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Canada Invests $150 Million in Container Terminal in Quebec

The expansion project at Contrecœur is the most ambitious project ever undertaken by the Montreal Port Authority. (Port Montreal)

Posted on October 11, 2023

Canada will invest up to $150 million under its National Trade Corridors Fund to build a new container terminal for the Montreal Port Authority in Contrecoeur, Quebec, to increase national supply chain capacity.

“By supporting the port in its expansion project in Contrecoeur, we continue our efforts to strengthen Canada’s supply chain. This is important so that we never again have to go through product shortages like we experienced during the pandemic, or the significant price increases that came along with them,” Pablo Rodriguez, Canada’s Minister of Transport and Quebec Lieutenant, stated Oct. 10.

He called the Port of Montreal not only a key economic driver for the province of Quebec and Montreal but also of critical importance to Canada’s national supply chain.

The Port of Montreal, Canada’s second largest port after the Port of Vancouver, is a diversified transshipment center handling containerized and non-containerized cargo, liquid bulk and dry bulk. The only container port in Quebec, it is served by the world’s largest shipping lines and acts as a vital North American intermodal hub with its own dockside rail network connected to Canada’s two national rail networks.

Funding for the new container terminal is being provided to improve Canada’s supply chain through the National Trade Corridors Fund, a competitive, merit-based program to invest in critical transportation infrastructure that supports the national economy. The Canadian government has allocated $4.6 billion for an 11-year period ending in 2028 to the fund.

A government grant announcement about the new container terminal stated that an efficient and reliable transportation system is essential to keeping communities connected, making life more affordable for residents and helps ensure national supply chains “remain strong, resilient and adaptable to the effects of climate change.”

The new terminal would improve the Port of Montreal’s container capacity to meet cargo demand and maintain “the fluidity” of port operations. The new terminal will feature a 2,200-foot-long dock, a container handling yard, road access to connect the terminal to the public network and a rail connector to existing Canadian National Railway tracks, including a railway transfer area and freight transfer hub. New construction will also include operations and administrative buildings.

The main objective for the new container terminal is to strengthen Canada’s links to world markets and enable Canadian companies to remain competitive by having necessary port infrastructure.

“The new terminal is expected to increase the annual value of imports and exports handled at the port, generating up to $140 million per year across the country,” noted the government.

In addition, this project would increase the total capacity of the Port of Montreal by 55% so it could handle up to 1.15 million 20-foot-equivalent-unit containers.

Genevieve Deschamps, interim president and CEO of the Montreal Port Authority, said the new container terminal will provide greater “economic resilience of the St. Lawrence-Great Lakes corridor, which will be beneficial for all of Canada.”

She called the financial backing from the federal government “a strong message about our large Contrecoeur expansion project and the future of the logistics ecosystem in the St. Lawrence corridor. It lets us embark on the next steps with confidence, so that we can continue to play our vital role as a sustainable economic driver at the heart of the Quebec and Canadian economies.”

The port will build the new terminal in a hybrid approach. Marine works will be entirely carried out by port, which will act as the prime contractor to handle dock construction and dredging. Project planners will use a design-build approach with a specialized firm assisting the port for about a year. A private partner will conduct work on the land site. The port will issue a request for proposals in early 2024 to select a private partner to build the terminal (container yard, buildings, facilities and rail connection). This private partner will also operate and maintain the terminal under a design-build-finance-operate-maintain agreement that excludes water-based project works.

An August intermodal performance report for the Port of Montreal listed double-digit year-over-year drops in monthly container traffic growth rates, falling 21.3% to 126,903 TEUs, and also lower 14.4% in year-to-date statistics. The number of container truck volumes (amount of unique trips per working day) slipped to 1,732 in August against 1,996 in the same period last year.


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