Fast & Curious: Short Takes on Random Things

Year One

The Cape Breton Spectator turned one on August 3!

The anniversary almost slipped by unnoticed — I knew it was in August, but I’d convinced myself it was later in the month. Luckily for me, my family not only remembered it, they marked it. There was a cake and there was champagne and there was a toast to the year just finished and the years yet to come.

I find myself occasionally surfing the site at random, amazed at the amount (and quality) of content I’ve been able to publish over the past 12 months thanks, in large part, to the work of my talented and tireless contributors. I raise my coffee cup (it’s 9:15 a.m. as I write, a little too early for champagne) to them all:

Dolores Campbell, Dr. Strangejob, Sean Howard, Michelle Smith, Ken Jessome, Rachel Haliburton, Charlie Morrison, Madeline Yakimchuk, Susan Dodd, Kate Sircom, Catherine Campbell, Shay Carlstrom and Jeimmy Cesar.

I have plans for next year that include a new logo — the work of local graphic artist Alison Uhma — and new content — thanks to my joint-subscription arrangement with Tim Bousquet’s Halifax Examiner.

I can hear the music rising and I know they’ll be turning off my mic in a minute, so let me end with a huge and heartfelt thank-you to all my subscribers. You’ve made this crazy venture possible (even plausible) and I will express my gratitude the only way I know how: by trying my best to deliver the goods each Wednesday.

Bring on Year Two, baby!


Portside Beer Garden

The first I heard of a new food and drink establishment on the Sydney boardwalk was a photograph in the Cape Breton Post that showed the facility under construction but stated the owner of the business did not wish to be identified yet.

The Portside, the "nicest outdoor deck in town" under construction on Sydney, NS waterfront. (Spectator photo)

The Portside, the “nicest outdoor deck in town” under construction on Sydney, NS waterfront. (Spectator photo)

This seemed entirely unreasonable to me, given the new business is being constructed on property owned by the CBRM. I fired off a bunch of questions and received answers just an hour and a half past my deadline last Wednesday.

Strangely enough, that same day, the owner of the business, publicity-shy no more, appeared in the Cape Breton Post online (the story was in the print paper on Thursday) answering all my questions! Danny Ellis (the Daniel in Daniel’s, the founder of the Capri, former founding partner in the Old Triangle) is leasing the 6,000 square foot property from the CBRM from June to October, paying $1 for the month of June then $1,000 a month from July to October.

But don’t be thinking Ellis is in this for himself. Oh no — he had a conversation with the CBRM “about a year ago” about the municipality’s desire to “locate things and activities for tourists” and asked himself “what can I contribute?” The answer, apparently, was “I can manage ‘the nicest outdoor deck’ in town.” (Which might be taken amiss by Governor’s — which Ellis “built” according to the Post — or the Old Triangle, but then, there’s a lot about this deal that might stick in the craws of the city’s other restaurateurs.)

Acting CBRM CAO John MacKinnon told me Ellis approached the CBRM about the deal, which did not need to go to council because:

Assigning a one year lease is an operational issue and well within the responsibility of the CBRM administration.

I asked if CBRM council had at least been informed of the deal and MacKinnon said District 5 Councilor Eldon MacDonald “was contacted and made aware of the leasing arrangement in advance” and that the rest of council “may have also been made aware as a courtesy.” As CAO Marie Walsh is currently on vacation, he could not confirm that.

I asked what would happen were the lease were terminated and MacKinnon said:

The building(s) are temporary in nature and are movable.  There are 5 sections to the facility that can be moved. They do not have a foundation and are placed directly on the ground.  If/when the lease is terminated, they are responsible for removing the buildings from the site at their own cost.

Because that’s likely to happen.

The company is required to comply with all building code regulation and other relevant by-laws that exist in the CBRM including assessment if applicable.

“Including assessment if applicable?” Does this mean it may not be “applicable?” That will no doubt sit well with other local restaurateurs for whom assessment is unquestionably “applicable.”

And while I’m sure assigning one-year leases is indeed “within the responsibility of the CBRM administration,” in a case like this, doesn’t the one-year lease seem like a gateway document? Doesn’t it seem like a way of getting Ellis established on the waterfront so that when council is asked to renew that lease for five years, the administration can say: “Dear Mr Ellis built this structure at his own expense as his contribution to waterfront development, how can you not reward him by giving him another five years?”

The actual name on the lease is 3302009 NOVA SCOTIA LIMITED, which lists Danny Ellis as director and president/secretary and Robert Sampson as the recognized agent. The company was incorporated and registered in October 2016. It had a change of directors on 24 June 2017 (so, during the lease period) and it has a second company associated with it — Portside Beer Garden.

Portside Beer Garden was registered on 4 August 2017 (as in, five days ago). It lists Robert Sampson as recognized agent but nothing else.

Don’t get me wrong: I spent 14 years in the Czech Republic and I think drinking beer out of doors is one of life’s greatest pleasures. But signing a cozy little agreement with a chosen provider doesn’t seem like the right way to go about developing a facility like this on our waterfront. Is Danny Ellis really the only person in the CBRM who might have wanted a crack at operating “the nicest outdoor deck” in town?


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