VIPs turn sod for mas­sive ‘ful­fil­ment cen­tre’

PressReader - Tke Channel - VIPs turn sod for mas­sive ‘ful­fil­ment cen­tre’
It was a day for su­perla­tives as a who’s who of lo­cal, pro­vin­cial and fed­eral politi­cians gath­ered along­side Ama­zon of­fi­cials to break ground in Carls­bad Springs for the on­line re­tail gi­ant’s first Ot­tawaarea ware­house on Mon­day.The ware­house, at a touch over a mil­lion square feet, will be the largest in­dus­trial build­ing in the re­gion. It will be the size of 60 NHL hockey rinks. If you were to fill the be­he­moth with maple syrup, there would be about 30 litres for ev­ery­one in Canada, ac­cord­ing to Ama­zon. Fifteen hun­dred skilled trades work­ers will con­trib­ute to its con­struc­tion be­fore it is ready to open in the fall of 2019 in time for peak sea­son — that’s the hol­i­day rush in an Ama­zon ful­fil­ment cen­tre.“To­day is a great day,” Prime Min­is­ter Justin Trudeau said from a plat­form in the mid­dle of a sea of packed earth. “Re­ally, we shouldn’t be sur­prised a com­pany as techori­ented as Ama­zon is con­tin­u­ing to look north.”The ware­house is to be the fifth in On­tario and the prov­ince’s first out­side the Toronto re­gion. Ama­zon now has 7,000 full-time em­ploy­ees in Canada.Last year, Trudeau sent a let­ter to Ama­zon chief ex­ec­u­tive Jeff Be­zos urg­ing him to con­sider Canada as a home for Ama­zon’s sec­ond head­quar­ters, cit­ing busi­ness ad­van­tages such as uni­ver­sal health care, a sta­ble bank­ing sys­tem and a pool of highly ed­u­cated work­ers.Ot­tawa, too, was woo­ing Ama­zon to con­sider the na­tional cap­i­tal as a po­ten­tial lo­ca­tion for HQ2, as it has been dubbed.Ot­tawa didn’t make the short list, but last month Ama­zon an­nounced that Carls­bad Springs, just off the 417 cor­ri­dor to Mon­treal, would be get­ting a mas­sive ful­fil­ment cen­tre in­stead. The city has agreed to let Ama­zon’s land­lord, Broc­col­ini, de­fer more than $8 mil­lion in mu­nic­i­pal devel­op­ment charge pay­ments un­til the ful­fil­ment cen­tre is built.Mayor Jim Wat­son spoke Mon­day about the im­por­tance of di­ver­si­fy­ing Ot­tawa’s econ­omy. While unem­ploy­ment rates across the city are low, “we’ve al­ways seen the need for jobs in the east end,” he said.Glenn Som­merville, Ama­zon’s Toronto-based di­rec­tor of re­gional op­er­a­tions, called the ground­break­ing a “huge” day for the re­tail gi­ant.But few de­tails were di­vulged about the ful­fil­ment cen­tre that were not known be­fore. The ware­house is to be fo­cused on dis­tribut­ing larger items such as house­hold decor, sport­ing equip­ment and gar­den­ing gear.Of the 600 per­ma­nent jobs in Carls­bad Springs, about 100 will be in cat­e­gories such as hu­man re­sources, in­for­ma­tion tech­nol­ogy, engi­neer­ing and op­er­a­tions man­age­ment, Som­merville said in an in­ter­view af­ter the ground­break­ing.The rest of the jobs will be for work­ers who stock shelves, pick the prod­ucts that have been re­quested by cus­tomers, and pack them into boxes.Ama­zon will start to ad­ver­tise jobs in the ful­fil­ment cen­tre about three months be­fore it opens, he said.Work­ers in Ama­zon ful­fil­ment cen­tres work four 10-hour shifts a week. Asked about the com­pany’s pol­icy of re­quir­ing “manda­tory” over­time, which has been con­tro­ver­sial else­where, Som­merville replied: “We pre­fer not to run over­time at all.”Ama­zon took the ground­break­ing as an op­por­tu­nity to tout a pro­gram that pays up to 95-per­cent tu­ition to work­ers look­ing to get cer­ti­fied for “in-de­mand” jobs, whether or not the jobs are with the com­pany.Pa­trice Thomp­son was a stayat-home mother of six and was look­ing at fur­ther­ing her ed­u­ca­tion when she started to work for Ama­zon in Mis­sis­sauga, just west of Toronto. She is now a pro­cess­ing as­sis­tant and has com­pleted a pro­gram in trans­porta­tion and lo­gis­tics at Sheri­dan Col­lege. The hu­man re­sources team at Ama­zon ad­justed her sched­ule so she was able to at­tend classes, she said.The ques­tion re­mains: Will the ware­house pro­duce sus­tain­able jobs that pay good wages?Ama­zon of­fi­cials said jobs in Carls­bad Springs will of­fer “com­pet­i­tive” salaries, as well as med­i­cal and den­tal ben­e­fits, a group RRSP, and per­for­mance-based bonuses. A sim­i­lar ful­fil­ment cen­tre in Bramp­ton re­cently ad­ver­tised ware­house jobs pay­ing $14.40 an hour, plus 50 cents more an hour for the night shift — just a lit­tle over On­tario min­i­mum wage.“We live in a city made up of white-col­lar pro­fes­sion­als,” said Cum­ber­land ward Coun. Stephen Blais in an in­ter­view fol­low­ing the ground­break­ing. “This is an important step to cre­ate mid­dle-mar­ket jobs. For any­one who can get 95 per cent of tu­ition, it would seem like a pretty good op­por­tu­nity.”Ne­pean MPP Lisa MacLeod said spinoff jobs and busi­nesses are important to the com­mu­nity.“To sug­gest that we don’t want more jobs in rural Eastern On­tario would be out of touch.”To­day is a great day. Re­ally, we shouldn’t be sur­prised a com­pany as tech-ori­ented as Ama­zon is con­tin­u­ing to look north.

Ama­zon held an of­fi­cial cer­e­mony Mon­day in Carls­bad Springs at the fu­ture lo­ca­tion of its new ful­fill­ment cen­tre in Ot­tawa’s eastern sub­urb of Or­léans. The cen­tre is ex­pected to cre­ate more than 600 full-time jobs.

Prime Min­is­ter Justin Trudeau joins Ama­zon ex­ec­u­tives Mon­day at the of­fi­cial ground­break­ing of the one-mil­lion­square-foot cus­tomer ful­fil­ment cen­tre in Ot­tawa. The fa­cil­ity is Ama­zon’s fifth in On­tario.

© PressReader. All rights reserved.