Nova Scotia

Plans for Sydney River's Celtic Landing development move forward

By mid-December, the Breton Ability Centre expects to buy a large parcel of municipal harbourfront property for one dollar for a new housing development for people with varying abilities.

Community will have people of varying abilities and income levels, says CEO of the Breton Ability Centre

The Breton Ability Centre wants to create a "small town" with a variety of services in one spot. (Joan Weeks/CBC)

Plans are moving ahead for a new mixed-use housing development in Sydney River, Cape Breton. 

By mid-December, the Breton Ability Centre expects to have approval from Cape Breton Regional Council to buy a large parcel of municipal harbourfront property for one dollar.

Centre CEO Millie Colbourne says Celtic Landing, as it will be called, "will be a mixed community. You will have people of varying income levels, people of varying ability levels and people with varying needs."

Colbourne said the concept "is almost going back to the small communities many of us grew up in and having supports. People looked out for each other."

Breton Ability Centre is currently a home for people of varying abilities.

'Where is the greatest need in our community?'

"The biggest need right now in Nova Scotia and in particular Cape Breton, is [among] seniors," said Darlene Chaisson, executive director of corporate services. 

"So the services we can provide for seniors, whether it's blood drawn, whether it's foot care, we can wrap those services around the seniors."

Colbourne said the plan is to develop the property in phases.

"Phase one may be eight to ten seniors units that are completely accessible," she said. "And then we look at, where is the next greatest need in our community?" 

An environmental assessment has been completed and Colbourne said it did not find any problems.

Regional council has requested more information on plans for traffic flow. Currently, the centre's driveway enters a busy four-lane road, near a highway exit. Colbourne said they've been talking to the Department of Transportation about a new access road but nothing has been finalized.

Colbourne said the Centre has received seed funding from a variety of sources to plan the housing development. She said they now have to look for partners and investors to move the project forward. 

"The priority is to help contribute to social prosperity in Cape Breton," she said. "And we all know if we don't have social prosperity, we don't have economic prosperity, we can't move forward."

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