Buoyed by a 15.5 per cent increase in traffic during 2010, the St. Lawrence Seaway has decided not to increase tolls during the 2011 shipping season.
“The decision to extend the toll freeze was made in an effort to maintain the momentum underlying the seaway’s market development initiatives,” said Terry Bowles, the new president and CEO of the St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corporation (SLSMC).
After the recession in 2009, when traffic fell to levels not seen since the seaway’s opening 50 years ago, the rebound in business was welcomed by the not-for-profit corporation and its American partner, the Seaway Development Corp.
“The effectiveness of the SLSMC’s business development initiatives can be witnessed with over a million tonnes of new business passing through the system in 2010,” added Bruce Hodgson, director of market development for the SLSMC.
“Given the recuperation of the economy, an extra year with no toll increase will assist our stakeholders in their efforts to develop new business and will serve to reinforce the Great Lakes St. Lawrence Seaway System’s position as the gateway to North America’s heartland.”
Bowles said the corporation wants to “reduce the cost and complexity of the system, and attract new cargo. The extension of the toll freeze, coupled with various incentive programs, represents tangible steps toward meeting these objectives.”
The waterway seems poised to start the 2011 navigation season on a high note as the economy continues to grow. The late Prairie grain harvest may provide additional business from the Canadian Wheat Board in the opening months.
Last year, increased demand for iron ore from North American and European steel makers and the ban on Russian wheat exports drove the seaway’s revival.
The seaway agencies are looking at a variety of measures to attract more cargo to the system.
“The recovery is the most encouraging thing I’ve seen,” said Bowles. “We have a lot of good things going for us. When business comes back in North America, we will be the ideal vehicle to address the situation.”