An integrated plan

At nine a.m. sharp, we arrive at MGTP Terminal 62 of Montreal Gateway Terminals Partnership. We place our Port of Montreal access card in front of the access card reader and wonder of wonders, the door opens to the MGTP offices!


As employees of the Montreal Port Authority, our access card normally wouldn’t give us access to terminal operators’ offices. This operation was planned and orchestrated: “I’ll activate your card for the duration of our meeting,” we were told by Frédéric Provost, General Manager of Risk Management at MGTP, the person expecting our arrival.

Everybody who works regularly on Port of Montreal territory has such an access card: port employees and terminal operators, longshoremen, truckers and others. Issued by the Port Authority to individuals in accordance with Transport Canada regulations, the card is linked to a huge database, which can be logged into by a partner such as MGTP. “We don’t have the same security system, but our systems talk to each other. This enables our organizations to activate and deactivate the cards and, at the same time, control access to MGTP land,” stated Frédéric Provost. “And here’s the beauty of it. This makes it so much easier to collaborate to ensure safety at the port,” added the young manager.


Félixpier Bergeron, Director, Security and Fire
Prevention : "It's important that everyone talks to
each other."

Extreme collaboration

Canadian law requires that each terminal operator be responsible for security on the territory it occupies. At the Port of Montreal, Félixpier Bergeron, Director, Security and Fire Prevention, offered them all a hand by proposing an integrated security plan. Adopted in 2004 and updated regularly, the Port of Montreal’s plan calls for cooperation from all its partners. “More than 20 organizations are directly or indirectly involved in safety and security matters here. It’s important that everyone talks to each other,” stated Bergeron.

Accordingly, the following stakeholders meet regularly on the Port Security Committee: the various municipal, provincial, and federal police forces, Canada Border Services Agency, Transport Canada, the Coast Guard, fire departments and the terminal operators. They establish monitoring and surveillance mechanisms and develop intervention plans, and by doing so, manage to stay on the same wavelength.

In the field, each has a role to play and all roles are complementary. Every single anomaly or incident automatically gets relayed, according to established protocols, to everyone concerned. “Our computerized event reports have a distribution list. Depending on the type of event, the information will go to the RCMP, Customs, Transport Canada, the Port of Montreal, etc.,” explained Frédéric Provost.

A fire prevention team

Alain Arseneault, Deputy Harbour Master,
Fire and Hazardous Materials

The port authority is assigned a leading role in this integrated security plan, played mainly by the patrol team and supervisors, along with Alain Arseneault’s fire prevention team. As Deputy Harbour Master, Fire and Hazardous Materials, Alain is in charge of the port’s emergency measures plan. He relies on the expertise of his five fire inspectors, who are also hazardous materials technicians and bomb disposal experts. With their firefighting and HAZMAT (Hazardous Materials) training, they personally oversee the movement of regulated goods and containers throughout the port. Before releasing a container carrying hazardous materials onto the road network, they thoroughly inspect both the truck and its driver.

Fire inspectors are also the port’s first responders at the scene of an incident, minor or major. They are in direct contact with the port’s control centre and their vehicles are fully equipped with communication, detection and first aid equipment.

They also have a mobile command post that can temporarily take over from the port’s control centre in case the latter must be evacuated. The command post is equipped with workstations and two screens, a camera and a weather monitoring station. Used at the site of an incident, it allows for greater coordination of all those involved.

The fire barge of the Port of Montreal can accomodate five firefighting vehicles.

The port also has a 35-foot by 135-foot fire barge that can accommodate five firefighting vehicles in case of a fire aboard an anchored vessel. The barge is towed by a tug provided by Ocean Group, another partner of the port. Four days a year, fire-prevention agents train Montreal firefighters on the specifics of responding aboard ship; it isn’t easy to move around and fire doesn’t behave in these metal structures the way it does in a building.

The human factor

For its part, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police set up National Port Enforcement Team (NPETs) in four Canadian ports. About 50 RCMP officers are assigned to the Port of Montreal, and they welcome to their offices intelligence offers from the Sûreté du Québec and Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA). These three organizations work hand in hand. While the police officers have the authority to arrest suspects, only CBSA has the right to open a container and know exactly what is inside it. “The fact that we’re all geographically in the same premises as the port authority really promotes collaboration,” stated Nelson Lévesque and Jacques Ambroise, RCMP corporal investigators.

Sergeant Marc Moreau of Montreal’s NPET regularly holds meetings to take stock with the various partners: the other police forces, the port authority and the railway companies, CN and CP. About twenty people in all take part, covering new directives, projects, events and incidents; anything goes. “What’s special in Montreal is the quality of communication. There are work meetings, yes, but when on top of that you play hockey with the guys from CBSA, for example, that’s bound to strengthen ties,” stated Nelson Lévesque.

Everyone seems to agree on this point: “We all know each other personally and that’s what makes the difference,” stated Frédéric Provost, at MGTP. “We like to think we’re good partners,” stated Timothy Bowen, Acting Chief of Operations, Montreal Marine and Rail Services, St. Lawrence District, at CBSA.

The collaborative approach taken by the top gun of security at the Port of Montreal, Félixpier Bergeron, sets the tone. The director of security and fire prevention prefers to show his partners how they will benefit from increased security and safety rather than focus on restrictive aspects.

Safety and security at the Port of Montreal: Fact sheet

  • First Canadian port to be accredited by the International Ship and Port Security (ISPS) Code, in 2004
  • First Canadian port to comply with Transport Canada’s Marine Transportation Security Clearance Program (MTSCP)  
  • Port perimeter fully fenced by 2.5-metre-high barriers
  • More than 350 video surveillance cameras covering the entire port territory, including Contrecoeur; all images are recorded
  • Fully automated access controls to the terminals and buildings, through gates and turnstile for general access, and ID cards for port users  
  • Control Centre in operation 24/7 year round
  • Security officers and fire prevention inspectors on duty 24/7 year round  
  • Mobile command post on the cutting edge of technology
  • Close collaboration with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, the Sûreté du Québec, the City of Montreal police department (SPVM), the City of Montreal fire department (SIM), and Canada Border Services Agency.
  • Eight radiation detection portals installed in the terminals by Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA)