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.