Each year, about 650 ships travel beneath the Burlington Lift Bridge into and out of Hamilton Harbour. They carry import cargo such as coal and iron ore, used in steelmaking; finished steel for automaking; consumer-grade gasoline; agricultural fertilizer; even Caribbean rum for a summer cocktail.
Export shipments originating in Hamilton might include Ontario grain headed for consumer markets worldwide or manufactured products destined for factories and infra- structure projects in the U.S. and beyond. In service to these diverse industries, the Port of Hamilton is fulfilling its mandate: to provide efficient transportation to Canadian businesses, and to support regional economic growth.
The Port of Hamilton is the largest port in Ontario, and a critical piece of southern Ontario’s goods movement network, handling more than 10 million tonnes of cargo annually. While the Port of Hamilton is best understood as marine infrastructure, a modern port is in fact a robust multi-modal hub, providing efficient connections to surface transportation like trucking and rail. For example, the 1.5 million tonnes of Ontario-grown grain that are exported through Hamilton each year are trucked from elevators all over southern and southwestern Ontario before being loaded onto ships at port terminals.
The value of a transportation asset like a port to a regional economy is the ability to attract new trade and industry, and to help our existing industries be more efficient and globally competitive. In attracting close to $300 million in new terminal infrastructure in recent years, the Port of Hamilton has fostered increasingly strong connections within several Ontario industries, including agrifood and advanced manufacturing.
The businesses that grow up around a port help to form a transportation cluster that is dynamic and resistant to economic downturn, serving many industries at once, whose connection is that they share a common need for efficient and accessible transportation.
With our 47 staff, the Hamilton Port Authority operates a ‘little city’ on Hamilton’s waterfront, comprising 620 acres, stretching from the far end of Eastport Drive to Pier 10 on Burlington Street. This property is home to 130 diverse businesses, who together employ 1,600 people on port property. Our team is responsible for attracting new businesses, managing our portfolio of properties, and acting as responsible steward of the land and water.
Hamilton’s port grew up alongside the city’s two great steel companies. Now, as our city’s economy changes, the port is changing along with it. Terminal investments reflect the rise of the $1.5 billion agri-food sector in Hamilton. At the port, agri-food tonnages have doubled in the past seven years.
We believe Hamilton’s working waterfront can continue to adapt to change, and that the Hamilton Port Authority has a central role to play. For example, we have experience revitalizing industrial brownfields into modern industrial uses. In 2006, we purchased a former Stelco rod mill on Pier 22. Together with our tenants, we redeveloped the site, investing more than $70 million to bring
this brownfield back into productive use. We believe it is very important that there continues to be space for modern industry and manufacturing in Hamilton, and that this development can be responsibly balanced with the many other positive uses of our magnificent harbour.
In an effort to facilitate mixed-use development on the harbour, the Hamilton Port Authority last year completed the early transfer of Piers 7 and 8 to the City of Hamilton, clearing the way for the city’s redevelopment of this former shipping pier into an exciting, multi-use neighbourhood. On our own property, we are seeking to strike a similar balance. The development of a new mid-sized brewery at a key transition point on Burlington Street will be a hard-working manufacturing space, bottling and shipping products all over Canada. At the same time, it will serve as the gateway to the redeveloping West Harbour, with welcoming retail and artistic spaces for residents and visitors to Hamilton.
The Hamilton Port Authority is financially self-sufficient, with the profits from our operations being reinvested into infrastructure here in Hamilton. We’re a proud community partner, actively investing in local agencies that support children, education and environment.