The marine container terminal planned for the Strait of Canso could be Ohio’s gateway for both import and export trade, says U.S. congresswoman Marcy Kaptur.

Ms. Kaptur said Wednesday after touring the proposed site, in Melford, that changes brought about by a growing population “and costs of moving everything because of rising petroleum prices” means there will be more ships in the world because that form of transport costs less.

“We are going to have to see a rebirth of our seaway system, and we are working toward that end in our country,” she said, adding that she envisions a Nova Scotia-Ohio connection.

“It is such a natural partnership between the gateway here in Nova Scotia and coming down the seaway to a place like Toledo, which is the crossroads to the Great Lakes with our rail and our over-the-road transport systems.”

Ms. Kaptur, a member of the transportation committee of the U.S. House appropriations committee, which approves all federal spending projects, led a group from the Toledo area to the province this week to explore economic opportunities with Nova Scotia that may stem from the Melford development.

Richie Mann, spokesman for Melford International Terminal Inc., said Thursday that after talking to people in consumption and distribution zones, such as Toledo, Ohio, “what we are finding as we are doing a presentation in jurisdictions such as that is it generates a lot of interest.”

Melford officials recently held discussions with Toledo-area politicians, including Ms. Kaptur and Gov. Ted Strickland, he said.

“There was a tremendous amount of interest and they wanted to come up and see the site and learn about the project.”

The project, which is expected to be operational in 2011, is a $300-million, privately funded container terminal.

Toledo is considered a transportation hub, and almost 50 per cent of the North American industrial market is within 800 kilometres of the city.

“Opening the Atlantic gateway offers great potential for interior ports on the Great Lakes, such as Toledo,” Ms. Kaptur said, adding there are opportunities for both short-sea shipping and rail transportation.

She said Melford could play an important role as a deepwater port for Ohio exports, particularly in the manufacturing and agriculture sectors.

Mr. Mann said he expects further discussions with the Toledo community, including business and port people, “and hopefully that will lead to something positive and productive.”