By Wendy Zatylny

A year ago, as the newly appointed Executive Director at the Association of Canadian Port Authorities (ACPA), I had my first exposure to the ports community at the 2012 annual conference in Hamilton. What a year it has been since then. The changes brought about by the ACPA governance review established a clear challenge: to create a new value proposition for our corporate members, stakeholders and supporters. This was accomplished, in part, through significant amendments to ACPA’s Bylaws to conform with Canada’s new Not-for-Profit Corporations Act.

Working closely with the Board of Directors, the challenge of creating a new value proposition was undertaken with vigour. The past year witnessed activity on many fronts. We began by developing a comprehensive ACPA “White Paper on Marine Policy” in response to Transport Canada’s Marine Policy Review. The White Paper emerged from extensive input from the Association’s eighteen corporate members, both through an initial survey and then with face-to-face meetings to arrive at consensus on the recommendations. This document now forms the basis of ACPA’s positions going forward.

We also worked hard at expanding ACPA’s visibility and outreach within Ottawa. It has been both gratifying and encouraging to see the level of collaboration, engagement and support coming from our partner organizations within the shipping community, as well as from the broader government community. We look forward to more engaged and collaborative partnerships in the coming year. ACPA will do its part to remain a valued and productive partner in the ongoing policy dialogue occurring among our members, supporters and stakeholders, partners and government.

In May, ACPA’s full-time staff complement doubled with the appointment of Antoinette Brind’Amour as our new Communications Manager. Antoinette has guided the Association into the beginnings of a Social Media presence, helped expand our bilingual capacity, and ushered in a new and dynamic look for the Association’s communications products. With her help, and that of Dr. Mike Ircha, ACPA’s policy advisor, we have been able to take great strides towards ensuring our members’ views and interests are understood and well represented.

Next over the horizon

And this is just the beginning. The year ahead will see us building on the momentum we have created over the past year, to strengthen our presence, collaboration and relationships with our many partner associations and government officials. In the coming months, ACPA will be reaching out to non-CPA ports to join us as active supporters. Being an ACPA supporter brings many benefits, among them staying connected with current port happenings, emerging government policies and programs that affect the ports community, as well as offering an opportunity to interact with other port executives on a regular basis.

ACPA will continue to be actively engaged in Transport Canada’s Marine Policy Review, including ensuring current concerns on the need for port infrastructure support remains front and centre in the Government’s policy agenda. ACPA’s key thrust will be to continue to reinforce the critical role of ports as major logistics pillars supporting Canada’s broader economic and trade agenda.

At the same time, we are seeking to regularize ACPA’s communications products including an e-newsletter highlighting current port news; a revamped, bilingual website; and an expanded Canadian Ports Magazine. In addition, ACPA will continue to mount periodic seminars on relevant port issues such as the Governance Seminar scheduled for November.

ACPA’s 55th Annual Conference in Nanaimo, with its theme of “Building Partnerships” and its first-time trade show, reflects the Association’s new direction – a direction characterized by dynamism, energy, and service to our members, supporters and stakeholders and the greater ports and shipping community.

I would like to close with a warm and heartfelt thank you to Bernie Dumas and the entire team at the Nanaimo Port Authority for all of their hard work and dedication in hosting what is shaping up to be a fabulous conference. As ACPA undergoes its own evolution, the annual conference naturally changes as well. Bernie and his team brought creativity, enthusiasm, innovation and a healthy dose of humour to their task of mounting this year’s conference. The results are reflected in the quality of the event. At the end of the day, they have effectively captured and reflected the true essence of “partnerships.”