The Port of Montreal is located in an urban area. Its territory extends along 26 kilometres of waterfront on the Island of Montreal and borders three city boroughs as well as the City of Montreal East. It also covers four kilometres of shoreline in Contrecoeur. Its neighbours in Montreal include some 16,000 households and businesses that are located within about 300 metres of port territory.
“We consider these neighbours as stakeholders of our operations, just like our business partners,” said Sylvie Vachon, President and CEO of the Montreal Port Authority (MPA). “More than ever, our relationship with the community is really at the heart of our operations.”
Promoting responsible communication and increasing contributions to the local community are among the eight guiding principles of the MPA’s Sustainable Development Policy.
The Port’s Good Neighbour Committee, created at the end of 2014, fosters closer and more lasting relations between the MPA and its neighbouring communities, while establishing dialogue and facilitating the exchange of information related to activities occurring on port territory. It comprises residents and representatives of local organizations active in the area, companies operating on the port or connected to it, municipalities and the MPA.
At three meetings held in 2015, the MPA presented its current projects, fielded questions, comments and concerns from members, and discussed issues ranging from its complaints management process to intermodal freight transportation.
“We are really very pleased with the first full year of operation of the Good Neighbour Committee, which is in line with our objective to get closer to our neighbouring communities,” said Sophie Roux, the MPA’s Vice-President of Public Affairs. “Strong member participation at the meetings reflects the importance of such a committee. It’s a mission-critical venue that lets us learn about our neighbours’ concerns, discuss a number of common issues and share our various projects.”
Another example of the Port’s efforts to get closer to the community is its annual Port in the City Day. Every September, the MPA invites neighbours on a free one-hour cruise aboard AML’s Cavalier Maxim to gain a unique perspective of the port from the water and learn more about its facilities. Thousands of Montrealers have taken the cruise since it was first introduced in 2008.
The Port also opens its doors every year to hundreds of visitors including university and college students enrolled in transportation and logistics programs.
The Port’s Community Investment Policy supports initiatives that contribute to the well-being of communities that border port operations. It promotes:
• Socioeconomic development;
• Training related to marine careers; and
• A healthy environment.
Among the projects it supports are:
• ÉcoMaris: a not-for-profit organization that creates learning experiences through team sailboat training and environmental discovery;
• Samajam: a program that helps young people develop their self-esteem, their sense of belonging to their school and community, and their love of learning;
• Vélopousse: a collaborative pedicab project initiated by a community youth employment centre; and
• Village au Pied-du-Courant: a project in which a village sprouts up every summer in an open space near the port, providing residents with a window on the St. Lawrence River and port facilities, and summertime employment for about 40 people.
The Port conducts a comprehensive consultation and information process for all of its major development projects. As part of this process, it sends out thousands of invitations by mail and via social media networks to neighbours and stakeholders to invite them to open house and information days at which the MPA can present its new projects to neighbours, listen to their comments and answer their questions.
The MPA held three of these sessions in 2015: two for residents of the Viau sector for the new container terminal that is being built in that area, and one for the Port’s new Land-Use Plan. The MPA has previously held open houses for its Contrecoeur Port Terminal Expansion Project and for its project to restore Alexandra Pier and the Iberville Passenger Terminal.
“It is important for us to take into account our neighbours’ comments,” Ms. Roux said.
For example, following the Viau Terminal consultation, Termont Montréal, the operator of the future terminal, agreed to change the colour of its cranes so that they would better blend into the landscape of the area.
“Our consultations do indeed provide concrete results when it comes to port-city integration,” Ms. Roux said.