The port of Montreal has been handling containers since 1967, and currently operates four container terminals on the Island of Montreal (Cast, Maisonneuve, Racine and Viau). Growth was virtually non-stop until 2008 when almost 1.5 million TEUs were handled. The recession of 2009 caused volumes to plummet, and it was not until 2017 that the record volumes of 2008 were surpassed. Once expansion of the Viau terminal, commissioned in 2016, is completed, total Port container capacity on the Island of Montreal will increase to its maximum of 2.1 million TEUs annually.

To remain competitive with the large American ports that are investing massively in their infrastructures, Port of Montreal needed to find ways to expand its facilities to accommodate significant future demand from business enterprises located in eastern Canada. For that reason, the Port Authority acquired 468 hectares of land for development in Contrecoeur on Montreal’s South Shore over a four-year period starting in 1988. The land, only 45 kilometers northeast of Montreal, includes 4 kilometers of shoreline on the St. Lawrence River, and adjoins a rail network and major road arteries, including Highway 30, thus connecting easily to the major markets that the port serves. The site offers plenty of opportunity for future expansion and is located in a non-urban area with space available for industrial and logistics development. When completed, the $750 million Contrecoeur terminal is expected to have a capacity of 1.1 million TEUs annually.

The Port submitted its Environment Impact Assessment to the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency in January. Terminal construction is planned to begin in 2020, subject to obtaining the necessary permits, and commissioning the terminal is planned for 2023.