NAFTA Highway, the Regina Route

Hundreds have visited my earlier post on the NAFTA Highway, a free trade corridor running from Mexico, through the USA, and north into Canada quietly promoted by Dubya. It’s time for an update, particularly now that there’s a local tidbit tying into Regina’s municipal election this fall.

The recently revised map of the NAFTA Corridor shows the NAFTA Highway passing through Saskatchewan. Just what we need, eh? More trucks on our already overburdened highways, more emissions, more carcinogens, more garbage, etc. It seems that City Hall, the Regina Economic Development Authority (RREDA) and Sask Industry and Resources have bonded to ensure that Regina is a stop on the road. And they’re insisting it will mean increased prosperity for Saskatchewan, particularly if we establish a Multimodal Terminal Site.

Googling multimodal terminal site produces 575,000 results, so to summarize, it is a place where modes of transportation converge: trains, planes, and automobiles. Regina is perfect, they say, because it’s on the route from the west coast to Chicago and it’s a very cheap place to do business. And isn’t that what it’s all about for these folks — the bottom line? There’s a suggestion that little Regina, Saskatchewan could become even richer by becoming a value adding distribution hub for imported goods. In other words, the guts of a computer are manufactured with slave labour, which fits nicely into the global economy, the pieces are shipped here in containers, put into a case, and labeled Made In Canada to take advantage of NAFTA’s free trade provisions.

And we all make big bucks! It’s the latest get-rich-quick scheme.

You can download a PowerPoint presentation from the Initiatives dropdown on the RREDA website. It’s only 46 pages long, part of their sell to Sask Industry and Resources (the folks who bring you uranium mining) to bring them onboard. A fine-tuned and much abbreviated version was presented to the Executive Committee of Regina’s City Council in July 2006 (available from the City Clerk’s Office). Besides suggesting that the idea is the best thing since the personal computer, they site a need for Inland Rail-Truck Ports (transfer nodes), call for the re-development of the CPR Yards, and for the development of a ‘west side’ multimodal terminal in Regina because apparently, there is an ideal multi-modal location available.

City Hall fell for it! With provincial government support, no less. Not surprising with this bunch of right-wing and pseudo left-wing old boys.

So, City Hall intends to develop Regina’s southwest, near the airport, thereby limiting any future expansion of the airport. 90,000 square meters of retail space, some light industrial, and a bit of residential housing has received the green light.

But what came to light this week is most interesting. A chunk of that land, some 34 lots, is owned by Mayor Pat Fiacco and his family, the same Mayor who supported the closure of three inner city neighbourhood libraries, the Dunlop Art Gallery and the Prairie History Room, just a few short years ago.

It seems easy to conclude that Mayor Pat Fiacco, along with the gang who gathered in Banff this past week to discuss A Vision for North America, A North American Energy Strategy, Demographic and Social Dimensions of North American Integration, and Opportunities for Security Cooperation, is nothing more than a patsy for US President George W. Bush, offering our taxpayer-funded roads and services to help multinational corporations pump cheap, tariff-free goods into the U.S.

And, he stands to financially gain from it.

Mayoralty Candidate, Jim Holmes, endorsed by the Coalition for a Citizen-Friendly Regina, has expressed grave concerns about the impact of this expansion on Reginans.

Four new intersections, at least one, if not two, new interchanges, and a new expressway would
all be required to service this new development. All this would have to be paid for out of a
budget that is already $30 million in infrastructure deficit.

He also suggests Fiacco should divest himself of any interests in the land in question. Fiacco, on the other hand, claims it’s an attack on his family and that Holmes is pretty scary stuff.

Yeah, right, Pat. More like you’re just a little scared you got caught, eh?

As local musician, Dave Lang, points out, it’s not the first time in Regina’s history that men have gained from land activities in Saskatchewan’s capital city. Ever hear of a chap named Dewdney?

Meanwhile, it seems the NAFTA highway keeps growing and growing! A U.S. Conservative weekly reports that there is Yet Another NAFTA Super-Highway being built in the USA. Alas and alack, Congress is in denial about it. In fact, folks from the US House of Representatives are coming north, visiting Politics’n’Poetry to get information about it (or so Site Meter data suggests).

I suppose this post could simply be my little welcome to them.

With thanks to Dave Mitchell and Trish Elliott for their breaking local news and to Jim Elliott for sending some valuable information my way.

UPDATE 1:35PM:  Thought I’d add a link to this article to give a US perspective.  And a link to this, an entirely different perspective.






12 thoughts on “NAFTA Highway, the Regina Route

  1. I noticed that none of these reports ever mentioned the fact that the seaports are filling up with empty containers because it is cheaper to build new ones and ship them then it is to ship empty ones back.

  2. I have taken a good look at it. The idea as presented looks very attractive, considering we are losing people at around 3,500 per year. Though there are some questions that do come to mind.

    What is the environmental impact ?

    How many GOOD paying jobs will it directly or indirectly create ?

    How are we to deal with abandoned containers ?

    Would any investment by the city produce effective results for its residents ?

    Would the time, money and energy spent on this project reap better results, if concentrated on local business development ?

    The presentation doesn’t seem to answer these questions. If I was on council, I would insure that before anything went ahead. These questions were answered and if not positive then the project should be scrapped. I also worry that we are jumping on this ship long after it set sail.

  3. The NAFTA Highway is a way to provide quicker, easier transport of goods between Canada, US and Mexico. That’s all it is. As for environmental effects, I would think they’d be positive. It would re-route some truck traffic off other highways, thereby easing congestion. It would also be a boone to the communities involved. I’m not sure about a multimodal transportation hub in Regina, but there would certainly be one in Winnipeg. They’re already upgrading the Winnipeg International Airport in preparation for this.

  4. Though I would add this. Canada should build a proper TransCanada highway before sinking money into any NAFTA project. It should be a twinned freeway from coast to coast without a single level intersection. Our current TransCanada highway is a joke.

  5. Pingback: Fiacco Lies on a Prairie-to-Ports Gateway & an Inland Port « Politics’n'Poetry

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