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Montreal (Quebec) 18 April 2016 International conference Saint Lawrence

IFGR session no. 2: The port of Montreal and the Saint Lawrence River

Second international session of the IFGR panel – from 18 to 21 April 2016, at Montreal. Session themes: “Practical case of the Port of Montreal and the Saint Lawrence River” and “Continuation of two projects from the first session”.

Session themes

1. Practical case of the Port of Montréal and the Saint Lawrence River seen from two angles

  • Adaptive resource management.
  • Social acceptability and links with communities in the framework of building a new terminal at Contrecœur.

2. Continuation of two challenges from the first session

  • The combat against floods.
  • New energy models.

The second meeting focused on river territory

Hosted by the Montreal Port Administration (APM), the panel’s second meeting focused on the host territory, with workshops on two themes and the presentation by the stakeholders of the Port, the City of Montreal, and the entire Saint Lawrence River.

In their speeches to open the session, the President and CEO of the APM, Mrs Sylvie Vachon, and the Mayor of Montreal, Mr Denis Coderre, both emphasised the role played by the river in Montreal’s economy and identity.

The session at work

At the end of the works, the conclusions were presented to an assembly of the stakeholders representing the neighbouring cities and towns on the river, including Montreal, the partner companies of the port and non-governmental organisations, research institutes, federal institutions and universities. This exchange led to enriching the reflections of the previous days and submitting the pertinence of the project driven by IFGR to the public.

The Saint Lawrence River seen through the prism of one of its actors, the Port of Montreal

The Montreal Port Administration called on the members of the panel to express their opinions on two approaches initiated in recent years: the adaptive management of the resource and the extension of the port by constructing a new terminal. IFGR provided elements of response to certain issues relating to the Saint Lawrence River and its managers and users by focusing on practical cases. The session above all aimed to provide new perspectives on two specific subjects without seeking to cover all the challenges facing the river and which had already been covered extensively by the region’s scientific and decision-making bodies.

The adaptive management of the resource consists of a new mode of joint regulation of water resources between the United States and Canada. The process initiated is aimed at making this management more reactive to a changing environment and at including the many stakeholders affected by sharing water, including the Port of Montreal.

The new terminal of Contrecœur is a project to extend the APM’s territory on a site acquired long ago in the municipality of Contrecœur. Although the APM committed itself early on to maintaining dialogue with the population neighbouring the site of the new terminal, gaining its acceptance in the long term could not be taken for granted. The project remains a white paper subject to a large number of uncertainties, ranging from choosing the best way to reconcile vital economic development and preserving the quality of life, to the way of approaching the stakeholders and their needs.

Ten recommendations

Regarding these two subjects, IFGR issued a total of ten general recommendations illustrated by concrete examples, some of which had already been experimented in other regions of the world. For example, for IFGR, the scientific and statistical approach of adaptive management – as it is now conceived – would be enriched by the inclusion of human and social data, and by more direct treatment of the issue of water quality. IFGR also called for a concrete definition of “reasonable time frame” for forecasting, by giving preference to the time-scale of the cycle, for which meteorological data are available, over forecasting based on trends studied using climate models. Regarding this issue, IFGR proposed two paths: extend forecasts from 3 to 4 days and also to the scale of seasons, and give more attention to extreme events.

As for the question of the new terminal, IFGR suggested that the APM turned Contrecœur into a genuinely federative project by enhancing the place of the port in the city and the region, and by showcasing the changes to which it has been subject. Other recommendations dealt with the approach chosen for dialoguing with the stakeholders. For example, IFGR invited to the APM to adapt its discourses to different sections of the population and to go beyond a confrontation between the port and civil society by funding counter analyses and the intervention of third parties to restore trust between the actors. Access to all the recommendations in the white paper is available by clicking on the download link below.

The pursuit of two workshops

Can energy production be decentralised at local and even individual scale? How is it possible to adapt to increasingly diversified and globalised risks, despite that fact that they appear to be less and less present in individual mind-sets?

These two issues were subject to debate in the workshops “New energy models” and “Social resilience and risk culture”. They led to the identification of good international practices and the formulation of four projects to be carried out in the framework of Initiatives for the Future of Great Rivers.

Download the white paper

Download the conclusions

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