The Port of Montreal’s new international container terminal has optimized and boosted its container-handling capacity and improved the fluidity of international goods movement in its very first year of operation.

Viau Terminal has increased the port’s container-handling capacity by 350,000 TEUs (20-foot equivalent unit containers). When combined with work carried out previously at the site and a second phase of the project, Viau Terminal will have a total handling capacity of 600,000 TEUs, ultimately increasing the Port of Montreal’s overall handling capacity on the island of Montreal to 2.1 million TEUs.

Montreal already is the second-largest container port in Canada and the fifth largest along North America’s east coast, handling some 1.4 million TEUs annually. It is the only container port in Quebec and Ontario. One in four marine containers handled in Canada moves through the port, which is the most direct intermodal link between North America’s industrial heartland and the vast markets of the European Union. The new Viau Terminal will allow the port to maintain its enviable position and handle growth in the containerized cargo sector both now and well into the future.

November 18 will mark the one-year anniversary of the inauguration of Viau Terminal. It is the port’s fourth international container terminal and the first container terminal to be built in the port in almost 30 years. Cast and Racine terminals were constructed in 1972 and 1978, respectively, followed by Maisonneuve Terminal in 1987.

“The Port of Montreal is constantly reinventing itself and adapting to respond to the needs of the marketplace and its partners in order to maintain its role as an economic driver and a leader in sustainable development,” said Sylvie Vachon, President and CEO of the Montreal Port Authority (MPA). “This new terminal, these new cranes rising skyward, are an eloquent testimony to the Port of Montreal’s growth and economic vitality. They are evidence of the marine industry’s promising future in Montreal and its whole supply chain. Merchant ships are the most economical and environmentally friendly mode of transport.”

On the whole, the Port of Montreal handled 13.1 million tonnes of containerized cargo in 2016. Traffic in this sector was up 8.9 percent through the first seven months of 2017 compared with the same period last year.

Ms. Vachon indicated that the new Viau Terminal will be generating significant benefits for the region, province and country as a whole, when completed with the second phase, with annual spinoffs of $340 million and the creation of 2,500 direct and indirect jobs.

The Viau Terminal project converted facilities dedicated to dry-bulk cargo into a modern, state-of-the-art container-handling, storage and transshipment centre. The new facility can accommodate post-Panamax container ships that carry 6,000 TEUs, the largest class of vessels sailing to the port. The current service area of the terminal is 200,000 square metres, which is equivalent to the area of 33 Canadian football fields.

Construction of Viau Terminal began in June 2015. The project included the development of a 330-metre berth, an intermodal zone and truck access routes, redevelopment of on-dock railway services and road access, construction of a multiservice building with garage space, administrative offices and a longshoremen’s hall, and demolition of sheds. Termont Montreal Inc., the terminal operator, installed two post-Panamax dockside gantry cranes at the facility to load and unload container ships. The 95.5-metre-high cranes are the tallest gantry cranes at the port and equal to half of the height of Place Ville-Marie, one of Montreal’s tallest buildings.

Phase 2 of the terminal is dependent on market conditions and growth in the container sector. It will be completed in the years to come and include the creation of a second 330-metre berth and installation of two more dockside gantry cranes as well as the development of a complementary container reception area.

The total value of all phases of the Viau Terminal project is $197 million. The Government of Canada is contributing up to $42.1 million toward the project under the National Infrastructure Component of the New Building Canada Fund. Termont Montreal and the MPA are investing $74 million and $80.9 million, respectively.

Leading international container shipping line Mediterranean Shipping Company (MSC) calls at the facility.

“The Government of Canada recognizes that port infrastructure plays a key role in supporting economic growth,” said Transport Minister Marc Garneau at the terminal inauguration ceremony last November. “In addition to making the Port of Montreal considerably more competitive, productive and effective, this project will also help to support economic growth for Canadians in the years to come.”

“Viau terminal is an excellent example of how the public and private sectors can work together to develop world-class facilities for the benefit of businesses and communities alike,” said Madeleine Paquin, President of Termont and President and CEO of Logistec Corporation, at the inauguration ceremony. “Termont has invested approximately $44 million (in Phase 1) on equipment and container-handling services to support strategic growth for customers of both the Port of Montreal and MSC. Our combined investments have created the most modern and efficient container terminal along the St. Lawrence River, serving the northeastern part of the continent.”

Added Sokat Shaikh, President and CEO of MSC Canada: “We live in a global economy and the majority of what Canadians buy at any retail point, along with manufacturing within Canada, is traded with countries worldwide. The new capacity currently available at the Port of Montreal is great news for Canadians because it means that more retail goods can be imported and more natural resources can be exported to countries around the world. MSC’s commitment to simplify Canadian trade and support our customers as they continue to expand internationally is at the core of our decision to operate at the new Viau Terminal.”

Ms. Vachon said the work at the terminal was carried out with concern for communities and the environment.

Indeed, the Viau Terminal project integrated sustainable development principles long before work even began, including the deployment of a communication and consultation plan and an innovative soil reclamation project.

The MPA maintained a sustained dialogue with the neighbouring community throughout the construction and operating process. With terminal operator Termont, it developed mitigation measures, as needed, to foster improved neighbourhood relations, in particular during the summer months.

The Viau Terminal construction is part of a broader port capacity optimization project that covers container-handling capacity and marine and road accesses. “The Port of Montreal must be proactive on all three fronts in order to strike the right balance between facilitating goods movement and ensuring that port activities continue to run smoothly,” Ms. Vachon said.