Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Ministers Day and Baird Tour Port Facilities in British Columbia

(Transport Canada)

Today the Honourable Stockwell Day, President of the Treasury Board and Minister for the Asia-Pacific Gateway, and Canada’s Transport and Infrastructure Minister John Baird concluded their tour of port facilities in Kitimat and Prince Rupert, British Columbia.

“These ports are vital to boost trade between Canada and the growing economies of the Asia-Pacific region,” said Minister Day. “They provide Canada with a crucial edge in the competition among North American west coast ports for business with Asia. This is another example of the competitive economic advantage that our government is aggressively promoting.”

“Our visit was a great opportunity to see the investments our government is making to modernize and strengthen the ports in this region,” added Baird. “As demonstrated by today’s tour, our investments have paid off and helped attract more business.”

During their visit, both ministers toured the harbour facilities in Kitimat, where they saw first-hand why the area is increasingly recognized as a strategic hub to support Canada’s energy development in the northwest region. Kitimat industries have produced up to 12 per cent of British Columbia’s manufacturing GDP and currently export over $1 billion a year in manufactured products.

The visit continued at the Port of Prince Rupert, the second-largest deep-sea port on Canada’s West Coast and the deepest natural harbour in North America. With dedicated grain, coal, forest products, specialty grain and container-handling facilities, the port handled 12.2 million tonnes of cargo in 2009, up 15 per cent from the previous year. Shipping through the Port of Prince Rupert reduces steaming time between Asia and North America by two to three days and cuts a further one to two days off the dwell time at the container port, resulting in a three- to five-day time saving (over a normal 17-day trip). From Prince Rupert, rail links can quickly transport goods right into the heart of North America.

Operations at the Port of Prince Rupert and the Port of Kitimat contribute to the economic well-being of these communities. An economic impact study released by the Port Rupert Port Authority demonstrated that, as of October 2009, the port was a significant economic generator, with direct employment related to operations totalling 1,500 jobs.

While in Prince Rupert, the ministers toured the Fairview Container Terminal. They also visited Ridley Terminals, a federal Crown corporation that operates a bulk handling terminal for the efficient and reliable movement of coal and other bulk commodities.

Canada’s Asia-Pacific Gateway is a system of transportation infrastructure that includes British Columbia Lower Mainland and Prince Rupert ports, road and rail connections that reach across Western Canada and into the economic heartland of North America, as well as major airports and border crossings. Since 2006, the Government of Canada, through its Asia-Pacific Gateway and Corridor Initiative, has partnered with B.C. and other western provinces, municipalities and the private sector to undertake strategic infrastructure projects worth more than $2.8 billion, including federal contributions of over $1 billion.