Port of Hamilton’s Westport Modernization Project

In 2018, Transport Minister Marc Garneau announced an investment of $17.7 million in the Port of Hamilton from the National Trade Corridors Fund (NTCF). The Federal investment will be matched by the Hamilton Port Authority in support of the port’s $40+ million Westport Modernization Project. (more…)

Ports Asset Transfer Program reduces number of Transport Canada-administrated marine facilities

By R. Bruce Striegler

As we reported in a June 2015 issue of Canadian Sailings, the mission of the federal government’s Ports Asset Transfer Program (PATP) was to expedite the transfer of Transport Canada-administrated port facilities across the country to other federal departments, provincial governments, First Nations and local communities as well as individuals or private corporations. This national collection of marine facilities has been accumulated by Transport Canada over the decades, and includes ports, docks, breakwaters as well as upland and submerged real property. Federal ownership of some of these properties goes back to the time of Confederation. (more…)

Seaway examining new traffic growth ideas

By Alex Binkley

The St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corporation (SLSMC) and its shipper and shipping partners are looking at old and new possibilities for growing traffic. Transshipping Prairie crude oil to refineries in Quebec and Saint John as well as overseas customers, has been proposed before, and is still being looked at, says Bruce Hodgson, Director of Market Development for the Seaway Management Corp. “The dream isn’t going away.” Last fall, he told the Commons Transport Committee that shipping crude oil on the Seaway-Great Lakes is feasible. “We’ve worked very closely with the railways in developing the total supply chain.” Delivering crude in tank cars to Thunder Bay for loading on tankers means a much quicker turnaround of their cars for the railways rather than hauling the oil all the way to the St. Lawrence River. “The option we’ve been working on is Thunder Bay to Quebec City, and then transshipment into international markets,” Hodgson said. “We can be competitive.” A Seawaymax tanker can transport about 80,000 barrels of crude, which is about the equivalent of a unit train of crude. (more…)

Extending the Welland Canal season would generate more marine traffic, shippers say

Extending the Welland Canal season would generate more marine traffic, shippers say

By Alex Binkley

Keeping the Welland Canal open until mid-January would allow shipping lines to generate more business and ease highway congestion in southwestern Ontario, says Gregg Ruhl, the new President and CEO of Algoma Central. “If the Welland Canal were to remain open just a few more weeks, there would be hundreds and hundreds fewer trucks on the road,” he says. “The longer season should at least match the January 15 closing of the Soo Locks.”

Ruhl was Algoma’s COO when he proposed the longer shipping season to the Commons Transport Committee last fall as it held hearings across the country on a Canadian Transportation and Logistics Strategy. The committee released an interim report in late February that included a recommendation that Transport Canada work with The St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corp. (SLSMC) and its users “to explore ways to increase year-round use of the St. Lawrence Seaway to transport goods within central Canada.” The review “should consider such issues as icebreaking capabilities, piloting fees, handling fees at terminals and docking fees,” the MPs agreed. While the government has until mid-spring to respond to that recommendation, Bruce Hodgson, SLSMC’s Director of Marketing, said the issue is being discussed with domestic and international ship operators and shippers. “We’ve looked at the market and the indications are that a longer Welland season would generate additional business. We’ll work through the process of fully considering the idea.” One possibility would be keeping it open for a few more days in late December to see what happens, he said. (more…)

Pilotage costs and reforms remain sore points for Great Lakes transportation

By Alex Binkley

It doesn’t take long for an interview about shipping on the Great Lakes Seaway system to turn to the cost of marine pilotage. Few address the topic as bluntly as Bart Peters of Amsterdam-based Spliethoff Group. “Pilots in the U.S. basically have the freedom to make decisions about their own salary. They are running a government-sanctioned monopoly, there is no restriction on continuously increasing their costs, so there is no incentive whatsoever to ever bring costs down. Also, no one is ever responsible if things go wrong.” Unless the United States and Canada get serious about pilotage costs, “the Great Lakes trade will not develop any further,” he said. (more…)

Seaway optimistic its 60th anniversary will be a year of strong results

Seaway optimistic its 60th anniversary will be a year of strong results

By Alex Binkley

Having posted its best results in a decade last year, St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corporation (SLSMC) is hoping to better that performance in 2019 as its marks its 60th anniversary. The Welland Canal will open on March 22 followed by the Montreal-Lake Ontario section on March 26. The Soo Locks are scheduled to open March 25.

The 40.9 million tonnes of cargo that passed through the Seaway system in 2018 was 6.7 per cent higher than in 2017, and the best result since 2007. More than 12 million tonnes of grain passed through the waterway, the largest amount in two decades, and accounted for almost 20 per cent of the traffic. Dry bulk goods shipments came in at 10.7 million tonnes followed by iron ore at 7.3 million tonnes, trailed by liquid bulk, general cargo and coal. SLSMC has announced a toll rate increase of 1 per cent for the 2019 navigation season. (more…)