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Old Posted Jun 19, 2007, 11:38 PM
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Monday, June 18, 2007 Cape Breton Post

OK, it's not development, but it is a big part of the city's history.

Moxham Castle didn't have a knight in shining armour to come to the rescue

Section: Northside/Victoria

Column: Breton Rannie Gillis

By Breton Rannie Gillis,
Both Moxham Castle in Sydney and Kinloch Castle on the Isle of Rhum were among the last structures of their kind in the world. However, although both are fondly remembered, more than 100 years later their final fate could not have been more different.

The derelict ruin that was Moxham Castle was destroyed by fire back in 1966 and there is still some dispute as to whether or not the fire was accidental or deliberately set. Kinloch Castle, however, is still going strong, although its future prospects are still very much up in the air.

When Sir George Bullough died in 1937, while playing golf in France, his wealthy widow continued to return to the Isle of Rhum each summer for the next 20 years. However, in 1957, at the advanced age of 88, Lady Monica decided to sell the island to the Scottish Natural Heritage Society, with the stipulation that it would be preserved forever as the Scottish equivalent of a Canadian National Park. She and her family would retain visitation rights. When Lady Monica died in 1967, at the grand old age of 98, her body was returned to the Isle of Rhum and buried next to her husband and father-in-law, in a lonely glen on the west side of the island.

Today, the Isle of Rhum is a National Park and Nature Reserve. However, the last 100 years have taken their physical toll on Kinloch Castle and the ongoing cost of maintenance and repair is proving to be too much for the National Park System. At the present time the castle is used as a hostel, for tourists and mountain climbers, and the historic building also functions as a living Victorian era museum.

Kinloch Castle is now 105 years old and major repair work is urgently needed, especially on the plumbing and electrical systems. The estimated cost to bring the castle up to today's standards is in the vicinity of $10 million. Where will the money come from?

Four years ago BBC television had a very successful program called The Restoration Series. These shows profiled historic buildings in the United Kingdom that were in need of renovation and repair. The public was invited to nominate their choice to receive the top prize of $6 million, provided by the national lottery corporation.

Unfortunately, Kinloch Castle came in second and did not receive any funds. However, the plight of this magnificent building and its remote location on an island in the Hebrides, struck a responsive chord with members of the public in both England and Scotland.

One such person, who was intrigued by the castle story, was his Royal Highness, Prince Charles, the Prince of Wales! He has since taken an active interest in the future of Kinloch Castle and has lent his name and prestige to a special trust fund that has been set up to look at ways of preserving the castle.

Our own Moxham Castle, however, had no royal prince to come to the rescue. Thanks to a monumental lack of interest and foresight, our community allowed a very unique building to fall into decay and burn to the ground. It was a sad and humiliating end to one of the most remarkable examples of 19th century Canadian architecture!
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Old Posted Jun 27, 2007, 7:27 PM
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$300 million Louisbourg golf resort moving ahead

The developers of the $300-million Louisbourg Resort Golf and Spa have the first four of 400 homes nearly completed on a 2,500-acre development on Round Lake. German resort developer Henric Bauermeister said he and partner Christian Reinisch of Austria, are drawing keen interest from international buyers of properties at the development located about two kilometres east of Louisbourg.

Nick Faldo, six-time major golf champion, is designing the world-class and par-three courses and spent several days in Cape Breton this week overseeing initial site work. He will be back in a year, once the course has been roughly laid out to plan the next stage. The homes range in price from $400,000 to $1 million.

Bauermeister said people invest in resorts today where there is a variety of amenities like a beach house, restaurants and conference facilities. “Golf is certainly the feature here, but we have the lake for fishing and there will be so many things we can offer in the winter time as well as summer,” he said. The company is getting inquiries from England, Ireland, Spain and Germany. He has been surprised by the inquiries coming from Toronto and Montreal and suspects it could be the favourable real estate prices in Cape Breton compared to similar developments elsewhere.

Reinisch said the initial development will cover 800 acres, while the east side of the property will be set aside for nature walks, hiking trails, biking and cross-country skiing. The resort will also house retail outlets, gymnasium, tennis and squash courts, curling lanes, an equestrian centre, child-care facilities and a private airstrip for light aircraft.

The first show homes are nearing completion and will be available soon. “We were certainly hoping to have a few more (homes) under construction but we ran into some bureaucracy,” that delayed the start of work last fall, he said. Bauermeister said 24 homes have already been sold.

-- The Cape Breton Post
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Old Posted Jul 1, 2007, 5:24 PM
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Thanks for the update bluenoser. Once again I have to play catchup (so much for freetime eh). I'll be able to do a bit this week, but hopefully I'll actually be able to snap some photos when I go home the weekend of the 28th, it's with the fiancee's family though so I don't know how long I'll be able to get away with the camera.
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Old Posted Jul 4, 2007, 4:18 PM
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From the Thursday, June 28, 2007 Cape Breton Post

Cape Breton Casting gets a reprieve

Sydney group expected to take over

Section: Business

By Wes Stewart, Cape Breton Post

The process is now in place to allow the divestiture of Cape Breton Casting, a die-cast manufacturing plant in the Northside Industrial Park.

Speculation has a business group headed by Sydney businessman Jim Kehoe as the new owners.

Enterprise Cape Breton Corp. spokesman D.A. Landry said Wednesday a new Cape Breton Growth Fund board comprising management and board members of ECBC was appointed this week to facilitate the sale of the die-cast plant and wind up the fund.

The growth fund, in a release, said it is in the final stages of negotiation for the sale of the assets of Cape Breton Casting Inc. as a going concern. A letter of intent has been agreed upon, however an announcement of the details of the transaction cannot be made until a formal agreement of purchase and sale has been signed. This should happen in the near future.

Given an agreement is pending, the growth fund board has agreed to continue operating the Casting plant beyond the July 1 deadline it previously imposed, to facilitate a smooth transition to the new owners. Upon completion of the agreement of purchase and sale, a detailed announcement will be made.

CBCI, located in the Northside Industrial Park, was established in 2004 to provide die-casting services to the automotive industry. The project received $24.7 million of repayable assistance from the growth fund, the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency and ECBC.

The growth fund took control of the plant in March 2006, when the project proponents encountered difficulty and surrendered their shares.

In December 2006, the growth fund board committed to operate Cape Breton Castings until July 1 while efforts were put in place to sell the plant. A public call for proposals was made in May 2007, for the sale of the assets. A total of five proposals were received and each was evaluated by Ernst & Young Orenda Corporate Finance Inc., who acted as agents for the sale.

The plant employs approximately 60 people.

The Cape Breton Growth Fund is a wholly owned subsidiary of ECBC. Established in 2000 to administer incremental economic development funds provided by the federal and provincial governments in the wake of the decision to discontinue the operations of Island's coal mines, the growth fund has a mandate to assist in the transition of the Cape Breton economy.

Landry said the growth fund when it was set up, while legally viewed as a subsidiary of ECBC, it was treated as a separate Crown corporation with a separate board appointed by order-in-council.

As of this week, the growth fund is now a normal subsidiary of ECBC and as the parent Crown corporation appointed a new board of directors - ECBC board members Frank MacInnis and Bob Munroe, and ECBC management personnel Marlene Usher, Lori Marenick and D.A. Landry.

The boards work together to ratify the decision of the growth fund board leading to the divestiture of the Casting plant and as the remaining funds are committed the growth fund will be dissolved and rolled into ECBC, he said.

There is approximately $4 million remaining in the growth fund.
Unfortunately, I'm having computer problems right now, so the rest of the updates will have to wait.
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Old Posted Aug 23, 2007, 6:32 PM
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FutureShop opens doors at Mayflower print this article
The Cape Breton Post

SYDNEY — Another new Mayflower Mall tenant will open its doors Thursday, as the shopping centre marks its grand reopening.

Future Shop, a retailer of consumer electronics, has a number of special events and promotions planned to mark the opening of its newest location, including giveaways and appearances by former Maple Leaf Wendel Clark and cartoon character Lisa Simpson.

In recent months, Sport Chek, an expanded Music World, Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory and Ricki’s have opened inside the mall, with Fairweather, The Rolling Phones and Winners expected to open soon.

Burnac Corp. is spending $10 million to covert 120,000 square feet of retail space just for Sport Chek, Future Shop and Winners alone.

The 20,000 square foot store Future Shop location will host Appearance and Autograph signing Saturday for families with cartoon character Lisa Simpson frm 1-3 p.m., while Wendel Clark will appear and sign autographs on Sunday from 2-4 p.m.

Future Shop has 125 stores across the country.

The 26-year-old Mayflower Mall employs 800 people, and will hold an invitation-only reopening Thursday for mall and store employees, which will be capped off with a fireworks display at 10:30 p.m. in the parking lot of the old Sobeys building.
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Old Posted Oct 3, 2007, 1:48 AM
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Sydney joining ports play

The Cape Breton Post

Anyone praying for port expansion and development in Sydney Harbour within the next few years should put in a good word for Halifax at the same time. The malaise currently enveloping the Port of Halifax is perhaps the biggest psychological block at the moment to full commitment to the idea of Nova Scotia cashing in on shifting world trade patterns.

Sydney Harbour, despite its obvious assets as a shipping port, dramatically demonstrated when it served as the assembly point for slow convoys in the Second World War, is third in Nova Scotia’s pecking order for the so-called Atlantic Gateway strategy. When it gets mentioned at all, Sydney is after Halifax and the Strait of Canso.

However, if it’s possible to have two winners then it’s possible to have three. Besides, the Strait’s perceived No. 2 spot in this queue owes much to the announcement back in June of a $350-million plan for a container port and transshipment facility at Melford, on the mainland side. While that’s a promising initiative there has yet to be a firm investment commitment to developing that greenfield site. Taking into account the infrastructure already in place in Sydney, the Strait has not yet secured its place as next in line to develop a seaside terminal in Nova Scotia.

Sydney Harbour could move ahead into container handling with a lot less initial investment at Sydport.

In any case, everything’s still in play as far as one can tell, and bureaucrats involved in negotiating an Atlantic Gateway funding framework with the federal government say project money will be allocated on merit.

Harbour channel dredging, to deepen the minimum bottom from about 13 metres to 17, tops the wish list for Sydney, according to a preview last week of the $325,000 Ports of Sydney Master Plan. In the opinion of planner Jim Hunt of TEC Inc., a Maryland company developing the plan, the $25 million to $35 million cost of dredging is justified and would pay off in jobs and investment. The plan scopes out a potential for up to 8,500 jobs from increased cruise ship and cargo business and up to $300 million in local wages. Clearly it’s a prize worth going for.

The plan envisions a container terminal and a second cruise ship dock.

The dredging project has been promoted for years, even seeming close to federal approval at one time only to become another dusty scheme on the shelf for returning Sydney Harbour to its wartime glory.

Convincing government to fund the project may be no easier now except that there is going to be a pot of money for transportation infrastructure once Ottawa and the Atlantic governments get around to signing and announcing the deal.

The dredging cost of $30 million isn’t a huge sum on the scale of port development schemes but the initial Atlantic Gateway focus seems likely to be on market development rather than infrastructure investment. The Port of Halifax is half-idle, and cargo traffic actually declined there in the first six months of this year despite all the hype about the Asian trade boom.

It’s up to Halifax right now to prove that the opportunity is real and thus to convince government bean-counters that port investment on the east coast will pay off. Here’s hoping for good fortune over the next year for the Port of Halifax.
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Old Posted Nov 2, 2007, 5:19 AM
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Friday, October 26, 2007 Cape Breton Post

Laurentian Energy expects to get work on Deep Panuke

Section: News

By Tom Ayers,
The Sydport dock and shops at Laurentian Energy should be busier next year, now that EnCana Corp. has announced it intends to go ahead with the $700-million Deep Panuke natural gas operation.

"We know there are 2,400 members of the Cape Breton Building Trades Association working off-island right now," he said.

"We have a major opportunity to repatriate many of the people who are working away."

Wooder said Laurentian, through a contractor called Tecnip, has bid on fabrication work for the in-field flow lines that carry gas from the wellhead to the production platform.

Under that contract, Laurentian will manufacture and assemble 25-35 kilometres of 12-inch piping that will be spooled and loaded in Sydney harbour for shipment to the wellhead.

"The real big prize, though, is the living quarters," Wooder said. "I think it's a 68-person onboard capability."

The living quarters will be nearly five storeys high and roughly 25 by 30 metres in area, and will cost up to $50 million, but Wooder said it's not clear yet how much of that will go to Laurentian.

"It would be a couple of million," he said, adding the details will have to be worked out with the contractors, RKO Steel and GJ Cahill of Dartmouth.

Under the contracts, Laurentian will rent some of its workspace and dock facilities and supply some of the workers.

"They have selected Sydport, Laurentian Energy as the assembly point," said Wooder.

Between the two jobs, Wooder expects Laurentian will be involved in up to 300,000 man-hours of work on EnCana's offshore gas operation, with about 200 workers at the peak of manufacturing.

Laurentian currently employs about 25 people, fabricating onshore oil drilling rig components. The announcement that Deep Panuke is going ahead means the company will have an opportunity to expand its resume into the offshore field.

Wooder said the Deep Panuke contracts provide an ideal opportunity to showcase the competence of Cape Breton workers and the suitability of Sydney harbour, and Sydport in particular, for more offshore work and other industrial development.

"It's just another step in the right direction," he said.

Deep Panuke is expected to deliver 200-300 million cubic feet of natural gas a day once production starts in 2010. The gas will be drilled at a location about 175 kilometres offshore from Nova Scotia, and will be sold in Canada and the northeast U.S.
Sweet taste of success

Candy Shop an instant hit in Port Hastings

Section: News

By Nancy King,
Peggy Ann Bosdet says that while her new Candy Shop can boast that it's the largest of its kind in Canada, there's another title she's after.

"People say, 'Well, why is it important to be the largest?' It's not important to be the largest, it's only important because that's the tourism hook, if you say that you're the largest lampshade in Canada, they will come look at it," Bosdet said.

"But to me as the owner, it's way more important that people say, 'Wow, that is the best candy shop, that is the best chocolate.'"

The Candy Shop's weekend opening in a former restaurant building overlooking the rotary near the Canso Causeway was intended to be a quiet one, to give the 15 new staff members time to learn the product line and sale system. There was no advance publicity or advertising.

That wasn't quite the case, however, as customers streamed through the doors.

"I have no idea how that many people figured out we were open," Bosdet said.

The business was first launched a few years ago, based in Arichat. It quickly grew, forcing a move into larger quarters and the launch of a production facility at the Creamery building in Port Hawkesbury. It now employs 24 people.

But the reopening of the larger Port Hastings location took a bit longer than originally intended. While she knew the building was going to require significant renovations, Bosdet said she wasn't expecting to have to embark on a complete rebuild something which pushed the opening date back by several months. And while the shop is now open, aspects of the operation that aren't yet functional, should be ready in time for the Nov. 17 grand opening. Visitors will be able to look through a window into the kitchen as hard candies and Acadian pulled taffy are made.

Another of the shop's unique features is the Chocolate Bar, which will offer a variety of different drinks. The bar itself, an original, old 50s soda pop bar, was imported from the United States. Bosdet noted it was shipped in one piece, weighing more than 5,000 pounds, and they had to cut a hole in the side of the building and swing it in with the boom crane.
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Old Posted Nov 2, 2007, 5:39 AM
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Thought I'd add some pictures in here to brighten things up before getting into the full catch-up mode! Some of these are in the phototour, but there are extras especially concerning the Spanish Gates site.

Keddy's demolition completed, here's the site now for sale.

Wentworth Park renovations, lower pond completed

The Wentworth Condominiums

Future YMCA

Health Park

Last edited by Smevo; Nov 2, 2007 at 5:55 AM.
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Old Posted Nov 2, 2007, 5:52 AM
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Spanish Gates Surroundings and Viewplanes

Just because it's so ridiculous, I thought it deserved a separate reply...

A panorama standing on the proposed site.

Viewplane 1 from the edge of the Northend (I was across the street from the parking lot of Harbour place)

Viewplane 2

Those are the two Viewplanes from the Northend that will be blocked by the complex.

The view at the end of Dorchester St (also the proposed site in the foreground)

The surroundings of the site up close

Another view of the site

Looks very historic to me. That shows every adjacent property and the real surroundings of the site. I just hope nobody in power actually buys the follishness from the handful (and it is only a handful) of Northenders trying to stop this project.
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Old Posted Nov 8, 2007, 2:29 PM
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Friday, November 2, 2007 Cape Breton Post

Inverness County
Construction of public works depot on schedule, budget

Section: Cape Breton

By Nancy King,
Construction of a new $2-million public works depot is on schedule and on budget, and should be completed by the end of next month, Inverness County's CAO says.

Once the building is completed, the transition of operations into it will begin, and it should be fully functioning in December, Kate Beaton added.

The new location is on a 10-acre wooded area near the Strathlorne Forest Nursery and a Department of Transportation garage. It represents a major infrastructure project for the municipality, and will involve relocating its existing recycling facility to the site and housing the county's public works operation in the same building. The municipality is also developing its emergency centre in the same location, Beaton said.

Determining a final location for the depot caused some controversy in the community. The council discussed options ranging from using the gymnasium portion of the former Inverness Education Centre building, a plan which was opposed by residents in that area.

The municipality had also talked to the Strait Regional School Board about possibly using part of the board's Mabou bus garage.

Residents near the Strathlorne site have also expressed concerns the site may be messy, although councillors have said steps will be taken to avoid mistakes encountered at the county's previous recycling facility.

"We (are) confident that the building is going to serve all of our needs very well," Beaton said.

"There (were) concerns with the location, the municipality has determined that that is the most appropriate site for the facility."
Public asked for opinions on active transportation plan

Section: Cape Breton

By Chris Hayes,
Walking, hiking, jogging, cycling and skateboarding.

It all falls under the heading of active transportation.

Consultants hired to do a study and write a plan on active transportation for the Cape Breton Regional Municipality will be at displays at a number of locations from today to Sunday eager to hear any ideas people have about active transportation.

Andre Gallant, vice-president of Velo Cape Breton and a member of the active transportation committee guiding the study, said it's important that consultants IBI Group and Stantec get that input.

"We want to get a cross-section of views of what potential there is here, what opportunities and what challenges - barriers to people being more physically active as well as some of the opportunities they do see," he said.

Rick McCready, a municipal planner on the committee, said the consultants wanted to go to places like malls where there are people who wouldn't necessarily go to a formal public meeting.

"The idea is to try to make people aware of what active transportation is and let them know why CBRM is doing an active transportation plan and try to get some ideas from them as to what they think about it."

"Do they see the potential for improvements to pedestrian environments in their communities? Can they suggest something specific?"

McCready suggested people may have ideas about pedestrian safety, sidewalks, walking trails, hiking and skateboarding, for instance.

Broadly speaking, active transportation includes any form of human-powered transportation, he said.

"The whole idea is to get people out of their cars and walking, biking or perhaps skateboarding to school, to work and shopping or even just for recreation - getting people out of their cars for health and environmental reasons."

The consultants will have maps showing the locations of sidewalks and trails and will gather information about how they are used.

The regional municipality has had an active transportation plan in its policies since the municipal planning strategy was adopted in 2005, and various groups from area doctors to Velo Cape Breton have been lobbying for bicycle lanes and walking trail infrastructure for years.

McCready said the active transportation plan is expected to determine priorities that will help guide plans and set priorities for the future.

Gallant said after a draft plan is developed, the consultants will hold more formal sessions with the public and with groups like Velo Cape Breton or trail associations which are already involved in promotion of active transportation.

He said it will be a far-reaching plan that will probably include recommendations for the regional municipality about infrastructure goals.

"The plan itself is going to be long-term," he said.

Cape Breton University professor Catherine O'Brien is also on the consulting team.
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Old Posted Nov 9, 2007, 4:33 AM
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Monday, November 5, 2007 Cape Breton Post

Parent pleased with Donkin legislation

Section: Cape Breton

By Nancy King,
Provincial Environment and Labour Minister Mark Parent says he's pleased to see legislation tabled federally that could lead to the reopening of the Donkin mine.

Bill C-15 was tabled in Ottawa this week, intended to resolve jurisdictional disputes between provincial and federal governments. The necessary provincial legislation has already been passed, Parent noted.

"Everything is going forward according to plan," he said in an interview Friday.

A summary of the bill notes it provides a legal regime to facilitate the exploitation of the Donkin coal block and to regulate employment in connection with the operation of any mine there.

It gives the authority to have Nova Scotia laws in areas such as labour and safety regulations apply to the project.

Tabling the legislation has been some time in coming, with provincial and federal officials discussing jurisdictional issues for about two years.

"It's been a long, hard go to get the two levels of government to work together and get the federal government actually recognize our legislation as the legislation that will prevail and to mirror it," Parent said. "Technically, what happens for this project is that they recognize our legislation as their legislation ... Because of it being underwater and the question of jurisdiction, there had to be an agreement between the federal and provincial governments and to get clarity and make sure you have a regime in there that is easily understood and that will protect workers."

The Donkin mine would be the first underground mine to open since the Westray disaster in 1992 which killed 26 miners. A subsequent inquiry recommended sweeping changes to legislation, and Parent described current provincial regulations as among the world's best.

The reopening of the Donkin could create about 275 direct jobs and support spinoff employment.

Donkin Coal Alliance, the company formed by Xstrata and Erdene Gold, is spending $15 million to assess the feasibility of opening the mine.
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Old Posted Nov 9, 2007, 4:51 AM
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Tuesday, November 6, 2007 Cape Breton Post

Federal Gypsum secures financing

Section: Front

By Nancy King, Cape Breton Post
Federal Gypsum has secured financing to allow the company to continue operating as it attempts to restructure its financial affairs.

Last month, the Nova Scotia Supreme Court granted Federal Gypsum an extension in its protection from creditors, contingent on the company obtaining additional debtor-in-possession financing so it can continue to cover operational costs.

Michael Simpson, executive vice-president, appeared in a Halifax court on that matter Monday.

Simpson said the company received approval for the term sheet it proposed, which was up to $1.5 million. He added there is a cap through to its next court appearance, Nov. 29 of $475,000.

"That was what we requested to be able to operate, as needed, through the end of the month, as we get our plan presented to the creditors," he said. "We're pleased, we're progressing as we expected and we're looking forward to successful resolution of this whole process."

Federal Gypsum's stay request had been opposed by one of its creditors, the Royal Bank of Canada, which argued the company was not viable. While it is in bankruptcy protection, the company continues to produce PlasterRock brand gypsum board.

Federal Gypsum has been the recipient of about $15 million in loans from a number of provincial and federal government programs. In total, it owes about $32 million to more than 90 creditors.

In September, the Nova Scotia Supreme Court has issued an order under the federal Companies' Creditors Arrangement Act to allow it time to structure its finances. Under the order, BDO Dunwoody Goodman Rosen, Inc. has been appointed as monitor.

The company has indicated that as a new wallboard manufacturer in the North American market, it was affected by the drop in both demand and price for gypsum board in the United States, which is in the midst of a housing slump.

The market is strong in Canada, but Federal Gypsum had difficulty penetrating it. Simpson said the company is continuing to see some progress in efforts to increase its sales market since adding two more salespeople.

"It's never as fast as you want, but we're definitely making progress on the operation at the sales front," he said.

In April, the company laid off 20 workers, leaving it operating at about 20 per cent capacity, with about 30 employees.

In 2004, Federal Gypsum announced it would take over the plant under a 99-year lease and eventually employ 80 workers, producing 275 million feet of wallboard a year.

It began production at the former U.S. Gypsum plant in June 2006. It's the only gypsum wallboard plant in Nova Scotia.
Road work in preparation for Ben Eion golf course

Section: News

Column: The road report

Trunk 4, from East Bay west for about 4 kms to the Ski Ben Eoin area, will have one lane closures until Nov. 30 for paving and construction of a left-turning lane into the golf and ski area. Work takes place from 7 a.m.-7:30 p.m.
Open house planned for today at firemen's centre

Section: Northside/Victoria

Column: Briefly

Public Works and Government Services Canada is holding an open house 6-9 p.m., today at the John J. Nugent Firemens' Centre to discuss ongoing activities associated with the cleanup work planned for the former Princess Colliery site.

The Cape Breton Development Corp. has asked PWGSC to manage a number of projects on its behalf as part of their site closure program, including the former Princess Colliery site.

The goal of the remediation program is to leave former mining sites in a stable, safe condition and return it to its former land use or an acceptable alternative.

The site is expected to be remediated to light industrial and recreational use.

Anyone interested in learning more about this project is invited to attend.
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Wednesday, November 7, 2007 Cape Breton Post

Trade mission could translate into big business for Cape Breton firms

Section: Business

By Nancy King,
This is one matchmaking effort that appears to be paying off for two Cape Breton companies.

Dominion-based ADM Solutions and Sydport's Laurentian Steel Fabricators are currently in Boston looking to drum up business as part of a Team Canada Atlantic trade mission.

Before they arrived in the city, mission officials matched the 64 participating companies with potential clients, setting up meetings over the course of the four-day event.

"I've met more people here in the last two days, high-profile, than I have in the last six months," noted Allen McCormick, president of ADM Solutions, a digital translation service. "You're discussing potential deals with RIM (Research In Motion), the makers of BlackBerry, and at a director level . . . Companies like Raytheon who are just massive in terms of footprint in the Massachusetts area, and you wouldn't get the time of day if we came in and did a cold call."

Also meeting with officials from Raytheon, a major player in developing military and industrial technologies, was John Phalen, engineering manager for Laurentian Steel Fabricators.

"They're looking for companies in Canada that they can deal with," Phalen said. "Raytheon is a huge company, $20 billion a year, 74,000 employees, so it's not going to be too hard to find a little niche in there for our plant in Sydport."

It is the first trade mission for ADM and McCormick said it's been well worth the trip. The days are jammed with meetings and already arrangements have been made for one client to send media files for ADM to transcribe as a pilot project, and McCormick added he is also looking at a possible research and development project with a large client.

"This is a very hot market, a very competitive market and you had to bring your A-game down," he said.

Phalen noted Laurentian Steel Fabricators had previously pursued business in New England which it is looking to expand upon, in areas such as steel fabrication, and thermal power plants, and he was confident they would leave Boston with new business.

In the past few years, the company has grown from seven to about 25 employees, with sales doubling, Phalen noted.

"Laurentian is growing well, we were originally set up for the offshore, but offshore (development) didn't come as quickly as everybody expected it to, so we had to branch out into the New Englands and the Calgarys of the world to get business for Sydney," he said.

Phalen added they've also partnered with RKO Steel in Halifax "to punch higher for bigger jobs where we can work on a joint venture."
Celtic Colours has golden touch

Festival named event of the year at Tourism Industry Association of Canada national awards

Section: Front

By Laura Jean Grant,
The Celtic Colours International Festival took home a big honour from the Tourism Industry Association of Canada's national awards ceremony Monday night.

The festival - a nine-day celebration of Celtic music and culture held each fall across Cape Breton - was named the Metro Toronto Convention Centre Event of the Year at a gala dinner during Canada's Tourism Leadership Summit 2007 at the Fairmont Empress Hotel in Victoria, B.C.

Celtic Colours was a finalist for the same award in 2006.

"It was very exciting. You're in a big banquet room full of Canada's leading tourism people and it's very nice to hear the name of Celtic Colours being called out and getting up to accept this beautiful, huge, crystal award," said festival co-director Max MacDonald, who attended the ceremony and said he accepted the award on behalf of the many Celtic Colours volunteers.

Drawing approximately 7,000 visitors to the island each year, MacDonald described Celtic Colours as a cultural tourism event.

"It does demonstrate that culture and tourism together can make beautiful music," he said. "We're just really pleased that the music and culture of Cape Breton contributes significantly to the economy of the island and to see that recognized with a national award is a really nice thing."

It was a big night for other Nova Scotia nominees at the national conference as the Nova Scotia Department of Tourism and Culture received the Deloitte Innovator of the Year award and Cape Chignecto Provincial Park in Amherst, won the Parks Canada Sustainable Tourism award. MacDonald said the Nova Scotia contingent sat together at the gala and were three-for-three when it came to the awards.

"We all won so Nova Scotia was looking pretty good on the national front," he said.

A total of 13 organizations and individuals from across Canada were recognized for outstanding contributions to the Canadian tourism sector.

The TIAC National Awards for Tourism Excellence presented by The Globe and Mail were developed in 2003 by the Tourism Industry Association of Canada, the national private-sector advocate for Canada's $66.9 billion tourism sector, to recognize and foster Canadian tourism excellence.
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Thursday, November 8, 2007 Cape Breton Post

The Coast ready to return to airwaves in early December

Section: Business; Front

By Chris Hayes, Cape Breton Post
Community radio station The Coast plans to be a breath of fresh air on the Cape Breton radio scene when it returns to the airwaves with a stronger signal and new permanent licence.

General manager Bill MacNeil said it looks like The Coast should be back on the air at 89.7 FM by late November or early December with more of the Cape Breton and East Coast music and community programming that is its focus.

"We are really I guess the one station that will stand out as being different because of the Cape Breton component," he said Friday. "I mean, it's 100 per cent locally owned and operated, which is a kind of breath of fresh air and we are really going to key in on what Cape Breton wants to hear."

The Coast, which is operated by the not-for-profit Cape Breton Community Coastal Radio Co-operative, has been off the air but available on the Internet while installing technology for the change from a 50-watt station to a 6,000-watt station.

The Glace Bay-based radio station should be able to reach Sydney, the Northside, New Waterford and most of what MacNeil referred to as metro Cape Breton with its new, stronger signal although the exact reach won't be known until it is broadcasting, he said.

Employee numbers will also increase from four to about 10.

Local programming could include a seniors program produced by seniors and a high-school magazine type show, he suggested.

Newscasts will be broadcast on the hour including weekends and will focus on Cape Breton, said MacNeil.

The Coast told the CRTC it plans to play at least 80 per cent Canadian music.

"Yeah, it's a lot," said MacNeil. "But you know what - when you have great music in Cape Breton and the East Coast, it doesn't make the job difficult."

The radio station will also sell advertising but as a not-for-profit will put any profits back into the operation, he said.
Treasured island:

Section: Front; Front

By Erin Pottie, Cape Breton Post
The scenic beauty of Cape Breton Island has once again caught the attention of National Geographic Traveler magazine.

Among the world's 10 best islands, Cape Breton tied for 10th with Corsica, France in the publication's November/December 2007 issue.

A total of 111 islands and archipelagos were ranked in six categories: environmental and ecological quality; social and cultural integrity; condition of historic buildings and archaeological sites; aesthetic appeal; quality of tourism management; and outlook for the future.

The Destinations Rated feature examined islands as appealing places that are often prone to tourism overkill. With 100 being the best score for avoiding that danger, Cape Breton scored 75.

"Let's celebrate where we're from, we're so fortunate, we really are. We're fortunate to live here, we're fortunate to raise our families here. Everyone else recognizes it and we should celebrate it ourselves," said Sandra MacDonald, general manager of Destination Cape Breton.

Quotes from the panel's 522 experts in sustainable tourism and destination were posted anonymously on the magazine's website.

"Aesthetic appeal is very high with small unique fishing villages, Celtic music and dancing, and with beautiful scenic drives," is one of the postings for Cape Breton.

Comments also warn of the island's tendency for outmigration, high unemployment, pollution and short tourist season.

To measure island integrity, National Geographic Traveler and the National Geographic Center for Sustainable Destination conducted the fourth annual Destination Scorecard survey, aided by George Washington University and panellists.

Cape Breton is no stranger to tourism accolades from the magazine. It placed second on a scorecard of more than 100 of the world's greatest destinations in 2004, and Highlands National Park placed second of 55 North American national parks in 2005.
Of course this got the usual response of "NS doesn't give us what we deserve, it's time to separate" rant by some random supporter of the provincehood movement.

Sorry, I just had to include this story because of the predictability of it all.
CBRM mayor not impressed with provincial deal on housing, corrections

Section: News; Front

By Chris Shannon, Cape Breton Post
An agreement ensuring cost reductions in housing and corrections shouldered by the province's municipalities will be signed today at the Union of Nova Scotia Municipalities annual conference in Halifax.

The mayor of the province's second largest municipality, John Morgan of the Cape Breton Regional Municipality, told the Cape Breton Post Wednesday the deal is good in principle but lacks financial gains over the short term.

He said the agreement is nothing more than a "photo-op" for Premier Rodney MacDonald.

"It's a drop in the bucket," said Morgan, who's not attending the conference due to previous commitments.

"It is marginally positive but without making any substantive change for our own region and indeed for most of the municipalities across the province, other than the very wealthiest of them."

The seven-year deal will likely mean $3.2 million for the CBRM in the latter years of the agreement, he said. In comparison, the municipality's annual budget this year is $110 million.

The agreement builds upon a memorandum of understanding between the two levels of government signed in 2005.

The revised memorandum outlines a freeze in mandatory municipal contributions to correctional services at the 2007-08 level, with a five-year phase out beginning in 2010. Municipal contributions to housing of $6.5 million phased out over two years, also begins in 2010.

The cumulative cost savings of these two measures to the province's 55 municipalities over the life of the agreement is about $85 million. The changes take effect in April.

The savings don't correct the fundamental imbalance in equalization funding among the municipalities, specifically CBRM, Morgan said.

"It's changes that do benefit municipalities in some way but often aggravate the disparity between municipalities. And that's what they're doing."

The UNSM takes another view.

"The UNSM is solidly behind all aspects of this memorandum," said UNSM president Russell Walker, a Halifax regional councillor. "The financial package is quite positive and indeed good news for all of our members."

In a release, MacDonald said it is "another important step in building strong vibrant communities across the province."

The memorandum also caps education funding at 2007-08 levels, with annual increases tied to the Nova Scotia consumer price index.

Morgan said the province should have the capacity to solely fund education services, instead of placing some of the burden on the municipal units. Although, Halifax mayor Peter Kelly sees it as a way to finally contain education costs.

"This predictability will certainly help as we set our annual budgets," Kelly said.

The province maintains that property taxpayer contributions to education remain among the lowest in the country.
Department of National Defence listening to clean up demands

Section: News; Front

By Chris Hayes, Cape Breton Post
Department of National Defence officials appear to be listening to demands for a faster cleanup of heating oil contamination at Pine Tree Park, a former radar base which is now owned by New Dawn Enterprises.

Owen Fitzgerald, a spokesperson for the Community Development Advocacy Council which has been making those demands, said Wednesday he was encouraged by recent talks in Halifax that involved a senior DND official, himself representing the community group, and New Dawn.

Fitzgerald said appraisal and testing will be done between now and February and shortly thereafter, a schedule will be developed to clean up the property. He expects the cleanup will get underway in the spring.

"I felt there was great progress there - they have a much better understanding and appreciation of the situation New Dawn is in," said Fitzgerald, who is also president of the Sydney and Area Chamber of Commerce. "There has been significant progress. The problem isn't solved yet but there is a process in place and there are some timelines in place now.

"We were very pleased."

New Dawn Enterprises was forced to abandon a multi-million dollar affordable housing project when it was blocked from getting the financing it needed because some land on the former radar base that it wanted to use as collateral is contaminated with home heating oil.

Board chairman Steve Lilley has said an additional project is also in jeopardy.

DND officials had said the department is moving forward on remediation, but New Dawn and the council have said the cleanup was moving far too slowly.

New Dawn has been trying for four years to get DND to clean up the site, Fitzgerald said.

He said DND officials didn't seem to realize the level of concern about the delayed cleanup until the community took a more aggressive and united approach to the problem.

"They were flabbergasted," he said. "They honestly thought they were doing a fair reasonable job."

DND and New Dawn have agreed to meet again in Sydney in early December and again in February to keep negotiations on track, said Fitzgerald.

Former DND land mentioned
Would be one of two shaded portions.

-Why would a multi-million dollar housing project being blocked be a problem? Sydney doesn't need new houses...it's losing population isn't it?
Too bad our rebound won't be noticed by outsiders until 2011.

Remediation continues on former mine site

Section: Northside/Victoria

By Julie Collins, Cape Breton Post
Work on the washplant area of the former Princess mine site is complete.

Remediation of the mine site for light industrial and recreational use was divided into two sections. The area in Sydney Mines, south of Ocean Street, which is now complete, and about 40 hectares northeast of Ocean Street, referred to as the waste rock area.

"We met with the stakeholder groups and the public this week to update them on the project," said Eric Parsons, project leader for Public Works and Government Services Canada for Devco's site closure program. "Now that the project is underway, it's important to keep people informed and seek any input from them on the various stages as the project proceeds."

The former washplant is now a green area with an interpretive park, walking trails and a pond that can be used for skating in the winter months.

Work on the waste rock pile, the larger portion of the site, is expected to begin next week. This phase includes ditching to improve drainage and grading work to reshape the piles of rock.

"Right now there are clumps and lumps all over the place. It will be reshaped and tapered so we can do the design work and place some form of cover on that waste rock," he said. "The public likes the track we're on and keeping them informed is key. There may be something with the drainage that we aren't aware of because we don't live in the area. It's possible we could incorporate these suggestions into the design work."

It's anticipated the work on the waste rock site will be complete early in the new year.

Devco owns approximately 600 properties covering about 1,000 square kilometres in 35 different communities within Cape Breton. These range from urban lots, forest fields, wetlands and ponds to ocean frontage.

When Devco ceased operation, it turned to Public Works, a federal department with experience in environmental cleanups and project management.

The goal of the remediation program is to leave former mining sites in a stable, safe condition and return them to their former land use or an acceptable alternative.

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Thursday, November 22

All from the date's issue of the Cape Breton Post...as usual.

Donkin mine legislation makes its way through parliament

Section: Business

By Chris Hayes,

Donkin Coal Alliance was pleased to see legislation on the proposed $300-million Donkin mine make its way through Parliament this week, as the company's assessment of the project continues underground.

Legislation to resolve jurisdictional disputes between provincial and federal governments on the proposed coal mine project received third reading in the House of Commons Tuesday and was headed to the Senate to receive royal assent.

Project manager Darren Nicholls said Wednesday the removal of any duplication in the regulatory regime can only add to what is already a strong health and safety environment of the project.

"You work within one set of regulations, it removes any ambiguity and it clearly gives us an understanding of the regime we are going to be working under," he said. "It's very, very important because any duplication can only make it a less efficient business to run from our point of view."

MP Rodger Cuzner said Senate recommendation shouldn't be an issue.

Cuzner said there were some concerns the Bloc Quebecois would oppose the legislation since it deals with federal-provincial relations but that didn't happen, and there was all-party unanimous approval.

"It was probably three years in the making but it ran parallel to the work Xstrata was doing, so it didn't handcuff Xstrata," said the Liberal MP, who represents Cape Breton Canso.

Donkin Coal Alliance, the company formed by Xstrata and Erdene Gold, is spending $15 million to assess the feasibility of opening the mine. The Cape Breton Development Corp. abandoned the development in the 1980s, sealed the tunnels and allowed them to flood. Nicholls said the company has pumped that water - nearly 430 million litres - out of the tunnels and is at the coal face.

The company is currently setting up for an underground drilling program that will help determine the gas situation in the mine, which is crucial to making ventilation and other mine plans, he said. Hopefully by March, the company will be ready to start a pre-feasibility study.

"Everything seems to be moving in the direction we would like to see it go," he said.

A summary of the bill notes it provides a legal regime to facilitate the exploitation of the Donkin coal block and to regulate employment in connection with the operation of any mine there.

It gives the authority to have Nova Scotia laws in areas such as labour and safety regulations apply to the project.

It also deals with royalties from the exploitation of the portion of the Donkin coal block in frontier lands, with the royalties sent to the federal treasury, and then paid to the province.
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Friday, November 23

Cape Breton Post

Non-profit society seeks funding for $1.6M health centre in L'Ardoise

Section: Front

By Nancy King,

A non-profit society here is hoping to build a new $1.6 million health centre to allow it to better serve the needs of eastern Richmond County, as well as better recruit and retain doctors.

About 25 years ago, the area set out to attract a doctor to the area by offering a building from which to practice. The Dr. Kingston Memorial Health Centre has also since established a long-running health project which focuses on illness prevention efforts.

The building, a former parish centre, is now more than 100 years old. In addition to its age, challenges with the current location include it not being accessible, meaning clients with mobility issues can't fully access its services, noted board member Billy Cotton.

"We want a new modern facility and we really think we deserve it even though we're in a rural area," he said.

"We want to have a medical centre that promotes wellness to the community at large. Our health project is already doing that . . . it's all about prevention so you don't have to come to the clinic for the doctors. That's our purpose, to combine the two to make you healthier, but then when you're sick we treat that too."

According to the business plan for the project, the centre - which serves communities including L'Ardoise, River Bourgeois, St. Peter's, Sampsonville, Grand River - has an established client base of 5,000, a level that's remained consistent over the past decade. The board plans to continue to offer the services it does currently and expand into additional areas.

The health centre board is proposing the province contribute $1.4 million to the project, with the Municipality of Richmond and the centre itself contributing $75,000 each, while the East Coast Credit Union has offered to sell a portion of its property for a dollar, where the centre could be constructed. To date, it's attracted $74,000 of in-kind contributions, toward an overall budget of $1.6 million.

The area has encountered some difficulty in attracting physicians, in part because of the lack of facilities, Cotton said. He said a new, modern health centre and expanded services would help to change that.

"At one time we had three doctors in the existing clinic," he said.

"It's always tough getting doctors to our area because we don't have the facilities, but I suspect we will (recruit)."

The business plan is based on having one full-time doctor in the first year of operation, with a second coming on board the next year. It also includes plans to recruit a dentist in year three.

The centre may also be able to rent office space in its basement to services such things orthotics or massage therapy, although that hasn't been built into the current business plan.

Planning for the centre began about three years ago, and the society has spent a good deal of time honing its business plan, Cotton said. Board members are now holding initial talks with potential funders, having met with Health Minister Chris D'Entremont and are planning to speak with the Office of Health Promotion. They also appeared at this month's Richmond council meeting to make a grant request.

"They're very aware of what we're doing and they're very in favour of it, but of course it's $1.3 million we're looking for so it's not going to be an easy sell," Cotton said. "I'm confident it will be built, there's no question in my mind that it will happen, I'm just not sure when it will happen. It's not going to be an easy sell, of course, we've got to really prove ourselves and justify it and we're at the point where we can do that."

If things go according to plan and approvals are received early next year, ideally construction could start as soon as next spring, he said, and be completed in the fall. But he acknowledged an opening date in 2009 is probably more likely.
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CB Post

Lockheed Martin, ATK join PlanetSpace in Cape Breton launch pad proposal

Section: Business

The company that wants to build a rocket launch pad in Cape Breton has teamed up with some heavy hitters in the aerospace industry.

PlanetSpace says it has been working with partners Lockheed Martin Space Systems Co., ATK , a launch specialty company, and the Bank of Montreal in designing a proposal for NASA.

Chirinjeev Kathuria, chairman of PlanetSpace, say they've developed an innovative, low-risk business plan and technical approach that can deliver cargo to the International Space Station economically and provide low-cost launch services.

Nova Scotia's business development agency, remains in discussions with the company about building a launch pad in the province. Lockheed Martin Space Systems says the company plans to use its proven technology to develop modular cargo carriers for PlanetSpace and NASA.
Railway still not ready to ship garbage to Guysborough landfill: municipal official

Section: Cape Breton

By Chris Hayes, Cape Breton Post

The Cape Breton Regional Municipality is facing another delay in plans to ship garbage to a Guysborough County landfill by rail.

Solid waste manager Donnie Burke said Friday the municipality was hoping the Cape Breton and Central Nova Scotia Nova Scotia Railway would be carrying the garbage by January but has learned the railway won't be ready.

"They haven't given up on it I guess but they asked for another extension," he said. "They are going to come to see us in the next two or three weeks to give us what their outlook is."

The regional municipality has asked Stan Dicks Contracting to continue trucking the garbage until at least April 1.

It's the latest in a series of delays by the railway.

The Cape Breton Post wasn't able to reach railway officials Friday but Burke thought the delay may be related to opposition from residents in Havre Boucher, Antigonish County.

The plan would see five rail cars with two containers each travel to Havre Boucher three times a week, where the garbage would be transferred to two trucks that would continue 40 kilometres down the road to the second-generation landfill site in Lincolnville.

Burke said he joined railway officials at a public meeting in Havre Boucher and a meeting of council for the Municipality of Antigonish County in an attempt to reassure local residents about the garbage by rail plan.

Garbage will be shipped in covered steel containers, he said.

"The only time the waste would see the light of day is when it is at curbside and when we open up the can up in Guysborough."

The regional municipality currently has no plans to drop the rail option, he said.

Council wanted to help secure the future of the railway - which at the time had been talking about abandoning the Cape Breton section of its line - when it agreed to ship the garbage by rail, Burke noted.

"Rail is so crucial to the economic plan of the region and our council has given us the mandate to go that way so we'll fit with them as long as we can.

"At the same point, in fairness to our haulers, it would be good to give a long-term contract to them or decide if we are going to do it in-house."

The cost of trucking garbage, which has fallen with the introduction of organic composting throughout the regional municipality, is quite close to the rail option and probably a bit cheaper, he said.

The regional municipality's trucking contractor is probably carrying between 80 and 100 tonnes a day on three or four trucks, he said.
Comment section relating to an earlier story (run in one of my absences)
Wind-water plan clears first hurdle

Section: Comment

It's suggestive of a mad scientist's perpetual motion machine, or a school boy's inspiration. If you're at all impressed by elegant engineering, Cape Breton Explorations Ltd. should catch your attention with its idea to erect up to 44 wind turbines in the highlands above Middle Cape-Irishvale and to use their off-peak electricity to bank energy in the form of elevated water.

Translating a nifty idea into an industrial scale project is no simple undertaking, of course. This week the proposal cleared an early hurdle when Cape Breton regional council approved a land-use amendment to allow the hydroelectric component of the scheme, the part that's sure to draw the most attention in the environmental assessment process to take place over the next year.

With wind farms becoming familiar - this same company has already erected wind turbines at Lingan - it's the hydro part that makes the project unique and likely to attract wide interest. Moving water is the oldest application for windmills, though that was done by direct mechanics. Forms of pumped storage for hydroelectricity are more than a century old as well but using wind-generated electricity to stock a reservoir with water that is later drawn to generate electricity again is a fairly new wrinkle.

The system proposed would feed wind-generated power directly into the grid during peak demand, then in the off-hours power the pumping of water from Lake Uist through a buried penstock to an artificial lake some three kilometres away and more than 100 metres higher. The pumped water would later flow back down the penstock to drive one or two turbines before dispersing into the lower lake from whence it came.

The big advantage of the hydro component is that it allows the output of the overall system, though powered by wind, to be finely tuned to grid demand and price. Most of the hydro system would be underground, and the windmills would not be visible from Highway 4.

One obvious concern is the affect all this movement of water into and out of the natural lake will have on its ecosystem. However, council generally agreed with the staff view that these and other involved technical issues, while important, must be deferred to an environmental review process better equipped to do that analysis.

The biggest community impact of a project like this initially is the time and attention it commands. Here were folks minding their own business in a remote corner of the Cape Breton Regional Municipality when along came this outfit with its big idea.

For those with concerns about the scheme, or just wanting to be left alone, it means long hours spent studying the plan and the regulatory process, and - depending on individual commitment - possibly looking for ways to challenge the proponent's assumptions and assertions.

Ideally, a local community will approach such a project with a skeptical but open mind, prepared to acknowledge competing rights to space and resources provided certain vital interests such as environmental protection are fully satisfied. With the proponent confident of meeting that standard, interested members of both the local and the broader community have an obligation to ensure that the all the necessary tests are rigorously applied.

Relating to the Dominion sewage treatment plant...these water and wastewater treatment plants have been springing up everywhere in the past 3-4 years.
Municipality protecting eagle's nest

Section: Glace Bay/New Waterford

By Sharon Montgomery, Cape Breton Post

The Cape Breton Regional Municipality is working hard not to ruffle any feathers.

An eagle's nest was discovered in a tree on land where a road is being built to access a planned sewage treatment plant. In order not to disturb the nest, the municipality purchased another lot of land.

"Originally the road was to be built straight through where the tree is, but we purchased this extra piece of land and are making a big snake in the road around it," said Coun. Darren Bruckschwaiger.

Tree cutting in the area is also being limited, to have added protection between the road and the nest.

The access road for the proposed facility will extend from Cooney's Lane along the Dominion side of Cadegan's Brook.

The $9-$10-million project is being cost-shared by municipal, federal and provincial governments. Bruckschwaiger said the design of the collection system and lift stations as well as a preselection of treatment equipment for the facility has been completed.

Next week, work will begin to hook up new sewer lines in a section of Mitchell and Kings avenues.

The plant is expected to be in operation by early 2009.

Paul Koziel, wildlife technician with the Department of Natural Resources, Baddeck, is pleased to see the municipality protect the eagle's nest.

The eagle is a protected species and every effort is always made by the department to ensure they are secure and not disturbed, he said.

Eagles can live upwards of 40 years and have the same mate for life, usually mating around March.

"So this is a good time to be putting in a road."

Eagles normally return to their nests and usually add to them every year, he added.

"You can tell how long an eagle's nest has been there by the size of it."

The nest

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Monday, November 26

Another Project completed
New DFO building in Westmount will open Thursday

Facility will amalgamate offices from three different sites

Section: Business

By Greg McNeil, Cape Breton Post

The finishing touches are being put on the new Eastern Nova Scotia operational headquarters for the Department of Fisheries and Oceans Canada.

When it opens Thursday, the $4.7-million, 10,000-square-foot facility on the Westmount Road will accommodate all office and conservation and protection staff.

Acting area director Joan Reid said the new building will help the DFO amalgamate different offices located across the Cape Breton Regional Municipality.

"We've got our (administration) staff here at the (Canadian) Coast Guard College, we have enforcement staff at the Cabot House and then we have boats and various other equipment stored at a warehouse on Keltic Drive. This is going to consolidate all those three."

One example of inefficiencies with the current setup was found in the daily duties of DFO officers.

Often times they are forced to travel back and forth to service various gear and seized equipment in the DFO warehouse before returning to the main office to do the paperwork.

The headquarters will continue to be responsible for a large area of the province, including part of the fishery in the Bay of Fundy.

While more efficient, no new services will be offered.

"We are hoping it will be a little better service for our clients as well as a little more effective operation for us. Hopefully, it will be a little more economical for us."

Although the offices leave the coast guard building they will remain on coast guard property.

To accommodate the move the DFO office will be closed until Thursday.

Historic church in North Sydney undergoing facelift

First phase of renovations will cost approximately $300,000

Section: Northside/Victoria

By Julie Collins, Cape Breton Post

St. Matthew-Wesley United Church is an impressive landmark that takes up an entire town block in North Sydney.

Since August the congregation has had to put up with buckets in the sanctuary because of a leaky roof.

Workers with Joneljim Concrete Construction are putting a new roof on the sanctuary and will replace a number of the windows.

"The congregation, though aged and small in number decided that this was too valuable a structure to lose," said June Robertson, treasurer of the structure committee. "The workers with Joneljim are doing a tremendous job. They are identifying any problems along the way that need attention."

The congregation had to get permission from the Sydney Presbytery before going ahead with the project.

"It was a bit of a struggle, but we did eventually get permission. The Presbytery was concerned about whether it was a wise investment, but the congregation decided this is where we belong."

The original church was moved back and a new one build on the front lot. Three months after the dedication, the structure burned down. The dedication of St. Matthew-Wesley took place in 1901.

"Our ancestors gave up everything to build this church and our congregation feels the same. The men of the congregation, most who are 60-plus, insulated the floor in the sanctuary, but the major work to the exterior is just too big a job for them to tackle."

Along with a leaky roof, the window sills are rotting and the church lost a window in the bell tower during the last storm.

Some of the stained glass windows may have to be removed. As much of the stained glass will be saved and inserts put on the replacement windows to accommodate the stained glass.

The first phase of the renovation work will cost in the area of $300,000.

"We have some trust money, people are generously donating to the structure fund and as a congregation we are doing what we can to raise money," Robertson said. "St. Matthew-Wesley has the arches and turrets, the Cassavant pipe organ and theatre type seating that gives everyone a view of what is going on at the front of the church. There are so many unique features to this structure, to consider building a new church wasn't an option."

Robertson said as finances allow, the congregation hopes to will take on renovations to the interior of the church. They plan to lower the ceiling in the main hall to help lower heating costs.

"As with many of our congregation, I was baptised, confirmed, married and had my children baptised in this church," she said. "Church is the one place that the main events of one's life happens emotionally, spiritually and historically, its been our connection."

Robertson added that even though the task is monumental, since deciding to move on the renovations the mood of the congregation has been joyous.
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Cape Breton Post

Preliminary study gives positive assessment to Donkin project

Section: Business

By Chris Hayes,

Erdene Gold Inc. says an independent preliminary study has given a positive assessment of the proposed $300-million Donkin coal mine project.

Peter Akerley, president of the company, which has a 25 per cent stake in the Donkin Coal Alliance, said the preliminary study indicates the mine project meets the economic hurdles set out by Erdene and Xstrata, which owns the other 75 per cent.

"We feel very good about it," Akerley said of the study which was released Monday. "The project is on track . . . We still have a fair amount of work to do to bring it to that point where a decision can be made to go forward but this is certainly a good step forward."

Norwest Corp., a well-known coal consulting company, did the study using information gathered by Donkin Coal Alliance, he said.

Donkin Coal Alliance is assessing the feasibility of opening the mine. The Cape Breton Development Corp. abandoned the development of the mine in the 1980s, sealed the tunnels and allowed them to flood.

The Norwest Corp. study is based on a projected mine life of more than 30 years, during which about 109 million tonnes of coal would be produced.

The value of the coal produced would be in the $52 a tonne range, he said.

Erdene has estimated a capital budget of about $313 million to bring the mine to full long-wall production.

A project like the Donkin mine would have several stages of technical and feasibility study, Akerley said.

"This is the first, the preliminary assessment stage. The next is the pre-feasibility stage which comes probably first quarter of 2008 and then final feasibility at the end of 2008," he said.

"At each of these steps you increase your level of confidence."

The level of confidence improves with positive results at each stage, he said.

The company is currently setting up for an underground drilling program that will help determine the gas situation in the mine.

Akerley said that could also add to the confidence in the project.

Toy store aimed at customer who is looking for something different

Section: Business

By Chris Shannon,

A store looking to carve a niche in the children's toy market is now open in the Crowell's building on Charlotte Street.

Christina McCarthy, owner of the Cape Breton Baby Company, is now operating a companion store that's directly next door, called Planet Kids Books and Toys.

McCarthy said the store's philosophy is simple.

"We try very hard to carry products that are different, so we have a lot of wooden toys," she said.

"We have a couple of big department stores that have a lot of toys and that's why we've set ourselves apart trying to have products you don't find there because we know we can't compete against the Wal-Marts of the world in that sense."

The shop carries Thomas Wooden Railway, Melissa & Doug, and Lamaze baby toys as well as an extensive line of puzzles and hand puppets.

McCarthy said she's attempting to stock up on a wide selection of children's books that parents can choose from as potential gifts this holiday season.

She carried several lines of toys at the Baby Company, which has been open since 2005, but added there was a misconception the toys were geared solely toward infants because of the shop's name.

"We've been carrying the toys for some time, gradually increasing the lines that we carry and adding more and more as we go along."

Planet Kids officially opened last Tuesday.

And in order to make choosing the right toy less difficult, a play area has been set up inside the store to occupy children who are shopping with mom or dad.

As Christmas slowly creeps up on procrastinating parents, McCarthy said it gives them a chance to see what toys genuinely interest their children.
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Tar ponds cleanup plan undergoes some minor revisions

Section: Business

By Nancy King, Cape Breton Post

A component of the Sydney tar ponds cleanup plan is undergoing a significant design change, with the decision to abandon construction of a steel channel through the site.

The Sydney Tar Ponds Agency is now reviewing a recommendation by design engineer Earth Tech/CBCL to pump water flowing from two brooks around the tar ponds to isolate the area during solidification and stabilization work while constructing the channels in the hardened cement mixture. It is now considering the design recommendations and will soon decide how the project will proceed.

The initial design called for using steel sheet piling to construct the channel to build a new brook alignment, with water from the two brooks that pass through the ponds, the Wash Brook and the Coke Ovens Brook, flowing through it. The channel, which was expected to take about 18 months to complete, would manage water flow during the solidification and stabilization of the tar ponds and allow brook water to move freely to the harbour, and prevent flooding of surrounding communities.

Last winter, a drill rig collected core samples from both the north and south tar ponds to ensure officials knew such things as the height of the bedrock and the soil conditions.

"When that information came back, it was more detailed information than what we had before," noted Frank Potter, CEO of the Sydney Tar Ponds Agency. "There were two issues that came up, one was that the bedrock was higher than we had seen in other bore holes that were randomly picked in the ponds and there was more of a sandy material down there than initially thought."

As a result, the design consultant had to change the style of the steel sheet piling to be used in the channel, to a more expensive material. But as they proceeded with the design work and determined the length and depth of material needed, it was discovered it would add significantly to the cost, placing it over budget, Potter said.

Instead, the consultant re-evaluated alternative options and recommended blocking off the two brooks and pumping water around the ponds while the solidification and stabilization proceeds.

"The original approach would have had us spend 18 months building the brooks and then let the water flow through for the remaining six or so years," Potter said. "This way what we'll do is simply just block it off and pump it. We don't have to pump the whole amount all the time but we'll pump it as we work in certain areas."

The change won't have any impact on the overall timeline for the cleanup project, although the short term schedule will change because the pump around solution is actually quicker, he noted. Depending on weather conditions and other factors, solidification could begin next year, a bit ahead of schedule, Potter said.

"We're still dealing with the water, still moving it around, but instead of flowing the water through a newly constructed channel we're going to physically pump it around the portions of the site that we're working in," he said

As for whether the situation should have been foreseen, Potter said these sorts of projects begin with a concept and a limited amount of information and then go on to the detailed design stage to ensure they don't encounter any surprises later on that would force them to change course midstream.

There have been some other small changes to other components of the cleanup effort as more detailed information was obtained, Potter added, such as deciding to construct a larger building than originally envisioned on Ferry Street to wash trucks and clean debris coming out of the tar ponds.

Fortress Louisbourg should be World Heritage Site: NDP

Section: Cape Breton

By Greg McNeil, Cape Breton Post

A resolution calling for the designation of the Fortress of Louisbourg as a World Heritage Site was unanimously supported by members of the legislature last week.

Originated by NDP tourism and culture critic Michele Raymond, the resolution calls on the province of Nova Scotia to investigate designation of the national historic site under UNESCO (the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization).

"It has been bugging me for years and years and years," said Raymond just prior to Tuesday's legislative session. "The more I look at it, the more it seems that the fortress is where a lot of the things took place that really have shaped North America today."

UNESCO's World Heritage mission encourages countries to sign the World Heritage Convention and ensure the protection of their natural and cultural heritage.

Raymond calls a potential designation for Louisbourg a timely one.

"The French/British struggle over the new continent was largely determined at Louisbourg and next year will mark the 250th anniversary of the second and final siege of 1758."

Besides being the MLA for Halifax Atlantic, Raymond describes herself as a singer and researcher.

It was through her efforts with the group the Elastic Millenium Choir during the first Grand Encampment at Louisbourg in 1995 that she considered the designation idea.

She also has experience working in the heritage field across the province and has seen things considered historically significant on the international stage but overlooked at home.

"We take it completely for granted until other nations come and say 'this is really important. You have our nationals buried here or our nationals have done whatever here. And it matters to us.'"

Among other things, a UNESCO designation for Fortress Louisbourg could lead to increased exposure and visitation, she said.

The process can take years.

Raymond's next step is to request a meeting with Bill Dooks, the minister of tourism and culture, to ask how that department is going to forward the application.

Lunenburg is Nova Scotia's only UNESCO site. Grand Pre is being considered for designation.

Despite the inevitable mention of outmigration because people can't look deeper into the numbers than the last census, here's a sign that the turnaround has come.
There go the neighbourhoods

Subdivisions popping up across CBRM

Section: Front

By Doug MacKenzie, Cape Breton Post

There's a new home bonanza in the Cape Breton Regional Municipality.

Subdivisions of all sizes have been popping up across the area as locals choose to build their own home in one of the many subdivisons being developed.

Two of the larger developments are Hampton Estates in Howie Centre, which has begun paperwork for its second phase, and Mariner Estates on the Westmount Road, which is working toward finalizing its opening phase.

Other projects which have been developed or are in the process of being researched are in South Bar, off Braemar Drive in Westmount, off Carmichael Drive in Sydney River and off Riverside Drive in Sydney River.

"We've seen more activity in the last 12 to 18 months then we have in the last seven or eight years," said Brian Spicer, development officer with the Cape Breton Regional Municipality. "Clearly the people who are putting these subdivisions in and at some significant capital cost obviously believe there is a market.

"It's like Field of Dreams; if they build it, they will come, and I hope they are all right."

With 24 of the original 26 lots sold, Hampton Estates is quickly growing, with a second 26 lots set to go on sale in the near future. Developer Walter MacPhail sees all of the local developments as a positive sign for Cape Breton.

"If we as Cape Bretoners don't have faith in Cape Breton Island, then who will," said MacPhail. "By the way, the first lots went and the way people are looking at the second one up there we have great faith it will move really fast."

The newest of the bunch is Mariner Estates and by the time it's finished it will have developed a substantial subdivision.

"There are potentially 100 lots, but right now we're just doing phase 1," said Roger Burns, real estate agent for the Mariner Estates project. "All of the lots in phase 1 have a harbour view and we have 26 or 27 lots in this phase."

Like MacPhail, Burns sees all of the developments as a positive sign for Cape Breton. "It's a very good market right now and I think it's excellent for our economy," said Burns. "The building suppliers, contractors, the local area in general is benefiting. I can't see it doing anything but helping our area."

Spicer agrees, but also acknowledged that outmigration and declining population are still the norm. "All of those things (outmigration) are supported by the last census so it appears that trend hasn't necessarily changed - the question is where are the people coming from that are building," said Spicer.

Spicer believes some of the development can be attributed to the money being made by people working out West returning to Cape Breton, as well as people moving to Cape Breton for work. Development hasn't been limited to subdivisions either and Spicer said there is plenty of work in other areas.

"The other thing where we're getting a significant amount of development in the area is the semi-detached type of unit that (is) being rented to baby boomers who are now turning into retired people," he said. "That's almost an industry by itself. It's not big subdivisions, but it's all development.

"It looks like some really positive things happening in the development community and it's a mixed bag of reasons why."
""All of those things (outmigration) are supported by the last census so it appears that trend hasn't necessarily changed - the question is where are the people coming from that are building," said Spicer."----From thin air obviously, because a year-and-a-half old census that reports on a five year window must still be the absolute truth.
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