CentrePort Canada: A thriving inland port in the heart of Manitoba

By Diane Gray

While most of us in Winnipeg have been hunkered down, focussing on COVID-19, business has forged ahead at CentrePort. Take a drive out there and you will marvel at the development in an area that was empty of other than farming just a few years ago. Lifestyles 55 will take you on a journey of discovery with CEO, Diane Gray, every second month while we explore the Spirit of Winnipeg.

Ten years ago, if you stood at the intersection of Inkster and Brookside Boulevards and gazed west, you would have seen farmer’s fields, gravel roads and prairie vistas. Today, you can see a thriving inland port: sold out industrial parks, active construction sites and a flurry of activity. Thanks to long-term planning and strategic infrastructure investments, those fields have been transformed into the largest trimodal inland port in North America – known as CentrePort Canada. 

The 20,000 acre inland port, located in the City of Winnipeg and the R.M. of Rosser, provides companies with excellent access to multiple transportation options, fully-serviced industrial land and existing infrastructure that supports future growth. Foundational infrastructure has led to significant private sector investment, resulting in construction activity, increased municipal and provincial tax revenues, and high-quality jobs for Manitobans. 

Over the past year and a half, while companies were adjusting to the reality of operating in a Covid-19 world, the landscape at CentrePort Canada has continued to evolve. There are now over 2,000 acres in active development and since 2019, over $235 million in development permits have been issued. Planned as a complete community with a ‘live, work, play and learn’ approach, and with a focus on sustainable building practices incorporated into the zoning by-law for CentrePort North, development is happening quickly. Over the past two years, a substantial amount of construction has taken place, with developers and companies alike building exciting new projects at CentrePort.

If you take a drive around CentrePort today, you’ll see active construction sites in every direction. Here’s a look at some of the newest companies opening their doors and a peek at how construction is progressing on major projects:

BrookPort Business Park and InksPort Business Park

Sam Sidhu and Paul Jhand of Whiteland Developers are experienced developers who brought several projects to market in Saskatchewan before turning their attention to Manitoba. They brought BrookPort Business Park to the market in 2018, to great success. Over a dozen new companies now call this park home, including Merit Functional Foods, Ayr Motor Express and Nutrien. 

After seeing success with BrookPort Business Park, Whiteland Developers initiated a second project, InksPort Business Park, which is now in development. The first phase of the 68-acre park will consist of four buildings totalling 375,000 SF of industrial space. 

Brookside Business Park

Long established companies in Brookside Business Park include FedEx Freight, SMS Equipment, Arctic Beverages, Stericyle, J & R Hall and more. The newest companies to open in this 160-acre mixed use development include Highway Motor Freight and Shell Canada.

Brookside Industrial Park West Phase 3

A great example of recent construction activity can be seen in Brookside Industrial Park West Phase III. This 100-acre industrial park was brought to market by Crystal Developers’ Ltd. in 2018, and is now home to thirteen companies, including the National Research Council’s Advanced Manufacturing Facility, Cosentino Tile, Groupe Touchette and Rosenau Transport. 

 O Foods Ltd.

Construction has begun on Paterson GlobalFoods’ $94 million oat processing facility, O Foods Ltd. The mill will process 125,000 metric tonnes of oats from Western Canadian farmers, with expansion plans to reach 250,000 metric tonnes.

Royal Aviation Museum of Western Canada

The RAMWC is counting down the days to their grand opening in early 2022. A new state-of-the-art building is complete at 2088 Wellington Avenue and the attraction will be a world-class addition to the CentrePort footprint.

Steele Business Park

Announced in late 2020, by MMI Asset Management, Steele Business Park is currently under construction within the heart of CentrePort. The park is named after Maurice Steele and his family, who are long time landowners and investors in industrial developments at the inland port. The 17-acre park will offer 225,000 square feet of industrial space for tenants.

CentrePort Canada Rail Park

This 665-acre project is the linchpin in realizing the vision for a true trimodal inland port and presents an incredible economic development opportunity for Manitoba. This unique real estate offering will combine industrial space with logistics infrastructure, making it a prime location for companies servicing regional and global clients. The CentrePort Canada Rail Park is anticipated to break ground in Spring 2022.

CentrePort South (City of Winnipeg lands in CentrePort Canada)

Planned as a complete community, long term plans for the inland port include a 500-acre residential development in the southwest corner of the footprint which will become home to 8,000 residents. Recently, secondary plan amendments for this area were approved by the City of Winnipeg and are now in place. This new community will bring much-needed residential options to the area, providing housing for employees who work at CentrePort-area companies. 

The last few years have brought an incredible amount of change to the CentrePort Canada footprint, and development is just getting started. CentrePort’s location at the hub of multiple trading corridors, existing transportation infrastructure, and available industrial land makes it an ideal location for companies looking to explore North American locations as they plan for the future in a post-Covid world. 

A trimodal inland port in the middle of the Canadian prairies was once just a dream of the Manitoba business community; a decade later it has become a reality with a bright future ahead that will impact Manitoba for generations to come.