Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 25/9/2009 (3676 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
The lay of the land for CentrePort Canada is starting to take shape, with plans being drawn up for new roadways and industrial development — possibly including Canada's first foreign trade zone — on the 20,000 acres of land near Richardson International Airport.
A preliminary set of three slightly different land-use and proposed roadway-development plans was released this week, with final proposals expected by December.
CentrePort Canada is being planned as an inland port, concentrating export-oriented manufacturing, warehousing and multi-modal distribution activities around the airport.
The idea is that billions of dollars in investment and thousands of jobs will be created in the decades to come.
The concepts call for early stage commercial and industrial development to be clustered in the southern portion of the area immediately west of the airport, with the northern area — predominantly farmland — reserved for future development.
MMM Group, the consulting engineers hired by a government-led steering group, is doing the planning work and hosted the second of three open houses this week.
"Part of what this planning process will be doing, in addition to putting forth recommendations on appropriate land use, is also to align the new roads where they fit best to co-ordinate with land-use planning," said Paul McNeil, MMM's regional vice-president.
The concepts include the first indication CentrePort could become Canada's first foreign trade zone. But CentrePort Canada officials caution it is premature to say this will happen for certain.
Foreign trade zones can provide tax and duty advantages for export-oriented manufacturers.
One of the reasons there are no such zones elsewhere in the country is that they are not well understood. Much work will have to be done before it becomes a reality at CentrePort.
"The land-use planning process is designed to provide the maximum options for CentrePort in the future," said Diane Gray, who begins her duties as CEO of CentrePort on Nov. 9.
"Could a foreign trade zone be a competitive advantage? Absolutely," Gray said. "Is it part of our business plan? We don't have one yet."
The variations between three different concepts proposed this week are much slighter than MMM had anticipated.
McNeil said planning had to take into account how the land was already being used.
He said existing land use — which includes a golf course and other recreation facilities — will not be disrupted and care was taken to include preservation of creeks and large stands of oak trees.
Farmland in the northern portion of the proposed CentrePort area will be preserved until development demand catches up with supply of other land on the site, something that is not expected to take place for many years, if not decades.
There is some debate about the haste in which the expressway through the area, CentrePort Canada Way (CPCW), is being designed. Neighbours who would be affected, regardless of the exact route the highway takes, are already worried about the spectre of expropriations.
Nelson Boychuk, who farms near where the exchange from the Perimeter Highway onto CPCW is to be located, has been informed 20 per cent of his family's 200-acre farmland will be needed for the new highway.
"I think it is a high-handed approach," he said. "We just got a package two or three months ago and there is already talk about expropriation."
Manitoba Infrastructure and Transportation officials said that expropriation is only used as a last resort to acquire land, but it is a mechanism that is available.
20,000 acres — The CentrePort area would be bordered by the Perimeter Highway on the north and west, Brookside Boulevard and the airport on the east and Saskatchewan Avenue and the Silver Avenue extension on the south.
9,000 acres — The developable land on the site after taking into account existing uses like the airport (3,200 acres), rail lines, the site of the city's former Summit landfill and existing recreational facilities.
3 — Number of plan variations.
3 — Number of suggested servicing areas, including full urban services in the south, partial services for distribution and dry-land industrial in the eastern middle section and the northern area that is mostly farmland.
Foreign trade zone
How does it work? Manufacturers in the zone can import parts duty-free that are to be included in finished goods destined for export. Taxes and duties are only paid on the finished goods.
What is a U.S. Customs pre-clearance campus? A secured compound where truck cargo can be inspected by U.S. customs agents on-site, eliminating border delays.
Are there other foreign trade zones in the country? No. Ottawa offers duty deferral and GST relief, but this is not location-specific.
Why aren't there free-trade zones now? They are not well understood and entail a daunting series of federal and provincial issues.
"ö CentrePort Canada Way — $212 million to link the Perimeter Highway through the middle of CentrePort to connect either with the extension of Chief Peguis Trail or Inkster Boulevard.
"ö Silver Avenue extension — Part of the city's long-range plan, might serve as southern CentrePort connector.
"ö Chief Peguis Trail extension — Westward expansion also part of city's long-range plan. Work is to start in 2010 on extension between Henderson Highway and Lagimodiere Boulevard.
Martin Cash has been writing a column and business news at the Free Press since 1989. Over those years he’s written through a number of business cycles and the rise and fall (and rise) in fortunes of many local businesses.