Nova Scotia

White Point resort gets $1M loan from province

Nova Scotia taxpayers are helping a Queens County resort with upgrades and marketing through a $1-million loan from the province.
White Point Beach Resort is getting a $1-million loan from the Industrial Expansion Fund. (CBC)

Nova Scotia taxpayers are helping a Queens County resort with upgrades and marketing through a $1-million loan from the province.

Premier Darrell Dexter said Wednesday the loan to the White Point Beach Resort is coming from the Industrial Expansion Fund, which is scheduled to be scrapped.

The resort, just outside Liverpool, is kicking in another $400,000 for the project to improve rooms and recreation facilities.

"We have to replace all the walkways along the waterfront to make them much more wheelchair accessible," said Robert Risley, the owner of the resort.

"We have to embark on a new signage program around the property so people don't get lost. We have to put on a number of new roofs."

The loan for the resort — which began as a private fishing and hunting lodge in 1928 — is valid for 10 years and carries an interest rate of 5.5 per cent.

Stan Fraser, the head bartender at White Point Beach Resort, said news of the loan was welcomed by the facility's 175 employees.

"It keeps us viable. It keeps people coming to Nova Scotia," he told CBC News.

"We're one of the only resorts in Atlantic Canada that has an ocean beach and that gives them a reason to come here."

This is the second project funded from the Industrial Expansion Fund since the provincial government agreed to replace it in the face of criticism from Auditor General Jacques Lapointe.

Lapointe released a report last month that revealed the 50-year-old fund had no application system, no documented approval process and relied too heavily on inadequate, secret reports to cabinet.

On Wednesday, Dexter defended the loan from the fund.

Robert Risley (left), the owner of the White Point Beach Resort, stands with Premier Darrell Dexter on Wednesday. ((CBC))
"This is an important piece of tourism infrastructure for this province and we're very pleased to support it," he told reporters. Risley said the industry has been hit hard with a recent reduction in visitors from the United States.

"It's virtually impossible these days to get any financing in the hospitality industry, particularly after the last two years," he said.

About 40 per cent of the resort's business used to come from American visitors but that figure is down to about two per cent, said Risley.

As he stood next to Dexter — whose government cut the subsidies for the Cat ferry that used to run from Yarmouth to Maine — Risley blamed the loss of the ferry for much of the collapse in U.S. business.

"It has certainly affected our business," Risley told reporters.

"If I'd been in the premier's position, I'm not sure that I would've done anything differently because there was simply no business case to retain the Cat ferry the way it existed at the time."

The upgrades to the White Point Beach Resort are expected to take place over the next nine months.