Port of Sydney Spending or The Greenfield Site Is Eroding

Back in April 2017, the Spectator asked the Port of Sydney Development Corporation for a breakdown of spending from its so-called Assumption Fund.

The Assumption Fund is a trust fund containing monies (about $2.5 million originally) left over from the 2012 Sydney harbor dredge, a $37 million project funded by three levels of government (with a $1 million contribution from Nova Scotia Power Inc). The leftover funds were earmarked for new navigational aids for the deepened channel, CBU research on fish habitat post-dredge, and monitoring of the “confined disposal facility” (CDF) for the dredged material, better known as the greenfield site. Originally under the control of the Sydney Ports Corporation (SPC), the Assumption Fund became the responsibility of the Port of Sydney Development Corporation when it took over from the SPC in 2015.

The fish habitat research and CDF monitoring happened; the navigational aids never did, and some of the money that might have been used for them was subsequently diverted to “business development.” The Spectator wrote about it all in detail here.

The business development spending we reported on earlier centered on the drive to turn Sydney into a mega-hub for ultra-large container vessels (ULCVs). Since that last article, responsibility for the container terminal project has been removed from the Port of Sydney and returned to the Mayor of the CBRM and our “port developer,” Albert Barbusci of Sydney Harbour Investment Partners (SHIP).

I was curious to see if that had slowed spending from the Assumption Fund, so I asked Port CEO Marlene Usher for an updated accounting of all “business development” spending from the fund and she (very promptly) sent it to me.

The only additional items since that last article are these:

 

CBCL

$92,024

Purpose: Confined Disposal Facility monitoring

In the year ended 31 March 2018, CBCL received $92,024 for monitoring the confined disposal facility (or greenfield site) which is where we’re supposed to build this mega-container terminal. The figure represents a sharp jump from the $17,296 paid to CBCL for the same job in 2016 and the $16,633 paid in 2017. I asked Usher what explained the spike in this payment and she told me:

The CDF was eroding in one section and CBCL (who monitors it) identified a body of work which was contracted out. This work was done by JonelJim at a cost of $68,990. [emphasis mine]

I originally listed this payment last but realized I was effectively burying the lede — the erosion of the intended location for our mega-container port surely deserves top billing.

 

Breton Law

$5,569

Purpose: ongoing legal work regarding all aspects of the project including exclusivity agreement and further legal documents as well as other port work such as harbor divestiture issues and FOIPOP

This is the law firm of the omnipresent Jim Gogan, who is the lawyer for the Port of Sydney Development Corporation but who also works directly for the CBRM at times. This latest payment brings the total paid to him from the Assumption Fund to date to $149,040.

I would be remiss if I did not point out that the Port’s belief that it is free to spend monies from the Assumption Fund on “business development” without having first secured new navigational aids (which turned out to be much more costly than originally estimated) is based upon a legal opinion from…Jim Gogan.

 

Darius Group 

$25,974

Purpose: consulting assignment to assist port on transport canada [sic] file regarding cabatoge [sic] and to appeal for level playing field for all ports under CETA and attend senate hearings in Ottawa and provide briefings

That would be Dave Dingwall or should I say, CBU President David Dingwall, and it brings the total paid to him by the Port of Sydney to $54,010.

 

Hatch Engineering

$80,300

Purpose: Cost analysis of rail including bridges and required infrastructure improvements

Hatch Engineering (self-described “entrepreneurs with a technical soul,” which seems to imply they have one soul between them) was engaged by the Port of Sydney in 2017 to estimate the cost of repairs and upgrades to the Genesee & Wyoming (G&W)-operated Cape Breton and Central Nova Scotia (CBNS) rail line. Hatch’s final report, submitted earlier this year (as the Spectator and Halifax Examiner reported), put those costs at about $101 million. (You can find a copy of the report on the Port of Sydney website, although my anti-virus program keeps detecting a “threat” when I try to open it.)

 

Universal Rail

$7,000

Purpose: cost analysis of rail study from Donkin to Sydney Port

The Port of Sydney helped fund this study for the Scotia Rail Development Society. Universal Rail Systems is a Canadian company specializing in railway construction.

 

Add it all up…

All told, as you can see from my beautiful table below, the Port of Sydney spent $210,867 from the Assumption Fund in the year ending 03/31/18, bringing its total spending from the fund to $1.1 million.

 

Company03/31/1603/31/1703/31/18TOTALDetails
TOTAL567,231348,345210,8671,126,443
Bechtel 188,2094,697192,906engineering firm, provided technical information for meetings with stakeholders, attended stakeholder meetings and prepared initial feasability [sic] study
Industream134,109134,109prepared several reports tailored to target audience, provided research information on shipping patterns from Asia and europe [sic] to North America, attended China meetings
Breton Law56,35287,1195,569149,040ongoing legal work regarding all aspects of the project including exclusivity agreement and further legal documents as well as other port work such as harbor divestiture issues and FOIPOP
Cadence/National75,00075,000communications plan, digital strategy and government and media relations by National Communications
Harker & Associates18,29218,292strategy on China sister city trip and attendance at some of the events as well as advocacy for the port in China
Novastream2,3602,360streaming port presentation at CBU
Dentons Law38,57112,70951,280advice and introduction to China stakeholders including sister City, translation of all materials including Port Prospectus, attandence [sic] at meetings in China and follow up support with Quad C, office support in China
Consulting Mongeau1,4501,450research and preparation for meetings and research regarding competative [sic] issues and strategy in Atlantic Canada
Vibe Communications6,3016,301Power point creative design for several tailored presentations
Hackett1,4111,411logistics expert providing information on container terminal
Judy Hou Consulting3,9823,982attendance at all China meetings and provided translation services
Transcontinental3,3993,399Port advertising
city printers [sic]1,7271,727Port prospectus booklets
arachnia [sic]600600retractable banner
china delagation [sic]11,6272,01013,637car rental, gifts for Chinese delagates [sic], meals and hotel forChinese delagates [sic]
JC Evans Consulting28,10228,102rail expert to assist the port in meetings with rail companies and other shipping lines, attandance at rail meetings and key note at Ports Day 2016
Genasee&Wyoming [sic]120,000120,000participation in rail strategy for Port
Drewery [sic]14,94914,949study for specific European line on North American transit
darius group [sic]28,03625,97454,010consulting assignment to assist port on transport canada [sic] file regarding cabatoge [sic] and to appeal for level playing field for all ports under CETA and attend senate hearings in Ottawa and provide briefings
Ports America visit4,0904,090Ports America visit to site in Sydney and presentations to stakeholders
Hatch Engineering80,30080,300Cost analysis of rail including bridges and required infrastructure improvements
Universal Rail7,0007,000cost analysis of rail study from Donkin to Sydney Port
travel6,5456,54510 flight passes , plus trip to Montreal for Marlene Usher and business dinner in Sydney for stakholders [sic] on container terminal
549,935301,712118,843970,490
CBU30,00030,000CBU research on fish habitat post dredge
CDF monitoring CBCL17,29616,63392,024125,953Confined Disposal Facility monitoring

 

And what do we have to show for it? Several reports, some legal advice, a retractable banner, a few satisfied visitors and a Chinese Sister City we seem to be neglecting shamefully. I bet you don’t even remember her name. It’s DALIAN, a port city of 6 million in Northeast China. And we could practically be twins:

A view of Zhongshan Square in the heart of modern Dalian. 2006 (By MR+G from Wakayama, Japan - Flickr, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=1187613)

A view of Zhongshan Square in the heart of modern Dalian. 2006 (By MR+G from Wakayama, Japan – Flickr, CC BY 2.0)

 

 

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