SYDNEY, NS – Progressive Conservative MLA Eddie Orrell is hoping Premier Stephen McNeil is using the event at the Joan Harriss Cruise Pavilion this morning as a backdrop to finally announce terminal funding.
If not, Orrell says the Premier must explain to the people of Cape Breton why he could find the money to upgrade a port terminal in Portland, Maine, but has yet to commit to the port project here at home.
“Let’s be very clear here about what’s happened here,” says Orrell. “We have a port in Sydney that’s looking to expand their port and they remain in limbo, while Nova Scotia tax dollars are being spent on a port across the border. Something just doesn’t add up.”
This spring the Liberals announced a very lucrative and very secretive deal with Bay Ferries to run the Yarmouth – Portland ferry. Part of this mystery deal included $4.1 million in start-up costs, which included upgrades to the State of Maine’s Ocean Gateway terminal in Portland. The Liberals refuse to disclose how much was spent on the American port.
The Sydney Marine Terminal Expansion Project is looking for approximately $6.6 million dollars from the provincial Liberals. The project remains unfunded, even though economic impact reports have shown a second terminal could bring upwards of $30 million into the local economy.
“Unfortunately, it seems we have put all our eggs in one basket and now other projects are the poorer for it,” adds Orrell. “I hope today the Premier is able to shed some light on why he and the senior Liberal cabinet ministers on Cape Breton aren’t supportive of the terminal expansion.”
Recent news that the Yarmouth ferry will not be running on certain days has only added salt to the wound for the Northside Westmount MLA. Bay Ferries CEO Mark MacDonald made a deal with the City of Portland to honour at least nine black out dates – one day in August and eight days in September. Portland needs those dates set aside due to an anticipated high number of cruise ships in their harbour.
“This just leaves us scratching our heads in disbelief,” says Orrell. “Wouldn’t it be great if our own port here in Sydney was just as busy. I just can’t believe the Liberals could be this shortsighted.”
Orrell hopes the Liberals will start standing up for projects here at home.
“They’ve sold the farm, plain and simple,” he says. “The Liberals should never have signed such a bad deal, choosing the port in Portland over the one here at home. This project could be the economic engine driver that Cape Breton needs and deserves. It’s time for some answers.”