforce strategies, B.C. will support local companies to grow into new international markets, and open more career opportunities and jobs for British Columbians.”
The new B.C. Maritime Industries Strategy is a key action in the StrongerBC Economic Plan. As much as $25 million will be invested in new and modernized infrastructure and assets that will support shipyards to meet growing market demand for their services and attract more investment to B.C.
The funding is being provided by the Province to the Association of B.C. Marine Industries (ABCMI) to deliver the new B.C. Maritime Industries Infrastructure Modernization and Expansion Grant Program. B.C. companies can apply for grant funding on the ABCMI website.
“ABCMI is proud to have supported the B.C. government in the development of the B.C. Maritime Industries Strategy,” said Dan McGreer, board chair, ABCMI. “The strategy will be a catalyst for the growth of the B.C. marine industry and lead to greater employment in well-paying future-ready jobs. The strategy will support innovation in the marine sector in clean fuels and related technologies, which will help B.C. achieve its GHG-reduction targets.”
The new grant program allows B.C. companies to apply for capital funding for projects that modernize, scale and increase regional capabilities and capacity for shipbuilding, refit, repair and maintenance to help them be more competitive and grow. The program also supports projects that increase the new build capacity for smaller coastal craft.
“Under the National Shipbuilding Strategy (NSS), Seaspan Shipyards has rebuilt a B.C.-based, large shipbuilding industry, including our shipyard, construction and engineering teams and supply chain with more than 500 B.C. companies,” said John McCarthy, chief executive officer, Seaspan Shipyards. “Seaspan welcomes today’s announcement and looks forward to identifying and collaborating on opportunities for domestic ship owners to source B.C.-based technology, products and services and leverage the NSS capabilities.”
The strategy outlines how the Province will build on existing strengths to maximize opportunities and further establish B.C.’s position as a leader in innovative and high-value industrial maritime activity.
In addition, a new West Coast Maritime Office will support greater collaboration between sector partners, increase capacity to respond to the NSS and other procurement initiatives, and will connect B.C. companies with growth opportunities. The office will also partner with First Nations, Métis and Indigenous businesses and organizations to support Indigenous business development and increase opportunities for Indigenous people.
Through the StrongerBC: Future Ready Action Plan, more people in B.C. will be equipped to meet the high demand for skilled labour and management among shipyards and boat builders, as well as the growing demand for skilled employees with high-level technical training in data analytics, machine learning, automation and fuel conversions. This will help alleviate labour shortages and create well-paying jobs for more British Columbians, including Indigenous people.
The B.C. Maritime Industries Strategy is part of the StrongerBC Economic Plan, which is moving British Columbia forward by tackling the challenges of today, while growing an innovative economy that works for everyone.
* B.C.’s blue economy contributes $7.6 billion to the province’s GDP and 43,000 jobs.
* B.C. has the largest marine economy in Canada, more than double the size of the next two largest, Quebec and Nova Scotia.
* The Port of Vancouver is Canada’s largest port, and third-largest in North America.
* B.C. is home to the world’s third-largest ferry operator (BC Ferries) and the largest graving dock (Esquimalt Graving Dock) on the west coast of the Americas.
The Maritime Industries Strategy
British Columbia is a marine province, and communities along its coasts have long relied on vessels to move people, transport goods and support local economies.
The province is home to Canada’s largest port (Port of Vancouver), the Pacific coast naval base, and key infrastructure supporting vessel construction and robust ship refit, repair and maintenance services (Victoria’s Esquimalt Graving Dock, the federal Fleet Maintenance Facility and the B.C. Ferries Fleet Maintenance Unit). There is high demand for shipyard capacity for everything from providing ongoing services for the Royal Canadian Navy, the Canadian Coast Guard and BC Ferries, to commercial, cruise and domestic vessels that require servicing.
In the past decade, the National Shipbuilding Strategy created long-term opportunities for the province’s maritime industries, revitalizing vessel-construction capabilities and generating strong demand for maintenance and repair services. To continue to remain competitive, the sector identified key industry challenges, including infrastructure shortages, labour shortages and the need for co-ordination support to meet green regulations.
The Province appointed an advisory body in September 2021, including industry, academia and government representatives, to identify the specific needs of the maritime sector. Through a survey and a series of roundtables and one-on-one discussions, an additional 45 organizations, including business and trade associations, industry and industry associations, federal government departments and agencies, local governments and First Nations, infrastructure stakeholders, and the academic and research community, provided input.
This announcement also builds on recent support provided to B.C. maritime industries through the provincial Innovative Clean Energy Fund, including:
* $2 million for the Centre for Ocean Applied Sustainable Technologies to serve as a “blue economy” catalyst connecting emerging technologies and early research to large industry players like shipping, shipbuilding and defence/aerospace;
* $2 million to the University of Victoria Pacific Regional Institute for Marine Energy Discovery’s Blind Channel Test Centre to support research on renewable energy sources; and
* $1.75 million for the Victoria-based Open Ocean Robotics to develop emission-free, un-crewed surface vehicles with sensors, cameras and communication devices.