The Montreal Port Authority’s Contrecoeur terminal project, the next key milestone in the MPA’s strategic development plan, continues to take decisive steps forward. Certain major steps are currently being implemented or finalized with regard to financial structuring, engineering and design, negotiations for terminal operation and the environmental process.

In August, the MPA and the Canada Infrastructure Bank (CIB) announced that they have signed a Memorandum of Understanding to advance the development of the project. The two organizations will work on the financial structuring of the proposed terminal. This due diligence will include planning and pre-procurement activities for the design, construction, financing, operation and maintenance of the terminal. CIB’s work could lead to an investment in the project, subject to all standard due diligence and decision-making.

CIB, a Crown corporation, has specialized infrastructure expertise, and the Contrecoeur project is consistent with its mandate to advise on and potentially invest in trade and transportation infrastructure projects that are revenue generating and in the public interest.

Strategic Initiative

“The Contrecoeur terminal project is a strategic initiative to support the growth of the container market in Quebec and Eastern Canada,” said MPA President and CEO Sylvie Vachon. “By increasing current and future capacity for the coming decades, this development will enhance the port’s infrastructure and enable importers and exporters to continue to get products to market in a timely fashion.

“This commitment by the Canada Infrastructure Bank is a key milestone in the progress of our project towards its completion, and this collaboration confirms the project’s national importance.”

The container terminal will be built on land that the MPA owns in Contrecoeur, located about 40 kilometres downstream from Montreal. When complete, it would be able to handle 1.15 million TEUs (20-foot equivalent unit containers) per year.

The port moved a record 1.7 million TEUs in 2018, up 9% over the previous year. The current expansion of Viau Terminal (see first story in this section) will bring the port’s maximum handling capacity on the Island of Montreal to 2.1 million TEUs.

“The Canada Infrastructure Bank is proud to contribute its expertise to the development of the port terminal project in Contrecoeur to maximize its commercial value and attract private investors,” said Pierre Lavallée, President and CEO of the CIB. “Our collaboration with the Montreal Port Authority demonstrates our commitment to developing trade and transportation infrastructure that will support Canadian economic growth in a responsible, efficient and sustainable manner. This project represents the type of initiatives the CIB intends to develop to diversify and expand Canadian trade.”

The project, which will benefit from Greater Montreal’s logistics ecosystem of more than 6,300 companies, will include two berths and a container-handling area, an intermodal rail yard linked to the main network, and a truck entry portal connected to the road network. The terminal will accommodate two to three ships per week, and 1,200 trucks and one train per day, respectively.

Economic Benefits

Economic benefits are estimated at close to 5,000 jobs during construction with a one-time impact on GDP of $470 million ($364 million in Quebec), and about 1,000 direct jobs during operation with a recurring impact on GDP of $119 million ($104 million in Quebec).

The MPA has a dedicated team in place for the project, headed by Ryan Dermody, Vice-President, Contrecoeur, who is overseeing the project’s progress. The port authority has hired London-based Arup Group as its engineering firm. BMO Bank of Montreal will help the port assess financial options

Meanwhile, the MPA is working in priority with its terminal operators, Montreal Gateway Terminals Partnership (MGTP) and Termont Terminal Inc., to accelerate the execution of the project’s business strategy.

“The success that the port is experiencing in the container sector is in partnership with our terminal operators and the shipping lines that they serve, which is why we have decided to preferentially offer our operators the opportunity to pursue their growth at Contrecoeur,” Ms. Vachon said.

Elsewhere, the MPA is working on securing federal environmental approval for the project and is responding to requests from the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency (CEAA) for additional answers and clarifications. Once the CEAA concludes that it has sufficient information to complete its analysis, it will prepare a report with recommendations that will be posted online for one month to gather public comments. The CEAA will review its report considering the comments received and then forward it to the Minister of the Environment and Climate Change Canada for it to decide on the project. All of this comes after the MPA tabled its environmental impact statement and held public consultations to communicate the details of the project to neighbouring political, economic and civic communities.

“Our top priorities are to complete the project’s engineering planning and financial structure pending the environmental licensing process. Conducting this project with the greatest respect to our natural environment remains a cornerstone of our approach,” Ms. Vachon said. “All of these steps bring us closer to our goal. We can’t wait to carry out this vast project that will help serve businesses and consumers better, create jobs and strengthen our competitiveness regionally, nationally and internationally.”

Construction of the terminal would start in 2020, conditional on obtaining the necessary permits and other success factors. Commissioning of the terminal is planned for 2023-24.