CBRM likes idea of corridor that links areas
By Tanya Collier Macdonald
Cape Breton Post
Thur., May 18, 2006
Sydney - If $70 million is left over from cleanup costs, spend it on making
Sydney harbour the economic engine this region needs for future growth, says the
Cape Breton Regional Municipality.
The chunk of change is possible if the Sydney Tar Ponds Agency drops its costly
incineration proposal and instead fully encapsulates the tar ponds and coke
Municipal councillors passed a motion in January outlining their opposition to
incineration and their preference for the stabilization and solidification of
all contaminated waste.
Mayor John Morgan told panel members Wednesday that confronted with a "take it
or leave it" offer from government, the community would prefer encapsulation
over leaving the sites as is. However, it would prefer nothing be done if the
community is forced to incinerate PCB waste.
Morgan said the panel needs to weigh the seriousness of an unlikely or
catastrophic event occurring at a PCB incinerator, its potential impacts on
surrounding neighbourhoods, and the community's ability to recover from those
Considering most PAHs and about 11 per cent of PCBs will remain on the sites
even if incineration is used, is it wise to expose residents to those risks,
In the January motion, councillors also recommended that the panel redirect
funding currently earmarked for the incinerator component of the project to a
future site-use plan consistent with the municipality's regional strategy for
the port lands.
Once the sites are remediated, they would fit nicely with the municipality's
plan to develop a seaport to airport corridor (Sydney harbour to Sydney
The 13.9-kilometre corridor would link four modes of transportation, link
several community assets and provide a commuter route between Sydney and Glace
In the municipality's newly adopted planning strategy, the corridor is described
as "the necessary infrastructure enabling it to become the premier
industrial/business park providing supply and fabrication service support to
offshore business endeavours in the municipality and an ideal site for general
manufacturing, regional service and utility functions.
Malcolm Gillis, municipal planner, provided the panel with its reasons for
eliminating several other land uses.
Residential use isn't likely because the municipality has a stagnant housing
market. The municipality is now issuing about one-third the number of housing
permits it did in the late 1980s.
"We're talking about the floor caving in here," said Gillis.
The municipality has an abundance of underutilized land suitable for
agriculture, and there is no discernible pressure from suburban sprawl into
those favourable agricultural lands.
"Obviously, if development is down to one third, there's not a lot happening in
suburbia," said Gillis.
The municipality can't afford to maintain and manage any additional recreational
"The combination of the beauty of Cape Breton's landscape and its accessibility
to urban residents renders the conversion of an urban brownfield site into a
recreational area a poor public investment," said Gillis.
However, the municipality supports using some of the remediated landscape to
develop a trail system linking the harbour's boardwalk, nearby residential
neighbourhoods, and undeveloped land near the coast. Specifically, the
municipality recommends a pedestrian and bicycle corridor linking Whitney Pier
to downtown and its waterfront via Coke Ovens Brook.
Gillis added that the region doesn't need another commercial space competing
with existing business districts.
"Declining population, meagre per capita spending power in comparison to other
more vibrant economic regions and increased mobility within the region has
resulted in shrinking central business districts."
Coun. Vince Hall said the municipality believes future land use for the sites is
of fundamental importance to the future sustainability of the region.
"We believe the panel must place considerable emphasis in its recommendations on
future site use that is consistent with a vibrant and progressive and
Seaport to Airport (13.9 kilometres) Corridor Concept
The former Sysco site is
an integral piece in a puzzle that could link:
All four modes of transportation (water, road, rail, airport).
Essential regional assets such as Sydney's central business district, the
Harbourside Business Park, Cape Breton University
Commuter route linking the two largest communities on Cape Breton Island -
Sydney and Glace Bay.
The cbrm's position on future land use
Six representatives, including Mayor John Morgan, presented the Cape Breton
Regional Municipality's position on future land use during Wednesday's hearing.
They recommend that remediated tar ponds and coke ovens properties be capped to
accommodate industrial and transportation uses and become part of a corridor
that begins at Sydney Harbour and ends at Sydney Airport.
Attributes that make a site favoured for Business/Industrial Park for a region
- Access to a navigable and sheltered harbour.
- Wharf, docking and pier facilities with a capacity to accommodate significant
- Expansive lay-down area.
- Rail access.
- Access to Province's controlled access highway system.
- Serviced land for expansion.
- Abundant supply of potable and process water.
- Low potential for land use conflict.
- Proximity to primary central business district.
Cleanup in a click
Web sites that provide information on the joint panel process and the
remediation plan include:
Picture not available for caption below:
Mayor John Morgan, John Whalley, Jerry Ryan, Malcolm Gillis, Doug Foster and
Vince Hall presented the Cape Breton Regional Municipality's concerns during
Wednesday's joint panel review hearing in Sydney. Today is reserved for final