WELLAND, ON – Vance Badawey, Member of Parliament for Niagara Centre and Chair of the House of Commons Standing Committee on Transport, Infrastructure and Communities, came together with the mayors of Port Colborne, Welland, and, Thorold, and with the Hamilton-Oshawa Port Authority (HOPA) to advance the development of three Multimodal Industrial Hubs along the Welland Canal. This initiative is a positive and practical solution to a long-held belief that many of the region’s marine assets are underutilized, and could be leveraged for positive economic impact, job creation and trade facilitation. Badawey noted, "The idea of establishing Niagara as an active trade corridor is a notion that I took to Ottawa with me when I was first elected in 2015. Now, after years of working together with all our partners, the Transport Committee’s 2019 study on the subject seems to be gaining traction. Niagara is already a provincially designated Gateway Economic Zone and Centre and federally designated Foreign Trade Zone… adding three multimodal hubs under the Niagara Ports banner enhances the ability for our local communities to take full economic advantage of the assets we already have in place with the goal of strengthening the regional economy for all."
HOPA and other local stakeholders are working with Badawey to launch this plan by making strategic investments, purchasing Hub lands, and entering into management agreements so that properties may be developed under the Niagara Ports banner. While additional work and partnerships are required, these initial steps are reasons to celebrate; and cause to be optimistic that Transport Canada will consider the strategy as a future action item.
Port Colborne Mayor William Steele agreed by saying,"This is an exciting day that has long been in the making. The Port Colborne community is thrilled to see this collaborative initiative expand our local economy. By leveraging our existing assets and strengths and building on what we already do well in the community, this development prompts job creation which is a positive for both Port Colborne and the entire region."
Mayor of the neighbouring City of Welland, Frank Campion stated,"I have been working on this initiative for the past 5 years and am extremely pleased to be collaborating with our partner municipalities, HOPA and the Federal Government on The Niagara Ports Project. Through this partnership we become an integral part of the Canadian Trade Corridor with national and international business implications and opportunities for Welland and Niagara."
Mayor of Thorold, Terry Ugulini added, "The Welland Canal passes through the very center of our city, and the Twin Flight Locks, already attracts thousands of tourists to the community each year. I could not be more pleased to be a part of this initiative as it harnesses and builds upon the solid foundation of industrial and marine assets we have here in the City of Thorold. This partnership will allow us to leverage these key assets to create jobs, spark new and innovative economic development, that reinforces partnerships and networks that will advance our strategic objectives both now and into the future. There is no doubt that this is a positive step towards our long-standing goal of making the City of Thorold an even better place to live, work and play."
HOPA Ports’ President & CEO Ian Hamilton shared his enthusiasm for the project, saying, "HOPA is committed to building prosperous working waterfronts in Ontario communities, and Niagara Ports builds on HOPA’s network of ports in the Golden Horseshoe. Niagara is extraordinarily well-positioned for growth, and by contributing our expertise and management capacity, HOPA is ready to help put Niagara’s potential to work for the benefit of port communities, and the regional economy."
Each of the three proposed Hubs will require the inclusion of lands that Transport Canada has declared surplus. Work is ongoing but, the Niagara Ports partners are committed to working with the Government of Canada and HOPA on next steps like the necessary agreements and memorandums of understanding.