Oshawa is a Lake Ontario port community whose name is derived from the Ojibwa word for "crossing place". The Ojibwa people are known for many things including their rich culture, descriptive language, and prescience in giving names for Oshawa will undoubtedly become more and more of a "crossing place" for Great Lakes-Seaway maritime commerce in the months and years to come.
As we reported in the February 10, 2012 edition of Great Lakes-Seaway News, the Honourable Jim Flaherty, Minister of Finance, Dr. Colin Carrie, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Health and Member of Parliament for Oshawa recently came to the former Oshawa Harbour Commission to announce that Oshawa had received its much coveted Canada Port Authority (CPA) designation.
"Our government recognizes the significant role the Port of Oshawa plays in the local economy," said Minister Flaherty. "The creation of a Port Authority in Oshawa provides the certainty for businesses to plan and invest in our port, which will create jobs and long-term economic growth. This is a great day for the future of Oshawa and Durham Region."
"Oshawa is one of the few cities that can boast an airport, rail lines, an open water port and 400-series highways, making Oshawa and the region a great place to invest," said Colin Carrie, MP, "It's wonderful for the future of Oshawa and our region."
From a commercial standpoint, Oshawa has special strategic significance. Its location at the eastern edge of the Greater Toronto Area serves a range of industries that are dependent on reliable, cost-effective marine transportation.
The Port of Oshawa also boasts one of the Great Lakes' most dynamic and experienced leaders in port manager and CEO Donna Taylor. Last month, Taylor spoke at the Pre-navigational Conference of the Great Lakes District Council of the International Longshoremen's Association (ILA). There Taylor described a bold vision for the Port of Oshawa's future including plans to reroute rail lines and improve the port's landside infrastructure to accommodate future Great Lakes-Seaway business. An important part of the success she has had moving Oshawa forward is the strong partnership she has forged with the port's labor force.
"The ILA and the Port share the same goals. We both want more and better jobs at the Port. We both know that that means more cargo and handling that cargo in the safest, most reliable, most efficient, and most environmentally-friendly way. The ILA are not just our labour force, they are very much our partners in moving the port forward."
Those sentiments are shared by the ILA and were echoed by Great Lakes District Council President John Baker Jr. by saying, "Donna is one Great Lakes port director that understands that when labor and management communicate and work together, we can accomplish great things. That's why we made her an honorary longshoreman. She understands what we do and she works with us to make her port community and the entire System stronger."
Ottawa's designation as a CPA is consistent with the objectives of the Government of Canada's National Marine Policy, which seeks to improve the efficiency of Canadian marine transportation by managing Canada's major marine infrastructure in a commercial manner. CPAs operate at arm's length from the federal government and are directed by an independent board of directors. This model makes Canada's major ports commercially efficient, allowing them to remain competitive in the global economy. The transition of the port to a CPA is the latest in a series of government actions to support an efficient and competitive national ports system.