The Port of Montreal is ready to be an integral part of Quebec’s new Maritime Strategy. “We are delighted by the Government of Quebec’s commitment to introduce a strategy that will energize the province’s maritime transportation sector and we are prepared to play a central role in it,” said Sylvie Vachon, President and CEO of the Montreal Port Authority (MPA).
In its 2015-16 budget unveiled on March 26, the Government of Quebec announced an investment of more than $1.5 billion in the Quebec Maritime Strategy and for its intention to promote the implementation of logistics hubs. Some $95 million worth of investments were earmarked for the Port of Montreal to improve road access to the Port and to restore the Iberville Passenger Terminal and the pier on which it is located.
The Port of Montreal is at the centre of an integrated marine, rail, road and pipeline network. It handled a record 30.4 million tonnes of highly diversified cargo in 2014. More than $41 billion worth of goods move through the Port annually, and its activities represent $2.1 billion in added value to the Canadian economy and create 16,000 direct and indirect jobs.
Montreal is the only container port on the Ontario-Quebec Continental Gateway and Trade Corridor, which carries more than 71 per cent of Canada’s international trade. The Port handled 1.4 million TEUs (20-foot equivalent unit containers) in 2014. Montreal is Canada’s second largest container port and the fifth most important container port on North America’s East Coast.
“All of this positions the Port of Montreal well to be an essential component of Quebec’s Maritime Strategy,” Ms. Vachon said. “Moreover, the strategy complements the Port of Montreal’s own strategy that has been in place for many years now to promote Montreal as an international port that trades with the world.”
In particular, Quebec’s Maritime Strategy aims to situate Quebec as the hub for transatlantic shipping, and seize opportunities related to the new Comprehensive and Economic Trade Agreement (CETA) between Canada and the European Union (EU).
“Montreal already is the leading port on the North American East Coast for trade between Northern Europe and North America’s industrial heartland,” Ms. Vachon said. “Our strategic location between the EU and NAFTA – the world’s two largest economic blocs – makes us the natural gateway for Europe.”
Beyond its strength on the North Atlantic, Montreal has succeeded in increasing its cargo volumes with other regions of the world. Today, the Port handles traffic moving through the Suez and Panama canals thanks to direct services that shipping lines now provide between Montreal and transshipment ports in Northern Europe and the Mediterranean, and in the Caribbean.
Quebec’s Maritime Strategy will look to capitalize on opportunities related to the enlargement of the Panama Canal locks, slated for completion early next year. In this regard, the Port of Montreal, through its development projects recently completed or now underway, will be ready to handle additional traffic that moves aboard mega-ships through the expanded canal and is then transshipped in the Caribbean aboard medium-sized vessels for onward movement to Montreal.
Quebec’s Maritime Strategy calls for the development of the Montreal region as one of the major North American hubs for trade logistics in goods handling. The Port of Montreal was a driving force behind the creation of CargoM, the Logistics and Transportation Metropolitan Cluster of Montreal. CargoM will launch developmental projects that promote Montreal as a logistics and freight transportation hub and introduce best practices and leading-edge technologies.
The Port of Montreal is pleased that Quebec’s Maritime Strategy calls for the development of the access road between Highway 25 and the Port that will allow trucks to directly reach the Port’s common truck entry portal and provide trucks leaving the Port with direct access to the highway network. The Government of Quebec announced in its March 26 budget an investment of $75 million to improve direct road access to the Port.
“For a port, the flow of transportation is a measure of efficiency and competitiveness. That makes optimizing road access mission-critical,” Ms. Vachon said. “In this budget, the government is providing investments that will make it possible for trucks to exit more efficiently to the highway network and decongest the local road network. Besides, any logistics activity that requires shipping lines to come to the Port to pick up or deliver containers is a win for us.”
The Maritime Strategy also calls for the continued development and promotion of international cruises on the St. Lawrence River, an industry that already contributes some $14 million annually to the local economy. Thanks in great part to the efforts of the Montreal Cruise Committee to attract more cruise enthusiasts to Montreal, the Port welcomed a record 71,044 passengers and crew members in 2014.
The Government of Quebec announced the provision of $20 million in its 2015-16 budget to restore the Port’s Alexandra Pier and the Iberville Passenger Terminal.
“This is an important milestone in carrying out this project for the future of Montreal and the Quebec tourism industry,” Ms. Vachon said. “Having a new passenger terminal bolsters the development of the tourism industry and promotes major economic benefits and impacts for Montreal and the various levels of government, while giving citizens quality access to the river and creating an emblematic gateway worthy of Montreal.”
In addition to the Quebec government investment, the City of Montreal committed to a $15-million contribution toward the project when it filed its three-year capital works program for 2015-17.
The MPA will continue to work on the project’s financing structure, a pre-commencement condition.
“The Port of Montreal has all of the elements in place to play a pivotal role in Quebec’s Maritime Strategy,” Ms. Vachon said. “We look forward to working with the Government of Quebec to further strengthen this vital sector of the economy.”