Tbnewswatch Local News
2014-02-28 at 4:55PM

Grain crisis?

Thunder Bay has space for around 1 million tonnes of grain right now.
Jamie Smith, tbnewswatch.com
Thunder Bay has space for around 1 million tonnes of grain right now.
By Jamie Smith, tbnewswatch.com

In economic grain crisis in the west could have an affect on Thunder Bay’s port, however it’s unknown right now how significant it could be.

Canada usually produces around 52-million tonnes of grain in a given year. But last year's crop topped 90 million. That, coupled with a shortage of rail cars, has left millions of tonnes in the west waiting to be shipped.

More than 50 ships are in Vancouver waiting for grain.

Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall has said the situation is a crippling economic crisis for his province and suggests that perhaps the grain should start being shipped south.

In places like Manitoba grain storage is over capacity.

Thunder Bay Port Authority CEO Tim Heney said that means it has to get moving soon.

The issue is unprecedented in the shipping season.

"The trick will be to get it out of that storage before flood season," he said.

Right now Thunder Bay has around a million tonnes of space for grain. But there's still no way to get it here. It's been predicted that moving last year's shipment will take until 2015.

Heney said he expects once shipments start moving the local port will be pretty busy.

But that depends on the individual grain elevators' strategy. The port authority is a statistical body that coordinates things like harbour maintenance and ice breaking.

"Beyond that it's up to the individual companies," Heney said.

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