Nova Scotia

CBRM mayor standing by greenfield site purchase

The mayor of the Cape Breton Regional Municipality says he's standing by council's decision to compete with a private interest group and buy a key piece of land on the Sydney waterfront.

Consortium threatening to sue Cape Breton regional council

The Cape Breton Regional Municipality was the successful bidder for the greenfield site on the Sydney waterfront. (CBC)

The mayor of the Cape Breton Regional Municipality says he's standing by council's decision to compete with a private interest group and buy a key piece of land on the Sydney waterfront.

Last month, Laurentian Energy Corp. named the municipality the successful bidder for what's known as the greenfield site. An unnamed consortium had also offered to buy the site.

That consortium — Atlantic Gateway Shipping Terminals Ltd. — has threatened to sue Mayor John Morgan and the Cape Breton regional council for what it calls the council's negative portrayal of its bid.

But Morgan said the municipality is well within its rights to secure the land — for $6 million — for the good of the community.

"The council, myself and staff have a duty never to be intimidated by those types of representations. Our duty at the end of the day is to protect the interests of the community," he told CBC News.

"The community has spoken — not just through council but through every form of communication possible — that they expect Sydney harbour to be appropriately and diversely commercialized including extensive and determined efforts to develop a container operation there."

The greenfield site has increased in both size and value after Sydney harbour was dredged, strengthening calls for a container terminal to be built in the area.

Morgan had criticized the competing bid from the consortium — which had proposed a bulk terminal operation for the shipment of coal, wood pellets, iron ore and petroleum products — saying the municipality didn't push for the dredging of the harbour for that kind of development to take place.

Officials with Atlantic Gateway Shipping Terminals Ltd. have also complained about the apparent use of confidential information about its proposal by the mayor and councillors.

Morgan said council and staff did nothing wrong.

"If I give you a letter and I say, 'Listen, this is confidential.' Well, you didn't agree to that. It's not necessarily confidential just because I say it is," he said.

"It's not necessarily confidential just because these gentlemen say it's confidential. But that having been said, I don't think any of their private information was disclosed inappropriately to anybody. Council dealt with it appropriately."

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