Manitoba boosts funding for CentrePort expansion, cites absence of federal cash

The Manitoba government is willing to double its funding for a major expansion of CentrePort Canada in northwest Winnipeg to prevent it from being held up by a lack of federal cash.

An estimated $60 million is required for water and sewer infrastructure to support the first phase of the inland shipping port’s expansion project, CentrePort South.

The province and City of Winnipeg previously committed $20 million each, conditional to a matching amount from Ottawa. But that hasn’t come through “despite extensive provincial engagement,” Premier Heather Stefanson said Friday.

“We continue to urge the federal government to make an equal contribution to this very critical project [but] this project must move forward without delay, which is why we’re here today,” she said from an industrial site at CentrePort. 

“If necessary, our government will provide up to $40 toward the total project cost … [and] provide much-needed certainty to the City of Winnipeg on this strategic infrastructure priority.”

With that commitment, all of the necessary project costs are in place for the expansion to proceed, the province said in a news release.

“This announcement means that everything gets triggered — all the planning, all the engineering,” said Martin McGarry, CEO of development firm MMI Asset Management.

“I would say the first shovel in the ground for a building is less than 18 months away.”

Situated at the junction of multiple transportation corridors, CentrePort is an 8,000-hectare (20,000 acre) economic hub that provides access to rail, truck and air cargo operations connecting businesses and supply chains to markets worldwide.

CentrePort is the largest tri-modal inland port and foreign trade zone in North America. (John Woods/Canadian Press)

Most of it currently sits in the Rural Municipality of Rosser, which lies within Winnipeg’s Perimeter Highway. CentrePort South will be closer to the city’s James Armstrong Richardson International Airport.

“This project will create thousands of jobs and drive investment and will put Manitoba on the world map as a transportation and trade hub in North America,” Stefanson said, adding future expansion will add homes for 12,000 people and increase Manitoba’s GDP by nearly $1 billion.

“This project is a win-win-win and a no-brainer.”

CentrePort South includes about 3,000 acres to be developed in the city of Winnipeg, including 500 acres earmarked as residential, said McGarry.

The servicing of the site “will bind CentrePort North and CentrePort South together in one powerhouse economic development zone,” he said.

“We can now boast, more than ever before, we get ship done.”

Building permits for nearly $60 million in construction at CentrePort have been issued in the RM of Rosser this year and 600,000 square feet of new construction is underway.

In the past five years, building permits worth more than $350 million in construction have been issued.

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