Fast & Curious: Short Takes on Random Things

Print pairings

Photo by Joe deSousa, CCO, via Wikimedia Commons.

Photo by Joe deSousa, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons.

I find a fun thing to do is to pair Cape Breton Post stories with other stories the way you pair wine and cheese.

The idea behind pairing wine and cheese is that each tastes better when complemented by the other. Similarly, many Cape Breton Post stories are more informative when paired with other stories on the same subjects. (That said, pairing the Cape Breton Post with wine also works — the stories aren’t more informative, but you care less.)

I did it recently with this  “Constructing Cabot Cliffs” story from July 21, and would like to share the results with you, starting with my recommendations for the opening lines of the article:


Post & New Yorker

Gravel walkways greet golfers and freshly seeded grass is still taking root on the grounds at Cabot Cliffs, three years after the golf resort opened to the public.

The club’s new pro shop opened a couple of weeks ago, and a store to buy water and light snacks is also on offer.

A short walk up the hill brings Cabot’s new par-3 course into view. It’s still very much a construction site.

I would pair that with an article I’ve already pointed you to — Nick Paumgarten’s New Yorker piece on the Augusta National golf club which is home to the most famous par-3 course in golf and where they paint the grass green and open a 90,000 square foot shopping area/food court for one week a year.


Alkenback & Dewar

“If you haven’t been a part of golf course construction before you might think, ‘Oh my God, this is a long way away (from completion),’ but what this is, what we’re looking at right here, these are finishing touches,” said Andrew Alkenbrack, the general manager of Cabot Links and Cabot Cliffs.

I would suggest pairing this with an earlier Post interview with Ben Cowan-Dewar of Cabot Cliffs in which he argued that the airport he’s proposed we build in Inverness will not serve his golf course which “as you can see as we look out the windows, is full and at capacity,” without mentioning that he is hard at work increasing that capacity.


Spin & Reality

The holes will range in length from 80 yards to 215 yards. The Cabot resort is designing it to allow for the golfer who may have a couple of hours to kill before leaving for home or the person who isn’t interested in the longer rounds of golf at Cabot Links or Cabot Cliffs, which are both world-class 18-hole courses.

I would pair this with any interview with any airport proponent arguing that golfers heading for Cabot Links and Cabot Cliffs are also interested in seeing more of Cape Breton Island or that Cowan-Dewar is interested in encouraging them to see other parts of the Island because rather than saying, “You have two hours, go see Mabou” he’s BUILDING A NEW GOLF COURSE to keep them hanging around Cabot Cliffs.


Lunge & Parry

While Cabot would not invest any money into the airport, Cowan-Dewar confirmed the golf resort would underwrite any deficits incurred by the seasonal airport. A consultant paid by Cabot estimated the cost to build the airport to be approximately $18 million.

I would pair this with a tweet from Citizen Joe Ward:


Region & Cabot

[Cowan-Dewar] said Cabot has a role to play in seeing infrastructure built to “enhance” the region’s economic opportunities.

And that means further growth for Cabot itself.

The most recent loan Cabot received from the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency in early 2018 for $2 million was to enable the resort to expand its operations at Cabot Cliffs. The cost of the projects total $10 million.

“The pro shop is done and the restaurant portion of (the clubhouse) we will build throughout the rest of the year and then there’s another part that’s called a comfort station, which is done as well,” Cowan-Dewar said.

Two clay tennis courts were opened for the first time last year and has already held a sanctioned Tennis Nova Scotia event.

The tennis courts were part of the first phase of the Cabot Cliffs Wellness Centre that will feature an entertainment venue called the Barn, spa treatment rooms, a pool, grass tennis courts along with the clay, and an organic garden with an apple orchard.

Work will begin shortly on the Barn, a place Alkenbrack said could hold a ceilidh, maybe even a Celtic Colours International Festival concert in the not-too-distant future.

First, I’d pair this with some comments of my own (this happens frequently when I undertake this pairing exercise, it’s the equivalent of the sommelier recommending a “cheeky little red” he made in his garage). The point of all this is CLEARLY to get people into the golf course compound and keep them there — “You want tennis? We got tennis! Your wife wants a spa day? We got a spa! You want to hear Celtic Music? Forget the Celtic Music Interpretive Centre in Judique — that’s an hour away! We got Celtic music right here! You want an apple? Screw the farmers’ markets, we got apples right here!”

Then I’d recommend this Golfweek piece about the future of golf being “non-traditional lifestyle amenities. The article focuses on private clubs but the “amenities” they’re investing in sound a lot like wellness centers and tennis courts. The reason? The “dwindling number” of hard-core golfers.

I’d follow it with this piece on what the golf industry is doing to “change with the times” and challenge its “bad rap for being a boring, slow sport exclusively for rich old men.” (The response from Sarah Speier, marketing manager at Laurel Ridge Country Club? “Are you kidding me? It’s the only game you can tailgate the entire time and get a workout at the same time.” Um, sure.)


Old & Young

There are also plans to design and build eight, four-bedroom homes for sale on land adjoining Cabot Cliffs.

Alkenbrack said those homes will be designed by Susan Fitzgerald and the team at Halifax-based FBM Architecture and Interior Design — the same firm responsible for the design of the Cabot Links lodge. A local contractor will be hired to build the homes.

It could all happen within the next year.

“They will all be gabled buildings. They’ll be very residential in scale, nothing that’s too grandiose,” he said.

I would pair this with that same Golfweek piece which includes a discussion of golf real estate:

While golfers 65 and older still want all the benefits of living inside a gated golf community, younger golfers aren’t as interested in waking up with a view of the greens. While giving county commissioners an update on the property revaluation process in Macon County [North Carolina] a few months ago, Tax Assessor Richard Lightner said the real estate trends in places like Highlands [NC] and Cashiers [NC] have changed since the last revaluation in 2014. The majority of home construction used to be within the golf clubs, but now that’s shifted — residents want to maintain a club membership but are choosing to build or buy a home in downtown areas close to shopping, dining and retail.

“People in Highlands would rather be downtown than at the golf clubs,” he said.

Then I would recommend this CBC story about Nova Scotia leading the country in non-resident home owners. Within the province, the top areas “attracting” non-residents are:

Eastern Richmond County, Cape Breton (14.3%)

Southern Inverness County, Cape Breton (11.9%)

Southern Victoria County, Cape Breton (10.2%)

Last but not least, I would point everyone to Joan Baxter’s excellent piece on the proposed location of the Inverness airport on crown lands and its proximity to the Masons Mountain Nature Reserve.

And then, I would probably need some actual wine and cheese.



Port of Sydney, NS. (Spectator photo)

Signage at the Port of Sydney helpfully directs visitors to the ocean for lobsters. (Click to enlarge)

I watched some of Roger Brooks’ presentation to CBRM regional council on downtown development and he had me at:

First of all, I think you put way too much focus on cruise ships.

Actually, he had me from the very beginning, when he explained that in an earlier incarnation he’d been an entertainment lawyer who’d gotten ulcers from dealing with “a band called Fleetwood Mac.” I thought, “I give you 15 minutes trying to convince Sydney’s downtown merchants and landlords to do anything to improve the shopping experience for pedestrians and you’ll be wishing all you had to do was get Lindsey Buckingham and Stevie Nicks on stage together.”

I also got seriously distracted when he explained that in his current incarnation as a downtown development consultant he had secret shopped every community in the province six years ago, including Meat Cove. How could you be a secret shopper in Meat Cove? How could a visitor be a secret anything in Meat Cove? I didn’t come up with any answers, but I decided I kind of want to be a small-town secret shopper.

Brooks offered some pretty pointed criticisms of things like the lack of signage at the Port of Sydney directing people to Charlotte Street, the “flea market” that greeted cruise ship passengers at the Pavilion and the fact that we roll the sidewalks up before six.

But what I liked best about his presentation was the stress he placed on our downtown as a place for us:

This is about quality of life, it’s not about tourism.

Which is not to say it won’t help with tourism — tourists are attracted to “healthy downtowns,” according to Brooks. Better still, so are companies. They want to be where the talent is or “where the talent wants to be.”

The man is full of interesting ideas, I hope we have the sense to try to implement some of them.



You can imagine how pleased I was when a spectator informed me that Freshii on Charlotte Street in Sydney has been nominated for an Excellence in Business Award!

How many happy hours have I spent noticing they exist, trying to remember what used to occupy their space, trying to intuit what kind of business they are based on their sign (my best guesses: smoothies or lawn care.)

As you may have gathered, Freshii has yet to open but has already been nominated for a business award — New Business of the Year, to be exact — which seems decidedly premature to me. Excellence in Retail Space Rental, maybe. Excellence in Buzz Creation, perhaps. But New Business of the Year? I’m thinking you have to serve a couple of burritos, wraps, soups, salads or frozen yogurt (I googled it) before you can nominate yourself be nominated for an Excellence in Business Award.

But the explanation, apparently, is that the cut-off is 31 August 2019 and Freshii will be opening in the next two weeks, so the nomination was accepted.

The bright side is that if this trend continues, it’s only a matter of time before they begin presenting awards for “Best Unrealized Business Idea of the Year” at which point, I will begin cleaning up. (Latest entry: “Buber” — the ride share app whose drivers are all Martin Buber scholars.)