Fast & Curious: Short Takes on Random Things

Novaporte’s new face

Kathleen Yurchesyn

Kathleen Yurchesyn has left her post as CEO of the Cape Breton Chamber of Commerce to become the vice-president of operations and corporate development for Novaporte, the name promoter Albert Barbusci has given to his Sydney harbor container terminal project.

Six years in, Yurchesyn represents Novaporte’s first hire (and it came only after Membertou invested in the project), although I don’t think Yurchesyn is actually a Novaporte employee, going by the recently published minutes from the October meeting of the Port of Sydney board, which include this item under “CEO Report”:

Excerpt from Sydney Port board minutes.

“Hired on a consultant basis” is not the same as “hired.”

Novaporte’s Sydney address—now listed on its website— is 90 Esplanade, i.e. the old Fisheries Building, i.e. the same building where the Port of Sydney has offices. (Has Barbusci actually leased separate premises or is Yurchesyn occupying a desk in the Port’s offices? Enquiring minds want to know.)

Yurchesyn has a degree in public relations with a minor in marketing from Mount Saint Vincent University and her work experience is entirely within this realm, so had Barbusci tapped her as Novaporte’s vice-president of marketing and communications it would at least have made sense—not that anything in Barbusci’s scheme makes sense, but it would at least have respected the rules of the world he’s created.

But vice-president of operations at what Barbusci claims will be an international trans-shipment hub for ultra-large container vessels handling 3.2 million TEU annually? If you look up the VPs of operations at the ports of Halifax, Saint John and Montreal — which I did — you’ll find that they all have decades of experience as either sea captains or terminal operators.

So what is this appointment really about?

Well, I’d say Yurchesyn’s job is to put any good will or local connections she’s built up as chamber CEO into service for Novaporte. And to play Charlie McCarthy to Barbusci’s Edgar Bergen or Lamb Chop to his Shari Lewis. In this last capacity, she’s already shining — here she is talking to the Post‘s David Jala:

“We’re still in the marketing and pre-development phase of the project,” she said.

“Development takes a long time. Development takes a decade, if you will, when you are talking about a multi-million or even billion-dollar project. It takes time, but I am looking forward to delivering on the many components of Novaporte.”

I bet you didn’t even see Barbusci’s lips, if you will, move.



Just thought I’d share with you my latest rejection from the provincial venture capital entity — Innovacorp says I am not entitled to know how much it pays in fees to the private sector VC funds in which it invests (namely, Cycle Capital Management, Build Ventures, Concrete Ventures and Two Small Fish):

Excerpt from response to Innovacorp FOIPOP

I do not see how either of these exemptions applies but I have no choice but to appeal to the privacy commissioner and hope that, by some miracle of the Lord Jesus, by the time she is ruling on it, Tim Houston’s government will have granted her order-making power.

But I have to ask: does Innovacorp really not realize how suspicious it makes itself look by refusing to release this information? I expected I’d discover it’s paying standard industry management fees of about 2.5%, now I’m wondering what outlandish fee arrangement it’s trying to hide.


Port Minutes

Port of Sydney logoHere are a few more items from those October port board minutes.


A total of $19,000 must be paid back under rent subsidies as Revenue Canada determined that the Port of Sydney Development Corporation are ineligible for the funds received despite being initially approved. This is due to CBRM being the sole shareholder of the Port Corporation.

I guess there was no box to check on the funding application to indicate you were wholly owned by your municipality.

The board expressed an interest in receiving an update from Novaporte officials. The CEO will extend an invitation to Mr. Barbusci to meet with the board.

Although, I guess now the board can just meet with Kathleen Yurchesyn.

The minutes also note that the Coast Guard has agreed to pay for new navigational aids for Sydney harbor but the work will take  “a minimum of two years” to complete, meaning that, best case scenario, the channel we paid over $30 million to dredge in 2012 will be navigable by 2023.

Finally, the board notes that it went in camera at the end of its meeting, by which it meant it kicked out Port CEO Marlene Usher, General Manager Paul Carrigan and Cruise and Admin Manager Nicole MacAulay.

MacAulay, who is not a board member, is listed as the “recording secretary” for the October meeting, which I don’t understand — Sylvie Gerbasi is the Secretary/Treasurer of the port board, so taking minutes at meetings is her responsibility, why would it have been assigned to MacAulay? Did Gerbasi at least take over after they asked MacAulay to leave? Because under the rules governing Nova Scotia municipalities (which I presume is what the port board purports to be following) minutes must be taken even during in camera meetings, it’s just that they are not made public for 10 years.

But really, can you even go in camera if the  public isn’t permitted to attend your meetings in the first place?

Shorter version of this item: the port board continues to do my head in and I suspect this won’t change in 2022.



Peace out

I had a couple of additional items I was going to include in this last Fast & Curious of 2021, but ending the year talking about COVID cases climbing or the Houston government doing its bit (as have NS governments of all stripes before it) for two-tier medicine seems like ending on a low note and I think we’ve had enough low notes to do us for one year.

So I will put a pin in these subjects for now and, instead, will once again thank you for your support this past year and wish you a happy couple of weeks, whether you’ll be spending them celebrating Christmas or not.

Me, I’ll be trading in the keyboard for a box of chocolates.

See you in 2022!