Com­ing soon?

Video out­lines vi­sion for po­ten­tial com­plex on Syd­ney’s wa­ter­front

Cape Breton Post - - Front Page - BY NANCY KING

Cau­tion­ing that he’s not yet ready to make an an­nounce­ment, the CEO of Am­bas­sa­tours Grey Line none­the­less has un­veiled a brief video out­lin­ing his com­pany’s vi­sion for a po­ten­tial com­plex on Syd­ney’s wa­ter­front.

Den­nis Campbell screened the con­cep­tual video, which he said was fin­ished just days ago, at Thurs­day’s Ports Day con­fer­ence at the Joan Har­ris Cruise Pav­il­ion.

The com­plex, which would be built in stages should it be­come a re­al­ity, would in­clude a bar, pa­tio, restau­rant and gift shop in the area where the Royal Cape Bre­ton Yacht Club used to stand, sim­i­lar to Mur­phy’s on the Wa­ter on the Hal­i­fax wa­ter­front, which Campbell’s com­pany also owns.

“The rea­son that we didn’t call it an an­nounce­ment is be­cause it is a vi­sion,” Campbell said, in an in­ter­view. “It’s part of our 10-year growth strat­egy of our com­pany and it’s hard for us to say ex­actly a date yet be­cause there are a lot of mov­ing pieces to it.” He said it’s hoped that work could be un­der­way on it in three to six years.

While he said he’s been in­ter­ested in ex­pand­ing into the Syd­ney mar­ket for some time, it was the an­nounce­ment of fed­eral and pro­vin­cial funding for the sec­ond cruise ship berth that re­ally made the com­pany look at the area, Campbell said.

“With the cruise growth that’s com­ing to Syd­ney, we want to fol­low the pub­lic in­vest­ment and in­vest when the time is right and we think the right time is com­ing up soon,” he said.

“(The sec­ond berth) was kind of the key for us to say, OK, let’s start to in­vest time and en­ergy and money on de­vel­op­ing these plans.”

There is no es­ti­mated cost of the devel­op­ment at this early stage and no busi­ness plan has yet been drafted, although Campbell said it is in the works. It may be far from a re­al­ity at this point, but Campbell’s pre­sen­ta­tion evoked a good deal of in­ter­est from the crowd, with sev­eral peo­ple wait­ing to speak with him af­ter his pre­sen­ta­tion.

In April, Am­bas­sa­tours, which is based in Hal­i­fax, re­ceived ap­proval from the Nova Sco­tia Util­ity and Re­view Board to op­er­ate its Har­bour Hop­pers am­phibi­ous tours in Syd­ney for the months of Septem­ber and Oc­to­ber to co­in­cide with the is­land’s prime tourism sea­son. Campbell said two of the ve­hi­cles will op­er­ate in Syd­ney.

As well, he said, as Hal­i­fax Tran­sit re­places its ex­ist­ing fleet of har­bour fer­ries the ves­sels cur­rently in ser­vice will be avail­able for sale at what Campbell de­scribed as a good price. He said he has viewed a model in Que­bec where money has been in­vested into those former fer­ries and trans­formed into ves­sels suit­able for breakfast or brunch cruises, party, cor­po­rate or wed­ding events. He said they are in ac­tive dis­cus­sions try­ing to ob­tain one of the ves­sels.

The ferry plan could be put into ac­tion as early as sum­mer 2018, Campbell said.

Ap­peal­ing to the lo­cal mar­ket as well as tourists would also be im­por­tant, he said, to make the com­plex sus­tain­able. He noted about half of the Har­bour Hop­pers’ busi­ness is from the lo­cal mar­ket.

Ber­nadette MacNeil, man­ager of cruise ship mar­ket­ing and devel­op­ment, noted that while shore ex­cur­sions of­fered in Cape Bre­ton are rated highly by cruise vis­i­tors, those who choose to stay in down­town Syd­ney of­ten com­ment that there is lit­tle to do and de­vel­op­ments such as the Am­bas­sa­tours pro­posal would help im­prove that vis­i­tor ex­pe­ri­ence.

NANCY KING/CAPE BRE­TON POST

Den­nis Campbell, the CEO of Am­bas­sa­tours Grey Line, told Ports Day in Syd­ney Thurs­day that is com­pany is de­vel­op­ing a plan that could see a bar, pa­tio, restau­rant and gift shop com­plex build up the of­fer­ings avail­able to vis­i­tors to the Syd­ney wa­ter­front area.

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