The Government of Canada will support projects that facilitate trade while stimulating economic growth and jobs. To this end, the government announced that it will contribute up to $15.6 million to optimize infrastructure at the Port of Montreal and navigation in the St. Lawrence Channel from Quebec City to Montreal. The projects should be complete by March 31, 2014.
In 2011, container traffic at the Port of Montreal reached 1.36 million twenty-foot equivalents units (TEUs), which represents nearly 28% of the 4.8 million TEUs in international container traffic in Canada. These figures place the port second in the country, after Vancouver.
The Port of Montreal is approaching its maximum capacity of 1.6 million TEUs. Furthermore, in order to support forecast growth from 2012 to 2017, avoid congestion and better meet users’ needs, the port must optimize its current container handling areas and equip itself with new ones.
The announced improvements will increase productivity at the port, which is already using its surface area, measured in TEUs per hectare, to a significantly greater extent than all other container ports on the East Coast of North America.
Imports and exports at the Port of Montreal are well balanced, which indicates that any improvement in the port’s competitiveness will benefit Canadian exporters, as it will increase their market opportunities and lower their transport costs.
The first project has two phases. The first one aims to modernize the Maisonneuve Sector by creating a fully optimized terminal whose capacity will increase by approximately 50,000 TEU containers, thanks to the relocation of offices, the longshoremen’s room, security offices and the workshop. This rearrangement of the buildings that are needed for container operations will make more space available for handling and will increase the port’s capacity.
The second phase of the project will increase the container handling capacity of the facilities in the Viau Sector. Currently, this Sector is used to handle and store general merchandise and bulk. This space will become a container handling area, and its capacity should increase by 150,000 TEU containers. In addition to reorganizing the container handling area, this phase will also include the demolition of buildings as well as work on the adjacent railway track.
The first project will improve the performance, capacity and competitiveness of marine facilities; facilitate interprovincial and international trade; and increase the competitiveness of Quebec and Canada. It will also promote investment, economic growth and job creation. The port’s directors anticipate that the improvements will create 110 direct jobs during construction and 150 new jobs to ensure proper operations once the work is complete.
According to a study by Secor in 2008, containerized traffic transiting through the Port of Montreal generates economic benefits worth $1.5 billion, contributes to an added value of $825 million per year and supports more than 9,350 direct and indirect jobs in Canada.
The improvements to port infrastructure, which are financed in part through Transport Canada’s Gateways and Border Crossings Fund, will facilitate the movement of goods. The fund supports transportation infrastructure projects to develop and operate strategic gateways, trade corridors and border crossings in Canada.
The second project, proposed by the Montreal Port Authority, aims to optimize navigation in the St. Lawrence Channel from Quebec City to Montreal. Its purpose is to implement technology that will increase the loading capacity of vessels by maximizing use of the water column in this channel.
This project will enable optimal loading of vessels that could increase container services traffic by more than 500,000 tonnes in Montreal. It will also benefit container cargo services in the ports of Montreal, Sorel, Trois-Rivières and Bécancour. A 1-cm gain in navigation in the water column increases the load capacity of a vessel by approximately 70 tonnes.
The project is funded in partnership with the Port of Montreal and the Government of Canada. The development and implementation of this project also include close cooperation with the Canadian Coast Guard and the Laurentian Pilotage Authority. These improvements also support Canada’s Continental Gateway initiative, which aims to create a viable, integrated and globally competitive transportation system to meet the needs of international trade in a way that stimulates economic growth in Quebec, Ontario and across Canada.