Cape Bretoners playing big part in tar ponds cleanup

Cape Breton Post
Mar. 22, 2012
By Greg McNeil

SYDNEY ó Cape Breton participation in the Sydney tar ponds remediation remains high according to the latest economics benefit report on the project.

The report showed that Cape Breton companies had an average of 53 per cent of cumulative expenditures associated with the project for the 2010-2011 fiscal year.

"We were very hopeful that would be the result, but when we are dealing with resources that arenít necessarily always available on the island, we were uncertain how it would all play out," said agency spokesperson Tanya Collier-MacDonald, during its local economics benefit workshop. "We are pleased with that and we expect that to be similar to the rate by the end of the project. We have about another year of construction left and we anticipate the numbers will stay approximately the same."

Since project inception in April 2004 cumulative project expenditures totalled $207.5 million or 52 per cent of the project budget.

During the 2010-2011 fiscal year, direct project expenditures totalled $68.4 million or 17 per cent of the $400 million aggregate budget. According to the annual report, the 2010-2011 fiscal year has been one of the busiest in terms of construction and for the south tar pond has included completion of solidification/stabilization activities and the start of channel construction.

About 88 per cent of the about 454,765 person hours of employment generated by vendors and the Sydney Tar Ponds Agency to do that work in the April 2010-March 2011 period occurred in Cape Breton.

Since project inception a total of 45 contracts valued at $263.4 million have been awarded to 24 vendors. Twenty-two service providers were located in Cape Breton-Mulgrave region, while four of them were First Nations.

As well, 68 First Nations employees had worked on the project with an accumulated total of 81,420 person hours of employment.

The report also noted that 26 African Nova Scotians had worked on the project for a total of 29,300 hours.

Conditions were also created that enabled 12 women within the Cape Breton-Mulgrave area to develop and compete for careers in trades and technology.

Besides releasing the economic benefits report Thursdayís workshop, facilitated by the Cape Breton Partnership, also included presentations to delegates on joint ventures, aboriginal business, the landscape of the environmental industry and building diversity in the workplace.

Dave Scholz, a vice-president with Leger Marketing, was the eventís keynote speaker and discussed ways to build the communityís reputation. "Our objectives today was to really let people know how well the community is doing on the project," said Collier-MacDonald. "Itís a message we want to get out to the community, that there is great participation and the capacity building has done very well for the Sydney tar ponds project and it will continue. There will be a legacy from this."