CN Rail cuts ribbon on $200 million logistics park

CN Rail formally unveiled its new $200 million Calgary Logistics Park, a facility the railway says will help cement Calgary’s reputation as a major transportation hub.

Claude Mongeau, president and CEO of the Montreal-based railway, was on hand for the ribbon-cutting at the 1,000-acre site in Conrich, located just east of Calgary in Rocky View County.

“I don’t know that CN has ever put this much money into one facility,” Mongeau told a crowd of dignitaries, CN employees, and railway customers. “When we made the announcement, I think our competitors thought I was trying to make a statement about CN in Calgary, a CP (Canadian Pacific Railway, headquartered in Calgary) town. But it’s not about that — it’s more about Alberta and Western Canada and it’s about making sure we have what it takes to grow our business.”

The Calgary Logistics Park is the new home of CN’s intermodal terminal, where goods are transferred from rail to truck and vice versa. The new terminal replaces the former intermodal facility at CN’s Sarcee Rail Yard, in southeast Calgary.

But what makes the Rocky View site different from the 100-acre Sarcee location is there is space for CN’s customers to build their own warehouses and distribution centres, eliminating the need for additional trucking to off-site facilities. CN has 170 acres serviced, zoned, and ready for sale, with an additional 300 ready to be developed if customer demand warrants.

Mongeau told the Herald that this “co-location” of customers with an intermodal facility is ideal — both from a customer service perspective and from an efficiency perspective.

“It’s an expensive, large investment, and we cannot do it in every city. Some of our facilities are already in the middle of towns, where we don’t have much land around them. But in large hubs like Calgary, Toronto, Chicago — that is the model for the future,” he said.

No customers have purchased land yet, but CN hopes that over the next two years, the Calgary Logistics Park will take on the look and feel of a regional distribution centre.

For now, CN will continue to operate its automotive compound — for vehicles being moved by rail to dealerships — out of its Sarcee location. But eventually, the railway may transfer all of its operations to Rocky View.

“At that point, it (the Sarcee Rail Yard) might be available for redevelopment, but we’re talking a few years down the road,” Mongeau said.

Mongeau said that between Alberta’s booming economy, and its prime location midway between B.C. ports and major cities across Canada and the U.S. Midwest, CN knew it needed to expand its presence here.

“Alberta is a growing market for all purposes,” he said.

David Kalinchuk, economic development manager for Rocky View County, said the entire area will benefit if an influx of CN customers start setting up shop within the Calgary Logistics Park.

“The size and scale and the global impact of a development like this is fantastic for the Calgary region, and great for Alberta,” Kalinchuk said.

Kalinchuk added Rocky View County has already benefited from the Calgary region’s growing reputation as a hub for transportation logistics, with both Walmart and Target Canada recently choosing to build distribution centres here.

“Rocky View is probably the best location for this kind of business,” he said. “We’ve got the space, we’ve got the proximity, and we’ve got a world-class rail and road network.”

Tuesday’s grand opening was attended by a wide range of CN customers, from retailers like Loblaw’s and Target to trucking firms and shipping lines. Representatives from the Port of Vancouver, Port of Prince Rupert, and Port of Montreal were also in attendance.

CN Rail

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