Well, we’re almost out of office supplies. We’ve got the fax machine in the office that our ad sales guy got a deal on at Business Depot. We used to get our office supplies at Standard Office Supplies, just down the road on Charlotte Street, but it closed in January after 33 years of proud and independent Cape Breton ownership. Its closure put dozens of people out of work and added one more empty building to the downtown core of Sydney. Its closure also left us running out of pens and paper in the downtown office WGO occupies above Alteen’s Jewellers, another downtown business running an “everything must go” liquidation sale before they close their doors.
Last year, after I returned from ECMA in St. John’s, I felt more than a little unsure about ECMA 2000 in Sydney. February and March 1999 were pretty bleak around these streets in comparison to St. John’s and live music wasn’t really even an option. But through the summer, a number of people came home and started playing again… now there’s pretty regular music going on in the northend at Chandler’s and the Black Diamond and Bunker’s Peanut Bar and around town, and there’s a good and ready crowd to take it to the next level it seems.
Now we’re talking about what can be done downtown to develop the infrastructure for a realistic turnaround of the economy, none of this government bullshit money to keep the mines open or satisfy the poor underemployed steelworkers trying to hang on to the third-world economy of industrial steel making. We’re talking about real investment, like turning the old Cape Breton Post building on Dorchester Street into rehearsal space for bands and dance and theatre, revitalizing the empty Vogue Theatre to put on the midsize semi-soft seat licensed shows that the Capri used to hist and using it on other nights to show local and independent films, host a film festival, stage theatrical productions, house a professional theatre company. And that beautiful hundred year old three story department store on the corner of Prince and Charlotte once known as Crowell’s is perfect for a cafe / bistro (designed with dinner theatre and good food in mind), retail space at street level with arts administration offices and artists’ studio space upstairs. Right downtown. Then we’ll start a pirate radio station and have Charlotte Street cobbled for pedestrian traffic and people will want to come here to visit and stay here beyond high school and rich American cruise ship tourists will have something to say about Cape Breton as seen via Sydney other than that casino is puny and what’s with the stink?