Jean D’Amour, Quebec Minister for Transport and the Implementation of Maritime Strategy
MONTREAL, Que.–Details of the Quebec government’s ambitious maritime strategy blueprint are to be revealed by mid-June within the context of a new provincial budget. So indicated Jean D’Amour, Quebec Minister for Transport and the Implementation of Maritime Strategy, at a marine industry conference in Montreal today.
He reiterated the Liberal government’s plans to create 30,000 new jobs while transforming the St. Lawrence River region into a mega-hub in continental logistics and trans-Atlantic trade over a period of 15 years. Some $3 billion would be allocated to infrastructure investments from private and public sources.
What he called “the Quebec of tomorrow” must be ready to meet the competitive challenges to ensure a smooth and efficient flow of goods.
Thanks to a strong geographic position, D’Amour said Quebec was well placed to capitalize on increased trade with Europe driven by a free trade agreement with the European Union (expected to be ratified by 2016).
He indicated too that the blueprint would provide for simpler and more rapid procedures for industries than is presently the case, compared with other Canadian provinces.
Already in motion, the minister said, were various projects at the ports of Montreal, Sept-Iles, and Contrecoeur as well as the first ferry that will be powered by natural gas.
He disclosed plans to create initially eight “industrialo-port zones”- with a first wave to be launched in the coming months. He mentioned Valleyfield, a growing logistics centre near Montreal, as a prime candidate in this regard.
To encourage Quebec shipowners, including cruise and cargo carriers, the budget will provide an additional capital cost allowance of 50% for the construction and renovation of vessels.
Claude Comtois, a geography and logistics professor at the Universite de Montreal, suggested that a heavy assignment lay ahead for bringing Quebec infrastructure up to world standards as seen in China and Europe. “This is not negotiable – it will have to be visually in place over the next 10 years.”
According to Comtois, some $250 million in new government funding should be allocated annually for expanding and improving infrastructures and adding such features as multi-task berths.