Nova Scotia

Cape Breton Regional Municipality pulls out of economic development network

The Cape Breton Regional Municipality has withdrawn from a fledgling, island-wide economic development network, citing unwieldy administration and unexpected costs.

Mayor Cecil Clarke says framework 'cumbersome' and costly

Cape Breton Regional Mayor Cecil Clarke says the island's municipalities will continue to co-operate. (Joan Weeks/CBC)

The Cape Breton Regional Municipality has withdrawn from a fledgling, island-wide economic development network, citing unwieldy administration and unexpected costs.

The seven-month-old regional enterprise network (REN) was created to replace multiple regional development agencies defunded by the previous Conservative government.

The Cape Breton REN was composed of CBRM, and Inverness, Victoria and Richmond counties. The Town of Port Hawkesbury planned to join nearby municipalities on the mainland.


CBRM Mayor Cecil Clarke told CBC News the municipality withdrew because "the process around the REN was becoming cumbersome."

"In the whole process, Business Cape Breton was representing the interests of the CBRM and a lot of the delivery for the other three municipal units was being done by the Cape Breton Partnership," Clarke said.

Because the municipalities were contracting the services of the two agencies, HST had to be charged, said Clarke. That meant municipalities were spending "tens of thousands of dollars" that did nothing to create economic development.

CBRM will continue funding Business Cape Breton with $125,000 a year.


"What changes is it's streamlined and more efficient," said Clarke.

"So it was just a burden of administration, a lot of meetings from an oversight committee to a board and it was just a challenge to bring all the pieces together."

The other municipalities will maintain the REN, with the Cape Breton Partnership providing services, said Clarke.

He said co-operation between the municipal units will not change.

He hopes an island-wide municipal conference in the fall will produce an agreement "that just builds on the collaboration and co-operation, but a different structure was required."