By Brian Dunn
PORT OF SEPT-ÎLES HAS HAD A POLICY OF SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT FOR A NUMBER OF YEARS, WITH THE OBJECTIVE OF ACHIEVING STEADY GROWTH, AVOIDING “BOOM AND BUST” CYCLES, AND POSITIONING IT AS “BEST IN CLASS” AMONG ITS PEERS IN TERMS OF DEVELOPMENT WITHIN A “GREEN” ENVIRONMENT.
The Port’s vision consists of five elements:
• Reduce its environmental impact through optimal management of energy, water and waste and the protection of biodiversity;• A vision of the future shared with its employees and the community at large, focused on quality of life;
• As much as practically possible, to focus Port growth activities based on principles sustaining jobs and regional development;
• Respect for the work-life balance, personal development and growth of its employees and the local population;
• Continuous achievement of the highest international standards in sustainable development.
As part of its vision, Sept-Îles wants to become one of the largest bulk transportation ports in North America by 2020, while being recognized for its leadership in sustainable development. This will partially be achieved by strengthening ties with its customers, partners and the community to ensure that the Port’s developments will take place within the context of plans by its partners and objectives expressed by the community. “When it comes to sustainable development, Port of Sept-Îles is not a follower,” said Pierre Gagnon, President and CEO. “We are in fact a recognized leader, as reflected in numerous ways since we gained our status as a Port Authority back in 1999.”
In terms of green initiatives, Sept-Îles Port Authority has carried out environmental audits every five years in collaboration with its tenants since 1999. The audits include annual follow-ups that identify actions needed to ensure all users and partners of the Port attain or surpass current standards for environmental compliance. At least $1.8 million has been invested over the last 12 years on projects directly related to environmental initiatives.
The investment has paid off as witnessed by several successful projects. More than 1,500 square metres of kelp forest, for example, has been created in the Bay of Sept-Îles, while a cruise ship dock was built in a planned manner that ensured marine mammals in the bay would not be affected. And a rail trans-shipment centre was commissioned in 2008, reducing greenhouse gas emissions by more than 20,000 tonnes per year by reducing truck traffic on Route 138, the region’s major highway.
In addition, Port of Sept-Îles became the first North American Port Authority to have all of its (user and terminal) stakeholders join the Green Marine’s environmental program. The program is a voluntary initiative that brings together more than 140 Canadian and American members, including ports, terminals, ship owners, shipyards and heavy users of port facilities. Green Marine aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, manage waste and control cargo involving all types of pollutants, including noise, dust, odours and even light.
These initiatives have been recognized through several major awards, including Les Phénix de l’environnement in 2005 with the ITUM Band Council, the most prestigious award of its kind in Quebec, the 2010 Freight Transportation Award from l’Association québecoise du transport et des routes with CN Rail and the 2010 St. Lawrence Award from the St. Lawrence Economic Development Council.
The port also gives back to its community: last year, it donated nearly $140,000 to over 80 local organizations, primarily engaged in education, health, culture, sports and humanitarian causes.