Federal government blocks $775M Quebec City port expansion project
The federal government has blocked a major expansion project at the Port of Quebec, deeming its “significant” adverse environmental effects unjustified.
Minister of Environment and Climate Change, Jonathan Wilkinson, officially put an end to the Laurentia project June 29, following a report from the Impact Assessment Agency of Canada that pointed to major concerns about air quality and fish habitats, among other issues.
The Laurentia project would have greatly expanded Quebec City’s port, extending an existing wharf to clear the way for a new container terminal. Related rail and road links were also included in the proposed project, expected to be worth $775 million.
“This was a difficult decision — but the right one as we look to grow the economy and protect the environment for future generations,” Wilkinson, said in a release.
The Port of Québec said it accepted, but was disappointed in the outcome of the assessment after six years of planning for the project.
“We are obviously very disappointed by this outcome,” Mario Girard, the port’s president and CEO, said in a release.
“We remain convinced that there were workable solutions and that Laurentia was a fundamentally good project, both for the economy and for the environment. But today we need to accept the verdict of the federal authorities and look to the future,” he added.
Ottawa noted the Laurentia project is one of five port expansions to be proposed in Quebec in recent years. Two — in Montreal and Saguenay — are approved and moving ahead, while the two others remain under active review.
The Port of Québec said it plans to conduct and in-depth analysis of the federal decision over the coming months to determine how best to support future growth. It cites its proximity to high-potential markets and deep-water credentials as among its major assets.
“Now we need to decide how best to capitalize on those distinctive strengths, in the best interests of Québec and Canada and in the context of the federal government’s decision on the Laurentia project,” Girard said.
The decision does not block future potential work at the port, but any new projects will be assessed under the new Impact Assessment Act, which replaced the previous assessment tool in 2019, the federal government said.