By Brian Dunn

In an effort to get its message across and promote Montreal as an important transportation hub, CargoM, the Logistics and Transportation Cluster of Metropolitan Montreal, has hired Philippe Noël as its Project Manager and Business Development Officer. He will also be responsible for government and corporate relations. Mr. Noël previously worked for the Board of Trade of Metropolitan Montreal and for Sylvain Gaudreault, Minister of Transport under the former Parti Québécois government.

His hiring was one of the recent initiatives undertaken by C1, Logistics and Transport Development, one of six working groups at CargoM. The group is also working closely with the City of Montreal to develop a 10 million square-foot logistics zone near the new Viau container terminal called l’Assomption Sud based on a model in Savannah, Ga. It will complement similar sites being developed in Contrecoeur and Vaudreuil at the eastern and western outskirts of Montreal respectively.

The most important initiative spearheaded by C2, Communications and Outreach, was the Cargo Logistics Canada Expo and Conference held in Montreal Feb 17-18 which attracted some 2,000 attendees and featured about 150 exhibitors, according to conference organizers. The show is usually held in Vancouver but was held in Montreal this year to expand its base. “We were happy it was held in the east, because it recognizes us as an eastern gateway,” said CargoM Executive Director Mathieu Charbonneau. Personally, I was surprised to see so much participation from the west and from a few U.S. companies. There was also an interesting mix of exhibitors with Air Canada next to a trucking company, for example. And having the mayor (Denis Coderre) attend was encouraging, because he always says Montreal is a port city.”

Quebec’s Minister for Transport and the Implementation of the Maritime Strategy, Jean D’Amour, was represented by MNA Georges Farrah at the conference.

Mr. Charbonneau would have liked to have seen more local companies as well as more shippers, but added it was still well supported for a show being held for the first time in Montreal. As reported earlier, the expo and conference returns to Vancouver in 2017, but plans to be back east, possibly in Montreal, in 2018.

The C2 working group also created a two-minute promotional video for YouTube entitled CargoM-Montreal a Competitive Transportation Hub which touts Montreal’s quick access to major global markets by both sea and air. The group plans to tap into other social networks such as Twitter and LinkedIn.

The main initiative of C3, Road Access and Fluidity, is the creation of a program called Ottoview where trucking companies and port terminals can share information so terminals can plan staffing levels based on the arrival and departures of trucks, while truckers can schedule their pickups and drop offs depending how busy a terminal is throughout the day. CargoM initially rented Ottoview to install on trucks, but plans to install about 100 of its own units with the help of grants from Transport Canada and the City of Montreal.

In addition, CargoM is working with le Centre interuniversitaire de recherche sur les réseaux d’entreprise, la logistique et le transport, comprising Montreal area universities, to analyse data from Ottoview to identify problems and make recommendations to alleviate congestion around the port in the east end of the city. The C3 group is still working on reserve truck lanes, similar to reserve bus lanes, but for off peak hours.

Working Group C4, Innovation and Cutting Edge Technology, has developed a mobile app that was introduced in December that alerts truck drivers to restrictions and construction zones in real time. “A lot of truckers will have their route planned prior to departure, but streets may have closed for snow clearing or have restricted access or blocked by street festivals in the summer which the app will pick up,” explained Mr. Charbonneau. “We hope to have Phase two of the app ready this summer which will map out alternative routes for those cases which will eliminate alternatives with weight restrictions.”

Regulations are the responsibility of C5 whose main preoccupation is taking part in discussions related to any revisions to Canada’s transportation laws. The group also continues to hold discussions with U.S. and Canada Customs to facilitate the flow of international cargo traffic. In addition, it is preparing a document on the challenges of urban planning. The group has already prepared a document on how competitive Montreal is in terms of attracting new businesses.

The final working group, C6, is responsible for Manpower and finding ways to attract younger people to a career in transportation and logistics. It has created a board game called “Follow the Container” for grade 7-9 geography and math students and their parents, that tracks a container until it reaches its final destination. The idea of the game is to show participants the many different steps it takes to get a product to store shelves and the different career possibilities associated with a container’s movement. Points are awarded for speed, efficiency and green initiatives along the way. CN provided prizes for the pilot project, Mr. Charbonneau pointed out.

There is also a Career Day being held in conjunction with Emploi-Québec on June 6 at CEGEP André Laurendeau in LaSalle where a type of speed dating format will be used for job interviews. Emploi-Québec is also creating a White Paper to tackle the manpower shortages in the industry.

One project CargoM is pursuing as a whole is the idea of establishing a Free Trade Zone on the Island of Montreal.

Despite a 90 per cent satisfaction level from its 50 members, CargoM has hired a consultant to determine if it needs to take a different approach for 2017-19, which may or may not involve restructuring or consolidating some of the working groups. A working plan will be presented at CargoM’s annual meeting on June 2 at the Port of Montreal’s administration building.