By Mark Cardwell

Since 1999, when the Port of Sept-Îles became a Canadian port authority under the Canada Marine Act, the facility has put its many natural competitive advantages to work for the people of the Quebec North Shore region. Guided by both the goal and mission of being an important development agent by providing world-class facilities and services in a framework of partnership with port and community stakeholders, and with a sustainable development approach, the port recently celebrated its numerous accomplishments over the past 15 years and counting.

Following in the footsteps of earlier administrations, the Port Authority has continued to develop the Pointe-Noire sector. The most notable addition has been the multi-user dock. Completed this year, it has more than doubled the port’s shipping capacity for iron ore.

In 2010, the port has also added a cruise terminal to welcome passengers and crew members of the many cruise ships that now visit Sept-Îles during the summer and fall months.

The port has invested some $2.2 million over the past 15 years in several award-winning projects aimed at restoring, preserving, and enhancing the environment profile of port land. Those projects include the reshaping of banks, and the transplantation and seeding of grasslands and saltmarsh cordgrass on nearly 9,000 square metres of banks. Starting in 2007, the port has constructed several artificial concrete reefs in its harbour in order to stimulate the growth of habitat-enhancing kelp forests. A year ago, it implemented an environmental watch program for the bay of Sept-Îles in collaboration with the City of Sept-Îles and INREST, a research team that is located at the local college.

Those and other realizations were celebrated last fall during the port’s Maritime Week. Hosted by the Governor General of Canada, his Excellency the Right Honourable David Johnston, the event attracted more than 4,000 people.

“Sept-Îles Port Authority is without a doubt a success story when it comes to vision, commitment and partnership,” Carol Soucy, past Chairman of the Port Authority’s board, is quoted as saying in the Port’s 2014 annual report, which was released in June.

“Over the past 15 years, we have benefitted from many enriching projects and have learned to navigate through sometimes challenging conditions. Our values and vision have allowed us to experience change with confidence, and that is what shapes our organization. Our decisions are based on the desire to achieve great things, for the benefit of our community and users. To achieve this goal, we have created and maintained strategic and meaningful relationships with local and regional partners, our users, elected officials and government representatives.”

For Soucy, who has stepped down this year, the trust and close personal ties that have been forged between port officials and the community have translated into a bright future. He also termed the completion of the new multi-user dock as “a new page” in the port’s history.