Contracting firm with booming business sees port as key

Business at a Nunavut contracting company is booming and its owners say Churchill will play an increasingly important role as its preferred supply-chain route.

Allan Lahure has seen business at his Baker Lake Contracting & Supplies company grow steadily, helped by the opening last year of Agnico-Eagle’s Meadowbank gold mine, 70 kilometres north of Baker Lake.

His company’s growth includes the acquisition in 2007 of a distribution company called Umingmak Supply. Its Inkster Industrial Park operation is shipping building products up the Hudson Bay Railway to Churchill, where they are barged to communities along the west coast of Hudson Bay.

That’s a scenario many say has great growth potential for Manitoba’s transportation sector.

“Our connections with Manitoba are much more direct than through Montreal,” Lahure said in an interview from his Baker Lake headquarters.

OmniTRAX is addressing that supply-chain efficiency issue with the creation this summer of a joint venture with Nunavut partners called Nunavut Connections.

The company provides stevedoring services and a seamless supply-chain operation from Churchill to the North.

Chase is in Rankin Inlet today at a meeting of Kivaliq-area mayors. It is part of the efforts of OmniTRAX — which owns the Hudson Bay Railway and the Port of Churchill — to grow its Nunavut business.

“We just completed a successful year shipping 10,000 tonnes of cargo delivered there on time and on schedule,” Chase said. “We intend to grow that considerably.”

That volume represents less than 20 per cent of the total, with the bulk of the Arctic sealift still coming primarily out of Quebec.

Chase and many others — including business groups led by the Winnipeg Chamber of Commerce and CentrePort Canada — say there is a real opportunity to change that dynamic.


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