Nova Scotia

MP calls for more transparency at ECBC

Mark Eyking, the Member of Parliament for Sydney-Victoria said Enterprise Cape Breton Corporation needs to be more transparent.

Liberal MP Mark Eyking says economic development group needs to be more open

The clubhouse at the Ben Eoin Marina. (Wendy Martin/CBC)

Mark Eyking, the Member of Parliament for Sydney-Victoria, said a federal funding agency in Cape Breton that plans to build a new marina — while tearing down the old yacht club in Sydney — needs to be more transparent.

The Enterprise Cape Breton Corporation, also known as ECBC, has been under fire for its plan to demolish the Royal Cape Breton Yacht Club building on the Sydney waterfront while spending $4 million to build a new marina located about 20 kilometres from Sydney.

That lead to an outcry from the community as people demanded to know why the historic Cape Breton Yacht Club would be destroyed.

For weeks ECBC refused to grant interviews about its decision. Eyking said the corporation's original plan to avoid interviews backfired.

"By holding back information I think there was more people assuming things were being done wrong," he said.

ECBC held a news conference on Tuesday to clear the air about its purchase of the yacht club.

Marlene Usher, the acting CEO of ECBC, said the corporation bought the yacht club building and two hectares of waterfront property for $280,000.

The yacht club said it had been losing money for years and the building itself is very old and in need of extensive renovations.

Adding millions to economy

Usher said the land itself is a valuable investment and getting rid of the old yacht club would open the area up for development.

She also said the demise of the yacht club in Sydney has no bearing on the construction of the new Ben Eoin Marina on the Bras d'Or Lakes.

The marina is part of a much bigger development that includes a ski hill and golf course. Usher said she hopes the new development will bring new visitors to the area, potentially creating hundreds of jobs in construction and tourism.

Eyking said ECBC should have explained its reasoning from the beginning.

"I think you've got to be very open and transparent right from the start, and I think if they are more... transparent, I think they would get themselves in less trouble in the future," said Eyking.

Usher said not speaking out earlier was a mistake.

"We need to get out and discuss this in public and be more transparent, and that's exactly what this was intended to do," she said.

Eyking said whether people agree with ECBC's plans or not, at least they now know the reasons why the corporation bought the Royal Cape Breton Yacht Club and decided to fund the Ben Eoin marina.

Eyking said more private money should have been put into the Ben Eoin marina

He's urging the corporation to be more open about its vision for the Sydney waterfront and consult before any work is done.