On May 30, Québec City Mayor Régis Labeaume addressed an audience of business people from the Chamber of Commerce of Metropolitan Montreal for the first time in 10 years in office. With no shortage of topics to address and with the energy he is known for, Mr. Labeaume sent the signal that Québec City is changing to encourage the Montréal business community to check out what is happening “at the end of highway 20.”
Formerly a city with one out of six employees working in the public service, Québec City has diversified its economy over the years, reducing this ratio to one out of ten.
With the recent announcement of the Réseau structurant de transport en commun, a $3 billion, 56 km tramway project with 38 stations, Québec City will soon break ground on the largest construction site in its history. The mayor believes this is a major test for the city and a sign that it is rapidly evolving.
Here are three important messages from his speech.
Immigration is the political topic of the day, both in Montréal and Québec City. With so many positions to fill in the province, Régis Labeaume has begun a charm offensive to convince immigrants to settle in the capital.
According to the Mayor, Québec City has to increase its diversity. The city has 37,000 immigrants (7.6% of its population), and he hopes to see this number rise quickly to help fill the 17,000 positions currently vacant in Québec City, which has a low unemployment rate of 3.3%.
Pointing to the great quality of life in Québec City and emphasizing how safe it is, the mayor believes that the city’s economic future is at stake. His visit to Montréal included a trip to the Salon de l’immigration to convince newcomers to settle in Québec City.
The capital is shedding its reputation as a city of bureaucrats, largely on account of the entrepreneurial intentions that are on the rise in the city, Régis Labeaume said. In the past five years, this intention has doubled, and the Mayor believes that entrepreneurs are open to taking more risk, because they can see the city’s potential.
The Mayor listed many innovations developed in the city in health care, artificial intelligence and creative industries. This ability to innovate is helping modernize Québec City and the image it is projecting, according to the Mayor.
However, the Mayor does not want to stop there. In five years, he wants Québec City to be the most entrepreneurial city in the country. He is relying on the concerted efforts of his administration, businesses and universities to get there.
A call for collaboration on maritime commerce
Mayor Labeaume concluded his speech on a note he considered more delicate, addressing the Québec City container terminal. As Port of Montreal develops its expansion project for the Contrecoeur terminal, the Mayor wants Québec City to use its geographical advantages, particularly the river, to develop its own port activities.
He called for cooperation between the ports of Québec City and Montréal, so that international maritime commerce develops in the province to keep pace with competing ports in the eastern U.S. He believes that joining forces would benefit everyone concerned.