McNeil pledges to study NSCC move

Anal­y­sis would ad­dress costs, spinoffs and eco­nom­ics

Cape Breton Post - - Cape Breton - BY NANCY KING nk­ing@cb­

A re-elected Lib­eral pro­vin­cial gov­ern­ment would com­plete a study into the fea­si­bil­ity of mov­ing the Nova Sco­tia Com­mu­nity Col­lege’s Mar­coni cam­pus down­town, Stephen McNeil says.

McNeil made the state­ment dur­ing a lun­cheon speech Wed­nes­day to the Syd­ney and Area Cham­ber of Com­merce.

“That’s an im­por­tant piece of pub­lic in­fra­struc­ture, but what if we look at that as more than just an ed­u­ca­tional train­ing in­sti­tu­tion, it’s an eco­nomic driver,” he said. “So if we move that to the down­town, think about what we’re try­ing to do, what you’re try­ing to do around tourists … you want them off the boat, you want them walk­ing around. Well, imag­ine mov­ing our cam­pus down­town and bring­ing those stu­dents down­town, imag­ine the vi­brance that will hap­pen on your streets.”

A fea­si­bil­ity study would ad­dress ques­tions in­clud­ing costs, po­ten­tial eco­nomic spinoffs and whether the project would make eco­nomic sense, McNeil said in an in­ter­view.

“I have raised this is­sue at var­i­ous lev­els, I’ve raised it in the com­mu­nity, I’ve raised it with our part­ners … I just think the right place for it is a down­town where we’re max­i­miz­ing our in­sti­tu­tion and at the same time get­ting eco­nomic spinoff from it,” McNeil said.

Two years ago, Cape Bre­ton Re­gional Mu­nic­i­pal­ity Mayor Ce­cil Clarke ap­proached the prov­ince about a down­town Syd­ney de­vel­op­ment that would house the NSCC Mar­coni cam­pus, the pro­vin­cial build­ing, a new li­brary and other uses.

The NSCC’s Mar­coni cam­pus is cur­rently lo­cated on the Syd­ney-Glace Bay High­way next to Cape Bre­ton Univer­sity. The NSCC leases the Mar­coni cam­pus build­ing from the Depart­ment of Trans­porta­tion and In­fra­struc­ture Re­newal.

Crit­ics have ques­tioned the wis­dom of pos­si­bly pur­su­ing that project when there are other great in­fra­struc­ture needs in the re­gion and not enough dol­lars to go around.

If the Lib­er­als are re-elected, the study would come early in its sec­ond man­date, McNeil said.

“Then we’ll start look­ing at what does that look like, if it makes sense then we’ll start look­ing for dol­lars to make that hap­pen,” he said.

Fred Til­ley, prin­ci­pal of the Mar­coni cam­pus, was in at­ten­dance at the lun­cheon and said he found McNeil’s com­ments “ex­cit­ing.” He de­scribed the po­ten­tial project as strictly be­ing at the dis­cus­sion level cur­rently.

“Any­thing that we can do as a col­lege to help build the econ­omy and the qual­ity of life in Cape Bre­ton and Nova Sco­tia, we’re all for it,” Til­ley said in an in­ter­view. “We’re hope­ful and hope­fully things will move for­ward.”

A new lo­ca­tion could po­ten­tially al­low the col­lege to re­fresh it­self and ex­pand its of­fer­ings, he said, keep­ing Cape Bre­ton­ers at home as they pur­sue train­ing rather than be­ing forced to leave the is­land.

The Lib­er­als have come un­der heavy fire dur­ing the cam­paign — not only from their po­lit­i­cal foes but from doc­tors them­selves — for the cur­rent state of the health-care sys­tem and wors­en­ing physi­cian short­ages in Cape Bre­ton.

Doc­tors have also com­plained that, as the Lib­er­als moved to cen­tral­ize ad­min­is­tra­tion with a sin­gle pro­vin­cial health author­ity, the local voice has been lost from the sys­tem.

McNeil said the prov­ince had been spend­ing too much on ad­min­is­tra­tion and not enough on front-line care.

“I’ve yet to find any­where where my voice has ever been found in too much ad­min­is­tra­tion,” McNeil said.

He said his party has also com­mit­ted to ad­di­tional res­i­dency seats and a hospice as part of its plan to im­prove health care.

Nova Sco­tians go to the polls Tues­day.


Lib­eral Party Leader Stephen McNeil spoke to re­porters at a Syd­ney and Area Cham­ber of Com­merce lun­cheon at the Joan Har­riss Cruise Pav­il­ion in Syd­ney on Wed­nes­day.

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