Har­bour progress

Cape Breton Post - - EDITORIAL -

Har­bour-re­lated news cer­tainly made its way into our head­lines this week.

First came word that Cape Bre­ton Re­gional Mu­nic­i­pal­ity and the Assem­bly of Nova Sco­tia Mi’kmaq Chiefs had signed an in­terim agree­ment on eco­nomic ben­e­fits as­so­ci­ated with the pro­posed Syd­ney Marine Ter­mi­nal ex­pan­sion.

Ba­si­cally, the deal en­sures that CBRM will only pro­vide and ac­cept bids that guar­an­tee at least five per cent of the work is to be done by Mi’kmaq com­pa­nies. That sounds like a win-win to us.

This agree­ment is ex­cit­ing news be­cause with­out it there is no chance the ter­mi­nal ex­pan­sion, which in­volves the con­struc­tion of a sec­ond cruise ship berthing wharf ca­pa­ble of dock­ing 300-me­tre plus ves­sels in Syd­ney Har­bour, ever gets off the ground.

There are dif­fer­ent de­signs be­ing dis­cussed with one we like in­volv­ing the new wharf jut­ting out – L shape style – from the end of the ex­ist­ing wharf and into the har­bour. This would al­low for ships to berth on both sides of the new wharf.

CBRM has al­ready com­mit­ted $6.7 mil­lion to the es­ti­mated $20-mil­lion dol­lar pro­ject. But in or­der to get off the ground it needs to be cost­shared with the pro­vin­cial and fed­eral gov­ern­ments match­ing CBRM’s con­tri­bu­tion. Mayor Ce­cil Clarke says ap­pli­ca­tions have al­ready been for­warded to At­lantic Canada Op­por­tu­ni­ties Agency Min­is­ter Rob Moore and pro­vin­cial Eco­nomic and Ru­ral De­vel­op­ment Min­is­ter Michel Sam­son. How can they say no, we ask?

Of course, there are those who will ques­tion the need for an ex­tra wharf. That the cur­rent one of­ten sits empty and that the $6.7 mil­lion would be bet­ter spent else­where.

We be­lieve that stance is in­cred­i­bly short­sighted and that the po­ten­tial for har­bour de­vel­op­ment is un­lim­ited. For ex­am­ple, how many cruise ships were stop­ping in Syd­ney 25 years ago? Not many, no doubt. To­day, the num­ber of­ten ex­ceeds 70 and, with the ex­tra wharf, Port of Syd­ney of­fi­cials be­lieve the an­nual cruise ship traf­fic will even­tu­ally grow to 120 ves­sels.

That spells mil­lions of ex­tra dol­lars in tourism spend­ing, a num­ber that will even­tu­ally dwarf the costs as­so­ci­ated with the wharf ex­pan­sion.

Ad­di­tional har­bour news came yesterday with Port of Syd­ney of­fi­cials send­ing out a re­lease, which, in part, re­vealed that CBRM had granted Har­bor Port De­vel­op­ment Part­ners an ex­clu­sive man­date to “as­sem­ble a con­sor­tium of fi­nan­cial and op­er­at­ing part­ners to de­velop the deep wa­ter port of Syd­ney.” This was some­what of a for­mal­ity as coun­cil had al­ready ap­proved the ar­range­ment over a month ago but we’re guess­ing the Port of Syd­ney folks were so ex­cited they just wanted to let ev­ery­one know that the deal was now of­fi­cially in place.

Over­all, then, it’s been a good week for those who be­lieve in the busi­ness po­ten­tial Syd­ney Har­bour of­fers and the ben­e­fits its suc­cess holds for Cape Bre­ton Is­land, and, by ex­ten­sion, the province.

It’s a lofty goal and one we whole­heart­edly en­dorse.

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