The Port of Montreal has entered the latest phase of its Contrecoeur terminal expansion project. The Montreal Port Authority (MPA) announced in July that it was preparing to launch an international Request for Qualifications during the fourth quarter of 2021 to complete the future container facility. This follows the announcement of financial support for the project from the federal and provincial governments, a favourable report from the Canadian Impact Assessment Agency, and a Ministerial Decision Statement allowing the project to proceed.

Under a Design-Build-Finance-Operate-Maintain (DBFOM) procurement process, the MPA is inviting qualifying national and international consortia to submit proposals over the next few months to enter into a long-term DBFOM agreement for the terminal. Operators who took part in exclusive preliminary discussions are invited to participate. More information will be shared on the project’s procurement process in the coming weeks through the Port of Montreal website.

“Factoring in our timeline, we are proceeding with the development and implementation of the Contrecoeur container terminal through this national and international procurement process,” said Martin Imbleau, President and CEO of the MPA. “This will allow us to identify which consortium offers the best terms and conditions, notably to operate this important project.”

The Port of Montreal intends to develop a state-of-the-art container terminal at Contrecoeur that will handle 1.15 million TEUs (20-foot equivalent units) annually. The project comprises a 675-metre dock for two berths to accommodate ships ranging from 39,000 to 75,400 deadweight tons, a seven-track classification yard, a container storage and handling area, an intermodal rail yard, support facilities, rail and road accesses, and a truck control area.

The expansion project – the largest in the history of the Port of Montreal – is worth an estimated $750 million to $950 million. Construction, over a period of 36 months, is expected to begin before the end of 2022. Commissioning of the terminal and the start of port operations are slated for the end of 2025. All activities remain subject to obtaining the required approvals and permits and complying with the conditions set out in the Ministerial Decision Statement issued in March by the Minister of Environment and Climate Change Canada following five years of consultations and analysis by the Impact Assessment Agency of Canada.

“The Contrecoeur container terminal will be a world-class infrastructure able to efficiently serve Quebec, Ontario and the U.S. Midwest,” Mr. Imbleau said. “With its industrial zoning and outstanding location near a Class 1 railroad and highway connections, the future terminal is an exemplary eco-friendly opportunity for a private partner seeking to participate in the growth of the St. Lawrence-Great Lakes Trade Corridor.”

The terminal will generate significant economic benefits estimated at $470 million annually. The MPA is working closely with local and regional partners, including various stakeholders, in order to maximize the project’s positive benefits.

As part of the DBFOM process, interested companies and consortia will need to demonstrate their technical expertise, financial soundness and knowledge of container market development among other criteria. They must also participate in the implementation of measures to respect the conditions specified in the Ministerial Decision Statement, which followed a thorough, science-based environmental assessment process; it concluded that the project is not likely to cause significant adverse environmental effects when mitigation measures are taken into account. The decision statement sets out 330 legally binding conditions that the MPA must comply with before and during construction and while the terminal is operating. These conditions include measures to protect human health, fish and fish habitat, migratory birds, wetlands, First Nations use of land and resources, natural and cultural heritage and species at risk, including the Copper Redhorse.

The MPA will carry out the project while respecting the Species at Risk Act, mainly through mitigation and compensation measures identified by the Environmental Impact Assessment. For instance, measures to offset the impact of the project on the Copper Redhorse habitat include creating at least two hectares of aquatic grass beds in the Contrecoeur sector (at least twice the amount of habitat that will be impacted); implementing a project to improve water quality in the Richelieu River watershed where Copper Redhorse spawn; instituting an awareness program for users of the Richelieu River on the Copper Redhorse and its habitat; and establishing a program to improve knowledge of the juvenile stages of the Copper Redhorse.