OTTAWA -- The Canadian government today introduced legislation in Parliament committing it to help develop Vancouver and British Columbia ports as a west coast gateway to China, India and other Asia Pacific countries.
Transport Minister Jean Lapierre unveiled the Pacific Gateway Act, which now goes for House of Commons committee study and then House debate. It sets out a strategy and framework for making good on Lapierre's recent promises to focus on British Columbia as a competitive North American gateway to Pacific trade.
The act simply commits the federal government to guiding principles, and to develop the Pacific Gateway in concert with ports, the transportation industry and other stakeholders. But Lapierre also said he was promising new investments soon.
"There are strategic investments required now, and we will be announcing action in these areas in the very near future," he said.
The proposed act says that developing and improving the Pacific Gateway as "a network of strategic transportation links and multimodal transfer points of significance" allows Canada to "capitalize" on its proximity to Asian markets and already strong infrastructure.
The act would commit the federal government to supporting "the further development of a world-class multi-modal network" that is competitive, efficient and secure.
The act would set up a Vancouver-based Pacific Gateway Council, representing transportation, Western Canada business, international trade, organized labor, security experts, government, and the western provinces. The council through transportation and business opportunity committees would advise the government on investment, regulatory and other gateway policies.
Lapierre has said recently that the federal government would invest further in promoting British Columbia as a transportation gateway for trade with China, India and other countries. It is contributing now to development of Prince Rupert in northern British Columbia as a container port, and can be expected to assist the development of the ports of Vancouver and nearby Fraser River.