Sat., Oct. 07, 2006 Link To Herald The Halifax Herald Limited

No shortage of ideas for tar ponds, ovens sites

Calls for proposals issued

By DAVENE JEFFREY Staff Reporter

Industrial parks, a highway and maybe even hiking and biking trails are what the mayor of Cape Breton Regional Municipality envisions when he thinks of the Sydney tar ponds.

A call for proposals was issued this week to study future uses of the tar ponds and coke ovens sites and surrounding land.

When the cleanup gets finally gets underway about 100 hectares will be rehabilitated in the middle of Sydney. "Id like to certainly see what has been described as the port-to-port strategy to link the critical pieces of transportation infrastructure in the region," Mayor John Morgan said in a telephone interview Friday. That would involve a 100-series road linking Sydneys port to the airport and to the Sydney bypass, the main highway into the city.

Mr. Morgan would like to see land reserved for heavy and light industrial development. "It could potentially be a significant job generator. It would be a valuable asset for businesses interested in developing heavy industry because they would have easy access to the port and obviously access to the airport as well." He said the site is so large that industrial development would not preclude recreational uses as well, like a golf course or a trail system linking Whitney Pier to downtown Sydney.

Four years ago, EDM Environmental Design and Management Ltd. put together a $90,000 site-use study paid for by the provincial Economic Development Department. Company owner Margot Young said Friday that EDM will submit a proposal for a second study. "The planning process is very circular," Ms. Young said. She said now that a site-rehabilitation process has been settled, its time to decide how the land will be used afterward so that elements can be put in place to accommodate those plans. "I think its very positive to be talking again about land use," Ms. Young said. "That site has to go from something that nobody really wants to have anything to do with to something that is integral to the vision and growth of Sydney."

The Sydney Tar Ponds Agency and Public Works and Government Services Canada are contributing $100,000 to the $200,000 study. The municipality, other federal landholders and Nova Scotia Lands are also expected to help cover the cost. "This is significant progress. You have a federal agency and a provincial agency joining the municipality to create a long-term plan for the region," Mr. Morgan said. He said that initially, neither Ottawa nor the province were interested in discussing future development of the area.