Environmental concerns may scuttle Port of Montreal's proposed expansion

The Port of Montreal is looking to build a $750 million expansion in Contrecour, about 40 kilometres upstream from the Port's main nerve centre.

The only problem, however, is concern about environmental damage — a report delivered in January said such an expansion could have a negative effect on two threatened species, the copper redhorse fish and the western chorus frog.

The Port's VP of operations, Daniel Dagenais, insists it will be able to minimize those negative effects.

"We're talking about a very small surface that will be affected and our mitigation measures are essentially to recreate this particular area farther downstream where actually the habitat for the copper redhorse fish is more prevalent and of a higher quality," said Dagenais.

Plans call for the Port to build a new 675-square-metre dock, and dredge the harbor 11 metres deeper — which would also remove eight hectares of forest and half a hectare of vegetation.

Contruction would also create 5,000 short-term jobs by 2020, and about a thousand permanent jobs once construction is complete by 2023.

The expansion plan is subject two approval by two federal agencies, Environment Canada and Fisheries and Oceans Canada.

Mayor Valerie Plante supports the expansion of the Port, suggesting it would help Montreal capture some of the shipping that now moves through deeper ports in the U.S.

The Port's current facilities are also expected to reach maximum capacity in a few years.