Environmental protection has long been part of the Montreal Port Authority’s (MPA) DNA through its initiatives to protect wildlife, natural areas and air quality alike.

“Our priority is to reduce the environmental footprint of our activities through responsible consumption and by efficiently managing our environmental heritage,” said Sylvie Vachon, the MPA’s President and CEO. “We adopt working practices that respect the environment and use technologies that improve performance and reduce impacts. We are pleased to see the results of our sustained efforts making a difference on several levels.”

The MPA earned a perfect mark in 2019 in the Green Marine voluntary environmental certification program. The MPA scored 5 on 5 in each of the following categories: greenhouse gas (GHG) and air pollutants; spill prevention; community impacts; environmental leadership; and waste management.

The Port of Montreal is one of the founding members of Green Marine, an environmental program launched in 2007 to challenge marine industry enterprises to do significantly better than what is required by regulations. Green Marine has set the benchmark for the industry in Canada, the United States and Europe.

Tangible results: GHG emissions

The MPA and the port’s terminal operators have taken numerous initiatives and actions to safeguard the environment and are producing tangible results when it comes to preventing GHGs. Indeed, the intensity of GHGs related to the MPA’s own activities has decreased by 45% in the past 10 years while the GHG intensity of overall port activities decreased by 29% from 2010 to 2017.

In particular, the port’s shore power and liquefied natural gas (LNG) fuelling systems are reducing air pollutants emitted by vessels.

The port recently marked the 100th bunkering of a ship with LNG at its berths. The Gaïa Desgagnés, the most recent addition to the Desgagnés fleet of LNG-powered vessels, was bunkered with LNG on August 25.

Installed in 2017 in collaboration with energy leader Énergir, this safe and flexible LNG bunkering system has been available to all shipowners whose fleets transit the Port of Montreal. These 100 refuelling operations have avoided the emission of 28,000 tonnes of GHGs over the past three years.

Meanwhile, cruise ships and wintering vessels are using shore power systems in the port. In 2019, some 1,349 tonnes of GHGs were avoided because the Veendam cruise ship and eight wintering vessels were electrically connected dockside.

The MPA has turned to artificial intelligence to reduce GHGs emitted by port trucking. Through its Trucking PORTal application, a new predictive version of which was launched in 2019, the MPA provides truck waiting times at its terminals 24 hours in advance. This information, accessible both online and through a mobile application, makes it possible for drivers and dispatchers to monitor truck traffic at the port and, by planning trips around peak activity, reduce the overall carbon footprint of trucks at the port.

An initial assessment of this initiative’s beneficial impacts found a six-minute reduction in the total processing time for trucks (from the time they enter the port to the time they leave) and a decrease of more than 200 tonnes of GHGs in 2019 compared with the previous year, despite an 8% increase in trucks coming to the port.

In other efforts to improve air quality, the MPA’s vehicle fleet now consists almost exclusively of hybrid vehicles, and its locomotives have been replaced by Genset multi-generator locomotives that reduce GHG emissions by close to 30%.

Port partners are also purchasing more environmentally friendly equipment. For example, Termont Montreal Inc. is adding a 100% electrically operated rail-mounted gantry crane for Viau Terminal Phase 2. The first of its kind at the port, the crane can hoist loads weighing up to 65 tonnes and helps optimize space at the terminal. In addition to avoiding GHG emissions, it is equipped with extensive soundproofing features. Termont is also transforming its fleet of terminal tractors into hybrid vehicles equipped with Active Stop-Start technology developed by Effenco, which provides electrification solutions to the transportation industry.

Montreal Gateway Terminals Partnership added last year 10 electric rubber-tired gantry cranes at Cast and Racine terminals, the facilities it operates in the port.

Meanwhile, to reduce the discharge of suspended solids and hydrocarbons into the St. Lawrence River, the MPA has installed on port territory 19 hydrodynamic separators that act as storm water treatment systems.

Sustainable development initiatives and projects

In connection with its intention to build a new container terminal in Contrecoeur, located some 40 kilometres downstream from Montreal, the MPA announced in August that it is teaming up the ALUS Montérégie environmental program, which contributes to the preservation of ecosystems and supports farmers in their efforts to protect the environment. The Montérégie UPA Federation launched the program in 2006. With this commitment, the MPA becomes a Gold Partner of the program.

“By joining forces with ALUS Montérégie, the MPA affirms its support for the program’s mission to preserve biodiversity and protect the environment,” said Sophie Roux, the MPA’s Vice-President of Public Affairs. “Guided by these values, we want to develop our Contrecoeur port terminal project in the strictest compliance with current environmental standards.”

“I would like to thank the MPA for its commitment to ALUS Montérégie, the only program in Quebec that offers financial compensation to farmers to support their environmental efforts,” said Christian St-Jacques, President of the Montérégie UPA Federation. “This contribution over five years will make it possible to actively fight climate change.”

Added Bryan Gilvesy, ALUS Canada’s CEO: “We want to congratulate ALUS Montérégie for securing this new funding, and we want to thank the Port of Montreal for investing in ALUS in Quebec. Through this contribution, real environmental action will happen on the ground. Farmers can provide solutions to some of the biggest environmental issues of our time, and the ecosystem services they produce through ALUS—cleaner air, cleaner water, greater biodiversity—go far beyond the farm. These benefits accrue to our communities and benefit us all.”

The monies provided through this partnership will be used to fund various local initiatives on agricultural land, such as hedge planting, reforestation of fallow areas, shoreline replanting and ecosystem enhancement.

The MPA is supporting a project to preserve Purple Martin colonies led by the non-profit Jacques-Cartier ZIP (priority intervention zone) Committee as part of the St. Lawrence Action Fund (SLAF). The port has installed four condo-type nesting boxes, enough housing for 64 pairs of birds in total, on Île Montbrun, one of the many islands in the Boucherville Islands archipelago under MPA management.

According to the Breeding Bird Survey, Purple Martin populations in Quebec fell by 93.6% between 1970 and 2014. The decline of Purple Martins can be attributed to several potential threats, including a decrease in insects, weather conditions and habitat loss.

Along with the project to protect Purple Martin colonies, the Port of Montreal contributes to several other SLAF projects, such as restoring and conserving wetlands, controlling common water reeds and enhancing the Important Bird Area in the Îles de Contrecoeur National Wildlife Area.

At the end of May, the MPA’s environment team had a nice surprise on a field trip to the Contrecoeur port site. Just like last year, an artificial nesting box installed as part of a project to protect the Bank Swallows’ habitat was aflutter with little tenants, good news for this species whose nesting sites are protected.

The MPA is engaged in several projects to protect the Bank Swallows’ habitat. In addition to installing three artificial concrete and sand nesting boxes in Contrecoeur in 2019, together with a consultant and the Grand Council of the Waban-Aki Nation, the MPA installed three more this year. These nesting boxes could potentially make 1,200 burrows available for nesting.

The MPA also installed a Bank Swallow nesting box at Section 110 in Montreal’s East End, in collaboration with the Jacques-Cartier ZIP Committee as part of the SLAF.

As a member of the Greening Leaders Committee of Montreal and to deliver on its commitment announced in 2018 to plant 2,000 trees within five years, the Port of Montreal planted 301 trees on port territory in 2019. This brought the total number of trees planted by the end of last year to 759. The trees were planted between the Port of Montreal’s head office on Cité-du-Havre and Montreal East.