Fast & Curious: Short Takes on Random Things

Lease released

The first rule of accessing information from public bodies is “just ask for it,” and sometimes — hallelujah! — just asking is all it takes.

For instance, I asked the CBRM for a copy of the lease signed between the municipality and Danny Ellis’s company, the catchily named 3302009 Nova Scotia Limited, which is building an open-air bar and eatery on Sydney waterfront property rented from the CBRM.

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)

And what do you know? I received a copy of the lease.

I didn’t find much in it I didn’t already know about the deal, although I enjoyed the description of the business Ellis intends to operate as “a seasonal food, liquor and entertainment establishment…with an overall festival theme.”

The operation is called “The Dock” in the sketches attached to the lease, although it will actually — I think — be called “The Portside,” which is not particularly inventive but better than, say, “3302009 Nova Scotia Beer Garden.”

Here are a few points from the lease that I figure are worth mentioning:

  1. The “basic rent” is $2 per square foot or $1,000 per month. The term runs from June to October 2017, but: “During the off-season months, being the months from November through to April, if the Tenant shall leave any equipment, buildings or other apparatus on the Premises then the Basic Rent shall remain payable in accordance with the terms set forth herein.” Presumably Ellis will not be putting the buildings in winter storage, so I guess this means he’ll pay $1,000 per month through the off season.
  2. In the interests of “greater certainty,” the tenant “shall pay as additional rent property taxes that will be assessed on the Premises as determined by the assessment authority less 25% of any such assessment in consideration of the seasonal operation of the Business.”
  3. The CBRM has the right to “use the Premises for any permanent development” and in that event, must give the tenant 30 days’ notice and “use its best efforts to accommodate the Tenant and relocate them to similar premises within the similar area which is owned and/or controlled by the Landlord provided that if this accommodation is not available then this agreement will be terminated.”

This last item got me trying to picture where the CBRM could relocate Ellis on the waterfront and my favorite option is a Civic Centre board room.


Speed bumps

The unprecedented number of right whale deaths in the North Atlantic this year (a subject Tom Ayers has been tackling in the Chronicle Herald with all the energy of a reporter who doesn’t have to spend half his day on a picket line anymore, see here and here) led earlier this month to the imposition of speed restrictions in the St. Lawrence Seaway and those restrictions are wreaking havoc with cruise ship schedules.

MS Rotterdam of the Holland America Line docked in Sydney.

MS Rotterdam of the Holland America Line docked in Sydney.

The website Cruise Critic has reported the following changes:

Holland America operates four ships in the region through the end of October (Maasdam, Veendam, Rotterdam and Zuiderdam); all itineraries on these ships that sail between Quebec City and Charlottetown on Prince Edward Island will see departure or arrival times shift by about an hour on either end, resulting in nine hours in port instead of ten.

“Holland America Line has a comprehensive Whale Strike Avoidance program in place and we take our responsibility to be good stewards of the marine environment very seriously,” the line told Cruise Critic. “Our ships have clear guidelines on how to operate if whales are sighted nearby, which include altering course, reducing speed as required and adding additional lookouts in sensitive areas.”

Norwegian Cruise Line has one ship that will be affected by the mandate. Norwegian Dawn’s four calls in the area will be modified including the cancellation of calls to Gaspe, instead calling on Sydney, Nova Scotia and moving a sea day to later in the itinerary for the September 22 and October 6 sailings; and leaving Quebec City one hour earlier on the September 29 and October 13 sailings.

Oceania Cruises will reduce time in port beginning with its September 20 Insignia sailing as it departs Sydney one hour early before arriving in Saguenay one hour late.

Regent Seven Seas Cruises is canceling port calls in Gaspe and Charlottetown on its September 27, October 7 and October 17 Seven Seas Mariner sailings, instead calling on Corner Brook and Sydney. On Mariner’s October 27 sailing, the line has chosen to skip Sydney for an additional day at sea.

Royal Caribbean Cruises, Ltd., the parent company of Royal Caribbean and Celebrity, has not yet made any changes. “At this time our Deployment Team is reviewing the new restrictions and any impact that they might have on the upcoming sailings,” Captain Thomas Hinderhofer, director of Northeast port operations for the brands, told Cruise Critic.

Another cruise line making changes is Montreal-based CTMA, which offers one-week St. Lawrence River sailings; the line has had to cancel a number of calls in Gaspe.

Other cruise lines that are currently reviewing the new restrictions but have not made changes at this time include Silversea, and Carnival Corp. brands Seabourn, Princess and Cunard.

The Cape Breton Post reports a net gain (3 visits) for Sydney while the CBC reports a net loss (10 visits) for Charlottetown.

Vessels over 20 meters have a 10-knot speed limit that, according to Seatrade Cruise News, is being “rigorously enforced.” (Rigorously enforced, apparently, means “30 to 35 ships of various types—cargo and passenger—have been cited for speeds even a fraction higher than 10 knots, most less than 11 knots. No fines have been issued.”)

René Trépanier, the executive director of Cruise the St. Lawrence, which represents nine ports, expresses the panic that has no doubt gripped every cruise operation in the region:

These destinations have made huge investments to improve their infrastructure and tourism offerings to grow the international cruise business and may stand to lose out just as things are taking off.

‘We might lose calls. We might lose money. We are very worried,’ Trépanier said. For example, there could be a $1.5m impact on Gaspé alone.

It’s precisely the kind of unexpected event that can have a big impact on this industry and throw all a municipality’s best-laid plans into disarray.

Keep an eye on this one.



Why do Canadian municipalities allow themselves to be pitted against one another by sporting organizations like Curling Canada, the one behind the Scotties Tournament of Hearts?

The CBRM is spending $150,000 to bid for the 2019 version of the tournament and presumably its rivals are spending as much if not more. One  lucky town will be able to argue it was money well spent. The others? Not so much.

Ontarios's Rachel Homan, winner, 2017 Scotties Tournament of Hearts. (Photo via Curling Canada

Ontarios’s Rachel Homan, winner, 2017 Scotties Tournament of Hearts. (Photo via Curling Canada )

I get the excitement of hosting a national event and I am sure there is a significant economic impact, although I’m suspicious of the numbers — “at a minimum $6M to $12M” — touted by Curling Canada for the Scotties (based on something called the Sport Tourism Economic Assessment Model). But every Canadian municipality on the map must have better things to do with $150,000 than try to impress tournament organizers.

If I were in charge of Canadian sports tournaments, I’d make sure the competing municipalities met certain minimum qualifications for hosting any given event, (for the Scotties, say: “Do you have a rink?” “Is your town accessible in winter?”) and then just pick a name out of a hat. One lucky town gets the Scotties. The other lucky towns keep their $150,000.

Alas, I am not in charge of Canadian sports tournaments (and a collective sigh of relief goes up from sports fans across the country), so I will watch as everyone else does to see what happens with the CBRM’s bid. Apparently Curling Canada’s general manager of event operations will be in town to conduct a site visit next week. (He’ll be easy to spot: he’ll be the man preceded everywhere by two people with brooms, knocking all obstacles out of his way.)

The overview for the 2019 Scotties Tournament of Hearts says:

In the unlikely event that a site visit is required, Curling Canada will be responsible for all related expenses.

So, a) good on Curling Canada for picking up that tab and b) is this “unlikely” site visit a good sign or a bad sign?

It’s also interesting to note that the timeline spelled out in this overview says site visits (“if necessary”) will take place between July 1 and August 30. Final decisions are to be announced in September. Things seem to be coming down to the wire. I want to end this with a snappily appropriate curling reference but I don’t know any. Please feel free to insert yours here.


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