The Port of Johnstown, where local farmers from across the region bring grain destined for international markets, is up for a multimillion-dollar makeover.
The federal government is investing $4.8 million, almost half of what's needed, to help refurbish the port's aging infrastructure. The changes will make it easier to get grain onto ships in a timely fashion.
"When the ship loading slows down, we slow down the whole harvest season," said Pat Sayeau, mayor of the Township of Edwardsburgh/Cardinal, which owns the port about 65 km south of Ottawa.
"Everybody benefits from our efficiency to load the [grain] and get that out of the way and free up the space."
The Port of Johnstown handles product from 1,600 farms in Ontario and Quebec, and sends out about 15 to 20 ship loads of grain per year through the St. Lawrence Seaway, Sayeau said.
New trade agreements have fuelled a 150 per cent rise in exports at the port since 2011.
The federal government has said the new refurbishment project is hoping to meet the demand from international markets for Canadian grains.
The township will match the investment by the federal government.
The nine spouts there now, responsible for shooting grain onto cargo ships, were built in the 1930s and 1950s.
They are set to be replaced by four newer, more efficient spouts that will increase the port's ability to load bigger ships by up to 50 per cent.
The plan will also increase the storage capacity of the port's elevators.
"We're hoping that we'll be able to load ships and get them out of the elevator within a 12- to 15-hour period, where it previously would take us sometimes as much as two and three days," Sayeau told CBC Radio's All In A Day.
Sayeau said work on the port is expected to begin in the fall.