Access to the sea has played a significant part in Cape Breton’s history. We have a storied history involving our prime maritime location. Beyond that history, however, Sydney’s port has a future and with it, a source of sustainable and significant economic growth for our municipality and beyond. The port is ideally located and suited for the requirements of 21st century shipping and related trade and commerce activities. It is upon this basis that business and political leaders are forming the alliances and partnerships necessary to develop the port. Much has been done and much remains to be done, the important thing being that concerted work is underway.
The port has a series of natural advantages that distinguish it from other East Coast harbours. For example, it is the first port of call in North America for vessels transshipping from the Suez Canal. In addition it is a gateway to the Great Lakes. At 16.5 metres, the harbour can cover all variety of commercial vessels. Further still it offers a protected, ice-free harbour with unrestricted access and no bridges. Beyond this we offer an established workforce, community services, businesses which can cater to subcontracting and supply needs and transportation infrastructure.
Clearly rail infrastructure requires upgrades and improvements; the degree depends on the nature of developments for the port. Talks between Harbour Port Development and Cape Breton & Central Nova Scotia Railway have been initiated. Such development is part of the picture in the revitalization of the port.
The work that is underway focuses now on an organizational framework for development. It is geared to establish proper administration and direction for the development of the project. The municipality created the new position of CEO of the Sydney Ports Corporation in February of this year, appointing Marlene Usher to it. The position was created by the CBRM to provide "strategic guidance" and enhance the marketing efforts for future port development. Already Usher has travelled to China attending, as she later described, a series of important port meetings with various Chinese officials.
This year Harbour Port Development partners Barry Sheehy and Albert Barbusci acquired a two-year exclusive marketing rights contract. They indicate the project is moving forward in a “positive way.” They see a container port as having a “five-year window” but envision more immediate prospects such as floating dry docks, bunkering, ship repair and related marine services.
Tangible steps have been taken and work is underway. The project is moving forward with the financial and organizational commitment necessary to make it happen. We, as members of the business community, look forward to seeing the future business outcomes for the port. A strong and vibrant port will benefit us all.
Participating in this column were Business Cape Breton members Cecil Saccary, Glace Bay & Area Business Association; Brian Purchase, CEO of Schwartz Group of Companies; Troy Wilson, Wilson Investments Limited; Sylvie Gerbasi, CGA, business manager at Service Master; Joe Hines, COO, East Coast Metal Fabrication Inc.; and Bob Inglis, Owner Inglis Print & Promo, Sydney.