From handling soybeans to salt to real estate, the Hamilton Port Authority had a robust 2016, reporting a profit of $8 million dollars. According to the HPA, the revenue boost in 2016 came from increased income from a new boat facility, rental of a property that had been vacant, and some one-time revenue for dredging work done on Windermere Basin. A snapshot of revenue provided by the HPA shows 85 percent coming from tenants, with the rest generated by marina uses and harbour dues. The agri-food sector is playing an increasingly important role at the Port with the establishment of expanded food processing facilities in recent years. Agri-food shipments have doubled since 2009 and now represent 20 percent of the total cargo handled at the Port.
The rosy picture was painted at the HPA’s annual general meeting in May, but 2017 may not be all smooth sailing. With the reopening of the NAFTA agreement, a land squeeze and residential-industrial conflicts, HPA President and CEO Ian Hamilton said he expects operations in 2017 to be “more complex.”
The HPA has 620 acres of property and 130 business tenants, but there’s a need for more room, according to Hamilton including a cold storage facility to serve the growing agricultural based business on the port. In his remarks at the AGM, there was no mention of the “trash to gas” plant proposed on the harbour by Port Fuels and Material Services inc. There has been scant news of the project for the last year, the Port Fuels website, (www.pfmsi.net) last update was from 2015.
In an interview after the formal AGM, Hamilton said he believed Port Fuels was still in talks with the Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change to get an environmental permit to operate.
“As these projects drag on it becomes harder and harder and harder for it to happen.”
So what are the odds of it going forward?
“It’s probably less likely than it was two years ago,” Hamilton said. PFMSI did not respond to calls or emails for an interview.
Gary Wheeler of the MOECC communication branch says Ministry staff last met with Port Fuels and Material Services in February 2016 and says they do not know how the trash to gas company plans to proceed.
In his remarks, Hamilton said the HPA is looking for ways to become “more transparent” as he phrased it, “People want to see what’s going on behind the gates.” Since 911, much of the port has become closed off to the public, with the many access roads that cross the port lands and access piers blocked by locked gates. To satisfy public curiosity the HPA will create a viewing platform at Pier 15 near the new $8 million dollar boat storage facility. They will also offer two free tours of the harbour on the Harbor Queen tour boat. The first tour is July 16th, the other date has not been finalized.
Environmental initiatives by HPA in 2017 include a vow to reduce dust emissions from unpaved roads on harbour land, a reduction in truck idling, and the start up of an air quality monitoring program on the Port. The handling of grain loading at the new Parrish and Heimbecker flour mill has been a contentious one with local residents. P & H says they will be ready to mill flour by July. Work will also begin on the restoration of the natural shoreline at the Sherman Inlet. The HPA was reluctant to reveal if record high water levels are having an impact on Port operations. Bill Fitzgerald, VP of Operations said it may be slowing down progress on Randle Reef, but just marginally.