One Canadian real estate developer is optimistic the City of Winnipeg can regain a place among the country’s top major cities.
The co-owner of Focus Equities Kenneth Mariash says building CentrePort Canada Rail Park could be a step in that direction.
The rail park is going ahead at North America’s largest trimodal inland port, the Province of Manitoba announced Friday.
The project that’s estimated to generate $3 billion in economic activity for the province will complete the inland port’s vision of enhancing accessibility via three modes of transportation: air cargo, rail and truck — CentrePort’s president and CEO Diane Gray said.
“Obviously, that’s exciting. Economic growth means job creation. It means opportunity,” Gray told Global News on Tuesday.
The rail park is expected to create about 5,000 jobs over the course of the build-out, which could take between 10 to 20 years, she said.
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CentrePort makes up 20,000 acres that fall within the City of Winnipeg and the RM of Rosser, land designated to capitalize on its central geographic location and serve as a logistics, manufacturing and warehousing hub.
CentrePort Canada Rail Park will be nestled northwest of CentrePort Canada Way and south of Canadian Pacific Railway’s main east-west line. Focus Equities is taking on the 665-acre project, which Gray says will help companies move goods more efficiently.
The industrial land is already home to more than 1,000 companies, she said, with CentrePort having attracted more than 100 since its founding in 2008, through The CentrePort Canada Act.
Transport trucks hurtled up and down CentrePort Canada Way on Tuesday — a route with upwards of 10,000 trips a day. Brand-new multi-tenant buildings dotted some of the surrounding landscape, along with patches of freshly overturned earth, signs of bustling construction.
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“Companies that manage part of their supply chain by rail will have the option of having direct spurlines into their property and on their sites,” Gray said.
They’ll be able to connect to three Class 1 railways: directly to CP and indirectly to Canadian National Railway (CN) and Burlington Northern and Santa Fe Railway (BNSF) through federal interswitching, she added.
“Having access to different modes of transportation … allows you to mode shift and more effectively manage your supply chains in times of crisis,” Gray said.
While trucking continues to dominate Canadian logistics, she said, a number of pressures on the industry may push companies to look at rail, including cutting down on their environmental footprint and rising fuel costs.
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Focus Equities intends to start construction this summer with the goal of having the first fully-serviced commercial lots available for tenants by next summer.
Up to 20 different tenants could settle at the rail park once it’s completed, Mariash told Global News on Tuesday, and they’re already in talks with several interested parties.
Mariash anticipates the project will put Manitoba on the map, as rail becomes more topical amid increasingly congested American ports and the shortage of truck drivers.
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CP’s acquisition of Kansas City Southern in December, which connects Winnipeg all the way to Mexico, could make the city a hot commodity, Mariash said.
If the merger is approved by a US regulator, the single-line rail network linking three countries could help bypass the congestion in Houston and Los Angeles, he said.
“Canadian Pacific is talking about (a) 60 per cent increase in freight volume, which is huge,” Mariash said. “The impact on Winnipeg being the terminus from the southern countries to the north, it’s going to be very, very much in demand.”
“I think, just wait and see. You won’t recognize the place in 20 years. It’s going to get what it deserves, which is great.”
More to come…
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