Port of Montreal furthers its community involvement

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. These are just some of the ways in which the Port of Montreal is furthering its involvement in the community.

Young recipients of grants from the Port of Montreal aboard the Roter Sand sail training vessel,
taking part in a course organized by EcoMaris on the St.Lawrence.

Most recently, the Port 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 it 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 project would restore existing infrastructure and contribute to better integrating the pier and the terminal into the urban fabric of Old Montreal while creating a ‘bridge’ between the city and the St. Lawrence River.

“At the Port of Montreal, we are committed to fulfil our role as a responsible corporate citizen,” said Sylvie Vachon, President and CEO of the Montreal Port Authority (MPA). “Increasing contributions to the local community and promoting responsible communication are two of the nine guiding principles of our Sustainable Development Policy. Indeed, we have strengthened our presence and ties with our neighbouring communities while supporting initiatives that contribute to their well-being, and we continue to foster a spirit of communication, openness and transparency with the public.”

A pier and a terminal user-friendly

The project will include a world-class passenger terminal, a green roof and other open spaces accessible to the public, an interactive port interpretation centre, a pier that provides water access, and an observation tower inspired by coastal lighthouses. The future Alexandra Pier will be exceptionally user-friendly and allow the general public to feel a sense of ownership of port facilities. The project is valued at $78 million and the MPA is working to complete its financing structure, a pre-commencement condition.

Suzanne Dansereau, Contrecoeur Mayor

The MPA also held an open house on its Contrecoeur container terminal project for residents of the nearby municipalities of Contrecoeur and Verchères. More than 200 people 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. The project for the new terminal at Contrecoeur will be carried out when all of the winning conditions are met: continued growth of the containerized cargo market, container terminals located in Montreal reaching capacity, and positive impacts from the economic agreement between Canada and the European Union.

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.

New Community Investment Policy

The MPA has also adopted a new Community Investment Policy to promote:

  • 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,” said Sophie Roux, the MPA’s Director of Communications. “It was very important that we bring our new Community Investment Policy in line with our Strategic Plan.”

In addition to being aligned with the MPA’s Strategic Plan, the policy strengthens community investment eligibility requirements and the evaluation process for initiatives, and better defines the sectors that the MPA supports.

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

Pascal Lafortune (front, left) with his fellow Vélopousse cycling tour guides.

Examples of initiatives that the MPA supports are:

EcoMaris, a not-for-profit organization that creates learning experiences through team sailboat training and environmental discovery. The Port has provided grants for young people from the Borough of Mercier-Hochelaga-Maisonneuve 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.

Pascal Lafortune, a Vélopousse cycling tour guide, said, “Before my interview for the cycling tour guide job, I thought I was going to be driving some kind of big bicycle-taxi. But to my delight, my experience was much deeper and rewarding. These are not simple taxis; they are huge scarlet red bikes, ridden by young and enthusiastic guides who offer lively tours of the Hochelaga-Maisonneuve district. My many interactions within the district showed me that this is an area with friendly, kind and open people, light years away from the picture of a gloomy and rough neighbourhood that had been painted for me before moving here.”

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.