February 15, 2002
Premier Gary Doer today signed a letter of intent to move toward development of an "arctic bridge" between the ports of Churchill, Man., and Murmansk, Russia.
"We have made a commitment to work with Murmansk province to develop marine trading links through these ports," Doer said. "Increasing business for our northern port will build on Manitoba’s status as a transportation gateway and will provide economic benefits to both jurisdictions."
In conjunction with the Team Canada mission, Doer was joined at the signing ceremony by Vladimir Motlokhov, vice-governor of Murmansk, and Vladimir Yevseyev, committee chair for foreign economic relations, Murmansk.
Research conducted within the past few years indicates that Churchill offers the most cost-effective and time-efficient route for transportation of goods between central North America and Northern Europe. The port is directly connected to the North American market by efficient rail links, and a market of 80 million consumers is located within a 30-hour trucking radius of Winnipeg.
"The economic climate in Russia is favourable and many factors relating to arctic marine transport have significantly improved," Doer said. "Through opportunities relating to potential climate changes, the opening of the Russian northern sea route to foreign carriers, enhanced ice detection and ice-breaking technologies, the timing is right to pursue the vision of an arctic bridge between the two ports."
Since OmniTRAX took over ownership of the Port of Churchill from the federal government in 1997, the company has upgraded the port facility and is working to diversify the port’s markets.
Churchill is Canada’s only major international arctic seaport. Historically, it served as a grain export point to Russia. The city of Murmansk, the administrative centre of Murmansk province, is in close proximity to Norway and Finland. It is also the headquarters for a commercial seaport on the Barents Sea that operates year-round.
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