Nova Scotia

Down with the causeway? Cape Breton says not yet

Cape Breton Regional Municipality Mayor Cecil Clarke says the topic of restricting access to the only land connection between the island and the mainland has come up, but no one is officially considering closing off the Canso Causeway due to COVID-19.

The topic has come up among some politicians on the island, but no one is taking it seriously

Some Cape Breton Island politicians have talked about closing the Canso causeway due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but no one is seriously considering it, yet. (Robert Short/CBC)

No one is officially considering closing off the Canso Causeway due to the coronavirus, at least not yet.

However, Cape Breton Regional Municipality Mayor Cecil Clarke said the topic of restricting access to the only land connection between the island and the mainland has come up.

The suggestion arose among on-island politicians after the Nova Scotia government began taking steps to control people coming into the province by ferry, car and airplane.

Clarke said closing the causeway has not been raised with the province, but that time might come eventually.

"It has been a discussion point, but it has not been an agenda item at this point," he said.

"Quite frankly, if it is a matter of greater discussion, I think it will be based upon any spike in potential cases from a containment point of view."

'Down with the causeway'

The mayor's spokesperson said the discussion was raised by Eskasoni First Nation Chief Leroy Denny during a meeting a couple of weeks ago between CBRM, Membertou First Nation and Eskasoni, in the context of looking at all possible measures to keep people home and prevent the possible spread of COVID-19.

Cape Bretoners are known for regularly invoking the joking phrase 'Down with the causeway' whenever someone disagrees with decisions or suggestions that come from the provincial capital in Halifax.

It didn't take long for that sentiment to arise after the pandemic hit Nova Scotia.

Brenda Chisholm-Beaton, Port Hawkesbury's mayor, said no one has discussed closing the transportation link with her.

If that time comes, she said, groceries, medicine and some people will still need to get into Cape Breton.

"I can understand why some people in our communities of Cape Breton would think it would be a good idea, because flattening the curve and minimizing the spread is very important, but as those formal conversations do take place, we definitely want to make sure that we're seeing the full picture," said Chisholm-Beaton.

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Clarifications

  • This story was clarified to note that CBRM says the idea of closing the causeway was raised by Eskasoni Chief Leroy Denny.
    Mar 26, 2020 5:00 PM AT

About the Author

Tom Ayers

Reporter/Editor

Tom Ayers has been a reporter and editor for more than 30 years. He has spent the last 16 years covering Cape Breton and Nova Scotia stories. You can reach him at tom.ayers@cbc.ca.

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