Port authority breathing new life into canal lands

Port authority breathing new life into canal lands

Source: The Standard

Hamilton-Oshawa Port Authority (HOPA) is breathing new life into eight hectares of unused industrial land on the east side of Port Colborne.

Declared surplus to the operation of the Welland Canal, the lands owned by Transport Canada are the future site of a proposed Great Lakes Innovation Centre, new industry and conservation.

This past weekend, HOPA president and chief executive officer Ian Hamilton, Port Colborne Mayor Bill Steele, Thorold Mayor Terry Ugulini and Niagara Centre MP Vance Badawey announced the land transfer near the site.

A release from HOPA also announced an addition of 4.8- and 6.5-hectare parcels to the 200-plus-hectare Thorold Multimodal Hub.

The hub, on the east side of the canal in Thorold, is a multimodal industrial complex with marine, rail and highway access operated by HOPA and its partner, the BMI Group.

Port Colborne Mayor Bill Steele said the announcement means jobs for the city and Niagara region and a fresh chapter for the parcel of land, once home to Canadian Furnace Company.

“This is the kind of work we like to do and the result we like to see when we work together. The new (Great Lakes) centre will build on the rich marine heritage of Port Colborne and the Welland Canal and offer economic uplift, job creation and opportunities for education and environmental champions to prosper,” said Steele.

The centre will bring together maritime employers, labour partners, educators and environmental champions to create a facility for training and learning.

HOPA said it’s working with community partners on the centre concept, with preliminary discussions held with organizations in the labour, education, watershed management, and non-governmental sectors, including the Seafarers International Union, Niagara College, the Niagara Peninsula Conservation Authority and others about participating as tenants or users.

In 2012, Port Colborne set out an East Waterfront Community Improvement Plan and Secondary Plan that included part of the lands in Saturday’s announcement.

It looked at the eight-hectare parcel, as well as the city’s east village and was to guide and encourage physical improvements to the area, though nothing moved forward on the former industrial lands.

While opening up the land for the proposed centre and conservation efforts, it also paves the way for industrial uses, cargo handling and storage, and improved multimodal service for shippers.

The release said access to Lake Erie makes the lands interesting for bulk, breakbulk and potentially even containerized cargo.

study released in May by Fluid Intelligence said Port Colborne could enable an all-season Lake Erie shipping option when the St. Lawrence Seaway system’s locks are not operating.

The study looked at the potential advantages of short-sea shipping services between southern Ontario and the U.S. Great Lakes region and said goods that could be moved, include scrap metal, flat-rolled steel, steel tubes and pipes, metal hardware, paper for recycling, paper for printing and packaging, and dozens of other goods in containers.

It said through exploring short-sea shipping services on the Great Lakes, the future could see reduced highway and border congestion, lower greenhouse gas emissions, and improved supply chain resilience.

In its release, HOPA said it’s dedicated to building multimodal industrial spaces that draw a diverse range of tenants, shippers and investors to maximize Ontario’s industrial capacity.

“HOPA’s job is to build resilient supply chains by optimizing the performance of southern Ontario’s marine transportation system, alleviating road congestion and providing shippers with improved options,” the release said.

Hamilton said HOPA was grateful for Minister of Transport Pablo Rodriguez’s vote of confidence in the agency’s Niagara Ports strategy.

“We are pleased to add these lands to HOPA’s integrated port network, where they can begin working for our economy.”

The expansion underpins HOPA’s vision to revitalize underutilized marine lands, boost economic growth, create jobs, and facilitate trade in the Niagara region and throughout Ontario.

“The expansion project aligns with HOPA’s mission to lead an integrated port network on the Great Lakes. Our ports serve as critical trade gateways to Canada’s largest and most dynamic economic region. By having more lands and multimodal services to support industry, we can help keep our economy thriving,” said Hamilton.

HOPA said all three parcels are active or legacy industrial sites and are positioned for revitalization to modern industrial uses.

Ugulini said the expansion of the Thorold hub is a testament to the importance of multimodal transportation modes.

“The inclusion of these lands will provide new development and business attraction opportunities that leverage marine, rail, and road infrastructure. This will create new investment and job opportunities that will be critical to the continued growth and economic prosperity across the Niagara region,” he said.

The hub, recently shortlisted for a 2023 ‘Brownie’ Brownfield Redevelopment Award, has marine, rail and highway access, and more than 25 companies now call it home.

HOPA said the two new parcels will be added to the northernmost area, where users will have access to indoor and outdoor storage and handling of a range of commodities.

Badawey, parliamentary secretary to Rodriguez, said the federal government was excited to transfer management of the three parcels of land.

“Under HOPA management, and as part of the Niagara Ports Trade Corridor inventory, we are confident these vacant lands will be utilized effectively to their full potential and provide substantial economic benefit to the region.

“This is long overdue. Due to this partnership between Transport Canada and HOPA, more jobs, services, and resources will flow into the Niagara region, which further fuels the growing economy and improve the quality of life for our residents,” said Badawey.

About Hamilton-Oshawa Port Authority

As an integrated port network, the Hamilton Oshawa Port Authority (HOPA) offers port and marine assets in Hamilton, Oshawa and Niagara.

An efficient, multimodal network on the Great Lakes, it supports Ontario industries and facilitates trade. By investing in high-quality infrastructure and prioritizing sustainability, HOPA helps build prosperous working waterfronts in Ontario communities.

Overseeing more than 1,400 acres and more than 150 tenant companies, 40,000 Ontario jobs are connected to the cargo that passes through HOPA’s integrated ports.

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