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CentrePort to focus on business expansion, rail facility

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CentrePort Canada President and CEO Diane Gray is positive about continuing development of the 20,000-acre inland port straddling the boundary of the City of Winnipeg and RM of Rosser.
Gray commented on aspects of CentrePort’s 2013-14 business plan which sets out the corporation’s agenda for the next five years.


"The most obvious project is that, with a good construction season, by late fall-early winter CentrePort Canada Way should be open," she said.


This four-lane divided highway will connect the west side of CentrePort’s land with the Perimeter Highway.


While 27 companies have opened new or expanded business facilities on 150 acres within CentrePort, further development of large-scale operations has hit a snag.  A solution is needed in an international water rights dispute over the City of Winnipeg’s ability to provide water services to other municipalities. Brookside Industrial Park West is located in the RM of Rosser so water and wastewater services can’t be provided by Winnipeg even though a funding agreement to do so was signed.


According to the business plan, "Building on unserviced land restricts the size and scope of any new facility due to fire suppression regulations."


Gray said resolution of this situation is a top priority.


RM of Rosser reeve Frances Smee said a wastewater agreement is in the works and she’s confident the water service dispute will soon be resolved.


"We’re still moving ahead," she said.


Gray also highlighted work underway on creating a single planning authority, a first in Canada. The first step is development of new zoning bylaws for the RM of Rosser that will improve the speed of land development approvals and increase transparency.


Smee said the Rosser council is hiring a company to adapt the municipal zoning bylaws applying to land within the CentrePort area and align them with those of the City of Winnipeg.
Gray said the single authority will also help ensure that construction and design standards are consistent throughout CentrePort. "It takes the guesswork out of development."


Site analysis and traffic studies were conducted to determine the best location for a common-use rail facility and adjacent business park. Gray said 700 acres located south of the Canadian Pacific main line and west of Sturgeon Road were identified. The next step is to see if Canadian Pacific, Canadian National or Burlington Northern Santa Fe railways are interested in leading the project. Another option is a short-haul rail carrier operating the facility, working in conjunction with the main carriers.


Gray is confident that companies using rail transportation will be interested in buying land within the nearby industrial park.


"We know it will be a winner, but we want to make sure it’s done right," she said.


Work will continue on cargo security and efficiency. Gray said a delegation from China will visit Winnipeg this month to discuss the benefits of using radio frequency identification technology when importing Canadian food products.


Last year, 250 tonnes of Manitoba soybeans and 68 kilograms of Manitoba pickerel and whitefish were shipped to China using this technology to guarantee security, origin and quality.
CentrePort Canada’s 2013-14 business plan is available at www.centreportcanada.ca/reports-and-presentations

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