SEAWAY 2004-05 ANNUAL REPORT HIGHLIGHTS SUCCESSFUL YEAR
(Cornwall, June 28, 2005) — Richard Corfe, President and CEO of The St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corporation, today tabled the Corporation’s latest annual report, with financial and operational data for fiscal year 2004-05.
“This was a good news year, all the way” noted Mr. Corfe. “We started 2004 by celebrating the 50th anniversary of the beginning of Seaway construction, and the 175th anniversary of the opening of the original Welland Canal. This “birthday” year brought a rebirth of sorts to our waterway’s business.”
After several years of sluggish traffic, we saw encouraging increases in cargo shipments and in revenue. While combined tonnage on both sections of the waterway increased 6.5%, revenue grew more than 12% due, in particular, to a strong market for steel. Total revenue for the fiscal year reached $74 million, of which $70.3 million was from tolls, an increase of $7.6 million over the previous year. Our seventh year of operation since commercialization turned out to be the most successful since 2000.
Once again, the Corporation outperformed its business plan by successfully controlling its spending. Our manageable costs for the year were $2.8 million below plan, at $60.2 million. Of that amount, 85% or $51.7 million was expended on salaries and benefits.
Asset renewal costs were 1% below the approved plan, at $33 million, and an additional one-time expenditure of $4.2 million was incurred to rehabilitate the electric generators in the powerhouse at St. Catharines. In January, we received a license from the Ontario Energy Board and the Corporation is now an independent power generator.
On the operational side, 2004 was also a banner year. We increased Seaway draft, by three inches to 26’ 6” (8.08 metres). This move was strategically wise and contributed to the upswing in our traffic. In the Welland Canal, we handled 406 vessel transits at drafts greater than 8 metres and 414 in the Montreal Lake Ontario (MLO) section. On the Welland, almost 16% of inland vessel transits and 13% of ocean vessel transits were at drafts greater than 8 metres, while in the MLO the figures were 25% and 13% respectively.
Our navigation season lasted 281 days, the longest in Seaway history – another “first” to chalk up for 2004. We also completed work on the second lock in our hydraulic conversion project at the Welland Canal.
“Our strong focus on growing the business will continue,” stated Mr. Corfe. “We are working in partnership with ports and other partners to provide attractive, cost-effective transportation options and new delivery methods. We plan to attract containerized cargo, and help to promote growth in short-sea shipping. We will continue to optimize our operations wherever we can and promote the environmental and economic benefits of marine transportation via our Hwy H20 initiative.”