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Western ministers develop transportation strategy

EDMONTON, Alta. -- The transportation ministers of Western Canada's provinces and territories have banded together ...

EDMONTON, Alta. — The transportation ministers of Western Canada’s provinces and territories have banded together to develop a broad transportation infrastructure strategy for the west.

They say their strategy includes all four modes of transportation air, road, rail and marine while also identifying priorities and actions necessary to ensure that transportation is integrated, efficient and modernized.

They’ve identified $14 billion in projects which need to come to fruition over the next 20 years, with $10 billion of that going attributed towards highway infrastructure. The ministers suggested that if the feds step up their funding efforts, their goals can be attained within the next 10 years.

“Transportation is the primary enabler of economic development and our major industries are dependent on an efficient, multi-modal transportation system,” said Lyle Oberg, Minister of Infrastructure and Transportation for Alberta and chairman of the Western Transportation Ministers Council. “This strategy provides a blueprint for collectively addressing the infrastructure challenges we face.”

Maynard Sonntag, Minister of Highways and Transportation for Saskatchewan, added "Because the economies of the four western provinces, and Canada as a whole, are so heavily dependent on exports, a regional approach to addressing these issues is needed. As an example, the products produced in Saskatchewan will typically pass through more than one jurisdiction on two or three modes of transportation en route to their final destinations.”

The Council included the needs and strategies of the Yukon, Northwest Territories and Nunavut, providing a unified transportation strategy for the west and north, participants say. However, the Western Transportation Ministers Council itself is made up of the transport ministers from B.C., Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba.

“In addition to the infrastructure deficit, changing trade patterns such as the dramatic increase in container traffic to and from the far east and increased exports to the United States and Mexico are creating additional pressures,” said Kevin Falcon, Minister of Transportation for B.C. “These demands exceed the capacity of one jurisdiction, or the private sector to address alone.”

Ron Lemieux, Manitoba’s Transport Minister, added "With galvanized support amongst the provinces, this strategy establishes a platform for us to raise western transportation priorities to the national. Our next step will be to engage our federal government and private sector partners to work toward the benefit of our communities, industries and citizens.”

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