By Dave Flaherty/The Oshawa Express
City manager Paul Ralph admits it caught him off guard when learning the board of directors for the Hamilton Oshawa Port Authority was set.
Ralph says he became aware of the appointments earlier this month through the Hamilton port’s website.
He told The Oshawa Express, as far as he knows, the City of Oshawa had no involvement in the process.
“Not one bit that I am aware of – not at least through [the city manager’s] office,” Ralph says
The matter was never brought to city council’s attention either, he adds.
Council had previously asked Transport Canada for clarification on the appointment process.
“The next thing we heard through the grapevine was there was appointments,” Ralph says.
The port authorities of Hamilton and Oshawa merged on June 18.
Minister of Transport Marc Garneau announced plans to amalgamate the organizations in March.
According to the certificate of amalgamation published by the federal government, the cities of Oshawa and Hamilton, in consultation with the City of Burlington, would select one of the seven directors.
“I think we were surprised. We thought there would be some consultation,” Ralph said. “I’m not sure if there was any consultation with Hamilton.”
Hamilton resident Jim Howlett will serve as the municipal representative.
He was first appointed to the Hamilton Port Authority board on Feb. 14, 2018.
Howlett has served on the International Joint Commission to the Great Lakes, and as a provincial tribunal judge with the Hamilton Source Protection Authority and Hamilton Conservation Authority.
Larissa Fenn, public affairs director for the port authority, said Howlett will remain in place through the board’s first term, which ends in February 2022.
Bruce MacArthur served previously as a municipal representative for the City of Oshawa.
He has been reappointed as the class 2 port user representative on the new board of directors.
Simon Rivet, a spokesperson for Transport Canada, says this was done in order to respect the existing municipal representatives from both Hamilton and Oshawa while maintaining compliance with the Canadian Marine Act, which only allows for one municipal representative per board.
Once Howlett’s term ends in 2022, the next municipal representative will be selected by Oshawa and Hamilton, with assistance from Burlington.
Before the merger, Donna Taylor was Harbourmaster and CEO of the Oshawa Port Authority, and previously the Oshawa Harbour Commission, since 1984.
She will take on a new role of amalgamation director with the Hamilton-Oshawa authority.
According to the news release, Taylor’s duties will include “interfacing with customers and making recommendations based on her vast experience in marine shipping and working with local stakeholders in Oshawa.”
Oshawa MP Colin Carrie isn’t happy with the lack of the city’s involvement.
While he has no issue with any of the appointees, Carrie believes the composition favours Hamilton.
“I am disappointed to say my prediction that Oshawa would have little representation has come true,” Carrie says.
He worries the Hamilton port, which has been a rival in the past, will be the priority and Oshawa left to take “what Hamilton doesn’t want.”
To him, the Trudeau government pushed amalgamation through without an appropriate business plan, and favours Hamilton because it is a “more-winnable” riding for them.