Improved relations between Oshawa and port authority helping fuel development at harbour front

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Published October 4, 2021 at 11:27 am

Oshawa Councillor John Gray believes the City can be supportive of the Port of Oshawa’s aggressive expansion plans while still maintaining control of the development of the surrounding area and keeping the dream of a working marina alive.

Relations between City Council and the port have been fractious in the previous decades – especially in the years when it was run by the Oshawa Harbour Commission – but Gray said everything changed two years ago when the federal government-mandated Hamilton Oshawa Port Authority (HOPA) was created.

The two sides are still arguing over land use – the City wants the lands to the west and north of the harbour reserved for recreational and other uses and local environmentalists are still concerned about the proximity of the port to the Second Marsh – “but we’re actually talking to one another now,” Gray said.

“It’s refreshing.”

Gray noted the City is working on a condominium development on the north side of Harbour Road right now that “looks like the real deal.”

In the past old arguments and old projects would stall and linger in the public’s eyes for years and Gray cited limited cash flow at the Oshawa Harbour Commission and its successor, the Oshawa Port Authority, as a chief reason why.

The delays would lead to further deterioration in the relations, he explained.

Now, says Gray, the City is dealing with an organization with “very deep pockets” so when they say they’re going to do something “they tend to do it.”

One project HOPA is itching to do soon is re-construct the final leg of Farewell Street, from Harbour Rod to the entrance to the port, but they will have to wait until the new year to see if the Region of Durham will okay the transfer of ownership of the road.

If they get approval HOPA plans on widening the road to allow for truck staging and to “improve fluidity and safety within the port district.”

Those deep pockets aren’t deep enough for everything the organization wants to do, however, and HOPA is working on a comprehensive proposal to the National Corridors Fund to bankroll a major expansion of the port.

The federal fund supports infrastructure investment in Canada’s key trade corridors, with a focus in its current application intake on projects that enhance Canada’s grain export capabilities to overseas markets.

HOPA CEO Ian Hamilton sent a letter to the City’s Port of Oshawa Working Group committee Friday, asking for Oshawa’s support for the application, pointing out that the money will help correct “numerous infrastructure deficiencies” and allow the port to increase grain exports from Oshawa by 300,000 megatons over the next decade.

The money, if HOPA wins federal approval, will build on the existing grain terminal at the port by adding a new silo and unload station to increase grain storage and export capacity and upgrading marine, road, and operational infrastructure to fully modernize and optimize the port’s east wharf.

The project will also deliver upgrades to several aspects of the port’s infrastructure to increase the value of development parcels on the port lands and improve the port’s environmental performance with respect to water and air quality and GHG emission reductions, Hamilton said.

Some of the plan elements include the extension of East berth – enabling two vessels to dock at the same time – a new grain unloading station and a 10,000-megaton grain silo and supporting infrastructure.

The $4.2 billion National Trade Corridors Fund (NTCF) helps fund infrastructure projects at airports, ports, railways, transportation facilities and access roads in Canada.

HOPA has used the NTCF twice before in Hamilton, with $17.7 for the modernization of the Port of Hamilton and $5.5 million for the Pier 10 expansion project.

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