The year 2015 will be a pivotal one for the Port of Montreal as it works to complete and advance projects that will maintain and improve the fluidity of goods movement for which the Port is internationally renowned.

As part of a three-component project to handle an increase in traffic volume, the Port will build a new container terminal, modernize marine access and improve road access in 2015. It will further develop its Port+ strategy, a commitment to provide value-added services to port users and attract new clients. And it will move forward with plans for its next phase of expansion at Contrecoeur and for the extensive restoration of its cruise passenger terminal and the pier on which it is located.

“The Port of Montreal is the engine of a major transportation logistics chain,” said Sylvie Vachon, President and CEO of the Montreal Port Authority (MPA). “We are a globally diversified port, with many of the world’s leading shipping lines providing services to and from 140 countries. We are extremely well positioned at the centre of an integrated marine, rail, road and pipeline network. We are the closest international container port to North America’s industrial heartland and we offer fast and efficient rail and road connections inland. We boast terminal operators whose cargo-handling expertise is second to none. And we are working diligently to ensure that we have the cargo-handling capacity to meet the needs of our clients well into the future.

“The time has never been better for shipping lines and shippers to choose the Port of Montreal for moving their goods quickly, efficiently and safely, and at highly competitive prices.”

“Indeed, based on research that we have carried out, when you consider the whole gamut of costs, Montreal continues to be one of the most competitive ports among all East Coast ports when it comes to moving goods to and from North America’s industrial heartland,” said Tony Boemi, the MPA’s Vice-President of Growth and Development. “Moreover, we operate on a year-round basis and continue to be a reliable, fluid port, and with no major congestion issues.

“Add in other factors such as the new generation of vessels that have been built, and the cascading of vessels onto other trade lanes, more advantageous charter rates, lower fuel costs and the falling Canadian dollar, and Montreal has to be seen as a favourable port.

“Given the challenges currently facing East and West Coast ports, I think beneficial cargo owners would be amiss if they didn’t factor in or add the Port of Montreal to their list as a viable option, and in the case of shipping lines a perfect time to position some of their assets to Montreal.”

The Port of Montreal handled a record 30.4 million tonnes of cargo in 2014, an increase of 8.1 per cent over the previous year. It enjoyed a strong year in the containerized cargo sector, handling 1.4 million TEUs (20-foot equivalent unit containers), up 4.2 per cent over 2013. In the dry bulk sector, traffic totalled 8.4 million tonnes, up 28.7 per cent. Liquid bulk traffic amounted to 9.2 million tonnes, down 3.2 per cent. In the cruise sector, the Port welcomed a record 71,044 cruise passengers and crew members.

“In the context of a still-fragile economic climate on an international scale, these results were very satisfying,” Ms. Vachon said.

The MPA completed in 2014 the first phase of redevelopment projects at the Port’s Viau and Maisonneuve sectors, adding space for another 200,000 TEUs on port territory and increasing container-handling capacity by 13 per cent to 1.7 million TEUs.

The Port is embarking upon a project in 2015 to further increase container-handling capacity in the Viau sector as well as deepen berths and improve truck traffic flow in and around the Port. The Viau sector work will boost the Port’s total container-handling capacity to 2.1 million TEUs.

The Port will reach its maximum handling capacity on its Island of Montreal territory with this development, with each square metre of the Port having been developed to its fullest. The following phase of port expansion will be at Contrecoeur, where the MPA will continue with preparations in 2015 to develop a 1.15-million-TEU container terminal on land that it owns there as part of its long-term expansion plan. “All of the winning conditions, including continued growth of the container market and positive impacts from Canada-European Union Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA), must be met before the terminal is developed,” Ms. Vachon said.

Also in 2015, the MPA will pursue its Port+ strategy, a commitment by the Port to develop and provide value-added services that allow for a diversification of activities on the Port while providing the shipping lines that serve Montreal with additional freight volume. “The inauguration on port territory in 2014 of the CanEst Transit facility that cleans and containerizes agricultural products is a project that fits perfectly within this strategy,” Ms. Vachon said.

The MPA will also work in 2015 to complete the financing structure for a project to extensively restore Alexandra Pier and the Iberville Passenger Terminal. The project will better integrate the pier and the terminal into the urban fabric of Old Montreal while offering water access to one and all. Having the financing structure in place is a pre-commencement condition.