Plans being laid for future use of tar ponds sites

Cape Breton Post
By Tom Ayers
Sat. Oct. 24, 2009

Sydney - Industrial development at the tar ponds and coke ovens sites, once they are cleaned up over the next four years, could solve a number of problems, says one municipal councillor.

Although greenspace is one possible use, District 7 Coun. Jim MacLeod said the Cape Breton Regional Municipality's population decline and ailing economy need to be addressed.

"How much greenspace do you need?" he said. "We have areas that could be developed. I feel that there is opportunity here, but if it's just going to be a metre of topsoil, what kind of legacy are we leaving?

"I don't need another golf course in downtown Sydney. I need development and it needs to be sustainable."

The Sydney Tar Ponds Agency is currently laying plans for the future uses of the cleanup sites and will be seeking public input.

The agency has a survey on its website located on the left-hand side under the Community and Future Use links seeking public comments.

The agency's community liaison committee has also discussed possible future uses of the land, and the agency is awaiting a consultant's report on options. That report is expected within a couple of weeks, said spokesperson Tanya Collier MacDonald.

The survey results and consultant's report will be used to launch a public discussion, she added, but the timing hasn't been decided yet. MacLeod is pushing for economic development. "A soccer field looks nice, but a soccer field, somebody has to cut the grass . . . and that takes money," he said.

Instead, MacLeod suggested, a causeway could be built across the north tar pond connecting Sydney's north end with the Sydney Port Access Road, which oil trucks at the tank farm could use to avoid travelling through a residential area.

Other industrial lots at the tar ponds site would complement the proposed development of a Sydney harbour container terminal and material handling at the coal piers, he added.

"We've only got one chance to do this and we've got to do it right."

tayers@cbpost.com