Ontario’s newly-launched Marine Transportation Strategy is placing new focus on Niagara’s Welland Canal Corridor as the engine of North American marine trade revs up.
The Provincial Government’s plan to grow Ontario’s marine transport network over the next decade entails creating new jobs and trade opportunities, building on Ontario’s leadership role in the marine transportation sector. The plan aims to draw more workers to the sector and strengthen links between ships and other forms of transportation, while steering the sector towards more environmentally sustainable technologies.
“Linking to our railway and road networks, the marine sector plays a vital role in keeping goods, people and our economy moving every single day,” Minister of Transportation Prabmeet Singh Sarkaria said in a release.
“As we continue to build a stronger Ontario, the new marine strategy is an exciting opportunity to grow the marine transportation industry, unlocking more good-paying jobs and attracting new investments to our rapidly growing province.”
Among the pillars of the strategy, the Province will establish an Ontario Marine Partnership and Development Office to oversee the plan. The office will act as the point of contact between the Province and industry stakeholders, while spreading the word about Ontario’s marine sector and its goals.
For Niagara, the strategy taps into the region’s long and storied marine trade and industrial heritage.
The Welland Canal is the vital marine artery connecting North America’s industrial heartland to the world. Every year, nearly eight billion dollars of economic activity flows through Niagara by way of the Canal, representing nearly 40 million tons of cargo every year. The Canal Corridor is home to the largest concentration of marine services in Ontario.
“The marine industry has carved a prominent and long-lasting significance in Niagara and is the backbone of our local economy," said Lina DeChellis, manager, economic development at the City of Welland.
"Due to our unwavering dedication to fostering a flourishing and prosperous local economy, the City of Welland fully supports the marine industry and our local allies. We are fully committed to achieving a competitive marine industry, providing value and longevity to Niagara's economy through this pivotal industry."
In Port Colborne, the new strategy stands to support the marine sector’s growth potential in a city with a long maritime history.
“The City is witnessing considerable public and private investment in industrial marine, wharf rehabilitation, cruise ship tourism and industrial land development,” said Bram Cotton, the city’s economic development officer. “Those projects recognize our multi-modal transportation options and access to global markets.
“The new marine strategy aligns with Port Colborne’s vision as well as the other Canal Corridor municipalities, and we look forward to next steps and the establishment of the Ontario Marine Partnership and Development Office.”
St. Catharines Director of Economic Development Brian York credited industry colleagues and fellow Canal communities with contributing to the strategy.
“Bulk shipping, shipbuilding and ship repair are synonymous with St. Catharines and Niagara. They play a significant role not only in the economic success of our community, but the national and economic interests of our country,” he said.
He said the marine strategy will “strengthen Ontario’s position as a leader in the marine sector” and contribute to growing the blue economy.
This article is part of a feature series highlighting the importance and impact of the Welland Canal Corridor and the businesses that operate on and around it. This feature series is provided by the economic development offices of the Canal communities of St. Catharines, Welland, Thorold and Port Colborne.
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