To the Editor:
So, a lot of people are talking about the Harbour Dredge. There are also a lot of people who need to know what this all means for our future.
Here’s my take.
I’ve lived here all my 40 years of life. My parents could have landed anywhere from across the globe in India, and they settled here. I love it here.
I am kind of young, maybe middle-age by some definitions. I teach young people and my husband and I are raising two very young people of our own.
I do not remember a time of prosperity and socio-economic upswing in my lifetime. The steel and coal days were over by the time I was born in 1970. I have traveled around the country a fair bit. We are a lot like a lot of other places, and we have our unique traits.
People always notice how friendly we are and how beautiful our scenery is. Well, if I had a daughter, I’d tell her this: “‘Cute’ will only get you so far.”
We need some substance … something to give us traction … something to sink our teeth into.
Four years ago, for the first time in my life, I heard Jim Wooder, Sydney Marine Group, CEO, speak of the potential of our harbour. And for the first time in my life, I had hope.
We have oft been accused of holding our hands out for pity in the form of dollars from Ottawa and from Halifax. We are not asking for anything of the sort right now.
From my understanding, it is the role of government to work proactively, to recognize opportunities for success and for future growth when those opportunities present themselves (or in this case, when they kick you in the head). It is not the role of government to only share our tax dollars as return or repayment, or as compensation for regions that voted for the government of the day.
Yet it appears that that is precisely what is happening here. Our harbour is naturally, perfectly structured to receive post-Panamax vessels of the future. Trade routes as they exist are becoming more and more clogged as the desire for goods around the world gets harder and harder to satisfy. The western world loves its stuff, and we are in prime position to get that stuff where it needs to go. Huntsville, Ontario is receiving millions in infrastructure to host a one-day meeting, and that’s in addition to this 1.1 billion dollar security expenditure we are hearing so much about. Um … Huntsville … a Tory Cabinet Minister’s riding. And don’t get me started on this giant Harper cabinet. One less minister and we’d have our harbour dredged yearly for a long time.
Environmental tests are all done. The dredging company is ready to roll. All we need is the funding for a simple dredge, or vacuum of the harbour. Pricetag: $39 million dollars. The CBRM are in for 2 million; Nova Scotia Power: 1 million. Mr. Dexter, Mr. Harper, it’s time to step up.
As our MP Mark Eyking said in the House of Commons last week, in his own special way, “Is there any chance the G8 security detail could maybe kick off 15 minutes early so the money the government saves could dredge the harbour in Sydney?”
We are not asking for much. Both Premier Dexter and Prime Minister Harper should be knocking down the door of the Netherlands dredging company, Boskalis, and encouraging them to get to work and get this harbour Super-Sized Ship ready. Shouldn’t a Premier and a Prime Minister want what’s best for Cape Breton, for Nova Scotia and for Canada?
This opportunity could put us on the map. We do indeed have a way-of-life to protect. Our island is a wonderful place to live. It’s safe. It’s a close-knit community. But we also need something to keep us alive and something that will give our young people, and our very young people, a reason to want to make this their home.
Bring your shovel to a rally at the Joan Harriss Cruise Pavilion (The Big Fiddle) on Thursday at 6PM in support of a Harbour Dredge. Let our representatives in Ottawa and in Halifax know that we want support for the development of our harbour, for this perfect natural resource. It’s for Sydney, for Nova Scotia, for Canada, for Cape Breton’s future, and for Our Youth.
We’re Shovel-Ready! See you there.