More Competition For Border Traffic
I research what I write in my BLOGS and often find things by chance that I was not looking for but that may be of interest. What I will set out below is one of those instances.
What bothers me is that not only do we have to compete for border traffic against Sarnia/Port Huron, now it looks like Fort Erie wants to take a shot at us too.
Compare what is happening on the East-West corridor with Windsor. Read what the fellow in Fort Erie discusses about their game-plan for how they want to use the border for economic development and compare it with what we are doing.
Do you now understand why we need a complete house-cleaning at City Hall from the top down! Can you understand what this City would be like with a lame-duck Mayor and feuding Councillors for the next four years! Ugh...I cannot stand to even think about it!
Here is what Rino Mostacci, director of community and development services for the town of Fort Erie, said at the STANDING COMMITTEE ON FINANCE AND ECONOMIC AFFAIRS of the Ontario Legislature on 30 January 2006:
- "From an economic perspective, Fort Erie is important as one of North America's busiest international border crossings. We believe that in the future it will emerge as Ontario's preferred crossing from an international trade perspective. To this extent, border-related commerce is affected by the capacity at the Peace Bridge and accessibility to the QEW. Efficient access to the Fort Erie border crossing is absolutely vital to the Ontario economy. As a result, we are experiencing major interest in terms of industrial operations in various business enterprises to locate in Fort Erie to take advantage of the accessibility provided by the QEW and the Peace Bridge. This is directly in line and consistent with provincial policy.
As you are probably aware, Places to Grow has identified a gateway economic zone that runs right through Fort Erie to the Peace Bridge. This is an excerpt from the schedule, Places to Grow. You can see Fort Erie at the southeastern limit of Niagara region, and the red line symbolizes the gateway zone, which essentially is parallel to the QEW through the area.
Fort Erie strongly supports the provincial designation of the gateway economic zone through the town and wishes to facilitate implementation, particularly with respect to job creation and investment opportunities. Our vision is to create a premier industrial business park located in Fort Erie serving all of Niagara, southern Ontario and upstate New York.
The proposed industrial park is designated in our planning documents. It's designated in the regional official plan. To give you an idea of scale, gross area is approximately 600 hectares. There are approximately 120 hectares that are classified as environmental lands, provincially significant wetlands, and about 120 hectares are undevelopable, as they are already used for highway purposes and landfill sites. The net industrial land available in the industrial park is approximately 360 hectares, and we envision approximately 120 development sites based on an average of about three hectares per site. So this is a major opportunity for industrial growth and job creation in this region.
Our goals locally are to diversify the industrial base and promote a strong economy. We'd like to attract and retain jobs and investment, partner with major industry and land developers, and encourage business development in innovative sectors of the economy. To give you some background, DMI, which is a wind generation company, has recently located in Fort Erie, specifically to take advantage of the accessibility and the position relative to the border...
Additional objectives are transportation and servicing infrastructure to support ultimate build-out of the industrial business park. We'd like to build on our competitive locational strength at the border by attracting upstate New York companies and to collaborate with all levels of government relative to the growth corridor, including the province and the federal government, as you have seen through the border infrastructure fund...
Improvements resulting from the Canada-Ontario border infrastructure fund have enhanced accessibility and efficiencies at the border. The next step is to enhance the ability to locate in proximity to the border crossing and take advantage of locational efficiencies as well as to relieve congestion throughout the GTA.
The Vice-Chair: Mr. Arthurs, for the government.
Mr. Arthurs: There are a couple of things I'm still curious about. You've referenced that Fort Erie will emerge as Ontario's preferred crossing from an international trade perspective, and that's not just a sales pitch, I presume. There are good reasons for that, and I'd like to hear just a little bit more about that in the time we have.
Mr. Mostacci: There are two questions there. I'll address the first one, in terms of the Peace Bridge. We strongly believe that the improvements being made at the Peace Bridge will result in that border crossing at Fort Erie becoming Ontario's number one border crossing, primarily because of the congestion issues being experienced in the Windsor crossings.
You will see over time, once the Canadian plaza improvements are put in place and once the expansion to the US plaza has been completed, relative to the additional inspection booths, that we will have almost free-flow commercial traffic at the Peace Bridge. When you're moving goods, time is money. The logistics firms are telling us that a one- to two-hour delay at the Windsor crossings is not acceptable and that the Peace Bridge is a superior crossing in terms of expeditiously moving from the GTA, as well as the cost advantages in terms of the processing fees at the Peace Bridge.
The Peace Bridge is moving forward, as you know, with the binational, integrated environmental assessment for the new bridge. The jury has selected a new bridge prototype, and it's working its way through the US environmental approval process. We hope to see a new bridge under construction within three years.