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CBRM, Mi’kmaq agree on terminal plan

Thursday, 03 September 2015 | 10:00
Cape Breton Regional Municipality has struck draft agreements with the Assembly of Nova Scotia Mi’kmaq Chiefs over potential development of a container terminal and expansion of the cruise ship terminal.

At a general committee meeting Tuesday, councillors voted unanimously to approve the agreements in principle and to send them to the next regular council meeting for ratification.

Talks with the Mi’kmaq on a third deal covering the municipality’s proposal to take control of the water lots and land under Sydney Harbour from the federal government are expected to begin later this month, Mayor Cecil Clarke told reporters after the meeting.

“The two phases are really what are called interim arrangements that have been accommodations that are made specific to the projects at hand,” Clarke said.

Under terms of the Phase 1 deal to expand the cruise ship terminal, the municipality has agreed that all construction projects will include a requirement for five per cent of the costs to benefit Mi’kmaq.

As well, the municipality agreed to tax breaks on Membertou’s Heritage Park and Sports and Wellness Centre, both of which sit on municipal land. The properties will be taxed using residential rates, except those portions that are considered private sector or commercial space, which will pay commercial tax rates.

In the case of the Sports and Wellness Centre, a large multi-rink arena under construction, the tax revenue will be a bonus, said Clarke. If the rink was built by the municipality and sat on municipal land, it would not be taxable at all.

Under the Phase 2 agreement, the municipality has a deal with the federal government to acquire about 505 hectares of government property next to the greenfield site on Sydney Harbour to support a proposed container terminal. About 101 hectares will be handed over to the Mi’kmaq as an accommodation, said Clarke.

Those lands will be fully taxable commercial properties, he said.

Chief Terry Paul of Membertou and Chief Leroy Denny of Eskasoni have agreed to the deals because they didn’t want to delay the municipality’s proposed cruise ship terminal expansion or a container terminal project, said Clarke, and they provide opportunities for joint development.

“Those are significant steps forward,” he said.

Although councillors unanimously agreed to the deals in principle, there was no discussion before the vote.

However, the deals were discussed at a closed-door, in camera session before the general committee meeting.

The municipality is marketing the container terminal site internationally through its Port of Sydney Development Corp. and a private-sector group called Harbour Port Development Partners.

The municipality has also set aside $6 million toward the cruise ship terminal expansion, which will require funding from the federal and provincial governments before it can proceed.
Source: Chronicle Herald News
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