B.C. and the rest of Canada have to start treating the United States as their main competitor, not just their main customer.
An inventory of the challenges and opportunities linked to that reality took centre stage at Cargo Logistics Canada’s recent conference in Vancouver. High atop that inventory: industrial land availability and the operating model for ports and airports. Both are fundamental to the development of goods movement capacity and efficiency.
The port industrial land debate needs to be elevated beyond preservation of land that’s merely zoned industrial to the creation of more sites whose location and services make them usable. That will require dispassionately re-evaluating portions of the Agricultural Land Reserve to swap out property that has limited or no agricultural value.
The operation of the country’s ports and aiports also needs objective re-evaluation. Privatization is a controversial option here. The country’s ports, after all, have a national mandate to advance Canada’s trade objectives, something that private ownership might not consider a top priority.
Canada’s airports are similarly critical to the country’s economic future. But as The Future of Canadian Air Travel: Toll Booth or Spark Plug? has noted, “high costs and inefficiencies throughout the [air travel] industry are deterring demand for air travel and discouraging competition among carriers.”
The Senate report concluded that Ottawa “should stop treating airports as a source of public revenue and start treating them as economic spark plugs.” A February 7 C.D. Howe Institute study agreed. It estimated the federal government could generate between $7.2 billion and $16.6 billion from selling equity stakes in the country’s airports.
Both analyses underscore the need for Canada to develop a robust national plan to grow and thrive in the America-first Trumponomics era.
That imperative could be a painful but needed shock to the complacent heart of a country that has for too long relied on its superpower neighbour for its economic well-being.
Read full article: Business in Vancouver, February 21. 2017