THUNDER BAY – “The marine shipping industry is an important part of the economies along the Great Lakes and is responsible for supporting thousands of jobs throughout the region,” states Collister Johnson Jr., Administrator of the U.S. Saint Lawrence Seaway Development Corporation, responsible for the operation of the American section of the system. “As manufacturers increase production, we take great pride ensuring that these materials are transported economically and safely to industry so that more people can get back to work.”
The H2O Highway does not seem to be top-ranked on the political radar, but there is a huge construction project looming as the aging seaway will require upgrading.
In Thunder Bay, the types of cargo and the use of the port appear to be continuing to evolve. Dry bulk cargo continues to grow in capacity, while grain continues to shrink in tonnage.
The Port of Thunder Bay has forged important links with Western Canada and the Oil Patch. Large items can be shipped through Thunder Bay by sea and then by rail to the west. Wide items that are destined for the booming Oil Sands in Alberta can be shipped through Thunder Bay and by rail to finish their journey.
While many projects have been proposed to stimulate the economy, perhaps it is time for Canada to once again think big and build big. The Seaway is the kind of big project that needs doing, and would provide long term jobs for a large number of workers.
The beauty of choosing a large project like the Seaway as a major infrastructure program is that both Canada and the United States would benefit.
In addition, upgrading the Seaway would support all of the communities in the Great Lakes, and out to the St. Lawrence River.
It is a project that is due, all that is needed is the political courage to make it happen. One wonders who might have that big vision courage?