After a somewhat disappointing year in 2016, Port of Windsor is rebounding strongly in 2017 with total traffic up by almost 20 per cent at the end of July.
David Cree, the Port’s President and CEO, stated “We had expected a downturn in 2016 after very strong seasons in three out of the four previous years. In 2012, 2013 and 2015, the Port recorded near-record levels of stone and construction aggregates due to the construction of the Right Honourable Herb Gray Parkway which is a major extension of Highway 401 leading to the new Gordie Howe International Bridge; and secondly, the construction of the 100 acre customs plaza which will serve the new bridge. With most of that construction completed in late 2015, we had projected that volumes of stone and construction aggregates would fall off in 2016 and that in fact occurred with volumes declining by approximately 30 per cent”.
Stone and construction aggregates and salt are the largest commodities handled within the port, traditionally accounting for over 80 per cent of total throughput. Unfortunately, salt volumes also declined in 2016 which contributed to the disappointing overall results for the year. However, the port’s other major commodities all posted solid growth this past season. Grain, which is handled at the ADM Windsor Grain Terminal, had a banner year with throughput increasing by 25 per cent. Similarly, general cargo which is shipped through Morterm Terminal and consists primarily of domestic and imported steel, was up significantly by almost 30 per cent. And finally, petroleum products which are shipped through the Sterling Fuels dock (which is owned by Windsor Port Authority and operated by McAsphalt Industries) were up by just over 3 per cent.
As noted, 2017 has started out very strongly with salt shipments up by 32 per cent, grain shipments up by 36 per cent and general cargo up by over 25 per cent. Stone and construction aggregate shipments have levelled off and are keeping pace with 2016 volumes. With the start of construction of the new Gordie Howe International Bridge scheduled to commence in early 2018, and a very vibrant local economy, it is projected that volumes of stone and construction aggregates should approach near-record levels for the period 2018-2022.
The Port Authority has always been a strong supporter of community activities and that support has been “stepped up” in recent years. One of its longest standing partnerships is with the Windsor Police Service to provide effective marine patrol capability on the Detroit River. That partnership was expanded in 2016 with the purchase of a second “state-of-the-art” vessel which has greatly expanded the Police Service’s patrol capabilities.
As part of its environmental activities, the Port has undertaken two “greening projects” in the Olde Sandwich Town area of the port. The first involves the rehabilitation of an old Federal dock which has been re-purposed with a public fishing pier, green space and significant fish habitat; and the second, the development of vacant lands abutting the Port Authority’s office building which will be developed into an “outdoor museum”. This will include public green space, seating areas and walking trails as well as numerous story boards detailing the history of Olde Sandwich Town and the port of Windsor.
In conclusion, Mr. Cree stated “The Port Authority has a very strong history of economic development, environmental stewardship and community support, and those principles will continue to guide its activities in the future. With construction of the new bridge scheduled to commence next year, near full employment in the area, and a vibrant local construction industry, we are projecting that the next five years will be very positive for both the Port and the City”.