York U supports new GTHA Smart Freight Centre with funding and research space

Government dignitaries from all levels gathered April 12 at the launch event of the Smart Freight Centre, a centre of excellence for goods movement.

The Smart Freight Centre has been established as a five-year collaborative network with the Region of Peel, McMaster University, the University of Toronto and York University. It will work on regionally significant goods movement issues and projects in Peel Region and the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area (GTHA) to reduce community and environmental impacts of moving goods.

The event featured a keynote address from MP Kamal Khera, as well as remarks from Nando Iannicca, Chair of the Region of Peel; Leonard Waverman, dean of the DeGroote School of Business, McMaster University; Eric J. Miller, director, University of Toronto Transportation Research Institute; and Rhonda L. Lenton, president and vice-chancellor of York University. Jeff Yurek, minister of transportation, also sent congratulatory remarks in honour of the launch.

Matthew Roorda, Canada Research Chair in Freight Transportation and Logistics, University of Toronto, and Chair of the Smart Freight Centre, was the MC for the event.

Left to right: Matthew Roorda, Canada Research Chair in Freight Transportation and Logistics, University of Toronto; Rhonda L. Lenton, president and vice-chancellor, York University; Nando Iannicca, Peel Regional Chair; and Leonard Waverman, dean, DeGroote School of Business, McMaster University

“The Smart Freight Centre demonstrates the innovative solutions generated when universities partner with government and industry to facilitate multisector collaboration,” said Lenton. “Through the leadership of innovative researchers like Professor Peter Park, York University and our Lassonde School of Engineering are proud to support efforts to build and improve transportation networks that will facilitate better access to goods and services for the communities we serve.”

Goods movement extends beyond municipal boundaries in the GTHA – the region requires a safe and efficient network in order to move goods and deliver services to communities and businesses. The Smart Freight Centre’s goal is to propose practical solutions and strategies aimed at improving quality of life and promoting ongoing economic vibrancy across the GTHA, and to break down silos in addressing shared concerns, including the following:

  • customers’ growing expectations of shorter delivery times and the growth of e-commerce programs;
  • increasing concern of the effects of congestion;
  • decreasing labour force availability and growing industry expectations;
  • emissions from the transportation sector;
  • automation, technological changes and robotics; and
  • strategies to address population and employment growth pressures.

The Region of Peel is investing seed funding of $240,000 annually for the first five years of the startup phase to establish the Smart Freight Centre. McMaster University, the University of Toronto and York University will match these funds with cash and in-kind contributions and will create three physical locations to conduct research, with one at each partner university.

“As a key contributor to the GTHA’s vibrant economy, we recognize the importance of improving the movement of goods in order to maintain the transportation network’s efficiencies and safety, while supporting the quality of life within our communities,” said Iannicca. “The Smart Freight Centre has been established to make recommendations through evidence-based research to address shared concerns. It is my hope that we can all work together to ensure that our goods movement industry is sustainable, safe, competitive and innovative.”

Some of the projects to be conducted during the first year include an off-peak delivery pilot study, truck-friendly lane measures and strategies, and an e-commerce strategy to investigate the impact of online shopping on logistics operations.

The centre is seeking government and industry partners’ financial contributions in establishing the centre. To learn more, visit SmartFreightCentre.ca.

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