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Peter Black

Local Journalism Initiative reporter

Promoters of the huge Laurentia container terminal project on the Beauport waterfront are mounting a public relations offensive with the announcement of improvements for the neighbouring beachside park and the mass distribution of a brochure to households in the city.

The project, a $775-million joint venture of the Port of Québec, CN Rail and Chinese shipping giant Hutchison Ports, envisions the building of a huge container ship loading facility on industrial land located at Pointe de Beauport at the mouth of the St. Charles River.

The Port promotes the deep-water terminal as having the “greenest environmental features” of any current port in North America, providing “the fastest and most cost-effective access to markets” and creating “a new maritime highway between Southeast Asia and the Port of Québec.”

The project requires the approval of the federal government before proceeding with construction next year, with a planned opening in 2024. Last fall, the federal environmental impact agency issued a report critical of the potential impact on aquatic habitat and residential air quality.

In a brochure distributed to homes by mail earlier this month, the Port says Laurentia will have no impact on air quality: “The most complete reports from experts affirm the project will have no notable impact on air quality either in the construction phase or during operation.”

Critics have also targeted the increased amount of truck traffic the project would bring to the city. The Port acknowledges there will be a “very light” increase, representing about 10 per cent of the total amount of container traffic, the rest of which would be transported by rail.

Once in full operation, in 2035, the Port says 90 trucks a day will be coming and going to the terminal. It says measures would be put in place to ensure trucks don’t travel on residential streets but stay on large highways.

Overall, the Port says various environmental features of the terminal will reduce current greenhouse gas emitted to move the same volume of cargo by 18 per cent.

The Port has also moved to blunt criticism of the terminal’s impact on the Baie de Beauport park adjacent to the site with the announcement of $2 million worth of improvements and expansion to the park.

In the announcement made in early March, the Port says it plans “to develop new recreational spaces for families and citizens, in addition to planting several hundred trees and shrubs to green more than four hectares of land in the recreational and tourist zone, which will improve air quality in the surrounding neighbourhoods.”

The Port says “this urban park will create a quality visual link between the community and the Laurentia terminal.” The improvements would be undertaken to be timed with the opening of the terminal – if it is approved – in 2024.

The brochure also touts the proposed creation of an oversight committee, made up of citizens and organizations, to work with the Laurentia project office “during the engineering and construction phases, as well as at the beginning of the terminal’s operation.”

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IMAGE BELOW



Parc Urbain

Image courtesy of Port of Québec

This view shows the planned improvements to the park adjacent to the proposed Laurentia container terminal on the Beauport waterfront.

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