The Greater Oshawa Chamber of Commerce applauds the long-awaited federal decision to create a Canada Port Authority (CPA) to operate the Port of Oshawa. On May 21, 2009, Canada‘s Transport Minister, John Baird, announced his governments intention to create a Canada Port Authority (CPA) to operate the Port of Oshawa. The Minister sent letters to the City of Oshawa and the Oshawa Harbour Commission proposing a framework to address Oshawa Harbour issues that includes a strategy to resolve caveated land issues, options for a marina and a process that will allow the parties to work together to address multiple visions for the harbour.
“Our government recognizes the importance of the Port of Oshawa and its major role in the local economy. As a CPA, the port would have the tools to contribute to national marine infrastructure and related trade objectives,” said Minister Baird.
A move towards port authority status would balance the interests of the users, the Oshawa Harbour Commission and the City of Oshawa with critical marine transportation needs. Oshawa MPP, Dr. Carrie, defended a CPA as a more open and transparent governance model, adding it could help stimulate the local economy by bringing increased business to the port, while still leaving the door open for a mixed use waterfront. “This is a quality, good step forward,” he said. “It gives some certainty to the people of Oshawa.”
Currently the Oshawa Harbour Commission manages the port and administers some of the port’s Crown land. It is the only remaining Harbour Commission in Canada.
“In a letter to Minister Baird in March the Chamber addressed the governance model calling for the federal government to take a leadership role in the governance model and put ten years of debate and political posturing to bed so we can all get on with business” stated Dave Hare, President of the Chamber. “The Chamber of Commerce supports a Canadian Port Authority (CPA)”.
The Chamber has been following the governance issue of Port Oshawa since 1999 and in correspondence over the years to at least four different Transport Ministers and to David Crombie the Chamber of Commerce has consistently outlined its position the Port Oshawa has significant economic benefits for existing business and has the potential to attract new businesses to Durham Region and further felt there are economic benefits to blending industrial, recreational, commercial and residential uses. The Chamber has always supported a timely resolution to the future of Oshawa Harbour and offered to play a proactive role in finding answers to the issues.
A CPA is a federally-incorporated agency that could be comprised of directors appointed by the federal and provincial governments, the City of Oshawa and port users with the goal of creating and supporting economic development in the area.
“We want to protect the ratepayers of Oshawa and take the financial burden off them,” said chamber CEO Bob Malcolmson. “A CPA would run the port like a business and make sure it is financially self-sufficient.”
Strategically located at the eastern edge of the Greater Toronto Area, the port serves industries with specialized needs that are dependent on reliable, cost-effective water transportation.
The Minister’s decision to pursue discussions was made after considering the positions of the City of Oshawa, port users, and local and regional stakeholders, as well as the recommendations made in a report on the future of the port that was prepared by the Honourable David Crombie, P.C., O.C. The Minister has chosen to explore the option that best balances the interests of all stakeholders and is consistent with the objectives of the Government of Canada’s National Marine Policy. The National Marine Policy provides that the Commission may be continued as a Canada Port Authority or divested to local interests where there is local agreement.
Resolving the land-related issues with the City of Oshawa will serve to reinforce the port’s commercial role while allowing the city to achieve significant elements of its vision for the Oshawa Harbour waterfront.