Back to Archibald’s Wharf

Let me begin by saying I do not begrudge Richard Moore and Leslie Wilson, the owners of the Lobster Pound restaurant, their new waterside location in North Sydney. On the contrary, I congratulate them on the location. I think Archibald’s Wharf is a great spot for a restaurant. I think so now, and I thought so four years ago, when the Mayor and his consultants decided it was a better spot for an expanded ship repair operation.

Four years ago, of course, any rent generated would have gone into the coffers of the CBRM instead of those of Canadian Maritime Engineering (CME), the ship repair and (apparently) real estate business that now owns the property.

Archibald's Wharf, North Sydney, NS. March 2019. (S. Campbell photo)

Archibald’s Wharf, North Sydney, NS. March 2019. (S. Campbell photo)

That purchase was the result of a deeply flawed process I’ve documented ad nauseum in these pages.

And while I understand why District 2 Councilor Earlene MacMullin, whose opposition to the Archibald’s Wharf sale propelled her into politics, now wants to focus on the future rather than rehashing the past, I think the past cries out for a little rehashing.

Because if the property in question can accommodate both a working ship repair business and a restaurant (which, according to Moore, it can — with an outdoor patio and green space to boot) then surely the entire property need not have been sold to CME.

Moore’s case for moving his operation (which had been located just down the street in North Sydney until it closed in December 2018) to Archibald’s Wharf includes its “central location closer to the Marine Atlantic ferry terminal.”

Citizens who opposed the Archibald’s Wharf sale argued long and hard that it made no sense to shut down and sell off a waterside recreation area just as Marine Atlantic was finally modifying its facilities to allow passengers access to downtown North Sydney.

The argument carried no weight with the Mayor and the majority of council in 2015, but it clearly wasn’t lost on CME. One can’t help but suspect that part of the attraction of the property was the possibility of acquiring – and squeezing a few more dollars out of – a building that had been constructed with thousands of dollars of public money.

And so bizarre is our modern world, citizens of the Northside must now profess themselves grateful to CME for once again allowing them, albeit in a limited way, access to their own waterfront. It’s like having someone steal your lunch money then lend it back to you at 15% interest. (And I know what you’re thinking: CME didn’t “steal” Archibald’s Wharf, but at $200,000, the property was certainly a steal.)


Chicken wings

Moore told the Cape Breton Post that over the past few years, CME has been a good customer at the Lobster Pound and that many from the company “have a fondness” for the restaurant’s chicken wings.

I would be curious to know how many CME workers dine regularly at the Lobster Pound — although actually, what I really want to know is how many CME workers there are, period. The numbers given by the company always seem to include contractors and while it’s good that local contractors are getting work (and eating at local restaurants), I don’t believe “employing contractors short term” is what is generally understood by the phrase “creating jobs.” And job creation was the chief argument for the Archibald’s Wharf sale.

Significant job creation, in fact. As I reported earlier, Nova Scotia Business Inc granted CME a payroll rebate in April 2016 based on the company spending $17.5 million in salaries to create “a maximum of 80 new jobs.”

As of February 2019, NSBI told me that CME “has earned one payment of $84,000 for the creation of 12.6 [full-time equivalents] during 2016 – 2017.  Thus far, this is the only submission the company has made to NSBI for payment.”

Which gives me a really fun fact on which to end: if the Lobster Pound, which now employs six people, does indeed hire “three or four more” (as Moore told the Post it would once it had relocated) it will apparently have created almost as many jobs as CME has.