Chamber supports report recommendation to put lengthening Seaway season on government agenda

The Standing Committee on Transport, Infrastructure and Communities recently released its Interim Report on Establishing a Canadian Transportation and Logistics Strategy.

Bruce Burrows, President of the Chamber of Marine Commerce, had the following comments.

“It’s heartening that the committee has recognized the value of the Great Lakes/St. Lawrence navigation system and that moving more goods by ship on this waterway has the potential to alleviate the intense highway congestion in the Niagara region.

“We support the committee’s recommendation that the Government of Canada explore ways to optimize the shipping season of the St. Lawrence Seaway to transport goods within central Canada. The government needs to be part of the conversation on what additional infrastructure and icebreaking resources would be required to make this work.

“Lengthening the shipping season on the Seaway by even a few weeks would additionally help many of our steel, mining and grain customers export more goods and/or bring efficiencies to their operations.”

As part of this study, the committee traveled to the Niagara region, Vancouver and Seattle. Witnesses in the Niagara region indicated that the regular congestion on the Queen Elizabeth Way highway meant that an alternative must be found for transporting freight. The committee agreed and believes the Government of Canada should support the mid-peninsula highway project and encourage increased use of the St. Lawrence Seaway for transporting freight.

The CMC is also supportive of the following recommendations in the report:

  • That the Government of Canada support the proactive planning and timely development of major port infrastructure projects that would support viable future trade opportunities.
  • That the Government of Canada work towards the increased harmonization of policies and regulations on freight transportation between both Canada and the United States, and Canada’s provinces and municipalities. In particular, harmonization should occur in relation to ballast water, capital infrastructure investments, the Great Lakes and railway, air and road transport.
  • That the Government of Canada prepare a nationwide policy to alleviate the labor shortage in the transport industry.
  • That Transport Canada publish comprehensive and regular reports about the volumes, products, trends and other key indicators for each of Canada’s ports.
  • That the Government of Canada acknowledge the Niagara Region’s and the City of Hamilton’s strategic location within a one-day drive of major Canadian and U.S. cities, provincial designation as an Economic Gateway Centre & Zone, and federal recognition as a Foreign Trade Zone through designating the region and city as a national trade corridor.
  • That the Government of Canada study the introduction of a single window approach to gather all of the information required by Canadian authorities regarding the arrival and departure of ships in Canadian waters. To facilitate sharing with transportation sector stakeholders, this information should be available electronically.

Janenne Pung