Sustainable development is a value inherent to the mission of the Montreal Port Authority (MPA). It rises above and beyond the MPA’s obligation to conform to various environmental laws and by-laws and reflects its commitment to integrating economic, environmental and social policies into port activities.

“At the Port of Montreal, we are committed to fulfil our role as a responsible corporate citizen,” said Sophie Roux, the MPA’s Vice-President of Public Affairs. “Ensuring responsible management, increasing contributions to the local community, promoting responsible communication, engaging our stakeholders and reducing our environmental footprint are among the guiding principles of our Sustainable Development Policy.

“Social responsibility is a big mandate that I inherited when I joined the MPA almost two years ago.”

Hosting open houses to present major development projects to the general public, adopting a new Community Investment Policy, supporting community-anchored initiatives that benefit youth and families, and new environmental initiatives are just some of the ways in which the Port of Montreal is fulfilling its role as a good corporate citizen.

Responsible communication

The Port continues to strengthen its presence and ties with its neighbouring communities and foster a spirit of com­munication, openness and transparency with the public.

Most recently, it reached out to the public regarding two large-scale development projects: the extensive restoration of Alexandra Pier and the Iberville Passenger Terminal in the Old Port area, and the project to develop a container terminal on land that the MPA owns in Contrecoeur.

As part of a public consultation phase, the Port held open houses in December to present the projects to residents, listen to their comments, gather their input and answer their questions.

MPA officials presented the Alexandra Pier and Iberville Passenger Terminal project at open houses that were held over a three-day period. About 100 people met at the site of the current passenger terminal for the public information and exchange process.

The Alexandra Pier/Iberville Passenger Terminal project is valued at $78 million. The MPA is working to complete its financing structure, a pre-commencement condition.

The MPA also held an open house on its project to develop a container terminal at Contrecoeur. More than 200 inhabitants from the nearby municipalities of Contrecoeur and Verchères accepted the Port’s invitation to attend this information session. MPA officials answered questions about environmental issues, truck and train traffic, and job creation for the region. The project would create some 470 jobs per year during construction and up to 1,000 jobs once the terminal is in operation.

Among the well-known municipal politicians in the open house crowd was Contrecoeur Mayor Suzanne Dansereau. “This information meeting was a very good example of consultation with local area residents,” Ms. Dansereau said. “The Montreal Port Authority is concerned about the population of Contrecoeur and listens to their opinion. Citizens were free to talk and ask questions, and received in return all of the pertinent information about the Port of Montreal expansion project.

“Without a doubt, this is a much-anticipated project for the people of our region. Many Contrecoeur citizens attended this consultation process, showing their interest in this project and why it is important to them that it be carried out.”

In both cases, the open houses followed meetings with political, social, transportation and environmental stakeholders to discuss the projects. For the MPA, this ongoing pre-consultation and information process is an essential condition to the success of the projects and the attainment of benefits for the community at large.

Community Investment Policy

The Port continues to support initiatives that contribute to the well-being of its neighbouring communities.

The MPA has redefined its Community Investment Policy in order to align it with its new Strategic Plan, all within the realm of responsible leadership. The policy also strengthens community investment eligibility requirements and the evaluation process for initiatives, and better defines the sectors that the MPA supports.

The policy promotes:

• Socioeconomic development (creating jobs, enhancing employability, promoting student retention, entrepreneurship, addressing the root causes of poverty);

• Training related to marine careers (projects raising awareness of marine and port careers, training programs, labour market integration initiatives for skilled labour); and

• A healthy environment (awareness, protection, restoration and/or beautification of natural environments for its city and its communities).

The MPA gives special consideration to candidates that demonstrate the potential to have an impact in at least one of these three sectors.  

“We wanted to establish a systematic decision-making process for initiatives to support,” Ms. Roux said. “It was very important that we bring our new Community Investment Policy in line with our Strategic Plan.

“Strengthening community relations is at the heart of the MPA’s mandate. Reinvesting in communities that are adjacent to our operations is a key tenant of our community relations focus.”

Within the scope of its Community Investment Policy, the Port of Montreal is a proud partner in three projects that provide assistance to young people in the Mercier—Hochelaga-Maisonneuve borough:

• ÉcoMaris: a not-for-profit organization that creates learning experiences through team sailboat training and environmental discovery. The Port has provided grants for young people to take a one-week course on the Roter Sand, the first sail training vessel in Quebec dedicated to the environment.

• Samajam: a program that helps young people develop their self-esteem, their sense of belonging to their school and community, and their love of learning. Its tool is music. Students participate in weekly percussion, dance, singing and instrument-playing sessions that culminate in a big show at the end of the year.

• Vélopousse: a collaborative pedicab project initiated by a community youth employment centre. The project provides local young adults with jobs as cycling tour guides. The Port has provided a sponsorship toward the construction of booths and training for the guides about the history of the Port.

Among the MPA’s other community initiatives are the annual Port in the City Day, where the Port Authority invites the public aboard a free one-hour cruise to discover port facilities; hosting groups and transportation and logistics students for visits and presentations; publication of the electronic community magazine Logbook; the addition of a special section on the Port website for Neighbours and Friends of the Port; and support for various fundraising programs.

Environmental footprint

The Port has taken numerous initiatives to reduce its environmental footprint. In fact, the Port of Montreal recorded in 2014 the best results among Quebec ports and the third-best results among North American ports that participate in the Green Marine environmental program.

As part of the first phase of the redevelopment of the Viau sector into a container-handling site, a highly innovative soil recovery and reuse project that employed a soil encapsulation technique allowed the MPA to reuse 44,000 tonnes of poor soil that had been extracted at the site. The extracted soil was mixed with cement to increase solidity and then re-deposited at the bottom of excavated areas.

The Association québécoise du transport (Quebec Transport Association) awarded a Grand Prize for Excellence in Transportation, Environment Category, to engineering firm SNC-Lavalin, which partnered with the MPA on the soil reinforcement project. 

Moreover, Claude Beaubien, Chief Engineer in the Port’s Infrastructure Management Department, won the Award of Merit from the Cement Association of Canada for the soil encapsulation technique.

The Port of Montreal began using an electronic management system in 2014 that measures truck fluidity on port territory at approaches to marine terminals. The Port’s target is to reduce by 10 per cent the amount of greenhouse gas emissions from trucks within the next five years.

The Port continued its hybrid vehicle acquisition program and installed speed regulators on its vehicles in 2014. Through this program, it has registered a 33-per-cent reduction in GHGs compared with 2007.

To compensate for GHG emissions, the Port of Montreal adopted a tree-planting program at the end of 2014. Its objective is to plant 150 trees per year.

The MPA has replaced wooden railway ties with steel railway ties in the strategic area of its railway interchange zone. These steel ties are more durable, ecological and economical than wooden ties. They are also stronger and do not shift, thereby reducing the risk of derailments.

The Port has also been installing and testing crossties made of a composite material consisting of plastic bottles and recycled tires. It is currently studying how they react to the Quebec climate and, in particular, its rough winters.

If results continue to be satisfactory, these new composite crossties will gradually replace the old wooden ties, as they need to be replaced.

A composite tie is estimated to last 40 years, compared to about a decade for a wooden tie. The new crosstie is 100 per cent recyclable at the end of its life cycle.

As part of restoration work in the petroleum products zone, the MPA used a special technique to install two dolphins in order to lengthen by 40 metres the berth at Section 102 so that it can accommodate larger tankers. A dolphin is a fixed man-made structure that is not connected to shore. It typically consists of a number of piles that are anchored into the seabed and joined above the water to create a single structure.

For this project, the MPA sank the piles to the riverbed and then used a drilling technique that is quieter than the traditional technique that drives the piles into the riverbed with a heavy weight. The Port monitored noise levels during the construction period. However, because it drilled the piles into place rather than drive them down, there was no disturbing noise for nearby residents or aquatic life.