Nova Scotia

Cecil Clarke announces plans for Sydney port development

Cecil Clarke, the mayor of the Cape Breton Regional Municipality, has unveiled a vision for the development of Sydney Harbour and its downtown that includes both industrial and commercial investments.

International construction company and marine service provider are eyeing long-term Sydney plans

Cape Breton Regional Mayor Cecil Clarke has unveiled a vision for the development of Sydney harbour that includes both industrial and commercial investment. (CBC)

Cecil Clarke, the mayor of the Cape Breton Regional Municipality, has unveiled a vision for the development of Sydney Harbour and its downtown that includes both industrial and commercial investments.

Clarke revealed the plan at a sold-out business luncheon on Wednesday.

"Council unanimously mandated me as mayor to do whatever it took, and takes, to develop the port," he said. "This is what I've done and that is what we'll continue to do through your new port corporation."

Clarke said both Bechtel, an international construction and engineering firm, and McKeil Marine Ltd., a leading marine service provider, have established a presence in Sydney.

Clarke also said McKeil Marine Ltd. is looking to stick around for the long-term. 

"We are in the process of concluding and bringing before council a deal we've put together," he said.

"The CBRM will consider purchasing 24 acres for $1.2 million from Sydport Operations and East Coast Metal Fabricators. We will lease the property to McKeil for a 20-year period with a 20-year renewal clause."

Clarke said McKeil has an aggressive business plan for the port that it will reveal shortly.

Representatives of Bechtel spent part of the day at the development site identified by the municipality for port infrastructure.

The municipality plans to spend money on studying the actual cost for shipping companies doing business in Sydney.

In addition, Clarke confirmed that Canadian National Railway is involved in discussions aimed at saving the Cape Breton rail line. The line would be crucial to future port development and possibly to the Donkin coal mine when it opens.

Thinking big

Finally, Clarke said downtown development is critical to the future success of the municipality.

"A new central library for the municipality, a downtown campus for the Nova Scotia Community College, a new provincial building and mixed use residential and commercial space will be among the partnerships we're exploring as a single, large-scale downtown development," he said.

"As we've seen in other cities, central public facilities are catalysts for growth and local economies."

Clarke said that with additional investment from the private sector, "We can develop a transformative, once-in-a-generation change for our downtown."

He said the first meetings on the proposal will be held next week.

Some of the other items will be on the agenda for the next meeting of regional council on June 23.

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