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Federal funding announcement on Montreal Contrecoeur project “a question of weeks”


By Leo Ryan, Editor Maritime Magazine

An announcement from Transport Minister Omar Alghabra outlining federal financial support for the Port of Montreal’s big Contrecoeur container terminal project is “a question of weeks, not months.” So indicated today Martin Imbleau, President and CEO of the Montreal Port Authority, on the occasion of the port’s annual board meeting.

Questioned by Maritime Magazine, Mr. Imbleau also said that an announcement could be expected this summer on the selection of the winner from three groups who made the shortlist of bidders to build, finance and operate the terminal that would increase Montreal’s container capacity by 1.15 million TEUs upon scheduled completion in 2027.

Regarding federal financing, Mr. Imbleau said that in recent discussions with Minister Alghabra “the latter confirmed to me that the expansion of the Port of Montreal at Contrecoeur remains a highly strategic project for Quebec, Ontario and Canada and the Canadian government will be there to financially support the project. The latter assured me it will be a question of weeks, not months.

“Without these indispensable supports, we run the risk of saturation at the Port of Montreal and of supply chain vulnerability.”

Mr. Imbleau acknowledged that the cost of the project has risen due to inflationary pressures in the past few years. Initially estimated at $850 million, the total cost has ballooned to $1.4 billion according to a report in The Globe and Mail which cited two sources familiar with the project’s advancement.

Thus far, the Canada Infrastructure Bank has pledged $300 million and the Quebec government has allocated $130 million. The grant sought from Ottawa is reported to be at least $300 million.

At the annual meeting, Mr. Imbleau also summed up last year’s cargo performance (34 million tonnes and 1.7 million TEUs), current generally slower trends, the 2023-2027 strategic plan highlighted by decarbonization of operations, plus the financial results which showed revenues increasing by 14% to $134 million and a net profit of $20.7 million. And he announced that capital expenditures of more than $618 million are anticipated between now and 2027.

(Photo of Contrecoeur rendering from  Port of Montreal)