THUNDER BAY – Editorial – There is a vacancy on the Thunder Bay Port Authority board. Under the 1995 National Marine Policy, 19 major Canadian ports were deemed vital to Canada’s domestic and international trade. These 19 ports were designated Canada Port Authorities (CPAs) under The Canada Marine Act which received Royal Assent on June 11, 1998. Canada Port Authorities were created to operate particular ports on behalf of the Government of Canada. In certain cases, CPAs possess the power to engage in activities related to shipping, navigation and transportation of passengers and goods.
They may also be given Crown land to operate and manage, but not to own. They may, however, acquire and own land in their own name. CPAs are required to be self-sufficient and fund their operations through the revenues that they generate. Under Section 25 of the Canada Marine Act, CPAs are not eligible for federal funding, other than grants of general application or in the case of emergencies. The mission of the Thunder Bay Port Authority is to promote and invest in the efficient integration of marine, rail, and road transportation systems and participate in the region’s economic development.
Moving the port forward requires careful planning, and people who can help direct the Port of Thunder Bay into the future. There are challenges that our port is facing, one major one is changing technology.
Centreport in Winnipeg Manitoba is one of the efforts that should be a concern for the region.
CentrePort Canada is North America’s new 20,000-acre inland port that has been designated Canada’s first Foreign Trade Zone (FTZ). Located in Manitoba next to Winnipeg’s James Armstrong Richardson International Airport, CentrePort Canada offers greenfield investment opportunities for a wide variety of business operations including distribution, warehousing and manufacturing.
CentrePort Canada is strategically located in the central time zone in the heart of North America. It boasts a modern, well-established network of highways, railways, air and sea connections to important regional and international markets, including eastern and western Canada, the United States, Mexico and Latin America, as well as Europe and Asia.
As an FTZ, CentrePort Canada has significant tax and cost savings to offer foreign investors and businesses looking for new ways to bring their products to the North American marketplace. FTZ benefits include deferral of customs duties and a GST exemption on products imported to Canada for warehousing or processing before re-export out of country.
Centreport Canada is taking on container rail shipping, and moving into the future. On May 10th, in an agreement designed to increase trade with China, an agreement was reached. That agreement calls for the development of a new containerization and transportation project in Manitoba that would grow the export of home-grown food products such as soybeans, green peas and canola meal to Chongqing, China for distribution throughout the country.
“Today’s collaboration is a significant step forward in increasing trade with China,” said Diane Gray, president and CEO of CentrePort Canada. “Manitoba agricultural products are in demand and this partnership will allow us to coordinate the export of these products from local producer to international marketplace. This project will also help us maximize the use of the tremendous rail assets that exist in Winnipeg.”
Centreport is betting that containerized rail is going to be the next major step forward. It is a step that the City of Thunder Bay, and the Port of Thunder Bay should be watching closely.
When changes happened on the prairies that impacted the old style elevators, much of the cleaning of grain ended up being done on the prairies. Once the product was put in railcars, a growing number of those rail cars ended up in Montreal, by-passing the Port of Thunder Bay. There has been a steady decline in the grain tonnage shipped through Thunder Bay over recent years.
Centreport Canada, states that “The inland port have grown in prominence and relevancy as globalization increases and businesses continually search for new ways to enter new and existing markets. In 2010, Canada showed stronger economic growth than in 2009 as trade volumes rebounded. Despite a higher Canadian dollar, export growth is expected to accelerate in 2011 due to the economic recovery in the United States and the strength of emerging markets in Asia.
The United States still represents the largest market for Canadian exports. However, Canadian exports to China have more than doubled from 2000 to 2010, according to the Royal Bank of Canada, which also projects a nine per cent increase in Canadian exports in 2011. Consumer demand from China and other Asia-Pacific markets are fuelling significant growth in container throughputs at both Port Metro Vancouver and Port of Prince Rupert”.
The ball is in Thunder Bay’s court, making our port increasingly modern, and meeting the needs of today’s customer is vital.
We have, of course good people on the port authority right now, choosing the new members is going to be critical to setting the stage for the future.
Current Members and their terms:
Director (Federal) Metzler, Edward
Thunder Bay, Ontario
Arason, Gregory Skapti
Hudolin, Maria Elizabeth Ann
Thunder Bay, Ontario
Stille, Frederick John
Thunder Bay, Ontario
1 Vacant Position