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Thursday, 19 May 2011 09:15

Corridor vital for Sask. trade

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

The Ports-to-Plains Alliance (PTPA) met with the Ministry of Highways and Infrastructure to discuss the future of a trade corridor between Saskatchewan and the U.S. May 10.

“We have a lot of highways in this province that need to be rebuilt, and a number of them include highway access to the U.S. so I really don’t view this as we need to pick a corridor at the expense of other highways,” said Jim Reiter, Minister of Highways and Infrastructure.

“We’ve got criteria set, and an advisory committee on highways to be built, and in the long run I see a lot of highways built.”

Reiter noted that the provincial government has a lot of catch up to play in regards to the infrastructure deficit plaguing Saskatchewan. He stressed the importance of trade within the economy.

“We have a trading economy, we have an export economy, we transport all kinds of goods out if the province, we import some stuff, trucking plays a huge role in our economy, and we’ve got infrastructure that’s been neglected for a lot of years,” said Reiter.

“We’re building a lot of highway - the problem we have is that highways have been neglected for a longtime – while we’re building a lot we’ve still got an awful lot left to build.”

Joe Kiely, Vice President of operations for PTPA, said he was impressed with the open dialogue between not only the provincial government, but with municipalities and groups across Saskatchewan.

Kiely made the trip to Swift Current after the meeting for the Corridor for Competitiveness business case, as reported in the May 13 edition of the Prairie Post.

“We often don’t even realize how important the trading relationship between the U.S. and Canada is until somebody actually sets it down on paper,” he said.

Kiely noted the importance of having Saskatchewan as a partner within the PTPA.

“The high priority portion of the corridor is the Theodore Roosevelt Express (TRE) that come right up into Saskatchewan,” he said.

“The combination of Saskatchewan and Alberta is important to the whole corridor, because the trading relationship and economies are so much alike.”

As in the U.S. the trade corridor would not only be a benefit to larger cities along its route. Kiely noted the importance that rural communities have within economies.

“The resources that build an economy are present in rural communities - whether it’s energy, renewable energy, and agriculture - those building blocks of an economy are in rural communities, so it takes rural highways to move them to markets and urban areas require them to move to other markets.”

Dwain Lingenfelter, Saskatchewan NDP leader, said a trade corridor would benefit many industries including tourism, but would fall under federal jurisdiction.

“It’s more of a federal issue than provincial, but having a 24-hour port straight south of Swift Current would make lots of sense,” said Lingenfelter.

“In fact would be very advantageous – not just to Swift Current, but also to Saskatoon and points north – so anything you can do to improve traffic and the flow of commerce is good news for the economy of Saskatchewan.”

Dan Martens, Swift Current City councillor, will travel to Regina May 20 where the Corridor for Competitiveness business case will be presented to members of the provincial government.

“From my perspective it is something that has been completely untapped, and we just really need to maximize the effort and hopefully this all works out well, but it’s paramount to community like ours,” said Martens.

“There’ so many things as a community that we have missed - simply because of opportunity - so in that respect as a council we’re really solidly behind it, and want to see it through to completion.”

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