CHURCHILL, Man. — The future of the Port of Churchill is very much in doubt, following another year of low grain shipments.
Lloyd Axworthy, vice-chairman of the port’s advisory board, recently said the port will have to be closed down if grain shipments don’t return to feasible levels. Prairie droughts have resulted in below-average grain exports over the past two years.
"The question is whether there is enough volume that can be channeled through the port to keep it open," Axworthy says. He adds the 279,000 tonnes shipped through the port in 2002 is "way below the requirements to keep it open."
In 2000, before drought conditions began plaguing Prairie farmers, 710,000 tonnes of grain was moved through the port. Axworthy suggests other products should be directed through the Port of Churchill to ensure its long-term viability. In the meantime, however, he’s urging the Canadian Wheat Board (CWB) to support the northern port.
Louise Waldman, CWB spokesperson, recently told local media the CWB must ship through the port that will ensure the best returns for farmers. However, Manitoba’s Transportation Minister, Scott Smith, says the CWB should guarantee a set amount of grain tonnage to ensure the port is able to survive.
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