HAMILTON PORT AUTHORITY ACCOUNTABLE
by Keith Robson, President & CEO, Hamilton Harbour Port
Dear Karin Larson,
I refer to your editorial and letter from Randy Desnoyers in the January/February/05 edition. I think it is a pity that you did not check out some of the background before coming to the conclusions that you did.
To answer your last point first: as a Canadian Port Authority, we are accountable to lots of stakeholders but ultimately to the Government of Canada through its elected representatives. We operate under the Canada Marine Act and Letters Patent specific to our Port. This requires us to be financially self sufficient and operate in a commercial manner. As President & CEO, I report to a Board of Directors much as I would in any public company. Four members of the Board of Directors are nominated by port user groups and appointed by the Transport Minister and the three levels of government each appoint one, for a total of seven.
The Port Authority in Hamilton does not receive any subsidies. Quite the reverse! We pay a stipend to the Federal government based on gross revenue, irrespective of profitability, and PILTS, Payment in Lieu of Taxes, to the Municipal Government based on property assessment similar to the normal commercial property tax assessment.
Salaries of Senior Management are determined by the Board based on market surveys and are certainly not excessive. The Board, like any public Board, also determines its own remuneration based on market comparisons and also, in my view, not excessive in our case, given the responsibilities and liabilities they undertake.
We have two businesses. The Commercial Port Operations that is the primary function of the Port Authority under the Canada Marine Act, and Recreational Boating. It is our intention to continue to remain in the marina business and grow it. We are currently negotiating with the City of Hamilton an extension of our lease on Pier 7, as they now own the land. We expect to be a long-term partner with the City but they have the formal control over whether Marina operations remain in the north end of Hamilton Harbour and in what form. In the meantime we are also exploring a new development at Fisherman's Pier including a brand new marina.
Unnecessarily restricting access to our marinas would not help them to be profitable. We do not and cannot provide all the services that a boater requires. However we do have standards that we expect our tenants and contractors to meet in the overall interest of the users as well as the environment Our marina is open to brokers and maintenance suppliers subject only to the normal business courtesy and evidence of adequate insurance coverage. With the additional Security requirements placed on us by the ISPS code we will be more demanding in ensuring that people abide by the rules.
I hope this clears up any misconceptions. You should not generalize on the basis of one individual with an axe to grind. If you would like to visit the Port and experience first hand what we are doing today and planning for the future you would be very welcome.
President & CEO,
Hamilton Harbour Port Authority
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