Port of Windsor had a record season in 2013 with total cargo handled reaching 6.03 million tonnes, the highest for the port since becoming a Port Authority in 1999. This represented an increase of 10.5 per cent over 2012, and a combined two year increase of 18 per cent. David Cree, President and CEO of the Port Authority stated “These impressive results were driven to a large extent by the unprecedented volumes of construction aggregates required for the Rt. Hon. Herb Gray Parkway, which will connect Highway 401 to the new international bridge crossing. Most of the material was shipped through one of the Port’s main tenants – Lafarge Canada Inc.” In order to handle the projected record volumes, the Port Authority and Lafarge partnered to double the size of the terminal to 30 acres, and to reconstruct the existing dock face. With the financial assistance of the Province, this reconstruction also facilitated the creation of over 800 linear feet of fish habitat, which is one of the largest such projects ever undertaken in the region.
The final phase of one of the other major projects being constructed on Port Authority property was completed in early 2014. McAsphalt Industries has operated Sterling Marine Fuels for over 20 years and partnered with its sister company, Miller Paving to develop a new construction aggregates facility, expand the existing petroleum terminal and construct a second dock capable of handling full sized laker vessels. The final phase was the construction of a railroad spur and a petroleum pumping station which was officially opened in April 2014. This expansion makes Sterling Fuels one of the largest and most environmentally responsible petroleum terminals in all of Eastern Canada. The results of this expansion were clearly evident in 2013 with total petroleum products handled through the facility increasing by over 13 per cent. It is projected that throughput will continue to increase in the future with all of the terminal improvements now fully online.
The Windsor Grain Terminal has been owned and operated by ADM Agri-Industries for over 25 years. With the bumper crop experienced in Southern Ontario in 2013, the facility saw a significant increase in throughput of over 25 per cent this past season. Prospects for the future remain positive, particularly given the potential for increased trade with Europe which will result from the recently proposed Comprehensive Economic Trade Agreement.
Salt, which is produced at the Windsor Salt Mine, is one of the other major cargoes shipped through the port and has historically averaged between 1.5 – 2.5 million tonnes annually. 2013 was at the approximate mid-point of this range and after the severe winter of 2013-2014, projections for this season are for a banner year. With significant underground mining reserves remaining, it is projected that salt shipments will continue to be a very important commodity at the port for the next 2-3 decades.
Morterm Ltd. is a privately owned general cargo facility dedicated to handling steel, bulk products and project cargo and is a major industry participant in stevedoring, warehousing, trans-loading and storage in the Great Lakes region. The terminal has recently undertaken several significant capital expenditures including the expansion of outdoor storage space by over 7 acres and the purchase of new material handling equipment. 2014 is shaping up to be an excellent year for Morterm with increased stevedoring activity and record volumes of wind turbine components projected.
For several years, the Port Authority has been working with CP Rail and Borealis Infrastructure Trust to develop a new state-of-the-art double stack rail tunnel between Windsor & Detroit (CRG – Continental Rail Gateway). Significant progress has been made in the past year with the completion and approval of the environmental assessment, and the prospect of obtaining the necessary Canadian and U.S. permits by the end of 2014. The partners are also working closely with Canadian and U.S. government agencies to obtain the necessary public sector funding to kick-start the project. Once that happens, construction could start by the beginning of 2015, with an anticipated completion date of 2018. The project is critical to the continued growth of Port of Montreal as it will allow 26 per cent more container traffic to be handled on existing trackage. Furthermore, full double stack rail capacity in the Windsor-Montreal corridor will enhance the competitiveness of industries in both Ontario and Quebec, and in the long term is projected to create over 3,600 job-years generating almost $1billion in wages, value added and business output in Eastern Canada.
In summary, Mr. Cree stated “2013 was an exceptional year for the port both in terms of total cargo handled and completion of critical port projects. Despite the very slow start to this season, 2014 is shaping up to be as good a year, with cargo volumes as at July 31 running only slightly behind 2013. With the continuing demand for significant volumes of stone for the international bridge project over the next two seasons, projections for the near term also remain very positive.”