CP Rail unveils future site of intermodal facility in Regina
By WILL CHABUN, Leader-Post
REGINA — The Canadian Pacific Railway took a giant step toward relocating its freight yards out of downtown Regina on Friday.
Watched by a literal trainload of VIPs, civil servants, business executives and politicians, the transportation giant’s president, Fred Green, officially unveiled the future site of its much-awaited intermodal facility at the Global Transportation Hub being developed on Regina’s western edge.
“This is absolutely fantastic!” a delighted Mayor Pat Fiacco said. “”I can’t believe this has taken place so quickly.”
Both the mayor and Premier Brad Wall — who called Friday’s announcement “one of the most important economic development projects for, I think, generations” — said Saskatchewanians should ready themselves for more positive announcements at the GTH.
“It’s a game-changer for us,” Wall said of the terminal’s potential in getting Saskatchewan products, including agricultural ones, to markets.
GTH is being developed as an important Canadian transportation and logistics centre giving rail access to major Canadian ports, Gulf Coast ports and U.S. points.
Construction work on the 300-acre site on the CP railway mainline is scheduled to begin this summer and be completed by the end of 2012. By comparison, the existing freight terminal covers only about 17 acres.
About 100 construction jobs are to be created by this $50-million project.
When completed, the new terminal will be able to handle about 250,000 container loadings per year, compared with about 45,000 at the present facility.
Green said the project’s “greatest opportunity” will be the efficiencies realized by having a big, new, high-tech site in a province with rapidly growing exports. “I think, over the course of time, people will be shocked at how many international containers will come through this facility,” he said.
All three speakers saluted the Regina Regional Opportunities Commission and its executive director, Larry Hiles, for coming up with the vision of an “inland port”, and then taking it over the past decade to the provincial government, businesses and the CPR, whose existing Regina facility could not expand.
Closure of the Regina facility was never considered, said Green, who added that, “there’s a world of difference between expanding modestly and doing what we’re going to do here.”
With Friday’ announcement, CP becomes the second GTH tenant, joining Canadian Logistics Services, which is about 200 metres to the northeast. CLS, a contractor to the Loblaws grocery group, opened earliest this year.
Mayor Pat Fiacco predicted CP’s presence will attract other businesses and jobs to the hub. “When we say ‘literally thousands of jobs’, we not kidding,” said Fiacco. “Literally thousands of jobs.”
Added Wall: “There will be, I promise, more announcements in the future from other companies.”
Twenty CPR employees will be transferred to the new facility from the downtown terminal and the corporation said there is the potential for more positions if, as hoped, it grows.
CP said the intermodal containers that will be handled at it carry a large variety of domestic and foreign products ranging from consumer products to electronics, clothing, auto parts, and agricultural specialty products.
Even with the new terminal, CPR trains will continue to run through downtown Regina. But CPR’s move opens the door to a redevelopment of the site, which sits between the Old Warehouse entertainment district and the city’s downtown area and has been persistently “talked up” as a site for a new entertainment facility.
Said Fiacco: “If those who are wondering if this is going to be happening, this is an affirmation.”