More than 1,100 Montreal dockers today began an unlimited strike that shut down almost all operations at Canada’s second largest port engulfed in one of the longest labour conflicts in its history.
Despite the unprecedented global challenges of COVID-19, the leading ports on Canada’s West Coast are still enjoying robust trade with Asia. Vancouver and Prince Rupert even broke cargo records in 2020, with container trends continuing to show strength in 2021. And the Port of Nanaimo, in partnership with DP World, is expanding a major regional, shortsea project with a container-on-barge service.
In a development worth watching, newly created Doornekamp Lines has announced the launching in May of a bi-weekly Canadian-flag container service via the St. Lawrence Seaway between Halifax and Picton, a small growing port on Lake Ontario.
While the Port of Montreal has successfully navigated through the demanding regulatory process paving the way to begin construction this year of a new container terminal, the same cannot be said for the Port of Quebec in its ambitious goal to become a second container port on the St. Lawrence River.
The St. Lawrence Seaway, which links North America’s industrial heartland to the Atlantic Ocean, has not failed to be impacted by the ongoing global pandemic. Current Seaway cargo flows through Canadian and U.S. Great Lakes ports served by the waterway’s locks are experiencing a downward pattern in the high single digits, but sharp gains in grain shipments and a solid trend in wind-related project cargo are demonstrating the system’s resiliency and vital trade role.
COVID-19 may be negatively impacting overall global shipping – but the binational St. Lawrence Seaway is on track for one of its best years in history for project cargoes, due notably to a sharp increase in wind energy components moving through the system that connects the Atlantic Ocean to North America’s industrial hinterland.
In British Columbia, Kitimat’s $40 billion LNG export terminal is one of Canada’s largest projects – the largest energy undertaking in Canadian history. It’s estimated it will eventually generate over a million tons of breakbulk and project freight. So, where is all that freight coming from?
With an “indefinite” strike launched by 1,100 Montreal dockers now in its fourth day, pressure is mounting for the federal government to directly intervene in a lengthy waterfront labour conflict paralyzing the Port of Montreal.
A regulatory saga that for several years has plagued a major container terminal project proposed by the Vancouver Fraser Port Authority (VFPA) is showing no signs of abating, and a final decision by the Canadian federal government has been delayed until November in light of the circumstances surrounding COVID-19.
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