Nova Scotia

Cape Breton municipal council working to be more business friendly

Cape Breton regional council will examine tourism, small business, the container port, the cruise industry, arts and culture in its economic development strategy.

Strategy to examine tourism and small business to the container port and cruise industry

CBRM Council plans to launch an economic development strategy. (George Mortimer)

Cape Breton regional council has launched a plan to make itself more business friendly and may change regulations that could be hindering development. 

Coun. Steve Gillespie works with the business community every day in his role in radio sales. He told council his clients are upset with the status quo and complex rules and regulations that slow down development.

"I hear what they tell me. I hear clients tell me they would love to expand, but there is no way they can deal with the CBRM," Gillespie said. 

​"These are business people. These are the ones who control the economic development in our area because they're the ones employing people. They want to be a part of this."

CBRM Councillor Steve Gillespie. (George Mortimer/CBC)

To address those concerns council decided to kick-start an economic development strategy. 

​Mayor Cecil Clarke said the launch of the economic development strategy was "timely" because there has not been a review in 13 years.

"In order to address the wider and growing requests and concerns over economic development ... we had to look at our own policies, our own procedures," Clarke said.

"We'll go through the heavy lifting process and get feedback from business and the community so we can make improvements."

​Strategy to explore various sectors

John Phalen is the municipality's economic development manager and said the launch of the process is significant.

"What started today was to get the ball rolling and get council working on economic development issues. What we want to do is get all of the issues on the table so everybody knows what we're working on and we can develop a better policy."

Phalen said the committee will look at numerous issues including tourism, the needs of small business and larger economic opportunities such as the container port and the cruise industry.

It will also look at the creative economy in arts and culture.

Public consultation planned

The committee has invited the leaders of all provincial parties in the legislature to appear before the next meeting of Cape Breton regional council to state their positions on economic development prior to the election. 

Council will also extend an invitation to stakeholders who receive funding from the municipality — including Business Cape Breton and Destination Cape Breton — to attend a workshop session with council.

The planning will also include public input through community consultation sessions.

Mayor Cecil Clarke said he wants to have a user-friendly economic development strategy in place by the fall.

About the Author

George Mortimer is a longtime reporter in Cape Breton.