December 6, 2014

Positive change for CBRM: The story of a deal

A Canadian company is hoping to make North Sydney its base of operations for ship repair and supply, ship building and ship recycling. Their purchase of the North Sydney Shipyard last year was one step toward that goal. The next step is expanding to accommodate large vessel work. This is great news for much-needed jobs and momentum for the future of the Port of Sydney.

Some citizens are fairly frustrated with the slow flow of information to them. Why this site? What guarantees are there?  Why are we just learning of this now?

These are fair questions. In the early stages, the CBRM entered a non-disclosure agreement with the company to discuss their proposal.  The company was also engaged in negotiations with private property owners, suppliers etc.  It is important that in bringing together all the moving parts that make a deal, CBRM is not seen as a place where a company’s strategic plans are exposed, especially to their competitors.

Once the company had concluded their negotiations with private interests and the pieces were in place, council made the framework of the deal public at the general committee meeting and special council meeting on December 2. At that meeting, council voted to approve the proposed deal as outlined and proceed with a policy-required public consultation and public hearing.

The public consultation, through a public open house, will take place on Saturday, December 13 from 1-4 pm in downtown North Sydney at the Seniors and Pensioners Club on the lower level of the North Sydney Heritage and Cultural Center, 309 Commercial Street.  The company’s leaders will be there to talk about their plans and how they intend to grow their business and create much-needed, good-paying jobs on the Northside. Officials from CBRM will also be on hand to discuss the property at Archibald’s Wharf, the conditions of the sale and the ways in which other areas can be enhanced to offset the changes.

The public hearing will take place on December 19th at council chambers. This is where council will discuss the information from the public open house. Written submissions are accepted by mail and e-mail during this time as well. ( The official notice of the meeting is on the CBRM Official Facebook site and will be in the CB Post again on December 11.

I very much support due process of public information and consultation.  As we go forward, working on our goal of a diverse and commercial Port of Sydney, there will be occasions when the municipality and other partners must adhere to non-disclosure agreements.

Some may disagree that we should participate in such agreements, but as Mayor and Council we are moving forward with our mandate to pursue economic development for the Port of Sydney and CBRM as a whole. The very public we serve put that confidence in us when they elected us as Mayor and Council. It is under that authority, granted to us by the voters, that we proceed to work on the top priority of the residents: job creation.

As a political leader, I would love to tell the public of what work we do every day to push for jobs and prosperity. When that work involves meeting with a company that is trusting us enough to share their future growth plans, I have to respect that confidence. Until the time comes, in the due process, to present information publicly.

Canadian Maritime Engineering will be outlining their plans for expansion at the public open house on December 13. They have confidence that CBRM  is a good faith partner for growth, as we do with them. An important part of that confidence comes from a professional and respectful working relationship.

I also understand that the confidence of the community is important. I believe that with all the information at hand in the coming weeks, residents will see the opportunity ahead. Change is often difficult. But change is necessary if we want to overcome a 35% unemployment rate on the Northside.

The citizens of the CBRM voted for change because the status quo was not working. The same citizens will judge, as will you, if positive change has been achieved.