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Wednesday, 11 May 2011 15:29

Port plan moves forward for S.W. region

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By John R. Statton — This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

The focus is now on the Saskatchewan government to improve the province’s highway infrastructure for increased trade with the U.S.

Aaron Murray, of Derek Murray Consulting and Associates (DMCA), presented the Corridor for Competitiveness business case with John Parker, general manager of Community Futures Southwest, at the Entrepreneurial Centre in Swift Current May 10.


Audience members included representatives from North Dakota, Montana, Colorado, and Texas.

“We had people here all showing support in moving this project forward,” said Parker. “I think we did an awesome job through DMCA to get the business case done — which is what we needed to do to ensure we have the proper information to bring forward to the province, so that they can help with their vision of how to move the economy forward.”

The business case was the latest component of a combined effort to increase cross-border trade.

The case called for more ports of entry between the two nations, with the focus on a 24-hour port on Highway 4.

“I’m very excited that somebody is getting visionary. To date it’s good, what has happened in the past, but we’ve got to look forward at what’s going to happen tomorrow, and what we can create by getting Highway 4 and the Canadians have stepped up,” said Mike Lang, of Montana’s Phillips County Economic Development Committee.

“We’re getting new highway on our side again, so if we get Highway 4 going we’ll develop trade.”

The distance between current ports outlined the main problem Saskatchewan’s southwest region faces in North American trade.

The closest ports of entry for the trucking industry are 250 kilometres from the Port of Raymond, south of Regina, and 350 kilometres from the Port of Sweet Grass, located in Alberta.

These distances impact the province’s ability to export effectively. The business case noted Saskatchewan is one of the most trade dependent regions in North America, and 70 per cent of the province’s wealth comes via export.

Trucks moved $8.1 billion dollars of goods from Saskatchewan to the U.S. in 2010, which was a third of all exports — an indication of how crucial border crossings are to the province.

The southwest region has seen major economic development within the oil industry, and oil alone has seen a 570 per cent increase in exports to the U.S. since 2000.

Highway 4 does not support commercial traffic, although U.S. Route 191 south of the border does.

The proposed port of entry at Monchy, located south of Val Marie, would see increased trade with Montana, Colorado, Wyoming, Utah, Nevada, Arizona, and California.
Trucking alone saw $619 million in trade last year.

The case highlighted that a commercial port for the region would not be enough, and that infrastructure must be improved.

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