With a steady stream of inquiries from prospective customers and land available for building facilities, Port of Oshawa is aiming to expand gradually, says Donna Taylor, President and CEO of Oshawa Port Authority. “We have room for more customers and we are receiving inquiries,” she says. “We want to attract different commodities to ensure we have a cargo mix that will provide us with steady traffic through the normal business cycles.”
The opening of the rail spur this year has made other properties attractive for development as part of the Port’s operations because they can be served by train or truck, she said. At the top of her wish list is for the Port to become part of often-mooted container feeder service linking Montreal and Great Lakes ports. If the operation brought several hundred boxes at a time, the port could handle them with a crane and find storage space for the containers until they could be picked up.
“The ports would have to work together to encourage this kind of service,” she adds. “A feeder service would be manageable for all of us. Here in Oshawa, we have the property to do it.” The time has probably come for a new study of the potential for a container feeder service and the demand for such services in the Greater Toronto Area.
To make that development effective, there would need to be a longer operating season for the St. Lawrence Seaway. While there have been plenty of discussions over the years about keeping the Seaway open year round, she says even an extra month of service would be a plus for Oshawa. Lake Ontario usually remains relatively ice-free through the winter and the ports on the United States side of the Lakes are also looking to expand their offerings.
One factor that could spur the development of a feeder service is the determination of a growing number of customers to green their operations including the mode of transportation they use to move their shipments, she added. “Moving the boxes by ship is a good way of going green.”
Taylor is also enthusiastic about new tenants coming to the Port in response to its growing role in the maritime industry, its strategic location and new facilities. One such newcomer is Whiskey Jack Cranes, which markets a wide variety of used industrial cranes. “The more diverse services offered within the port, the more successful we can be in serving the needs of our customers,” Taylor points out. Whiskey Jack has been in operation for 17 years buying and selling used cranes worldwide. It says its inventory of used cranes include All Terrain, Conventional Truck, Crawler, Hydraulic Mobile and Rough Terrain cranes.
Taylor also credits two key partners in the Port’s successful expansion: Oshawa Stevedoring has been the Port’s exclusive terminal operator since 1994. Well known in the industry and with the equipment and expertise to handle all types of cargo, Taylor is pleased that they will continue to be in partnership with the Port into the foreseeable future, building together to attract and handle our new cargo base. The other is Local 1997 of the International Longshoremen’s Association, which has helped the Port Authority advance its goals.
With all the changes at the Port in recent years, it’s worth recalling that what set the stage for the transformation of the Port was a $10 million project to remove a retaining wall and rubble break-wall and spit that were built in the 1940s. With support from the Canadian government, the structures were replaced with a Seaway size steel sheet pile dock complete with fenders, safety ladders and toe rails, ready for ships.