The Canadian Coast Guard maintains Marine Communications and Traffic Services (MCTS) coverage of the approaches to Victoria Harbour but there is no equivalent in the harbour itself. Traffic movements of large vessels are reported to MCTS as arrivals and departures only.
Under normal circumstances, the Coast Guard Base itself has no direct responsibility for assisting the harbour authorities in the operation of the harbour
Department of National Defence
The Naval Reserve Unit for Victoria, HMCS MALAHAT, is located on the harbour adjacent to the Canadian Coast Guard base at Shoal Point. It has a dock with berthage for a few small craft. HMCS MALAHAT has no direct responsibility for any activities in the harbour but is clearly a resource in terms of security should the Commander, Maritime Forces Pacific so direct, bearing in mind the part-time commitment inherent in Reservists.
The control tower situated at Shoal Point where the harbour makes its first right-angle turn eastward, provides only an airport advisory service to floatplanes and helicopters using the airspace to a five-mile radius up to 2,500 feet. Aircraft captains are still responsible for their own safety both on the water and in the air. This coverage takes in the whole harbour, both the Coast Guard helicopter operations and the passenger helicopter service at Ogden Point. The British Columbia Air Ambulance helicopters using the pad at the Victoria General Hospital and the emergency landing pad on the north side of the harbour are also provided with this service.
The control tower provides weather data as well as surface traffic advice for approximately 16 hours per day as the floatplanes operate only in daylight Visual Flight Rules conditions.
Victoria has only one police force with jurisdiction in the harbour area. The Victoria Police Department Marine Response Unit consists of two patrol vessels manned by officers from patrol cars on the beat when needed. Response time is generally 6 minutes or less. Familiarization and training on the water are used to provide a police presence on a random basis. Special marine events requiring security are handled by this unit.
It is anticipated that an RCMP small vessel with a crew of two will soon be stationed in the area to support local detachments and will likely integrate its operations with the Marine Response Unit.
Transport Canada Marine Security
To comply with the International Ship and Port Facility Security (ISPS) Code, Transport Canada Marine Security has established three marine security levels, which all port users must be aware of and act upon accordingly.
MARSEC Level 1 – Normal day-to-day operational status where business is conducted with the minimum necessary security being undertaken.
MARSEC Level 2 – All procedures in MARSEC Level 1 remain in place and extended patrolling on land and by water by security/police forces occurs with increased personnel to provide 24 hour coverage. Access to certain parts of the port is more restrictive. Police forces integrate their activities more closely with those of port security authorities to ensure no gaps in coverage occur. (This may lead to some restrictions on the movement of recreational vessels in the harbour, possibly limiting them to certain geographic areas.)
MARSEC Level 3 - All procedures and resources in place at MARSEC Level 2 plus actions to ensure 24 hour presence on land and water. Multiple patrol vessels operating, more restrictions on access to the port and more restrictions on vessel traffic movement coordinated among police, the Harbour Master and commercial port users.
While much of the day-to-day overseeing of the security of the port is undertaken by the Harbour Master, the terminal operators and the police forces, Transport Canada Marine Security is the lead agency for security issues. Only this department can authorize the setting of a MARSEC level for the port. In some circumstances, the client of a terminal may request higher levels of security around that terminal or ship which will be complied with. However, this does not constitute raising of the MARSEC level overall.
Transport Canada Marine Security has only very limited capability for response, interdiction and enforcement and for those actions must generally turn to the police force. (It does not have a resident member in Victoria, the nearest office being in Vancouver.)
Notwithstanding the above, anyone can, and indeed is encouraged to report any activity that might have security implications. All the agencies in the port of Victoria that are charged with its administration report a high level of cooperation among users in reporting unusual events, oil spills, accidents etc on the water in the harbour.
To provide on-water response to fires either in ships or on waterside facilities, the Victoria Fire Department maintains a small fireboat which can be manned by personnel from nearby stations in the city. It has a limited capability but there are several small tugs based in the Upper Harbour with water cannons fitted and which can assist at short notice.
Although the operators of the marinas, fuel facilities, terminals etc have immediate response equipment to mitigate oil or chemical spills, clean up is by contract with a Vancouver company that specializes in this work. The equipment needed is stored locally, requiring only the expertise to be flown in when the need arises.