OTTAWA, Ont. — The Canadian Trucking Alliance (CTA) has said they welcome today’s announcement concerning the federal government’s Pacific Gateway Strategy.
The strategy, unveiled in Vancouver by Transport Minister Jean Lapierre and Industry Minister David Emerson, responds to capacity challenges to Canada’s transportation system from increased trade with Asia. The federal government plans to pump $590 million into the project, which includes improvements to transport infrastructure, over the next five years. It will also create a Gateway Council made up of stakeholders to advise decision-makers on policy, regulatory and investment priorities. Trade promotion, border facilitation, and skills and human resource availability are all issues to be examined by the council.
“The Pacific Gateway Strategy is a concrete initiative,” said CTA CEO, David Bradley. “It identifies the opportunity that exists for Canada to fully participate in and take maximum advantage of the explosion of trade with China and the rest of the Asia-Pacific Region and it recognizes the strain that is being put on the freight transportation system from current trade levels.”
Paul Landry, president of the British Columbia Trucking Association agrees: “The plan recognizes the importance of intermodal planning, coordination and investments in infrastructure in terms of the role of the West Coast in international/Asia-Pacific trade, which will not only benefit the West Coast but all of Canada.”
The “gateway” approach appears to be catching fire in other parts of the country as well, where the government hopes an integrated approach will support development of strategic gateways and trade corridors. Gateway councils already exist in Halifax and in Southern Ontario and Transport Canada is developing a new national policy framework to guide their creation.
Bradley said the CTA has been arguing for a comprehensive transportation-trade strategy for years.
“That the federal government is recognizing the need to ensure the country’s transportation system has the capacity to deal with increased levels of trade is a good sign,” Bradley said. “Let’s hope this leads to real progress across the country. The trucking industry wants to be a full player on the gateway councils. It is also important that the customers of the freight transportation system also be represented.”
But, Bradley cautioned: “Let’s not forget that Canada remains the only G-7 country not to have a national highway strategy and some of our busiest border crossings are begging for investment in capacity now. There is a lot of work to do.”
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