By Tom Peters

Port of Québec posted an increase in tonnage for the fourth year in a row handling approximately 28 million metric tonnes of cargo in 2019. The Port said that helping to boost that number was cargo related to the energy, steel, transportation and mining and metal industries. “This fourth straight year of growth is the result of the hard work and commitment of all port operators and employees, a reminder of the Port’s strategic appeal and the crucial role our organization plays in the Québec City and Lévis economy and tourism industry,” Mario Girard, CEO of Quebec Port Authority, said in a release.

In May 2019, the Port signed a major, long-term commercial agreement with Hutchison Ports and Canadian National Railway (CN), to build and operate the new container terminal, known as project Laurentia (previously Beauport 2020).

Hutchison Ports, an international firm operating in over 50 ports and 27 countries, will construct one of the most environmentally friendly and technologically advanced terminals in North America. The $775 million project, which is now going through the environmental assessment process, will have a capacity of 700,000 TEUs (twenty-foot equivalent units) when the first phase is completed in 2023, and 1.6 million TEUs when the project is finished. The Port is hoping it will be able to start the tendering process to begin construction this year. The majority of the required funding will come from the three partners.

However, the announcement did not represent the only investment at the Port. In fact, projects at the port in 2019 were valued at a total of $169 million. Those projects included upgrades to port infrastructure and the development of a grain export terminal by Sollio Agriculture. Developments were made possible with the financial support of the federal government’s National Trade Corridor Fund (NTCF). Along with these investments, the Port also announced the construction of a second cruise terminal at Wharf 30.

In addition to various cargo trades, Quebec has a thriving and growing cruise industry. International cruise traffic hit a record new high in 2019, sparking significant logistical challenges. The Port welcomed 236,715 passengers and crew members, up from 230,940 the previous year. There were a total of 150 cruise ship visits, 22 of which included embarkation and disembarkation operations, an increase of more than 60 per cent over 2018. Among the 40 ships that made Québec City a port of call in 2019, there were nine inaugural calls.

The Port received special honours being named “Best cruise destination – United States and Canada” for the third year running by Cruise Critic and Québec City also won Porthole Cruise Magazine’s Reader’s Choice Award for “Best Canada/New England cruise destination.”