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January 24, 2016

CentrePort (Part III): Sustainability And The Community


Gray announces CentrePort's involvement in the "Trees for Tomorrow" initiative. Gray announces CentrePort's involvement in the "Trees for Tomorrow" initiative.

As Canada’s first tri-modal inland port and Foreign Trade Zone, CentrePort offers direct access to national and international rail, truck and air cargo operations.

More than just a trade centre, CentrePort expects to bring major change to the Winnipeg landscape, driving economic growth and adding value to the community.

We sat down with CentrePort President and CEO, Diane Gray, to learn more about North America’s largest inland port and the impact it could have on the local community and North America’s transportation industry. As a transportation leader, Bison Transport is heavily invested in the development of our industry and we are excited to partner with CentrePort as we continue to drive our economy.

This is the third installment in our four-part series:

CentrePort and the Community

While on the surface it may seem as though CentrePort is designed simply to benefit the transportation industry and create growth opportunities for logistics companies, the port expects to have a significant impact on the entire community.

In describing just how much of an influence CentrePort figures to have for the average Manitoban, Gray listed four particular benefits:

  • Increase in quality job opportunities. Not only will CentrePort create more jobs, but the jobs are expected to be quality career opportunities. Given Manitoba’s diverse economy, the port anticipates that its tenants will be sustainable through economic ebbs and flows, which means stable job opportunities.
  • Stronger social programs. The reality is that Canadians expect excellent universal healthcare, a great education system and quality infrastructure, but don’t want to be paying high taxes. That isn’t possible without organizations like CentrePort, which bring increased private investment and regional population growth to create an environment where it is possible to continue to have strong social programs at a competitive tax rate.
  • Improved road infrastructure. Always a hot topic in Canada, and specifically Manitoba, road infrastructure can always be improved. With CentrePort Canada Way already in use, and soon to be doubled in length, the port is already providing Manitobans with a beautiful, high-speed commuting option. Whether you’re going to and from work each day, visiting a friend or just trying to quickly escape the city, the new highway is an immediate upgrade to Winnipeg’s road infrastructure.
  • Population growth. Winnipeg is full of great arts and culture communities, loaded with superior secondary and post-secondary institutions and other strong social programs, but they all need supporting. Increased population growth means increased support for the institutions that we all appreciate.

Gray and her team are already seeing concrete examples of the impact their organization is having on the community, including a recent encounter with a new Winnipeg resident whose reason for moving to town even surprised the CentrePort CEO. 

Much of the infrastructure being developed around CentrePort will benefit the community at large. Much of the infrastructure being developed around CentrePort will benefit the community at large.

After speaking at a Manitoba Real Estate Association conference in October, a young woman approached Gray and told her that she had moved to Winnipeg from Ontario, not something you hear too often. Her reason? The CentrePort development.

The woman, who is a residential real estate agent, said she believed the project would be so transformational to the city that it made it worth coming to Winnipeg.

By the same token, Gray understands there is still plenty of room for growth.

“I’m not saying that just because one person moved here from Ontario means we’ve reached all markets, we know we haven’t,” she said. “We’ve been very focused on developing this infrastructure and a strong planning framework for development within CentrePort. All of those things are necessary, and lay people typically don’t understand that that needs to be done and that it takes time. But we’re nearing the end of the first phase of all of that, which will allow us to find the gaps in our communication process.”

Gray and her team plan to spend a lot of time in 2016 working on a public information initiative in Manitoba to increase awareness about Centreport and the value it provides to the entire community. The goal is to get as many people as possible telling stories about this great project happening in Winnipeg and how it can be transformational to the way people live, work, play and learn all in one place.

CentrePort as a Sustainable Development

Of course, as with any new development in today’s environmentally conscious age, there are plenty of questions surrounding the environmental sustainability of something as grand as CentrePort.

With that in mind, the port’s "live, work, play and learn" approach speaks to several sustainable development projects. Among them are greener standards for new development, including energy and waste efficiency, tree planting, and design elements that promote active transportation.

The active transportation initiative has been integrated into the planning of CentrePort and the corporation is advocating for separate corridors for those riding bikes, rather than forcing cyclists onto CentrePort Canada Way, a dangerous proposition for drivers and cyclists.

“On a larger scale we’re trying to respond to the transportation industry’s needs,” Gray said. “But on a smaller scale we’re also trying to respond to the individual person, who may want to ride his bike to work.”

Trees for Tomorrow along CentrePort Canada Way CentrePort's involvement in the Government of Manitoba's "Trees for Tomorrow" initiative is one of many green projects on the site.

The organization also intends to preserve and protect green areas, such as ballparks, golf courses and dog parks, throughout the footprint. In addition to maintaining green space on the property, this adds to the complete community focus of CentrePort, providing a great space for a company softball game or a family picnic.

“We’re putting a lot of thought into how we can address a lot of important areas of planning that other projects may not have had the time to consider,” Gray said.

Click here to read the CentrePort (Part I): The Birth and The Future.

Click here to read the CentrePort (Part II): Growth and The Economy.

Watch for CentrePort (Part IV): Impact on the Trucking Industry later this week.

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