The maritime sector is a major driver of economic growth, both at home and around the world. We need look no further than the amount of global trade conducted by ship, the growth of the cruise industry, and increased investment in commercial maritime projects. Québec’s maritime industry is one of the most globally oriented in the world as the province maintains commercial relations with dozens of countries involved in the maritime industry. In 2019, the Port of Québec recorded its second-best year ever for tonnage handled, which grew for the fourth consecutive year.
At the Québec Port Authority (QPA), we are now in the best financial position we’ve ever been in and it is continuing to improve, thanks to renewed partnerships that are suited the current trade environment. We’ve used sound and responsible management to renovate our infrastructure, plan our development projects, and conduct our day-to-day operations.
We’ve demonstrated that we are a key player in Canada’s socioeconomic development. Our current and planned activities offer significant competitive advantages to Québec businesses while also stimulating a wide range of economic sectors across the country.
The maritime sector is facing two fundamental challenges: the quality and attractiveness of port infrastructure. The past year was full of developments for us in this arena, and we will share all of them with you in the following pages.
Among the highlights, we’d like to spotlight the first phase of the renovations to our port infrastructure, which we launched in large part thanks to a financial contribution from the National Trade Corridors Fund (NTCF). This initial renovation of our wharves, intermodal transport areas, and certain utilities will strengthen our foundation for commercial activity and open up the port to new markets.
Another thing I’d like to mention is the beginning of two major projects: the building of a second cruise ship terminal and the building of an export terminal for grain primarily grown in Québec. As of December 2019, the new cruise ship terminal was nearly 60% complete. It will help make the work already being done there better by offering a higher level of quality while making sure the industry continues to grow without conflicting with the community. The grain export terminal will be the first Québec-owned port facility that directly meets the needs of local farmers.
Lastly, we are excited that the Laurentia Deep-Water Container Terminal project is moving forward. We reached a major milestone for this strategic project in 2019 when we signed an agreement with Hutchison Ports, the world’s largest network of container terminals, and Canadian National (CN), North America’s main transportation and product distribution logistics services provider. As part of this agreement, the Port of Québec joins the worldwide Hutchison Ports network, which consists of 52 ports in 27 countries.
Among our achievements related in the areas of the environment and sustainable development, we took concrete steps last year to continue to develop our 2017–2022 Sustainable Development Action Plan. These steps included distributing trees, a first phase of planting in one area of the port, underwater and shoreline cleanup in the Louise Basin, and the purchase of electric vehicles, to name just a few. Our deep commitment is without a doubt an important factor in successfully operating our port facilities to their fullest potential, growing our business, and extending our reach regionally, nationally, and internationally. 2019 was also marked by the addition of talented new individuals to our Board of Directors. Two new directors, Edwin Bourget and Denis Desbiens, joined the board last year.
My work with each member of the Board of Directors has been defined by collaboration and involvement during my nearly nine years as a member of the board, almost five of which have been as chairwoman. It has truly been a privilege to serve the Port of Québec. I’d like to take this opportunity to acknowledge and thank the members of the board I’ve worked with for their professionalism, as well as their commitment to ensuring the Port's success and growth through sound management. I’d like to applaud the work of all QPA employees, whose constant dedication and expertise are truly amazing. Additionally, I would like to commend the day-to-day collaboration and important work of the users and partners in and around the Port of Québec.
I’d also like to thank President and CEO Mario Girard for his trust, his can-do attitude, and his responsible management of the Québec Port Authority.
Lastly, as chairwoman of the Board of Directors, it has been an honour to see how enthusiastic, innovative, willing, and exceptionally smart all of the port’s stakeholders in Québec City are and how firmly they are anchored in the community.