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Port of Goderich, a gateway to Southwestern Ontario

250 ships moor in the port every year and there are plans to expand

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As the only deepwater port on the eastern shore of Lake Huron, the Port of Goderich is often referred to as the Gateway to Southwestern Ontario.

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The port itself is owned by the City of Goderich and overseen by the Goderich Port Management Corporation (GPMC).

Rowland Howe, outgoing president of GPMC, recently spoke about the port’s past, present and future at the Eastern Canada Farm Writers annual general meeting in Blyth.

Frank Hurkmans, the new president of GPMC, accompanied Howe at the presentation.

According to Howe, the city of Goderich purchased the larger port lands (including beaches and water treatment intake) in 1999.

The price tag at the time was $500,000 and the money came from user financing as part of what Howe called a great public-private partnership.

It was the users who established the Goderich Port Management Corporation to manage the commercial activities of the port. The mandate focuses on safety, environment and port security.

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A further $34 million was then invested in the port “to make it work” and operations began early.

Currently, 250 ships dock at the Port of Goderich annually, making it one of the busiest Canadian ports on the Great Lakes. It is the sea depth that Howe believes is crucial.

The ships load and deliver raw materials such as salt, grain and calcium chloride.

Salt makes up the majority thanks to the Goderich underground salt mine, which has become known as the largest in the world.

Hurkmans said 250,000 tons of material can be moved across the four-hectare area of ​​the port and many ships can unload 300,000 tons per hour.

global maritime traffic
During their presentation, Howe and Hurkmans presented this slide, which shows global maritime traffic on May 13, 2024. Each tag represents a ship

An interesting point related to agriculture is that the port is the third busiest for corn in the Great Lakes.

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“So a lot of material comes in and a lot of material goes out,” says Hurkmans.

When ships leave port, they go to places like Europe, China, Great Britain, Venice and more.

Seasonally, Howe said the port is much more open than most people know.

“There aren’t the restrictions that people think there are,” he said.

For example, in 2024, the last ship to sail abroad was in March, after which time was spent on maintenance.

Currently, the movement of bulk cargo through the Port of Goderich is limited by a shortage of available wharf space, even though an expansion was completed in 2020.

To that end, Howe said there are plans to create an additional 5.6 hectares of wharf space and build an additional dock at the Port of Goderich.

This will increase the capacity of the water transportation system at local, provincial, national and international levels, allowing it to receive and transmit a variety of goods.

“There are certainly investments being made in Canadian ports,” said Hurkmans.

Howe agreed.

“There is money available from the federal government and we want to take advantage of it,” Howe said.

Future potential projects could include shipping items such as equipment for Bruce Power, scrap metal, gypsum or perhaps potash.

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