HOPA Ports Celebrates Facilities Expansions

By Frank McCormack  |  Ports & Terminals
For the second year in a row, the editors of Canada’s Top 100 Employers have named the Hamilton-Oshawa Port Authority (HOPA) as a top employer for the Hamilton-Niagara region.

With the recognition announced in late November 2022, the port then finished the year strong with a couple large-scale property developments.

Reflecting on being recognized as a top employer for both 2022 and 2023, Larissa Fenn, HOPA’s vice president of corporate affairs, said it’s all about the people at the authority and their entrepreneurial approach to port development in the region.

“HOPA is a growing organization, and it’s very important to us that we have an energized team, made up of people who are great at their jobs and who are champions of our mission,” Fenn said. “We believe our entrepreneurial and collaborative culture has a lot to do with why people love working at HOPA. We’re working on some exciting projects, from revitalizing the Port of Oshawa, to expanding into the Niagara region, to bringing more containerized shipping into the Great Lakes. Everyone on our team gets to be connected to these big initiatives and really helps make a difference.”

Growing Trade

Fenn said the work at HOPA fits within a larger movement to grow maritime trade throughout the Great Lakes. “Along with our industry partners, we’re really trying to drive the momentum behind marine shipping on the Great Lakes,” she said. “It is increasingly being seen as a modern, sustainable solution to some of our biggest challenges, not least of which is the need to evolve North America’s transportation mix to reduce the overall carbon footprint.”

Sustainability and decarbonization are familiar terms for just about every industry, transportation industries notwithstanding. Fenn noted that HOPA is one of the founding members of Green Marine, a voluntary environmental certification program focused on maritime transportation in North America, and that HOPA has implemented Green Marine programs at both the Port of Hamilton and the Port of Oshawa.

“Ultimately, we want our neighbors to be proud to live in a port city, and that’s about celebrating our maritime heritage and ensuring we’re being excellent stewards of the port lands and waters,” she said.

Another issue affecting just about every industry is labor—difficulty finding personnel now, with future employment trends also of concern. Again, Fenn emphasized the importance of team, partnerships and telling the port and the industry’s story.

“We’re happy to work with industry partners like Imagine Marine to showcase the amazing range of career opportunities within the maritime sector,” she said. “Locally, we have partnerships with Mohawk College, McMaster University, Ontario Tech and Brock University to raise the profile of HOPA and the entire marine sector with the next generation of leaders.”

Facility Expansions

Hamilton Bayfront Industrial Area
Hamilton Bayfront Industrial Area

HOPA closed out 2022 with a couple big facility announcements. In the Niagara region, HOPA continues to see significant growth at the Thorold Multimodal Hub, which opened in Thorold, Ontario, just two years ago. The northern part of the Hub is comprised of land owned or managed by HOPA, Transport Canada and the St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corporation, with stevedore Federal Marine Terminals located there as well. Below that, Bioveld Canada owns the middle section of the Hub, a former paper plant that’s being transformed into multimodal industrial space. Late last year, HOPA announced that BMI Group, Bioveld Canada’s parent company, had purchased a former automotive parts plant, which added 170 acres of land and more than 500,000 square feet of warehouse space to the Thorold Multimodal Hub.

“Now more than ever, companies are looking at how they can streamline their supply chains and lower their costs,” HOPA President and CEO Ian Hamilton said in announcing the acquisition. “By nurturing this industrial ecosystem and making the most of the Niagara region’s valuable transportation assets, we’re able to strengthen Canadian supply chains and facilitate Canadian trade and competitiveness.”

With the addition of the former auto parts plant, the Thorold Multimodal Hub, which offers access to the Welland Canal and the CN rail line, along with highway connections, now covers 400 acres of land and more than a million square feet of indoor space.

“This third section of the Thorold Hub is a great fit with the other spaces,” Fenn said. “It is connected by rail to the other spaces and, as you can see, has amazing potential for modern industrial uses. HOPA’s team will be actively pursuing new companies who are looking for the logistics assets that this space offers.”

Hamilton Harbor, Pier 18
Hamilton Harbor, Pier 18

To the west of the Hub, on Lake Ontario, HOPA is continuing to grow industrial space in the city of Hamilton’s Bayfront Industrial Area. HOPA recently announced completion of a “head lease” with Max Aicher North America (MANA) for a 60-acre parcel within Pier 18 on Hamilton Harbor. The head lease gives HOPA the ability to now sublease the acreage to other partners in need of industrial space.

“In the course of modernizing its existing Hamilton facility, MANA confirmed a 60-acre portion of its site as surplus to its operational needs,” Fenn explained. “The site is in the northeast corner of Pier 18, within Hamilton’s Bayfront Industrial Area, and is served by marine, rail and road transportation. The property includes open space for outdoor storage and more than eight acres of warehouse buildings.”

That multimodal potential for the site will prove particularly strategic, Hamilton said.

“This land can be put to great use to attract economic activity and employment to Hamilton,” he said. “We have a great deal of pent-up demand from modern industrial users who are looking for access to multiple modes of transportation within the greater Toronto-Hamilton market.”

The ports of Hamilton and Oshawa combined for a total of 10.3 million metric tons of cargo in 2022. Cargo trends included a growth in grain totals, thanks in part to a robust Ontario harvest season, and declines in fertilizers, due in part to the war in Ukraine.


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