Welcome to Novaporte!

Big news, fellow citizens of the Cape Breton Regional Municipality – no, Rodney MacDonald has not been re-elected premier, although you could be forgiven for thinking that, given the front page of today’s Cape Breton Post (11 February 2016):

CB Post. Rodney MacDonald


The real news is tucked into the lower left hand corner of page A3 – our port has a name!

It’s Novaporte. And it will be surrounded by the Novazone.

I’ll let port marketer and amateur etymologist Albert Barbusci, of Harbor Port Development Partners, explain:

The name reflects the international nature of our project. Nova is Latin for new and port is spelled with an E to recognize that this will be both a gateway and a transshipment hub.

Now, I will be the first to admit that the use of Latin has been in decline of late (and by “of late” I mean, since the fall of the Roman Empire) but everyone in Cape Breton knows at least one Latin word and that word is “Nova” because IT’S IN THE NAME OF OUR PROVINCE.

As for “port-with-an-e,” while I appreciate the subtle homage to Anne of Green Gables, I’m not sure I would read “Novaporte” and say, “Ah, this place must be both a gateway and a transshipment hub.” I think I’d be more likely to say, “You spelled ‘port’ wrong;” or to pronounce it “no-va-por-TAY” (which could be cool – “It’s time to Novapor-tay!” is not a bad tag line); or to look up “porte” on Wikipedia and find it may refer to:

Sublime Porte – the central government of the Ottoman empire

Porte, Piedmont – a municipality in the Piedmont region of Italy

John Cyril Porte, British/Irish aviator

Toyota Porte

Richie Porte – an Australian professional cyclist who competes for Team Sky

After which, I’d be confused and maybe a bit angry.

And I haven’t even got to “Novazone” which, let’s be honest, sounds like a nasal spray.

In the (Free Trade) Zone

I tried to find a copy of the press release but it has yet to be posted to the HPDP website, so I must go by what the Post reports. Therefore, the next paragraph is:

Both the terminal and logistics park to to [sic] operate within a recognized foreign trade zone.

So, yeah.

I’ve already touched on the question of creating a free trade zone in the Cape Breton Regional Municipality (it’s been done before; it didn’t work). But since writing that last piece, I’ve discovered that in June of 2015, the Harper government declared two Free Trade Zones in Alberta – the Calgary Region Inland Port and Port Alberta, in Edmonton. They joined Canada’s only other FTZ – the port of Winnipeg, and I, personally, can’t wait to book a cruise to all three.

But before we (as in, those of us with actual ports) get upset about not having been honored with such a designation, we should note that the former government’s definition of FTZ didn’t make it sound all that enticing:

An FTZ Point is a strategic location identified for international trade and foreign direct investment which is uniquely supported by a single-point of access to information on relevant government policies and programs.

See what I mean? Not very exciting and, to judge by the latest news, not a great shot in the arm for the Western economy either.

Back to the Post story:

The port has set aside nearly 2,000 acres for development of this project. The harbour is dredged down 16.5 metres and can accommodate ultra-large container vessels.

Canadian developer Canderel is partnering with Harbor Port Development on the project.

I can see you waving your hand wildly – you have a question, don’t you? In fact, you probably have three questions:

1. Who is Canderel?

Well, unfortunately, I don’t think it’s this Canderel (“The UK’s No. 1 Sweetener”).

Presumably, they are this Canderel, a real estate firm:

Specializing in Property Development, Construction, Leasing, Marketing, and Property and Asset Management we are able to provide “one-stop” comprehensive solutions. With regional offices in Montreal, Ottawa, Toronto, Edmonton, Calgary, Vancouver and Dallas, we are able to fully respond to any opportunity within these markets and we have the capability of serving our clients and partners on a national basis.

“Naming ports” isn’t listed among their core competencies, but perhaps they’re branching out.

2. How much are they being paid?

3. Who is paying them?

These are questions for HPDP, or possibly, the Port of Sydney Development Corporation, which has already paid for the services of Bechtel and Industream.

Let’s keep waving our hands until we get some answers…

UPDATE: It’s just been pointed out to me that Tim Bosquet covered this subject this morning based on a CP story (and if you think I’m skeptical, read his take: “This thing will fail spectacularly. It’s going to be beautifully catastrophic.”)

The most interesting comment, however belongs to Sydney Port Development Corp. CEO Marlene Usher, who states in a news release that the terminal “would be the greenest port in North America once completed.”

That’s the first I’ve heard of this and the cynic in me, never far from the surface, agrees with my source, who wonders if the green claims are aimed at winning some of that federal infrastructure money aimed at innovative environmental improvements?


This article first appeared on goCapeBreton.com