The proposed terminal would cause damage to fish and their habitat, harm air quality and human health and erode lands and resources of indigenous people, said the Impact Assessment Agency of Canada (IC).
The agency noted that the proposal could be resubmitted, but Port Quebec CEO and president Mario Girard said in an email to backers that due to the decision 'the project will not move forward'.
Mr Girard noted that the planned semi-automated terminal would have met the highest environmental standards and significantly cut emissions, partly by reducing truck traffic moving containers from Montreal.
'This was a difficult decision - but the right one as we look to grow the economy and protect the environment for future generations,' Jonathan Wilkinson, federal minister of Environment and Climate Change, said in a statement.
The Quebec project was the latest effort to create a new container gateway in Eastern Canada that could handle larger vessels than Montreal and provide US shippers a routing alternative, much like Prince Rupert does on the west coast.
The St Lawrence River drafts limit Montreal to handling ships with capacities of slightly more than 5,000 TEU; most services deploy 4,500 TEU ships. Such ships are nearly or fully loaded, and as Montreal is generally the only North American call on such services, carriers discharge most ?? if not all ?? of the cargoes at the port, according to the Montreal Port Authority.
The Port of Montreal's plan to build the C$750 million Contrecoeur terminal received IC approval in March 2021. The port authority aims to bring the first phase of the project, adding nearly 1.15 million TEU of annual capacity to Montreal, online by 2023-24. After the first phase, the authority said the two-berth terminal has the potential to expand to an annual handling capacity of 3.5 million TEU. The port currently has an annual capacity of approximately 1.2 million TEU.