Tuesday, September 13, 2005 Link To Herald The Halifax Herald Limited

Partnership hopes to cash in on tar ponds cleanup

By BRUCE ERSKINE Business Reporter

The Cape Breton Partnership has reached an agreement with a group of island-based providers of environmental products and services to optimize local economic benefits from the cleanup of the Sydney tar ponds and coke ovens.

The partnership's economic benefits team, which includes 35 groups and organizations, is developing a framework for capitalizing on the $400-million cleanup, one of the largest capital projects in Cape Breton.

"Once underway, the big cleanup is expected to generate a flurry of environmental activity," partnership general manager Barbara Stead-Coyle said.

"Scientists, technicians, tradespersons, contractors, professionals and researchers will mobilize to work on the project," she said, noting that the project will have a broad economic impact.

"The collective challenge is to extend this well into the future. To do this, an economic benefits program must ensure that local environmental firms gain valuable knowledge and experience, forge alliances, broaden capabilities and possibly develop new products and services. If we can accomplish this, the task of transitioning such enterprises to export-ready ventures will be that much more practical."

Canada's environmental industry is large and growing, with about 4,000 firms producing goods and supplying services valued at more than $16 billion.

The Cape Breton Partnership is a private-public agency established in 2004 to strengthen the island's economy by using private-sector investment, knowledge and networks.