The Port of Montreal has reached many key milestones for the biggest strategic infrastructure project in its modern era: Contrecoeur container terminal.

The Montreal Port Authority (MPA), backed by the Canada Infrastructure Bank (CIB) and private partners, is developing the new leading-edge container terminal on land that it owns in Contrecoeur, located about 40 kilometres downstream from Montreal.

Scheduled for commissioning in 2024, the terminal will increase the port’s container-handling capacity by up to 1.15 million TEUs (20-foot equivalent unit containers) per year, meet forecast demand from shippers around the world, and support economic growth and Canada’s international trade.

The estimated cost of the project is between $750 million and $950 million.

“With its advantageous location in the middle of the main pool of consumers, importers and exporters in Quebec and Eastern Canada and its proximity to major rail and highway routes, Contrecoeur Terminal will consolidate the Port of Montreal’s strengths,” said Sylvie Vachon, the MPA’s President and CEO.

“Contrecoeur Terminal is the driving force behind a vital logistics development zone. It will promote positive, major economic benefits on a regional and national scale. It will strengthen the commercial attractiveness of Quebec and Eastern Canada. It will help improve port and supply chain productivity for the benefit of clients, consumers and businesses.

“Indeed, this vast project will extend and fulfil the Port of Montreal’s mission: to connect Montreal to the world and enable the city to achieve its full potential for economic development and international outreach.”

The Contrecoeur container terminal project includes two berths and a container-handling area, an intermodal marshalling yard connected to the main rail network, a truck gate connected to the road network, and secondary facilities for port activities.

When complete, the terminal will generate 5,000 direct, indirect and induced jobs, in addition to a one-time impact of $470 million on GDP during construction.

The project’s most recent major step forward occurred in August when the MPA launched a public procurement process to prepare for the terminal’s design and construction. Through this Request for Qualification, the MPA will preselect up to three companies on the basis of technical and financial criteria. These companies will then be invited to bid in response to the call for proposals in preparation for construction, which, subject to obtaining the required approvals and permits, will begin in 2021.

Officially launched in August, a Request for Qualification, the first step in the procurement process, will make it possible to prepare the start of construction as soon as environmental approvals and permits have been obtained.

“Launching the Request for Qualification is another milestone for Contrecoeur Terminal. Here again, it shows the project’s progress and relevance, particularly in a context of a post-pandemic economic recovery,” Ms. Vachon said.

The Request for Qualification followed a media and public information day held by the MPA, with the participation of the CIB, on July 15 to update the construction industry on the project’s progress and announce the main steps ahead. Some 100 construction industry players, in addition to media representatives, took part in two information sessions.

The CIB announced last December that it would commit up to $300 million in funding for the project. This financial support provides the MPA with an essential guarantee to attract private investors.

“The Port of Montreal applauds the CIB’s strong message to potential investors and project stakeholders expressing its confidence in the viability, soundness and relevance of the Contrecoeur port terminal at both regional and national levels,” Ms. Vachon said.

The MPA and the CIB had signed a memorandum of understanding for the Contrecoeur terminal project in August 2019.

The MPA has continued to develop logistics partnerships and hold discussions with terminal operators Termont Montreal Inc. and Montreal Gateway Terminals Partnership, which each operate two of the port’s four existing international container terminals, for the operation of Contrecoeur Terminal. Progress continues to be made in the terminal’s design and concept development, and the environmental process continues to advance.

Obtaining environmental permits, finalizing the design and engineering, developing the partnership agreements and beginning preparatory work for the terminal are among the milestone events that lie ahead.

In September, the MPA announced that Paul Bird, formerly the port authority’s Senior Director of the Contrecoeur project, has been appointed Vice-President, Contrecoeur. He will oversee the planning and successful completion of the terminal.

Mr. Bird has extensive experience in the management of large-scale projects, particularly in the mining sector.

Prior to joining the MPA in June, he worked for close to 10 years at ArcelorMittal Mines Canada, managing mining operations, health and safety, energy, mine engineering and environment, mine planning and geology before serving as Chief Technology and Strategy Officer and Vice-President, Human Resources and Innovative Technologies.

“Paul’s wide-ranging experience will be an invaluable asset, making it possible for the MPA to move ahead quickly and successfully complete the new terminal,” Ms. Vachon said.