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Legislation backs Manitoba “inland port”

The Manitoba government has introduced a legislative package to set up a company overseeing development of an “inland port” based in northwestern Winnipeg and the neighbouring R.M. of Rosser.

CentrePort Canada is to be a private-sector focused corporation that would build on Manitoba’s “well-established” network of air, rail, sea and trucking routes, the province said in a release Wednesday.

Besides establishing the corporation, the legislation designates 20,000 acres around the city’s James A. Richardson International Airport, in which the inland port would serve as a “transportation, trade, manufacturing,

distribution, warehousing and logistics centre.”

It will also “support the fast-tracking of investment and economic
development decisions based upon a single, comprehensive
transportation, infrastructure and land-use plan for the inland
port area.”

The legislation also calls for development of the inland port area in consultation with landowners, nearby community members and port users.

“There is
shovel-ready land available immediately and a plan for future
phases of fully-serviced land,” Winnipeg Airports Authority CEO Barry Rempel said in the province’s release.

“With enhanced roads, rail access
and cargo shipping, we have the assets to move goods to
market. And we have access to markets in all directions, from the
port of Churchill to Mexico, through Thunder Bay to the east, to
the Asia Pacific Gateway via Prince Rupert.”

Plans have been in the works for years to develop the inland port area, including the current expansion and new terminal for the Richardson Airport, which remains the Prairies’ only unrestricted, 24-hour airport and supports the largest collection

of air cargo handlers in the country, the province said. The legislation also protects the 24-hour operation of the Richardson
International Airport, the province added.

Canada Post, Greyhound Canada and Standard Aero have also announced major investments in the area in recent weeks.

Other projects announced in recent months with the inland port concept in mind have included $68 million for upgrades to the Hudson Bay rail line
and the port of Churchill on Hudson Bay, including $48 million from the federal
and provincial governments and $20 million from the Hudson Bay
Rail Co., which operates the line.

The federal and Manitoba governments have also pledged $55 million for an
interchange and rail grade separation where the two Asia Pacific highway corridors, the Trans-Canada and Yellowhead highways, meet in Manitoba, about 15 km west of Portage la Prairie.

And another $85 million in federal-provincial funding was recently announced for improvements to Highway 75, Manitoba’s main truck route
to the U.S., connecting Winnipeg to Fargo, N.D. through Emerson, Man., which the province said is the busiest border crossing in the Prairie provinces.

The provincial opposition Tories have also already added a critic portfolio on inland port issues. Virden-area MLA Larry Maguire, a former president of the Western Canadian Wheat Growers Association, will handle the portfolio.

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