Imag­ine the pos­si­bil­i­ties

Cape Breton Post - - Editorial -

Tired of pro­vin­cial elec­tion news?

Then let’s turn our at­ten­tion to down­town Syd­ney where three sto­ries made head­lines this week.

We’ll start with an en­dorse­ment in prin­ci­pal by Cape Bre­ton Re­gional mu­nic­i­pal coun­cil­lors of a $10.5-mil­lion plan pre­sented by Ek­istics Plan+De­sign to re­vi­tal­ize down­town Syd­ney.

As stated in our April 1 ed­i­to­rial, the plan, which fo­cuses on making his­toric Char­lotte Street more friend­lier for pedes­tri­ans and re­con­nect­ing the down­town with the wa­ter­front, is bril­liant and well worth the in­vest­ment.

Coun­cil­lors, it seema, also see the po­ten­tial ben­e­fits, al­though it is un­der­stood that land ac­qui­si­tion costs will drive the over­all price tag higher. Enough, per­haps, to cause some over time to think twice about the project’s vi­a­bil­ity. We’ll see.

But here’s the thing. If we’re go­ing to grow our down­towns – in Syd­ney, Glace Bay, North Syd­ney and else­where – we have to in­vest in them. We have to make them a more at­trac­tive op­tion to re­tail­ers, shop­pers, res­i­dents and com­mer­cial de­vel­op­ers than they are at present.

The Ek­istics plan is a ma­jor step in that di­rec­tion and, be­sides, do­ing noth­ing to help the down­town is just bad busi­ness.

On the heels of coun­cil’s en­dorse­ment came a tan­ta­liz­ing bit of po­ten­tial wa­ter­front de­vel­op­ment news re­vealed by Den­nis Camp­bell, CEO of Am­bas­sa­tours Grey Line, dur­ing Thurs­day’s Ports Day con­fer­ence in Syd­ney.

The vi­sion calls for a com­plex that would in­clude a bar, pa­tio, restau­rant and gift shop in the area once dom­i­nated by the Royal Cape Bre­ton Yacht Club and sim­i­lar in de­sign to the Camp­bell-owned Mur­phy’s on the Wa­ter com­plex in Hal­i­fax.

Camp­bell hopes to see the project un­der­way within three to six years, just in time to gauge the po­ten­tial long-term ben­e­fits of the sec­ond cruise­ship berth we would haz­ard to guess.

It’s an ex­cit­ing con­cept and we hope his vi­sion be­comes a re­al­ity.

And as we en­vi­sion a wa­ter­front des­ti­na­tion area stretch­ing from the sec­ond cruise ship berth to Went­worth Park, we were happy to hear Glace Bay Lib­eral candidate Geoff MacLel­lan re­it­er­ate his sup­port for a pro­posal to move the Nova Sco­tia Com­mu­nity Col­lege Mar­coni Campus to the wa­ter­front.

Of course, com­ing as it did in the mid­dle of an elec­tion cam­paign, MacLel­lan’s po­si­tion is one that skep­tics can – and will – take will a grain of salt. Find­ing the cash to ac­tu­ally make it hap­pen will be dif­fi­cult when there are so many other press­ing needs the gov­ern­ment needs to deal with first.

Still, the idea, which was first floated about two years ago by CBRM Mayor Ce­cil Clarke of­fers tremen­dous po­ten­tial – both in terms of rais­ing the pro­file of the col­lege ten­fold and adding an es­ti­mated 2,000 stu­dents and em­ploy­ees to the down­town core.

Maybe an eco­nomic im­pact study will some day de­ter­mine that the end re­sult of mov­ing the campus would be worth the in­vest­ment.

In the mean­time, these three vi­sions of down­town Syd­ney re­main just that – vi­sions.

Like the sec­ond cruise berth, wait­ing for each to be­come re­al­ity will take time, de­ter­mi­na­tion and a lot of pa­tience. Here’s hop­ing.

If we’re go­ing to grow our down­towns … we have to in­vest in them.

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