Transport Canada has officially transferred the Baie-Comeau port facilities to the Baie-Comeau Port Corporation, a community-run, non-profit organization.
The federal government also allocated $44.7 million to the corporation to cover future costs of operating and maintaining the port facilities. This contribution must be spent within 20 years. All revenues from operations, as well as interest incomes generated on the federal contribution, will be used to develop new projects.
The port corporation says it has a plan underway to increase the port’s capacity and accommodate more cargo and cruise ships. In the short term this will mean service improvements, and within three years a new terminal will be developed, along with improvements to the whole port.
“The local ownership of Baie-Comeau’s port facilities finally makes it possible to make decisions here and take action for the benefit of the community,” said Marc Lefebvre, chairman of the port corporation’s board of directors.
“This gives us, among other things, the ability to exploit the full potential of this development tool, to better meet the users needs and to ensure the viability of the infrastructure.”
The Baie-Comeau port is located on the North Shore of the St. Lawrence, near the mouth of the Manicouagan River. It ships industrial products manufactured in the region around the world.
The port is open to navigation year-round, enabling the transhipment of more than 525,000 tons of cargo, such as aluminum in raw form, salt, sodium chloride and various other goods, on average every year.
The port also accommodates cruise ships, with more than a dozen stops annually.
Private wharves and ferry facilities are outside the boundaries of the properties belonging to Transport Canada and are not included in this transfer.
“Baie-Comeau is a maritime city that owes its development to its port. Today, a new step was taken in our history; the community is taking charge of its port development to make it a pillar of sustainable regional development,” said Yves Montigny, mayor of Baie-Comeau.
“With its industrial port zone, Baie-Comeau has all the assets to be a prosperous, innovative and forward-looking northern city.”
In March 2019, the Government of Canada began formal negotiations with the Baie-Comeau Port Corporation with a view to a possible transfer.
The Baie-Comeau port facilities have been transferred under Transports Canada’s Ports Asset Transfer Program. The program was launched in April 2015, to sell or transfer port assets administered by Transport Canada to interested parties, namely Crown corporations and other federal departments, provincial governments and municipalities, non-profit organizations, the public as well as Indigenous groups.
A list of 31 ports the government wants to transfer in Newfoundland and Labrador, Quebec, Ontario, Alberta, and British Columbia is available on the Transport Canada website.