Canadian Arctic gateway pondered
Last Updated: Monday, November 8, 2010 | 8:58 PM ET
Manitoba is being eyed as a potential new international transportation route to North American markets.
The over-the-pole route would see the Port of Churchill turned into a trade and economic development zone linked to Asia, Europe, Russia and Nunavut.
Winnipeg would also become a significant air cargo hub, taking advantage of CentrePort Canada, a nearly 8,000-hectare inland hub currently under construction near the city's international airport.
The idea is being discussed at a three-day Arctic summit, which started Monday at the University of Winnipeg.
"Our goal during these few days will be to bring together individuals with interests in the future of the Arctic into a forum where we can inspire serious public discussion," said University of Winnipeg president Lloyd Axworthy.
'Our goal during these few days will be to bring together individuals with interests in the future of the Arctic into a forum where we can inspire serious public discussion.'—University of Winnipeg president Lloyd Axworthy
"By us all coming together, from Nunavut, from Manitoba, from Canada, from many countries around the world including Russia, China, India and other countries, it gives us the chance to take that vision and make it practical," Premier Greg Selinger added.
CentrePort, expected to be operational in late 2012, will serve as an air, rail and road transportation hub for North American and overseas markets. It will be linked to runways, railways and highways and build on Winnipeg's reputation as the geographic centre of North America.
Diane Gray, chief executive of CentrePort, said China is looking for a new route to the North American market and is extremely interested in the hub.
"Alternatives to the existing West Coast ports are of interest to them and considering how that might connect into the Port of Churchill is part of it," she said.
About 200 people are attending the summit, which includes representatives from air, marine and land transportation modes, community economic development organizations and northern communities, stated a news release from the Manitoba government.
The first day of the summit kicked off with an agreement between Manitoba and Nunavut to improve health services, economic development, transportation and tourism.
The agreement with Nunavut "reflects the spirit of co-operation that reflect the aims of this summit," Selinger said.
The signing clears the way for a steering committee to work on an implementation plan on the following priorities:
- Health, including opportunities for enhanced services and improved patient care through collaboration between the Department of Health and Social Services (HSS) and the Churchill Regional Health Authority.
- Renewable energy including sharing best practices and technology.
- Economic growth, through co-operation, consultation, joint tourism development and marketing projects.
- Transportation, through initial consultations on a cost-benefit study on a Manitoba-Nunavut all-weather road.
- Exchange of opportunities in culture, education and sporting activities.
"Manitoba and Nunavut have a long history of co-operating and working towards the shared goals of our jurisdictions," Nunavut Premier Eva Aariak stated in a news release.
"The signing of this agreement acknowledges our joint priorities and launches an action plan to support the achievement of our vision for northern Canada."
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