This is the opportunity of a generation for the port sector in Bas-Saint-Laurent and Gaspésie. Abandoned for years because Ottawa wanted to get rid of them, four ports are entitled to a sometimes urgent makeover or expansion.
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“We will not do that again in our professional lives,” admits Anne Dupéré, President and CEO of the Société port du Bas-Saint-Laurent et de la Gaspésie, in a recent interview The press while in Montreal. “We know that our ports can be attractive. »
Matane (81 million), Rimouski (39 million), Gros-Cacouna (10.7 million) and Gaspé (7.8 million) received around 140 million from Quebec last spring. With her team, the Matanaise has refined the planning for the next few years.
The challenge is great as the situation differs from place to place (see below). While the ports of Gros-Cacouna and Gaspé are aiming to expand their storage capacities, others like Matane have some catching up to do.
“Matane was declared end-of-life by Transport Canada prior to the transfer, emphasizes Mr.me From father. The dock couldn’t even accommodate a truck. As a precaution, the carrying capacity had been declared zero. »
A need for love
Since the passage of the National Maritime Policy in 1995, the federal government has transferred ports and other maritime assets to provinces and local communities. Matane, Rimouski, Gros-Cacouna and Gaspé were on the list.
The company does not have the ambition to invade the flowerbeds of establishments such as those in Montreal, Quebec City and Trois-Rivières, but rather wants to implement projects that meet the needs of local actors. That didn’t seem to be the focus of Ottawa’s priorities, according to Frau.me From father.
Transport Canada has wanted to get rid of it since 1995. It’s like when you want to sell your house and you don’t sell it. Maybe you don’t feel like investing. A company comes to you about a project, but there is no listening and no interest. We have connections to the environment.
Anne Dupéré, President and CEO of the Port of Bas-Saint-Laurent and Gaspésie
But change won’t happen overnight, warns Ms.me From father. The strategic plan is still in its infancy. In Matane, for example, the rehabilitation will take more than a decade.
Brian Slack, professor emeritus at Concordia University and a maritime specialist, says the sum awarded to the four ports is “significant.”
“These infrastructures fulfill local functions and play important roles,” explains the expert in an email The presshowever, questions the current viability of the ports under the company’s aegis.
The transfer of the four ports was accompanied by financial compensation of approximately 150 million given to the Quebec government. This envelope finances 60% of the investments announced last spring. The rest of the money comes from the Legault government.
Number of ports across Quebec.
Source: St Lawrence Economic Development Corporation
The four projects
This is where most of the bread is on the board. In addition to rebuilding the shipyard at the end of its life, we plan to add a 12,000 square meter (130,000 square foot) berth and storage area. “Our challenge is to keep the activity going while we convert a wharf,” says Ms.me From father. Companies specializing in pulp and paper, such as Sappi Global, store their production at the port before export.
A portion of the facilities (the west jetty) exposed to the weather had been condemned and closed by Transport Canada. Significant remodeling work is required to allow for port activities and access for local residents.
The port is tight with the expansion of LM Wind Power, which manufactures oversized (107 meter) wind turbine blades for the US market. Warehouse space will more than double by 16,000 square meters (172,000 square feet). “It will bring business,” said Mr.me From father. You cannot give what you do not have. Gaspé is well located with its access to the Atlantic. »
According to Mr.me From father. The port wants to add bulk areas to grow on the cargo side, but this comes with a challenge as the sector is seen as the Beluga’s nursery. “We need to think about projects where we reduce maritime traffic. This is not possible without the storage capacity,” emphasizes the association president.