Hamilton airport gets new cargo facility

The Minister of Labour announced the expansion Thursday morning.
The Hamilton International Airport is set to contruct a new $12-million cargo facility. ( (CBC)

Hamilton International Airport is set to expand with a new $12-million cargo facility.

The 60,000 square-foot construction project will include multiple areas including truck docking stations, refrigeration for flowers, fresh produce and pharmaceutical products, a centre for live animals and courier facilities. The goal is to allow the airport to provide more efficient cargo service on a much larger scale than before.

"Hamilton has become a regional hub for the movement of goods by air," Bob Chiarelli, the Ontario Minister of Infrastructure and Minister of Transportation, said.

"The expansion is going to be beneficial to the economy of the whole region."

The project is funded in part by the federal and provincial governments, who are providing $8 million under the Building Canada plan and the Provincial-Territorial Base Fund. The rest of the funding is covered by the TradePort International Corporation, the body that manages the airport.

Mayor Bob Bratina said the most significant impact in Hamilton will be an increase in jobs. The government estimates 30 to 40 jobs will be created under this project, with the potential for more.

"It's not charity, it's a business deal that's going to pay off for everyone. In our terms, of course the jobs are the first thing that comes to mind," he said.

"The shippers need to have efficiency. It puts Hamilton on the map and so the big companies, FedEx and Purolator, will be using us more and I'm sure that will grow the 30 to 40 jobs that we feel will begin the project (into more jobs)."

Earlier this month, the John C. Munro Hamilton International Airport launched its redesigned website as part of a plan to establish a more visible brand in 2013. Its passenger service has been panned in the past and the airport use has fluctuated over the years, ranging from more than a million passengers in 2003 to 332,000 passengers in 2011.

But Hamilton's airport has long been a hub for cargo transportation, sitting at number three for cargo in the country. It moved 85,145 tonnes in 2011, sitting behind Lester B. Pearson airport in Toronto with 339,065 and Vancouver International with 186,385 and the expansion is intended to increase and strengthen that service, said Frank Scremin, President and CEO for the airport.

"We are very proud to have one of the strongest domestic air cargo distribution networks in Canada; this facility will provide an opportunity to expand upon existing business by allowing a greater variety of goods to be moved through the Airport."