Adventure Tours Inc. v. St. John’s Port Authority

In Miscellaneous Maritime Law Topics on (Updated )

Précis: The Federal Court upheld the decision of a Port Authority denying an application to conduct tour boat operations from port managed property.

Facts: The applicant had conducted tour boat operations in the Port of St. John’s and in October 2001 requested that the St. John’s Port Authority (the "Authority") permit it to renew its operations from port managed property. The Authority denied the request as it had implemented a policy in 2006 restricting the number of such operators to three, none of whom were the Applicant. The Applicant then brought a judicial review application to set aside the decision of the Authority. On motion by the Authority that application was struck on the grounds that there was neither a formal request nor an application made by the Applicant that could be the subject of judicial review (2012 FC 305). An appeal from that decision was dismissed on 22 January 2013 (2013 FC 55). In March 2013 the Applicant again requested permission to resume its tour boat operations from port managed property and the Authority again declined the request. The Applicant then brought this second judicial review application. The main issue was whether the Authority had the power to require that commercial tour boat operators be licensed.

Decision: Application denied.

Held: Pursuant to the Canada Marine Act and its letters patent, the Authority has the power to license operations relating to the carriage of passengers. Good management of a port requires that the activities of tour operators be licensed. The decision of the Authority is not ultra vires on the grounds that it is an infringement of the public right of navigation. The public right of navigation is not unrestricted. Parliament has the right to legislate in respect of navigation and shipping and is not restricted to using only one statute, the Canada Shipping Act, 2001, to so legislate. The Canada Shipping Act, 2001 may be the primary legislative vehicle used to regulate navigation and shipping but other legislation such as the Canada Marine Act can also be used.