December Deadlines

Can you believe 2019 is almost over?

I can’t — and do you know who else probably can’t? Martin Chernin of Harbour Royale Development Limited (HRDL) and Albert Barbusci of Sydney Harbour Investment Partners (SHIP).

Why is that, you ask?

Well, because each of them faces a big deadline for their respective (and grandiose) plans for Sydney harbor and neither looks likely to make it.



While Barbusci’s scheme to build a $1.5 billion deep-water transshipment hub for ultra-large container vessels (ULCV) in Sydney harbor seems to have devolved into a plan to set up an untested plastic waste-to-fuel plant in his so-called “logistics” park, the provincial government is still waiting on that port.

In fact, it’s been paying Genesee & Wyoming, the American operator of the Cape Breton and Central Nova Scotia (CBNS) short line railroad up to $60,000 a month to keep it from abandoning the disused section of the line between St. Peters Junction and Sydney.

It has been doing this in the (supposed) belief that Barbusci will come through with his port and the port will need a rail line.

But twice this year — in May and again in September — Glace Bay MLA and Business Minister Geoff MacLellan has warned the subsidy will be discontinued in the absence of a “significant” development on the port file this year, and I don’t know about you, but I have not seen any “significant” developments on the port file this year. I haven’t seen any developments at all.

I asked Department of Business spokesperson Gary Andrea if a decision had been made about the subsidy yet and he told me:

[A] further extension to the agreement is being evaluated and decision will be made before the end of this year.




Meanwhile, on the other side of Sydney harbor, the companies that make up Harbor Royale Investment Limited are supposed to be developing a wide swath of the waterfront.

HRDL’s was the only response to the CBRM’s call for proposals to develop its waterfront and in June 2018 the company was given 18 months to make it so (or at least, get it started).

The plan Chernin presented to council in January 2018 included (for reasons I have never understood) a new public central library — which project manager Jim Wooder and architect Spiro Trifos both characterized as the anchor development — in addition to an office tower, a residential tower, a waterfront casino, an expanded Holiday Inn and a marine interpretive center — this last apparently to be operated by Dennis Campbell’s Ambassatours.

Campbell, council was assured, intended to “re-offer” his Harbour Hopper tours in 2018 and was considering expanding the offering to themed cruises and “seasonal pop-up kiosk type activity.”

Instead, he offered the Harbour Hopper in 2018 then pulled the plug due to lack of interest.


and a


Unless my math is badly off, the 18-month development deal expires this month.

Care to give me odds on HRDL requesting an extension?

How about odds on whether it will get it?

I contacted the Mayor’s office to ask about the status of the waterfront development but as of press time, I have not even received an acknowledgement of my email.