Calgary Region is home to Western Canada’s leading distribution hub and logistics centre.
On a national scale, the Calgary Region Inland Port has quietly emerged as the Nation’s second largest inland port, second only to the Toronto Metro Region.
This article will explain why the Calgary Region Inland Port has enjoyed very strong growth in recent years and why the development of a new Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between Calgary Regional Partnership (CRP) and Calgary Economic Development (CED) has been put in place to strengthen and promote the inland port.
Calgary Region’s Inland Port boosts the economy
The Calgary Region is home to a number of commercial and logistics clusters with over 5,000 transportation and logistics businesses.
“This critical mass of freight, transportation and distribution activity makes Calgary Region an attractive market that continues to see strong investment, despite the slowdown in the economy with the drop of oil and gas prices, said Mary Moran, President and CEO, Calgary Economic Development.
Calgary Region’s industrial market is distribution-driven, with an expansive inventory of affordable, serviced industrial land.
“The Calgary Region is recognized as one of the most cost-effective places in Western North America to establish a business within the transportation and logistics industry,” said Colleen Shepherd, Executive Director, Calgary Regional Partnership (CRP).
“As an inland port, the Region is a transportation hub connecting to major cities across North America. The Region also offers the lowest cost and quickest delivery time to western Canada,” said Shepherd.
MOU to strengthen emerging Calgary Region Inland Port
At the recent 2017 Canadian Inland Ports conference hosted in Calgary by Van Horne Institute, CRP and CED announced the signing of a memorandum of understanding (MOU) for the alignment of activities to strengthen and promote the Calgary Region Inland Port as a supply chain and distribution hub and foreign trade zone.
Co-lead by CED and CRP, marketing for the Calgary Regional Inland Port will integrate the interests of municipalities and other levels of government, the Calgary Logistics Council, Calgary Airport Authority and supply chain businesses in the transportation and logistics sector.
“We don’t have a global positioning and presence in the marketplace. The MOU developed by CED and CRP will allow us to develop, structure and promote the Calgary Region Inland Port in a highly competitive space,” said Colleen Shepherd, Executive Director, CRP.
Ideal highway access north, south east and west
Within one day truck’s drive of Calgary (13 hours being a trucker’s standard day), you can access a market of more than 18 million people. Extend that to a 24-hour day, and you can access more than 50 million people.
Calgary sits at the epicenter of major east/west/north/south highway routes, connecting eastern and western via the TransCanada Highway while northern Canada connects to the United States and Mexico via the CANAMEX corridor.
“It’s a competitive business, but Calgary is better set up than any jurisdiction in western Canada for it,” Moran states. “If you think about our infrastructure assets, we’re on the CANAMEX Corridor and the TransCanada Highway.”
As a trade corridor, CANAMEX highway is over 6,000 km (3,700 miles) long.
In recent years, the Alberta government has spent more than $1.4 billion to upgrade the CANAMEX corridor in Alberta. The Highway is well-maintained and provides excellent flow for truck transportation. The TransCanada Highway intersects with the CANAMEX Highway in the Calgary Region.
The City of Calgary is currently undertaking a Goods Movement Strategy to identify the infrastructure needed to ensure greater efficiency and connectivity in the movement of freight into, through and beyond the Calgary Region.
CN and CP invest heavily in intermodal parks
Calgary is home to both Canadian Class I railroads – Canadian Pacific (CP) Railway and CN Rail. Both railroads offer carload and intermodal services, with efficient connectivity through the U.S. and Mexico. On average, rail transit from west coast ports is 48 hours.
CN’s intermodal terminal offers seamless transportation solutions to rail customers moving products and commodities into and out of the Calgary Region with a direct connection from their Logistics Park to the Port of Prince Rupert.
The logistics park has space to accommodate more than 2.5 million square feet of warehouse distribution facilities, including a rail-to-truck transload operation.
“CN’s single largest investment over the past few years is over $200 million in Calgary Logistics Park,” said Lonny Kubas, Director of International Overseas Marketing, CN. Intermodal is the largest growing sector for CN.”
CP Rail also has an intermodal terminal and its headquarters in Calgary with a direct connection to Port of Vancouver/Fraser.
CP services North America’s international logistics companies and distribution facilities from its expanded Dufferin intermodal facility situated in Calgary’s southeast industrial land area.
According to Mike Foran, Vice-President, Marketing Strategy and Asset Management, CP, the railroad is now focusing on the establishment of external partnerships with Inland Ports including Calgary Region, “We have a very good product and service offering and we are very much external focused now and we’ve reached out (to Inland Ports) and will continue to do so.”
Internationally recognized supply chain education programs
The Calgary Region’s secondary and post-secondary school systems are providing leading programs in transportation, supply chain and logistics. The U of C’s Haskayne School of Business, Mount Royal University, SAIT Polytechnic and Bow Valley College all provide courses that support the growing number of positions in supply chain.
Furthermore, Van Horne Institute, based in Calgary, is recognized internationally as a leader in public policy, education and research in transportation, supply chain, logistics and regulated industries.
Leading air cargo hub
The Calgary International Airport (YYC) is one of Canada’s best-connected airports, providing flights to 80 destinations and welcoming more than 15.7 million passengers in 2016. From YYC, you can access almost any point in the world either directly or with only one stop.
YYC is a hub for Canada’s two largest airlines — West Jet and Air Canada. It is also a connecting hub for cargo services between North America, Asia and Europe. It is one of only two airports in Canada that offer scheduled cargo and passenger service to both Europe and Asia on a weekly basis.
YYC is the main air cargo gateway for Alberta, handling three-quarters of all air cargo in the province – a record volume of more than 137,000 metric tonnes in 2016.
Distribution companies such as FedEx, Purolator, UPS and DHL have cargo centres at the airport.
Major private sector distribution hub
The level of investment in distribution and warehouse facilities has been higher in the Calgary region than any other Western Canadian city.
According to Jim Brown, General Manager, JRSP Consulting Ltd., “A lot of companies have located in the Calgary Region market because it is a very efficient and fluid model for distributing throughout the Western Canada network.”
Some of Calgary Region’s regional and national warehouses and distribution centres include:
- Canadian Tire Group
- Marks’ Work Warehouse
- Forzani Group
- Canada Safeway
- Gordon Foods Service
- Princess Auto
- Home Depot
Gateway to Port of Vancouver
The Port of Vancouver is one of the largest ports in North America with twenty-seven marine terminals moving just about anything that can be imported and exported into and out of North America. The port has a direct connection to Calgary Region Inland Port intermodal terminal via CP Rail.
According to Peter Xotta, Vice President, Planning and Operations, Port of Vancouver, “The Port of Vancouver is growing. Vancouver and Western Canada are on a roll. The world wants what we have and we are importing goods from countries in Asia and elsewhere at an ever-increasing rate.”
“We see increasingly that some of the supply chain activity that historically happened adjacent to the port is now happening in places like Calgary and other emerging inland ports,” he said. This trend is due to a lack of available industrial land in British Columbia’s Lower Mainland.
New trade corridor with Port of Prince Rupert
The Port of Prince Rupert is North America’s closest port to Asia by up to three days sailing – it’s 36 hours closer to Shanghai than Vancouver and over 68 hours closer than Los Angeles. Some of its advantages include:
- Deepest natural harbour in North America that can accommodate the bigger vessels safe access from international shipping lanes.
- Superior and uncongested rail and road connection to North American markets.
Andrew Hamilton, Director, Strategic Initiatives, Prince Rupert Port Authority explains “Going back to our Rupert model, the ideal situation is where a container goes into an inland point, is emptied and then it is filled with cargo and it comes back to the gateway.”
“That is ideally what we would like to see. The problem is often the container supply in some of these inland points. The cargo will come into certain inland places, but there is no cargo to fill up these empty containers. Conversely, there is lots of cargo that is sitting inland, but it has no access to these containers, adds Hamilton.
Calgary Regional Partnership has partnered with Port of Prince to explore how supply chain improvements in the Southern Alberta to Prince Rupert corridor can be put in place. Enhanced export opportunities could boost the Southern Alberta economy if more empty returning containers could be filled with agricultural products and other commodities to serve Asia Pacific markets.
The Calgary Region has a shared vision to continue to grow as a major distribution hub and inland port. A collaborative approach exists between Calgary Economic Development, the Calgary Regional Partnership, the Calgary Logistics Council, Calgary Airport Authority, the Van Horne Institute and provincial and federal departments. These partnerships are the foundation of the success of emerging Calgary Region Inland Port.