The Western Transportation Advisory Council, or WESTAC, has been navigating the challenges of promoting system-wide, strategic advancement of transportation and goods movement in Western Canada for 50 years.

The Council’s aspirations for excellence in transportation have been inspired and sustained by a group of senior private sector, government and labour leaders that has embraced the importance of collaboration and continues to be the force behind WESTAC’s success.

The organization’s inception dates back to 1971, at a transportation conference held in Vancouver, when discussions were held about the need for a new, cooperative approach to addressing issues impacting the transportation system in Western Canada. It was determined that such an approach would have to be comprehensive, multimodal, interdisciplinary and regional in its outlook. The Western Transportation Advisory Council (WESTAC) was officially incorporated in Vancouver in 1973.

WESTAC’s founding members included cabinet ministers from Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta and British Columbia and a group of seven forward-thinking labour and business leaders. They quickly set about defining the major issues impeding the efficient movement of people and goods within and between the four Western provinces, as well as to and from other domestic and world markets. These issues included increasing capacity, sourcing sufficient capital, developing skilled labour and the adequacy of forecasting, many of which have been a core focus of the Council’s activities.

“WESTAC will fill a long-standing gap which the regulated nature of transport has created. For the first time, the users and providers of transport service, which have been cast by historical tradition into adversarial roles, have moved towards a co-operative role.” — Hon. Robert Strachan, Transport & Communications Minister, Government of British Columbia, September 17, 1973

Five decades later, the Council still comprises a group of committed, experienced industry, labour and government leaders who recognize that transportation issues have long horizons and require a sustained, collective commitment. Many of the same issues continue to be relevant to the organization today, and WESTAC continues to provide the information needed by these leaders to stay ahead of the strategic implications of industry, market and regulatory changes. Just as in the past, resolving system-wide problems requires the full range of stakeholders around the WESTAC table.

“I have personally felt very privileged to be involved with an organization where controversy can be set aside, and even if only for a short time, all involved can share their knowledge and expertise to better inform one another and mutually explore issues.”
-- Maureen Melville, WESTAC President, 1992