One year after TransCanada Corp. cancelled plans to build a marine terminal at Cacouna, Que., for its $15.7-billion Energy East pipeline project over concerns for beluga whales, the Quebec government is moving to develop a commercial port in the same area.
Philippe Couillard's Liberal government confirmed Tuesday that it will soon sign an agreement with Cacouna to co-operate on a new industrial port zone in the town.
The government said it will help finance a development plan for the site, drawn up by a local committee of private and public sector representatives. The committee's mandate will be to set the boundaries for the zone and identify investment and export market opportunities "in accordance with sustainable development principles," the government said in a statement.
The moves are part of a wider effort by Quebec to revive the province's economy, particularly the manufacturing sector, by creating 16 such industrial port zones along the St. Lawrence River. The government has earmarked $300-million to support private investment projects in such zones and another $200-million to help fund infrastructure that facilitates the transport of goods.
Located just north of Rivière-du-Loup on the river's south shore, the municipality of Cacouna has a deep-water port that has been in general decline over the years. Plans to build a liquefied natural gas terminal on the site were shelved in 2008. The area is a well-known calving site for beluga whales.
TransCanada had planned to use the Cacouna port for a marine and tank terminal linking to its proposed Energy East pipeline, a 4,600-kilometre conduit that would move western crude east to tidewater. The company announced in April last year that it would not move ahead with the Cacouna export terminal, citing discussions it had with key stakeholders and a federal government recommendation to recognize beluga whales as an endangered species.