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Western Canada trade infrastructure initiative gains support, national voice

The Canadian Construction Association has agreed to work with Western Canadian heavy construction associations to elevate the call for a new, federally financed investment program for trade gateways and corridors in the West.

“We are really excited about the possibilities in joining with the construction industry’s national advocacy association in pressing for a substantial refocusing and recapitalization of the federal government’s trade corridor program,” said Chris Lorenc, President of the Western Canada Roadbuilders and Heavy Construction Association.

This week, the four provincial associations in the WCR&HCA joined the CCA’s President, Mary Van Buren, and Rod Gilbert, V-P of Public Affairs, to lay out strategy to impress upon Ottawa and the four Western premiers the need for a long-term, high-value investment strategy for trade corridors and gateways.

The West is Canada’s port of entry to Asia, which holds the greatest potential for expanding Canada’s global trade profile and productivity. Lorenc noted that some good ground work has been done, through the earlier Asia Pacific Gateway and Corridor Initiative, to build out port capacity and proximal corridor tie-ins within British Columbia.

Now Canada needs to support a Western Canada Trade Gateway and Corridor Initiative, Lorenc said, to ensure that the goods and commodities being manufactured and produced across the West can get onto an efficient corridor, or moved through a trade hub, quickly and off to the gateways that speed along trade to global customers.

Van Buren offered to engage with Export Development Canada, which is particularly keen to promote trade potential with greater Asia. The WCR&HCA will enlist the support of the individual premiers of all four Western provinces, who have aligned within the New West Partnership to boost trade and bring down barriers to the free flow of goods and services across the West.

The CCA was informed of a paper to be produced in the near future by the Canada West Foundation that has analyzed the value to Canada and within the West, among the provinces, of investing in corridors and gateways, given the various trade deals that expanded or have been signed since the APGCI was funded.

The CCA and WCR&HCA will approach federal MP Jim Carr, the federal minister with special responsibility for the Prairies, the Council of the Federation as well as business groups such as Business Council of Canada, Canadian Manufacturers & Exporters and Canadian Chamber of Commerce.

The WCR&HCA is composed of the Manitoba Heavy Construction Association, the Saskatchewan Heavy Construction Association, Alberta Roadbuilders and Heavy Construction Association and the British Columbia Road Builders and Heavy Construction Association.