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Hamilton Port Authority eyes Niagara for growth

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06 Apr 2018
by Allan Benner, St. Catharines Standard

The Hamilton Port Authority is sold out.

Almost all of the roughly 80 hectares of available industrial property managed by the port authority — much of it left behind by the declining steel industry in the city — is now occupied, said the port authority's president and chief executive officer, Ian Hamilton.

"Really, the demand for marine industrial land is no longer being met in Hamilton. We're sold out of property," he told members of Niagara Region's planning and development committee, Wednesday.

With 60 businesses on a waiting list for property in the area, Hamilton said many of them might instead be interested in relocating to Niagara.

"I can't say that all of them could be moved into the Niagara Region, but certainly a vast majority can," he said.

And Hamilton offered the port authority's help, assisting the Region in breathing new life into some of the brownfield industrial properties along the Welland Canal.

"We can assist you in taking advantage of these opportunities," he said. Niagara's assets — the canal, the proximity to the U.S. border, rail lines, a surplus of available industrial land and an educated workforce — are a "huge advantage" for the area.

"Right now Niagara is faced with a similar problem that Hamilton was faced with 10 years ago, in that a lot of industries disappeared but at the same time you have a lot of industrial space available," Hamilton said.

"Being a Niagara resident living in Fonthill, certainly I understand from the local ethos that there's a real trade-orientated and economic development-driven mentality which I think is necessary in bringing in the industries that I think would take advantage of this."

St. Catharines Coun. Bruce Timms said Hamilton Harbour was previously viewed as competition.

"Should I have confidence that the Hamilton Harbour is going to put Niagara's canal corridor front and centre in terms of your interests?"Timms asked.

Hamilton said looking at the waterways "as one big regional asset … is the only way to logically look at it, and that's the way we're going to be successful in the future."

The partnership offer from Hamilton is being considered by the Region as part of a review of St. Lawrence Seaway properties — looking for opportunities to increase economic and commercial development along the waterway.

Hamilton said the port authority has grown to become the fifth largest port in the country in the past eight years, attracting about $300 million in private investment and creating good quality jobs for about 2,100 people on site and as many as 38,000 across the province, with about $2 billion in cargo passing through the port each year.

The organization is also a self-sustaining for-profit entity that has invested about $12 million to $15 million annually in upgrading its facilities, without requiring ongoing government support. And for every dollar the organization invests, Hamilton said "we're able to attract four or five dollars from the private market."

"We feel there is equal if not more of those assets available within the Niagara Region," Hamilton said. "Just based on the assets you have available, there's no reason why over a period of time you couldn't have equally as big an impact on the economy as the Hamilton Port Authority does."
Last Modified: May 09, 2018 09:47 PM
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