Improving the efficiency and resilience of Quebec’s supply chain

by Inside Logistics Online Staff

QSL, a Quebec-based supply chain company, is initiating the analysis of a business case to address the establishment of an efficient, green, resilient and better-integrated supply chain in the Quebec region.

Logistics and transportation are considering a redevelopment of port activities in the Beauport sector to include a more important container handling vocation in a sequenced project intended to be respectful of surrounding communities.

QSL says project would not encroach on the St. Lawrence River or impact aquatic habitat, and it could also reduce land traffic by encouraging intermodal transfer and significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

QSL says Quebec has all the assets to favour intermodality and make supply chains more efficient: an enviable geographical location, access to a strategic market of consumers and businesses, the opportunity to regain significant market share from the U.S. East Coast volumes destined for the American Midwest, complementarity with Montreal, a water depth of 15 metres, as well as an interconnection with a North American rail and road network. In addition, QSL believes the economic fundamentals behind the establishment of a container terminal as well as the commercial interest remain, especially after a global pandemic.

“Currently, 80 per cent of the volume of international trade in goods is transported by sea and the containerization trend is likely to increase. We have heard the concerns of the business community that wants to benefit from short supply chains where processed products and inputs are brought closer to consumers or end users,” said Robert Bellisle, president and CEO of QSL. “If QSL can become a solution to this economic ecosystem that must be optimized, we raise our hand and are ready to work with all the stakeholders who cherish this objective.”

The answer to a need and a solution to an environmental reality

In its 2024-2029 action plan, the Zone économique métropolitaine (ZEM) created under the impetus of the Quebec government and where many of the region’s driving forces sit, devotes an entire chapter to the issue of supply chains. The need responds to a concern often expressed by businesses in eastern and central Quebec where large manufacturers struggle from inefficient supply chains. They also have issues with the economic and environmental impact of having goods arrive from overseas to ports on the U.S. East Coast whose final destination is the Quebec market.

Although bulk cargo still accounts for the largest share of maritime trade, containerized goods have the fastest rate of growth in North America. By itself, global container traffic is expected to double by 2030 compared to 2018.

“If containerization was necessary 10 years ago, it is now unavoidable,” said Bellisle. “Now, we must shape an exemplary project from an environmental point of view, irreproachable in terms of governance, complementary to what is being done on the St. Lawrence and meeting the principles of acceptability for the surrounding communities. QSL could become this partner.”

Next steps

Before finalizing its reflection and filing a project notice with the Port of Quebec, QSL is asking the federal government to favourably respond to its November 2023 request to expand custom operations at the Port of Quebec. If this condition is met, QSL will then be able to finalize a detailed business plan that it will submit to senior governments.

“We are pleased that an established Quebec company like QSL wants to participate in the search for a solution to increase the efficiency and resilience of the Quebec logistics chain in terms of cargo transshipment, while being complementary to current activities on the St. Lawrence, in particular in Montreal and Trois-Rivières,” said Mario Girard, CEO of the Port of Quebec. “We believe that a containerized cargo project could not only meet the economic challenges of Quebec City and the province of Quebec but also respect the fundamental principles of our Vision 2035, which places a high priority on respect for the environment and the community. We would like to emphasize our satisfaction with QSL’s desire to develop a project that will be based on the principles of sustainable development compatible with our environmental and social ambitions.”