Montreal - At a technical briefing for the media, the Montreal Port Authority (MPA) presented its container terminal project at Contrecœur. This large-scale project aims to support the growth of the container market, a sector that generates economic development for Montreal, Quebec and Eastern Canada

As part of the presentation, the MPA released the main findings of the project’s environmental impact assessment, which has just been made public by the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency (CEAA) and will be the subject of public consultation organized by the CEAA, including information sessions from February 27 to March 1.

A major project to support container market growth in Quebec and Eastern Canada

The MPA has been handling containers for more than 50 years and growth has been nonstop in this business segment. The Viau container terminal, commissioned in 2016, is tangible proof of this sustained growth. When completed, the new terminal will bring the Port’s total container handling capacity to 2.1 million TEUs (twenty-foot equivalent units) on the Island of Montreal.

“This additional port space that will become the Contrecœur container terminal will make it possible to support the growth of this business segment and make the most of the economic and commercial opportunities arising from emerging markets, the Canada-European Union Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement and the Quebec Maritime Strategy,” said Daniel Dagenais, Vice-President, Operations and head of the project at the MPA.

So as the only container port in Quebec and the largest port in Eastern Canada, the Port of Montreal is planning its future development to support growth and enable Quebec and Eastern Canada to stay competitive with the large American ports that are investing massively in their infrastructures.

For several years, the MPA has been planning a container terminal on its land in Contrecœur on Montreal’s South Shore, a land reserve it acquired between 1988 and 1992. This is a strategic location for container handling because of its favourable geometry, nearby rail and road networks and the proximity of the markets it serves. In addition to providing flexibility to meet long-term needs, the target site is located in a non-urban area with space available for industrial and logistics development.

The project submitted to the CEAA will make it possible, when completed, to handle 1.14 million TEUs per year.

Of the many components in the project, these are the main ones

  • Two berths and a container handling area
  • An intermodal rail yard connected to the main network
  • A truck entry portal connected to the road network
  • Support facilities such as buildings for the employees

An inclusive consultation process carried out over several years

Since 2014, the MPA has informed and consulted hundreds of people about the project: the local population, Aboriginal communities, interest groups, local and regional authorities, government bodies, local elected representatives, and port and logistics partners.

“For the MPA, an open, transparent information and consultation process is an essential condition for the success of the project and its integration into the community, on the same level as a rigorous

approach to the environmental impact analysis and technical planning,” said Sophie Roux, Vice-President, Public Affairs at the MPA.

This consultation process, conducted prior to the CEAA’s formal process, included the following elements:

The MPA’s pre-consultation process in 2014

  • Individual meetings with stakeholders from various sectors
  • Individual meetings with immediate neighbours of the project site
  • Public information session for the citizens of Verchères and Contrecœur

The MPA’s consultation process related to the impact study (2016-2017)

  • Individual meetings with certain Aboriginal communities and key municipal stakeholders
  • Thematic workshops with stakeholders from different backgrounds in March 2017
  • Open houses for the citizens of Contrecœur and Verchères in May 2017

All these meetings made it possible for the MPA to gather the expectations and concerns of the various stakeholders met, which contributed greater input into the environmental impact assessment.

Following its recent filing, in the same spirit of transparency and openness, the MPA will take part in the CEAA’s consultation process, which will continue and intensify over the next few weeks. Consultation activities organized by the CEAA will take place at Contrecœur from February 27 to March 1.

A thorough impact study available for consultation

In March 2016, the CEAA issued guidelines containing the major directions to be addressed by the MPA in its environmental impact assessment. This vast study was carried out in 2016 and 2017 by the MPA team in collaboration with a team of experts from SNC-Lavalin.

As part of the impact study released on January 18, the MPA examined many issues grouped under the following five themes:

  • Road and rail traffic
  • The environment - water and land
  • Marine transportation
  • Economic benefits
  • Human environment - Impacts for neighbouring communities