Introducing Halifax, Canada, Winner of the Port of the Year Award 2015

On the 9th June 2015, the Port of Halifax was awarded the accolade of Port of the Year at the International Seafarers Welfare Awards.

This is awarded to the port that has done the most for the provision of and access to high quality welfare services and facilities for seafarers.

Here, we discuss what the port has been up to since winning.

Who is the Port of Halifax?

Halifax is situated in Novia Scotia, Canada. The world's largest shipping lines call at the Port of Halifax, connecting the port to more than 150 countries, the port is also a premier cruise destination.

In 2015, the HPA gave a long-term land lease for a nominal fee to the Mission to Seafarers' building in the Halifax Seaport, close to the cargo and cruise terminals. Since the 1990s the proceeds from its voluntary toll for ships docking at its terminals have gone to the Mission.

Together, the Halifax Port Authority (HPA) and Mission to Seafarers provide a shoebox program, offering a variety of services to visiting seafarers. HPA also works closely with the Reverend Deacon and the Manager to involve the Mission in port events. All of the agencies involved work tirelessly to provide a warm welcome, guidance and support for seafarers.

HPA's director of human resources was also awarded with a long-service award for volunteering with the Mission.

What services are provided at the port?

Through the Halifax Mission to Seafarers, vessel crew can make a phone call, access the internet, play pool, worship in the chapel or just relax and chat with a volunteer. Volunteers and staff transport the seafarers from the ship to the Mission, as well as to Halifax for shopping or sightseeing. The Mission also runs an annual Christmas lunch attended by 300 members of the port community.

The Halifax Seaport provides amenities such as free WiFi, and a farmers' market is readily available.

Halifax Port Authority provides free security clearances and cards to Mission staff and volunteers so that they can gain access to terminals and parking. Port staff visits the Mission and provides the Reverend Deacon with enhanced clearance to visit cruise ships. Port employees often alert the Mission to a seafarer's problem on board.

What does winning Port of the Year 2015 mean to the Port of Halifax?

"It is a tremendous honour to be named as the 2015 Port of the Year in the International Seafarers' Welfare Awards," said Karen Oldfield, President and CEO, Halifax Port Authority. "The Port of Halifax is a very tightknit community and it is humbling to accept this award on behalf of our stakeholders and partner organizations – marine pilots, tug operators, shipping companies, terminal operators, the entire cruise industry and of course the Halifax Mission to Seafarers."

The Port of Halifax was delighted to accept a recognition that could be shared with the entire port community. All parties continue to work together to deliver welfare services to seafarers.

What has the port been up to since winning?

The annual Port Days were held in September. Customers, shipping lines, Terminal Operators, members of government and the public all gathered to participate in this two day event. Several speakers from various North American and European stakeholders participated in the event. Donations were made to the Mission, and two pictures were donated by a well-known industry photographer from Halifax, Steve Farmer, auctioned off with all proceeds to the Mission.
The Mission has also undertaken other fundraising events, such as sharing authentic Filipino food on the Day of the Seafarer 2015, and the19th annual Mission to Seafarers Golf tournament.

Thanks to recent fundraising efforts, volunteers have been able to build a new wheelchair accessible entrance and deck.

What plans does the port have over the next year?

The annual Christmas Luncheon is being planned for December 9th, and the port continues to offer access to free Wi-Fi from the cruise pavilion and other Halifax Seaport public buildings.

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