Fast & Curious: Short Takes on Random Things

Who has seen the wind?

I didn’t get the invite to Novaporte’s “transformational” announcement at Membertou on Thursday (note to self: ask Tim Bousquet if “transformational” and “transformative” have become the new “innovative”—applied to everything from sewage treatment plants to wind marshaling ports).

Looking at this photo I have to assume it’s because my bald spot isn’t big enough:

A man at a microphone addressing a handful of people.

Source: CTV

I will do my due diligence on this story for next week’s edition, but my immediate response is one of almost crippling déjà vu:

Once again, Barbusci has identified a real problem: the United States has big plans for wind energy but does not have enough marshaling ports (which are just ports where turbine parts are stored and from which they may be shipped) to see them through.

Once again, Barbusci has decided he is the man to solve this problem.

Once again, there is no reason to believe this to be the case.

According to CTV’s Kyle Moore, Barbusci actually told that enrapt audience pictured above (one member of which seems to be having a beer, which makes perfect sense to me, I think I’d need a bit of a buzz on to take this seriously too) that he’d discovered the world of offshore wind just “six months ago.” Because that’s who you want spearheading the drive to turn your port into a wind marshaling hub, eh? The guy who discovered the existence of wind turbines last September.

But that’s exactly how Barbusci came to the world of container port development in the first place: he’d been minding his own business (online Mah-jong, high-end Chinese memorial parks, Mongolian copper mining) when his old friend and sometime Gabarus-resident Barry Sheehy turned him on to the shortage of ports on the east coast of North America capable of handling ultra-large container vessels (ULCV).

Before you could say “Maersk,” Barbusci, originally a Montreal advertising executive, was a port developer.

Only, it’s been almost a decade (especially if you count from 2014, when Barbusci and Sheehy began promoting our port without our knowledge) and no major shipping line has accepted Barbusci’s invitation to change the way it services the east coast of North America by stopping first in Sydney. And in the meantime, east coast American ports have found their own solutions to the problem of the larger vessels, dredging channels and raising bridges to accommodate them.

So now our man is pivoting to offshore wind marshaling and instead of talking breathlessly about the sheer size of the latest generation of ULCVs and “the Great Circle Route” he’s talking about the sheer size of wind turbines and the “circular economy,” his version of which works like this, according to the Post:

Barbusci felt Novaporte could best serve not only as a potential container terminal site but also as a hub where offshore wind development and operational planning of offshore wind port design — including marshalling, pre-assembly, logistics and safety. [sic]

“That’s the exciting world of what someone coined as a ‘circular economy,’” Barbusci said. “We truly see Nova Scotia, and (certainly) Cape Breton playing a major role in this circular economy. We believe that marshalling will lead to operations and maintenance, which will lead to tremendous amount of high-skilled jobs, which will lead to manufacturing opportunities for components, towers … whatever it takes.”

I could be wrong, I am not a globe-trotting sophisticate like Barbusci, but I don’t think what he’s describing is a circular economy. The Canadian government says a circular economy is one in which:

…nothing is waste. The circular economy retains and recovers as much value as possible from resources by reusing, repairing, refurbishing, remanufacturing, repurposing, or recycling products and materials.

Maybe the point of the rendering below is not that wind turbines and installation vessels are as tall as the Eiffel Tower but that he’s going to recycle the Eiffel Tower into wind turbines. (How much do I love that the artist behind this rendering felt the need to specify that the Eiffel Tower is in Paris? Very, very much.)

Sketch depicting offshore wind turbine, installation vessel and the Eiffel Tower.To be fair to Barbusci, he had to announce something—it’s been two years since he proclaimed the port a done deal except for the rail component and the three-year extension to his exclusive contract is up in June 2024.

His goal now, according to CTV, is “to find a customer and sign a contract” which, it’s probably incredibly insensitive of me to point out, has been his goal since 2014.

Barbusci hopes to attract “three or four” American offshore wind developers:

“We’re off to Baltimore next week, we just announced it, so the industry at large will know who we are,” said Barbusci.

That’s all it takes, you see: an announcement and a press release that gets picked up in the local press and by a lot of little websites dedicated to publishing shipping news press releases and suddenly, the industry knows who you are.

“Shovels will be in the ground this year gentlemen. We finally found a way to break ground,” said Barbusci, Novaporte CEO.


I was just joking about the bald spot, but I guess I was right.

Also, the way to get shovels in the ground is to start offshore—why didn’t I think of that?


Back to the future

Do you suppose Port of Sydney CEO Marlene Usher will join Barbusci’s team when she retires in April? The thought occurred to me when I saw the logo for this year’s Ports Day Ports Days Port Day Port Days, scheduled for May 31 to June 1:

Port Days 2023 logo Sydne NS

Those three wind turbines tell me that Barbusci and Usher are still as thick as thieves.

My favorite part of that logo, though, is that in our better tomorrow—the one where when our port is lined with wind turbines—cruise ships will still be spewing smoke over the North End.

How too…transformational.


Burning issues

Sydney’s Navigate Startup House “provides entrepreneurial support to local startups while managing the Nova Scotia Power Makerspace—Sydney’s Prototyping Workshop.”

All other concerns aside (and I have many, from the notion that, in the future, we’re all going to be entrepreneurs to the idea that the Makerspace is a “prototyping” workshop and not a place for happy, creative activity that is an end in itself even if never commercialized), I find myself dismayed by the name of their program for women entrepreneurs:

An ad for an "Ignite Women" lecture.

I read “Igniting Women in Business” and I assumed it meant setting them on fire, probably because “igniting” is the present participle of “ignite” which, according to the Cambridge dictionary, means:

to (cause to) start burning or explode

You could use it figuratively, but surely you’d claim to be igniting the “imaginations” or the “ambitions” or the “inner fire” of women in business, not the women themselves.

I am sure it’s just a thoughtless mistake, one easily corrected, but as a woman in business, I am seriously thinking of spraying fire retardant on my clothing, just to be on the safe side.