One of the key trade corridor initiatives that Transportation Policy and Service Development focuses on is the Mid-Continental Trade Corridor. Manitoba’s position at the heart of North America makes it a key part of the Mid-Continent Trade Corridor, connecting Canada to a central North American market of 100 million people. Through a system of connecting highways and rail routes, the corridor provides seamless and efficient transportation linking major commercial centres in the Canadian and American Midwest, through the Southwest, and deep into Mexico. Intermodal in nature, the corridor allows cost-effective and safe movement of goods and people, minimizing both travel costs and time. The corridor is shown in the graphic below.
To advance the development of transportation infrastructure and economic development along the Mid-Continental Corridor, MIT/Transportation Policy and Service Development are members of NASCO (North American Super Corridor Coalition). NASCO is a nonprofit organization dedicated to increasing economic development activity while supporting multi-modal infrastructure improvements, technology / security innovations and environmental initiatives along the NASCO Corridor, and to stimulate the dialogue between the public and private sectors about critical, corridor-wide trade and transportation challenges.
NASCO members include cities, counties, states, provinces and private sector representatives along the Corridor in Canada, the United States and Mexico, dedicated to maximizing the efficiency and security of their existing trade and transportation infrastructure. The NASCO Corridor represents the existing trade and transportation infrastructure roughly shadowing U.S. Interstate Highways 35, 29 and 94, and the connecting transportation infrastructure in Canada and Mexico critical to national and international trade. This includes major intermodal "inland ports" along the corridor and under development.
MIT has been participating in the $1 billion Federal Asia-Pacific Gateway and Corridor Initiative which was announced in October of 2006. The gateway and corridor is a system of transportation infrastructure, including British Columbia Lower Mainland and Prince Rupert ports, road and rail connections that reach across Western Canada and into the economic heartlands of North America, as well as major airports and border crossings. The initiative involves investment and policy measures focused on trade with the Asia-Pacific Region. Its mission is to establish Canada’s Asia-Pacific Gateway and Corridor as the best transportation network facilitating global supply chains between North America and Asia.
In November 2007, the Federal Government announced Building Canada; a long-term infrastructure plan including a national fund for gateways and border crossings with $2.1 billion over seven years. Funding investments made by the Federal government under this fund are guided by the National Policy Framework for Strategic Gateways and Corridors.
Transportation Policy and Service Development has worked with federal partners to secure project funding from these various initiatives to advance Manitoba’s strategic transportation position along the corridor. To date, these include:
The Churchill Gateway Development Corporation (CGDC) was established in June 2003 for the purpose of marketing the Port of Churchill through diversifying the traffic base and building two-way traffic.
The CGDC is a non-share, public-private partnership and includes representation from the Government of Canada (Western Economic Diversification), the Province of Manitoba and OmniTRAX, INC. OmniTRAX is a private owner/operator of the Port of Churchill as well as the railway line that serves it, the Hudson Bay Railway Company.
The Vision of the Churchill Gateway Development Corp. is to achieve full realization of the "Churchill Advantage" with a thriving trade and tourism route.
MIT, through Transportation Policy and Service Development, along with the Winnipeg Airports Authority, the Churchill Gateway Development Corporation and OmniTRAX, is pursuing trade opportunities with the Russia that would position Manitoba as a north-central point in North America for the transshipment of goods through the Arctic region. The first initiative involves the development of polar air routes between Russia (Krasnoyarsk) and Winnipeg.
In 2001, the Polar Air Routes study commissioned by Manitoba and Krasnoyarsk reported positively on the nature and volume of freight flows; current and potential service providers; opportunities for development; and research regarding the institutional, regulatory and administrative environment. The study indicated a cost saving of over 20% using the polar route via Krasnoyarsk to Dehli, India. In addition, the Krasnoyarsk airport in Northern Russia has been singled out by Russian state and private aviation interests to be developed as a regional cargo hub for international air cargo movements.
In February 2002, Manitoba and Krasnoyarsk (a region in Northern Russia) signed a Letter of Intent to work toward a Memorandum of Understanding for further cooperation and follow-up activities on polar air route development. MIT continues to meet and work with Russian officials to advance this initiative.
The proximity of Churchill to Murmansk, Russia suggests that trade opportunities between Russia and North America can be facilitated through these port facilities, by capitalizing on the time and cost efficiencies the marine link provides (4 days sailing time saved over Thunder Bay-Murmansk route). The initiative meets Manitoba’s strategic focus to diversify traffic through the Port. It envisages the further development of Manitoba as a transportation gateway, wherein Russian goods could enter via Churchill, for dispersal to North America and vice versa.
In 2002, Manitoba signed a Letter of Intent (LOI) with Murmansk (Province) on the development of marine links between the ports of Churchill and Murmansk in 2002.In 2007, the first-ever ocean shipment from Russia arrived at the Port of Churchill. A Murmansk Shipping Company vessel, the Kapitan Sviridov, unloaded a shipment of fertilizer imported by Farmers of North America, a farm membership-based organization. The Russian vessel subsequently made an outbound shipment of 20 000 tonnes of wheat destined for Italy – part of the Canadian Wheat Board’s largest wheat shipping program through Churchill since 1977.