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Opinion: Prairie tidewater port deserves more attention

Getting to tidewater quickly and reliably makes exporters successful. Whether it’s ore, wood, processed materials or oil and gas, ocean ports are keys that unlock profits. Crops, fertilizers and other bulk cargo are among the most susceptible to high transportation costs. And when it comes to these, every penny of costs comes out of farmers’ pockets.

Churchill is the Prairies’ ocean port and despite its challenges, it remains a viable option for bulk cargo from the middle of Canada. The earlier that material leaves highways for railways and railways for water, the better it is to reduce costs and strain on the environment.

Since its construction in the late 1920s, the port and its rail line have been viewed as visionary and as a public service for the north and for farmers. Before the end of the Canadian Wheat Board, the port often handled more than 400,000 tonnes of grain in its July to November shipping season.

The rail link from The Pas is receiving $147 million in new money from Manitoba and federal governments this year in addition to federal investments of $157 million made in 2018 to make improvements to the rail and port. After being closed for two seasons after flooding in 2017, the tracks are back in business.

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