LENS 2: Volumes and Values of National Significance

Lens 2Gateway and corridor strategies must have, at their core, systems of transportation infrastructure that carry nationally significant levels of trade.

Even though Canada-U.S. trade is important to all regions, an effective gateway and corridor strategy must be highly targeted where volumes and values are most significant for Canada’s economy overall.

Objective analysis of trade data will help map transportation systems that are essential to improving Canada’s competitiveness in global commerce. Transport Canada has undertaken empirical analysis to this end, identifying infrastructure of national significance. That analysis, together with other considerations, will help identify the transportation systems at the core of future gateway and corridor strategies.

Huron Church Road to the Ambassador Bridge crossing in Windsor, Ontario

Huron Church Road to the Ambassador Bridge crossing in Windsor, Ontario

The Windsor Gateway: Addressing the Challenges of Volume

The Windsor-Detroit corridor is Canada’s busiest artery of trade. With the area handling almost 30% of total Canada-U.S. trade and more than 2.5 million trucks, an efficient and secure Windsor-Detroit corridor is essential to the Canadian economy.

The Government of Canada is working with partners to develop additional border capacity to support this trade. The federal government will be responsible for the Canadian half of the new international bridge, including the Canadian plaza, and plans to create a new public entity that will oversee and manage this infrastructure. In concert with Michigan and its U.S. partners, Canada is exploring working with the private sector to design, build, finance and operate the bridge and plaza. While responsibility for the access road to link the bridge with Highway 401 rests with the Province of Ontario, the Government of Canada has also set aside an initial $400 million to cover 50% of the eligible capital cost of building the access road to the new crossing.

With the long-term planning process underway, the Government of Canada continues to work with provincial and local partners to implement short and medium-term projects to improve local and international traffic flows. In March 2004, the Governments of Canada and Ontario and the City of Windsor signed a $300 million Memorandum of Understanding for the Let’s Get Windsor-Essex Moving Strategy for projects to relieve traffic congestion and improve traffic flows to existing Windsor crossings until the new river crossing is in place.

Canada’s international trade flow is concentrated geographically (2007 data):

  • The top six border crossings — Windsor, Fort Erie, and Sarnia in Ontario, Lacolle in Quebec, Emerson in Manitoba, and Pacific Highway in British Columbia — together handled around 73% of total truck traffic by value.
  • Canada’s west coast ports handled almost 75% of our export trade (value) to Asia.
  • The Port Vancouver is Canada’s busiest, handling about half of the total containers to go through Canadian ports — more than 2.31 million containers (twenty-foot equivalent units, or TEUs). The ports of Montreal and Halifax handled 1.36 million and 0.53 million TEUs, respectively, with all other ports handling a further 0.4 million TEUs.
  • More than 75% of container traffic through the Port of Halifax is delivered by rail to central Canada and the U.S.
  • Toronto's Pearson International Airport is Canada’s busiest, handling around 51% (value) of international air cargo and 45% of total international passenger traffic.
Geographic concentration of Canadian trade by value: entry/exit points via air, rail, road and marine modes in 2007

Figure 3 – Geographic concentration of Canadian trade by value: entry/exit points via air, rail, road and marine modes in 2007

Canada's Gateways