By William Hryb

Port of Thunder Bay ‘struck gold’ on July 3rd with an announcement of a $7.5 million federal government grant aimed at improving infrastructure at Keefer Terminal. The grant will be used for new tracks, a cargo lay-down area and the construction of a 4,646 metre heated warehouse. Keefer Terminal, operated by Thunder Bay Port Authority, is a massive 32 hectare site with 750 metres of marine berths.

The intermodal site is situated in the ‘heart’ of the Thunder Bay waterfront and is directly linked to rail and trucking routes. Over the past decade, the facility has been the hub for special project cargoes – from steel products, windmill parts to housing / hotel modules. A stellar reputation for excellent cargo handling has given Keefer Terminal a world-wide recognition.

On hand with Transport Minister Marc Garneau was Patty Hajdu, Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Labour. Ms. Hajdu happens to be Thunder Bay’s Member of Parliament and was evidently delighted to be a part of the announcement. “I am pleased that this important project is going ahead. The port is a vital economic gateway that connects our city with the rest of North America, and ensuring that we develop strategies to increase the amount of goods that come through the port will create jobs and opportunities for people in our community” Hajdu said.

Transport Minister Marc Garneau commented that “Transportation and distribution of goods are a vital part of our local, regional and national economies. The investment announced here today will make our transportation system stronger by addressing urgent capacity constraints and fostering long-term prosperity for our community”.

Canadian Sailings sat down with Tim Heney, Thunder Bay Port Authority CEO, for an interview about the grant:

C.S.: Describe how this grant came about?

Tim Heney: “Thunder Bay Port Authority applied to the National Trade Corridors Fund that was launched July 17, 2017. Awards were based on the merits of the applications. In addition to the NTCF grant, the Port will be investing its own self generated funds plus a $1 million Northern Ontario Heritage Fund Grant to complete a $15 million dollar investment in the reconfiguration of its assets at Keefer Terminal.”

C.S. The 7.5-million grant is certainly substantial…what does the port plan to do with the funds?

Tim Heney: “We will use the money for a new rail yard that will provide eight new car loading spots and increased laydown areas for project and general cargo. The new warehouse structure will add to our capacity for heated storage at the terminal and permit the eventual teardown of one of the older buildings. With the new infrastructure project set to get underway in the next few weeks, construction likely will be completed by 2020.”