An agreement has been struck between the province and CentrePort Canada that has cleared the way for the inland port to finally get started on the development of a unique industrial rail park.
CentrePort has released a request for proposals seeking private-sector partnership for the $100 million-plus development designed to attract rail-intensive industrial tenants who will be able to access Canadian Pacific Railway Ltd.’s main line.
The expectation is the facility will be built in phases – that could take as long as 15 years to complete – on a 665-acre parcel of land just west of Sturgeon Road on the north side of CentrePort Canada Way that the province has agreed to sell to CentrePort.
The development will include switching and spur lines connecting to the CP main line that runs through the north part of CentrePort’s 20,000-acre footprint.
The rail park concept has been in the works for years. An anchor tenant was announced more than two years ago, but the company, BroadGrain Commodities, has since gone on to do a development in Saskatchewan.
In the course of its review of provincial business commitments, the province has recently signed off on CentrePort’s business plan, including guaranteeing an additional $1.5 million to CentrePort’s line of credit.
CentrePort CEO Diane Gray said she’s confident about the potential for this development. She said in pre-marketing discussions with potential development partners from Canada and the U.S. there has already been interest. “This is the transformational piece of the inland port,” she said.
The provincial government decision to give the go-ahead sets the stage for CentrePort’s future self-sufficiency. Negotiations with potential partners will include ongoing revenue for CentrePort Canada Inc. and a share in the profits of the operation of the rail park.
“What this does is confirm the government support for what is the key priority of our business that then sustains the vision of CentrePort going forward,” Gray stated. “The government has put all major economic projects under review. They were entitled to do so. If I was a new government, I would have done the same thing.”