OTTAWA - Canadian transport minister David Collenette wants to see Great Lakes-St. Lawrence Seaway shipping become more competitive. The United States Army Corps of Engineers has budgeted $1 billion over two years for a wide-ranging study of Great Lakes-Seaway shipping, and the Canadian government is being urged to work with the Corps to provide system-wide economic-engineering assessments of prospects and requirements.
'We are assessing this internally,' Collenette said in an interview, who noted that Transport Canada was considering providing some resources. 'It's something we really have to develop a position on, and I can't commit the government to (spending) any resources today,' he said.Collenette would have to lead a campaign among competing federal cabinet ministers for funding improvements such as deepening and widening the 13 Canadian locks of the 15-lock Seaway.
Canada's St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corp. and the United States's Saint Lawrence Seaway Development Corp. are spearheading a long-term outlook and strategy exercise that will bring together leaders of ports, carriers, shippers, and government. They will assess prospective markets, trade patterns and opportunities for the next two decades, and will assess the attendant needs and requirements for the Seaway and for ports along the Great Lakes and the St. Lawrence River. A report is due later this year.
One committee in the exercise, headed by John Jamian, president of the Detroit/Wayne County Port Authority, is looking at prospects for expanding the Seaway's traditional bulk cargo to containerized trade. Jamian talks, for instance, of automotive goods passing between Germany and the U.S. for DaimlerChrysler.
This exercise follows a 'Vision 20-20' assessment prepared by Canadian carriers and shippers and published last year, which covers similar ground.
Collenette said he is looking for an overall policy under which marine changes would be made for their own good but also for how they fit into an overall transportation picture.
'We have to be innovative. I think that there is no reason why you cannot have an inland container operation. And there is no reason why you can't have a barge-type operation on the Great Lakes. You've got access to Montreal and Toronto, Canada's two largest cities, and to Chicago, Detroit and Cleveland, as well as the Duluths and the Buffalos and the Windsors - you've got all kinds of these places and we should be using the water more.'