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Environmental
Design and
Management
Limited

Land Use Plan &
Re-development
Strategy

 
 


6.5


Port of Sydney

 

 

The Port of Sydney is considered by many individuals to be essential to the economic recovery of CBRM. In the past, the assets in the harbour have largely been tied up by single users, and we heard many examples of how it was not possible to use the SYSCO and DEVCO wharves for other products when steel making and coal export were their primary role.

CBRM has not had the benefit of a true “port authority” (a Federally sponsored port coordination and management model, such as the Halifax, Montreal and Toronto harbours). Nor has it had the benefit of a federal package to establish a port corporation and refurbish a harbour asset such as the Strait Area Port Corporation (this is because the federal wharf in Sydney had just been refurbished prior to sale).

CBRM has a Port Corporation largely comprised of local business people with the backing of the Board of Trade and CBRM Council. The Port Corporation owns the Municipal wharf in downtown. Most of its members see the role of the Port Corporation as dictating how the port assets are managed, marketed and coordinated. They also seek to own the port assets, review business deals and lease arrangements on the wharves, and collect a tariff for goods moved through the harbour. Many of the owners of the port assets consider the Port Corporation to be not sensitive to their particular business needs and unwilling to compromise and seek other means of cooperation and management.

There is a large philosophical gulf in Sydney between those who see government ownership and control as the only port development model and the reality of the current port trend towards private sector ownership and the needs of the actual owners of the port assets in the harbour. That said, all of the individuals and groups we met with told us that a well-managed, coordinated and marketed port is of benefit to all. Almost all felt that they could participate (both financially and cooperatively) in some coordinating entity.

Issues around which there is general agreement include: a coordinated port lobby to save the railway, a coordinated marketing approach to profile the port, and a group to coordinate ice breaking, dredging, and other physical port needs.


 

6.6

Environment

 
 

Many individuals expressed concerns about environmental issues on the property. Most people know that there are environmental issues and problems on the site. Some expressed a concern that the site would not be cleaned up. The consensus was that the community needs a process by which they will receive the facts about what is happening, and have an opportunity to discuss their views and issues.

We were told many, many times similar words to these: –“we know there are environmental problems; just tell us honestly what they are and go clean them up; if you lie to us, we will shut you down”.

The adjacency of Whitney Pier to SYSCO was discussed at length. There is some concern about the environmental impacts of new businesses on this community, and in particular air emissions from industry and dust from bulk commodities. There is a desire for more green space between Whitney Pier and SYSCO. The idea of a green corridor/wildlife park adjacent to the Whitney Pier was also ex-pressed.


 

6.7

Summary Comments

 
 

The consultation process undertaken relative to the land use plan may be described as “rocky”. The level of distrust of almost everyone (business owners, consultants, government, residents) in CBRM is significant. We heard that the plan was everything from a cover up to avoid having to undertake the environmental clean-up to a plot to protect Halifax harbour and not support the economic re-structuring of CBRM.The passion behind the comments heard is common in communities that have undergone the type of economic decline that has occurred in CBRM. There is often a need to grieve what has been lost, and a need to place blame.

Throughout the consultation process there was a general disbelief that the plan presented was really a draft and that we truly were seeking comment. There also appears to be a lack of precedent in CBRM for planning processes where the public is engaged, and residents and business groups were not organized nor practiced in how to respond and participate effectively. The focus of the press coverage, CBRM Council, letters to the editor, letters to the Minister and Premier, and other very public comment s, as opposed to effective participation in the consultation process, is indicative of this.

That said, we also heard from many, many individuals who are ready to move forward. CBRM is a closely-knit community, and it can be difficult to step for-ward publicly. We believe that there are many who, although cynical today, if given some level of commitment to the future, would readily step forward to participate in the re-development of the SYSCO property.


 
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