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Amalgamated port authority for Oshawa, Hamilton now a reality

By Dave Flaherty/The Oshawa Express

Effective June 18, Oshawa’s Port Authority will become an amalgamated entity.

Last week, federal Minister of Transport Marc Garneau announced plans to forward with the merging of the Oshawa Port Authority with Hamilton’s.

The move was officially published the government’s official newspaper, The Canada Gazette, Part I, on Saturday, June 8.

Of the amalgamation, Garneau said, “The Government of Canada remains committed to improving the country’s competitiveness in international trade and promoting employment opportunities for the middle class,” Garneau said in a media release. “The new Hamilton-Oshawa Port Authority will optimize the economic growth of the southern Ontario region.”

The Liberal government first announced intentions to amalgamate the two port authorities in February.
After that, a 45-day public consultation period took place.

According to the certificate of amalgamation in The Canada Gazette, Part I, the government’s objective is to “ensure the long-term sustainability of port operations and strengthen the Canadian supply chain in Ontario.”

The government document states there is no expected environmental implications or changes to current land holdings, infrastructure or properties owned by either port authority.

The amalgamation is not expected to lead to any job losses.

“Continuity of operations at both ports will result in continued direct and indirect economic benefits for surrounding communities,” the document reads.

The board of the new port authority will be made up of seven directors.
The cities of Hamilton and Oshawa, in consultation with the City of Burlington, will appoint one director.

The Governor in Council will appoint an individual nominated by the Minister, as well as four other directors nominated by Garneau in consultation with the users, also selected by the Minister.

The Province of Ontario will appoint the final director.

It is unknown whether any current board members of the Oshawa Port Authority will be nominated, and what their roles will be moving forward with the new entity.

The Oshawa Port Authority spun off from the former Oshawa Harbour Commission in 2012.

Over the past few years, a few residents and councillors have questioned the financial stability of the organization.
The port’s 2017 financials showed its liabilities at the time exceeded its assets by nearly $6 million.

The financial statement, auditor DeLoitte LLP stated these conditions, along with other factors, indicate the existence of a material uncertainty that may cast significant doubt about the Port Authority’s ability to continue as an ongoing concern.”

As previously reported by The Oshawa Express, the port was ordered to pay FarmTech Energy a $4.19 arbitration award after the cancellation of a planned ethanol plant.

In a report to the city’s council earlier this, Hamilton staff also raised concerns about the Oshawa port’s financial security.

However, in December, Oshawa port board chair Gary Valcour said 2018 had been a rebound year for the port.

“We had a good year this year. We’ve had some great tonnage,” he told The Express.

The amalgamation may lead to the conclusion to a contentious issue between the city and port that started last fall.

In September 2018, the departing city council declined a proposal from the Port to build an extension of Harbour Road.

The port had proposed a driveway, but several councillors wanted the port to convey a 120-metre strip of land to serve as a buffer for the nearby Second Marsh.

In response, the port indicated the federal government was not looking to part with that land.

After council declined the original proposal, the port authority triggered a 1976 that binds the city to build a full-extension of Harbour Road.

Under the agreement, the city must also pay for half off the road, with estimates at more than $1 million.

However, after Garneau announced the plans to amalgamate, the matter was tabled by the city and remains so.