Toronto grain firm’s elevator to anchor Winnipeg rail park

CentrePort’s attractiveness lies partly in its access to multiple rail carriers, as Paterson Grain’s terminal northwest of Winnipeg already has. (Dave Bedard photo)

Toronto grain trading firm BroadGrain Commodities aims to build some Prairie handling muscle with a new grain terminal and bean plant in Winnipeg’s planned CentrePort rail park.

The company, which already operates a pair of elevators in southwestern and eastern Ontario and took over Saskatchewan pulse and special crop processor Lakeside Global Grains in 2011, said Thursday it will put up $25 million to build a new bulk grain export and transloading operation, and bean-processing facility.

The elevator and bean plant are to be the anchor tenant of a new rail park facility at CentrePort, the “inland port and foreign trade zone” for export-oriented economic development set up in the neighbourhood of Winnipeg’s airport in 2008.

The BroadGrain plan, the province said, triggers construction work on the new 700-acre rail park, which is meant to provide rail-reliant businesses with access to three major railways in the Winnipeg area: Canadian National, Canadian Pacific and U.S. carrier BNSF.

BroadGrain’s plan calls for a site capable of loading 150-car unit trains with commodities such as wheat, canola, soybeans, corn and specialty crops.

“As we started looking at potential greenfield sites to continue expanding our footprint in the West, we were impressed by the value proposition at CentrePort and the potential for our project to become an anchor development in the new rail park,” BroadGrain CEO Zaid Qadoumi said in a provincial government release Thursday.

“Supply chain management continues to play a vital role in our business,” he said. “This investment will solidify our ongoing commitment not only to the western Canadian farmer but also to our global consumers, providing an alternative shipping method.”

The company, which has a trading office at Stratford, Ont., also maintains international trading offices in Jordan, Ukraine, France, Nigeria, China and the United Arab Emirates. Last week it announced completion of a new sesame seed and special crop processing plant in northern Nigeria.

BroadGrain’s holdings on the Prairies, however, are so far limited to the former Lakeside special crops plant at Dafoe, about 150 km north of Regina — and, as of Jan. 4, a new trading and procurement office in downtown Winnipeg’s Grain Exchange Building.

The company’s planned 29-acre Winnipeg terminal site, still subject to due diligence and an offer-to-purchase agreement, is billed as its “flagship” terminal in Western Canada.

Phase I of the CentrePort rail park calls for CentrePort operators to invest $2.4 million to build the lead tracks and switches off the CP mainline, to connect to BroadGrain’s tracks. CentrePort will own the lead tracks and switches, to service “additional projects as the rail park develops.”

The province said it also plans to “realign” Highway 221, running northwest of the city, to support future rail park development.

Tax increment financing (TIF) revenues from the province’s Community Revitalization Fund will go toward construction of rail leads and switches, the government added. — Network

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