Feds add $150 million in funding to Montreal’s Contrecoeur project

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by Emily Atkins

The federal government is allocating $150 million to the Contrecoeur container terminal project through the National Trade Corridors Fund (NTCF).

In 2021, the Port of Montreal’s expansion of its activities at Contrecoeur received a favourable Decision Statement from Canada’s Minister of the Environment and Climate Change, allowing the project to proceed.

“This financial backing from the federal government sends 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,” said Geneviève Deschamps, interim president and CEO of the MPA.

This financial support will enable the MPA to implement a new delivery model for the major expansion project on Montreal’s South Shore. Under the MPA’s new approach, the MPA will be taking over some of the responsibilities for carrying out the project and cancels the current call for tenders to opt for a more agile approach.

Work on the future terminal will be carried out in hybrid mode. Marine works will be entirely carried out by the MPA. The MPA will act as prime contractor for this phase, which includes dock construction and dredging work.

Project planning will use a Design-Build approach (DB model) with a specialized firm assisting the MPA for the next nine to 12 months. At the end of this phase, the MPA will assign the project works according to its procurement processes, and will present an updated schedule for this component of the project works.

Land site works and operations will be carried out with a private partner. The MPA 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 DBFOM (Design-Build-Finance-Operate-Maintain). The water-based project works mentioned above are excluded from this component.

As a result, the DBFOM procurement process launched in November 2021, which included both the terminal’s construction work (marine and land site) and its operation, has been cancelled to make way for this new method to successfully carry out the project that is better suited to today’s reality. Discussions with the bidders did not lead to a result deemed satisfactory by the MPA after factoring in market trends, including interest rates and inflation, between the time the Request for Qualifications began in 2021 to today.

“MPA teams are continuing their rigorous planning on the Port of Montreal’s major Contrecoeur expansion project that is so crucial to keeping supply chains resilient. The new procurement process put forward will enable us to control risks, project works and costs more effectively in the current context,” said Geneviève Deschamps.

Located in an industrial zone, the Contrecoeur land reserve was acquired 30+ years ago by the Montreal Port Authority and has been the focus of careful collaborative planning to support the development of the supply chain in Quebec and Eastern Canada. With the support of Canada Infrastructure Bank and the Government of Quebec, the Port of Montreal and its partners plan to develop a new state-of-the-art container terminal able to handle up to 1.15 million containers (TEUs).

Located in the core of the largest pool of consumers, importers and exporters in Quebec and Eastern Canada, close to major rail and road routes, the Port of Montreal’s Contrecoeur expansion will consolidate local strengths to effectively meet future needs.