Seaway ‘Ready for the Future’ on increased cargo, revenue

St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corporation CEO Terence Bowles addresses the AGM in Cornwall, Ont. on Wednesday, June 26, 2019. Bowles says the seaway is ready to take on more business after strong financial and tonnage results. (Newswatch Group/Bill Kingston)

CORNWALL, Ont. – The CEO for the St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corporation says they’ve been doing “a pretty good job for the Government of Canada in administering the seaway.”

Terence Bowles shared his assessment Wednesday as the corporation held its AGM, highlighting strong financial results for the company that oversees shipping on the Great Lakes system.

He said the corporation is “Ready for the Future” – the theme of the AGM – and is ready to take on more business with a growing “low carbon” Canadian economy.

Cargo tonnage was up seven per cent (to 41 million metric tons) and with another increase the previous year, cargo has been up a total of 16 per cent over the last two years. The tonnage is also the best result since the 2008 global financial crisis, Bowles noted.

As a result, seaway revenue rose 4.6 per cent to $84.3 million ($80.1 million the previous year) mostly due to tolls collected for cargo.

Expenses took “quite (a) remarkable” drop of roughly 14.4 per cent due to a number of factors, CFO Karen Dumoulin told the AGM.

Dumoulin said there were fewer employees, lower pension deficit payments and fewer non-recurring bills “namely the cost of tugs required during the summer of 2017 to assist navigation in the high water flows and the cost of a very harsh closing of the season.”

The results leave the seaway corporation with a deficit of $28.7 million before a transfer payment from federal government (Capital Fund Trust) of $47.2 million, resulting in an overall surplus of $18.4 million.

Overall, in all its work including land management, the seaway exceeded costs by $36 million in the last fiscal year.

In an interview with Newswatch, Bowles says it’s been a “transformative period” for the seaway with the addition of hands free mooring. “We’ve had a big increase in cargo on the seaway which I think is very promising for the future. That’s encouraging. We have the capacity to handle more. So we’re open for business.”

The seaway supports 329,000 jobs in Canada and the U.S.