I think that I'd like to talk about this as two different scales.
Churchill is fine. It's kind of a local connection with both you and I, both being Manitobans, and it's an important part of the Arctic puzzle, but I think investments in that area are very important. I think that one of the key things is getting that rail line and port fully functional.
The next natural step for this is the marine transportation in that corridor, which comes into and out of the port of Churchill. We expect to be able to ship year-round through that mechanism within the next 20 to 30 years. There will be a period of time there where you'll need icebreaker support. Right now we use icebreaker support down the St. Lawrence Seaway. That's what our research icebreaker does in the winter time. It provides support for commercial traffic along the shipping route through the St. Lawrence.
We should develop a similar situation in the Arctic, in Hudson Bay in particular. We should have icebreaker support for ships to extend the shipping season into and out of the port. That is an important sovereignty issue because then we have a Canadian ship and we extend the Canadian shipping seasons in the Arctic.
It would also have a direct component that would address search and rescue requirements in the north. Right now, we suffer from a lot of involvement in the north, both a lot more Inuit activity and a lot of search and rescue that's associated with the indigenous people who live there. Also, the tourist trade is just exploding in the north. We're getting a lot of tour ships coming in, everything from small schooners to people doing crazy things like trying to go to the North Pole on a dirt bike—all kinds of weird things that people do. Search and rescue becomes a very important thing.
We always struggle with search and rescue because we don't have enough capacity built into the north. The Coast Guard, for the last year and a half or so, has been developing local bases around the north to support and stimulate search and rescue capacity, but of course, we also need more ships to be able to do this. So that we can properly manage the Arctic, we need more icebreakers that are under the purview of the Canadian Coast Guard so that it can properly service search and rescue with regard to big ships that get stuck in ice, for instance, or that have oil spills or those kinds of things.
From a marine perspective, I think we need resources that are invested in new icebreakers that will do a stopgap against some of this increasing pressure and increasing availability. We need some short-term solutions and some long-term solutions. They have to do with improving search and rescue capacity, improving baselines of scientific knowledge about what is where, what the bathymetry looks like and how we can have safe shipping lanes, and then investing in some plans to get some new icebreaker support into the country to take the pressure off of this aging fleet that we have.