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LETTER: Rail key to growing Cape Breton economy – SaltWire Network

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Steve Drake’s recent three-part series in the Cape Breton Post (Oct. 8-10) on the history of rail and Sydney Harbour’s “fantasy” port (Novaporte) deserves a response.

To his defense, Drake knows very little about Novaporte, but yet he felt empowered to dismiss it. What happened to defending the labor movement and the right for individuals to earn a decent living? Did he even talk to the proponents of Sydney Harbor Investment Partners or the trades unions?

One of the major challenges for rail is to get the province on side to support the refurbishment. It’s OK to say you need a business case, but it is a chicken and egg situation. If you don’t have the rail, you can’t get the business. Picture if you never had the Trans-Canada Highway and you had to drive the old highway every day. It would be the same argument; you don’t need the Trans-Canada because you can use the old highway. Development doesn’t happen unless you have efficient and cost-effective transportation.

Cape Breton is rich in forestry products as well as minerals and ores including gold, copper, graphite, cobalt and, very likely, rare earth materials. There are global customers for these commodities but reaching them requires rail and bulk shipping capacity. The lack of bulk exports is one of the reasons Nova Scotia has the lowest per capita income of any province in Canada.

We currently have two plants that receive product and raw materials by rail to Port Hawkesbury. Once in Port Hawkesbury, those goods are loaded on truck to Cape Breton. This adds a lot of cost to the end product. If we are going to expand it’s not likely to happen in Cape Breton without rail. Margins are tight and efficient transportation is key to a profitable operation.

Rail also holds the key to reducing truck traffic, lowering emissions and reducing wear and tear on our highways. It also holds the key to strengthening Newfoundland’s constitutionally guaranteed supply chain. More than 100,000 containers are carried by Marine Atlantic annually, meaning 200,000 moves both ways. The most polluting and expensive way of delivering these containers is by truck. Rail is more efficient, reliable and environmentally friendly. This cargo alone is enough to make the Sydney short line economically viable.

On a final note, Cape Breton is a good and safe place to live and do business. Just look at what’s going on with the pandemic. Individuals and companies are starting to look at Cape Breton as a place to work and live. If you look at the United States, places like Florida and New York, for example, are not a very safe to live or work. If you want to promote doing business in Cape Breton, now is the time to do it.

Immigrants that come feel safe and value this aspect of Cape Breton. In my experience, the foreign students are excellent workers. They have an excellent work ethic, are educated and want to stay here. They have money to invest, but money alone is not enough. Our region must have a competitive climate and that includes transportation. In particular, rail.

Scotia Rail fully supports the Novaporte campaign: ”Cape Breton is Ready for Rail” – https://www.readyforrail.ca. We encourage the community to call or email your representative to express your support for rail.

Jim Kehoe

Director, Scotia Rail Development Society

Rocky Bay, Isle Madame

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Atlantic Canada’s economy bounces back faster after region closes its doors: official – Global News

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Chef Emily Wells was unsure what to expect as she opened the doors of her seasonal restaurant in rural Prince Edward Island the same day Canada’s four Atlantic provinces bubbled together, allowing travel between them while keeping their borders restricted to everyone else.

The result was far better than she could have imagined.

“It was a remarkable summer, I was floored by it,” Wells said. “The bubble made all the difference. It certainly worked for us.”

Read more:
Nova Scotia reports no new COVID-19 cases on Sunday

The border restrictions along with tough public health measures helped the east coast provinces, which have a combined population of 2.4 million, tamp down COVID-19 early on and largely keep the virus at bay even as the rest of the country entered a second wave of infections.

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That success came at a cost. More than 171,000 jobs were lost, exports plunged and the region’s $5 billion  tourism sector was crippled, with all four provinces swinging from economic growth to sudden contraction.

While the initial impact was similar to what happened in the rest of Canada, data shows the rebound in jobs and economic activity that followed was quicker, bolstered by the ability to reopen the economy faster than the rest of the country.

“We knew (the Atlantic bubble) was going to help, we just didn’t know what it would look like,” said PEI Tourism Minister Matthew MacKay. His tiny province of 160,000 people ended up getting about a third of the record 1.6 million visitors it saw in 2019.


Click to play video 'New PC Health App Launches in Atlantic Canada'



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New PC Health App Launches in Atlantic Canada


New PC Health App Launches in Atlantic Canada

Without the bubble, it would have been far more painful, he said.

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Between local support and bubble travellers, business at Mike Fritz’s coffee shop along a popular PEI trail was surprisingly strong. But he is eager to welcome a wider range of visitors next summer.

“We are hoping that at least the tourists from Ontario and Quebec can come back next season, because that’s almost 60 per cent of our business,” said Fritz. But both of Canada’s major airlines have slashed service to Atlantic Canada, which experts say will slow the broader tourism recovery and could discourage outside investment.

By the numbers

Read more:
Prince Edward Island reports one new case of COVID-19, has three active cases

After months of strict restrictions and mandatory quarantines, the four Atlantic provinces began to allow travel between themselves in early July amid concerns the sudden freedom would lead to a rash of outbreaks. That did not happen.

There have been 73 COVID-19 deaths in the region, the bulk occurring before the bubble opened. There are now fewer than 15 active cases in PEI, Newfoundland and Labrador, and Nova Scotia combined. In New Brunswick, which borders with Quebec where case counts are high, there are two outbreaks with 75 active cases.

By comparison, Canada as a whole has had 9,862 deaths and currently has 23,481 active cases, with an average of 2,425 new infections each day. The second wave has already led to targeted shutdowns in a number of non-Atlantic provinces.

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Click to play video 'WestJet suspends most of its operations in Atlantic Canada amid the COVID-19 pandemic'



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WestJet suspends most of its operations in Atlantic Canada amid the COVID-19 pandemic


WestJet suspends most of its operations in Atlantic Canada amid the COVID-19 pandemic

That resurgence has hurt Canada’s recovery, with the economy forecast to shrink 5.9 per cent this year, according to a Reuters poll.

Three of the four Atlantic provinces are set to fare better than that, according to analyst estimates, shrinking between 4.3 per cent and 5.4 per cent.

The surge in cases has also made it less clear when Atlantic Canada might reopen to other provinces, with public opinion firmly against expanding the bubble.

Read more:
WestJet cutting over 100 flights in Atlantic Canada as pandemic makes service ‘unviable’

In Newfoundland and Labrador, tour boat operator Joseph O’Brien took the unusual step of teaming up with his main competitor so the two could split costs and guests, rather than jousting for the limited number of visitors.

Story continues below advertisement

He estimates he averaged only 8 per cent of his regular capacity over the prime summer months, mostly due to not having visitors from Ontario, Canada’s most populous province. Still, O’Brien supported the strict restrictions to keep people safe.

“I’m not a scientist, but I know that drastic times call for drastic measures,” he said. “What don’t break us usually makes us stronger.”

© 2020 Reuters

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Canada's Atlantic region closed out world to beat COVID-19, and the economy has done OK – Reuters Canada

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OTTAWA (Reuters) – Chef Emily Wells was unsure what to expect as she opened the doors of her seasonal restaurant in rural Prince Edward Island the same day Canada’s four Atlantic provinces bubbled together, allowing travel between them while keeping their borders restricted to everyone else.

A resident views the first iceberg of the season as it passes the South Shore, also known as “Iceberg Alley”, near Ferryland Newfoundland, Canada April 16, 2017. Picture taken April 16, 2017. REUTERS/Greg Locke

The result was far better than she could have imagined.

“It was a remarkable summer, I was floored by it,” Wells said. “The bubble made all the difference. It certainly worked for us.”

The border restrictions along with tough public health measures helped the east coast provinces, which have a combined population of 2.4 million, tamp down COVID-19 early on and largely keep the virus at bay even as the rest of the country entered a second wave of infections.

That success came at a cost. More than 171,000 jobs were lost, exports plunged and the region’s C$5 billion ($3.8 billion) tourism sector was crippled, with all four provinces swinging from economic growth to sudden contraction.

While the initial impact was similar to what happened in the rest of Canada, data shows the rebound in jobs and economic activity that followed was quicker, bolstered by the ability to reopen the economy faster than the rest of the country. tmsnrt.rs/2FRnExA

“We knew (the Atlantic bubble) was going to help, we just didn’t know what it would look like,” said PEI Tourism Minister Matthew MacKay. His tiny province of 160,000 people ended up getting about a third of the record 1.6 million visitors it saw in 2019.

Without the bubble, it would have been far more painful, he said.

Between local support and bubble travelers, business at Mike Fritz’s coffee shop along a popular PEI trail was surprisingly strong. But he is eager to welcome a wider range of visitors next summer.

Slideshow ( 2 images )

“We are hoping that at least the tourists from Ontario and Quebec can come back next season, because that’s almost 60% of our business,” said Fritz.

But both of Canada’s major airlines have slashed service to Atlantic Canada, which experts say will slow the broader tourism recovery and could discourage outside investment.

BY THE NUMBERS

After months of strict restrictions and mandatory quarantines, the four Atlantic provinces began to allow travel between themselves in early July amid concerns the sudden freedom would lead to a rash of outbreaks. That did not happen.

There have been 73 COVID-19 deaths in the region, the bulk occurring before the bubble opened. There are now fewer than 15 active cases in PEI, Newfoundland and Labrador, and Nova Scotia combined. In New Brunswick, which borders with Quebec where case counts are high, there are two outbreaks with 75 active cases.

By comparison, Canada as a whole has had 9,862 deaths and currently has 23,481 active cases, with an average of 2,425 new infections each day. The second wave has already led to targeted shutdowns in a number of non-Atlantic provinces.

That resurgence has hurt Canada’s recovery, with the economy forecast to shrink 5.9% this year, according to a Reuters poll.

Three of the four Atlantic provinces are set to fare better than that, according to analyst estimates, shrinking between 4.3% and 5.4%. tmsnrt.rs/31BgNjG

The surge in cases has also made it less clear when Atlantic Canada might reopen to other provinces, with public opinion firmly against expanding the bubble.

In Newfoundland and Labrador, tour boat operator Joseph O’Brien took the unusual step of teaming up with his main competitor so the two could split costs and guests, rather than jousting for the limited number of visitors.

He estimates he averaged only 8% of his regular capacity over the prime summer months, mostly due to not having visitors from Ontario, Canada’s most populous province. Still, O’Brien supported the strict restrictions to keep people safe.

“I’m not a scientist, but I know that drastic times call for drastic measures,” he said. “What don’t break us usually makes us stronger.”

Graphic: Jobs shed and regained by Atlantic province – here

Graphic: Select Canada real GDP forecasts – here

Reporting by Julie Gordon; Editing by Alistair Bell

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Canada's Atlantic region closed out world to beat COVID-19, and the economy has done OK – Reuters Canada

Published

 on


OTTAWA (Reuters) – Chef Emily Wells was unsure what to expect as she opened the doors of her seasonal restaurant in rural Prince Edward Island the same day Canada’s four Atlantic provinces bubbled together, allowing travel between them while keeping their borders restricted to everyone else.

A resident views the first iceberg of the season as it passes the South Shore, also known as “Iceberg Alley”, near Ferryland Newfoundland, Canada April 16, 2017. Picture taken April 16, 2017. REUTERS/Greg Locke

The result was far better than she could have imagined.

“It was a remarkable summer, I was floored by it,” Wells said. “The bubble made all the difference. It certainly worked for us.”

The border restrictions along with tough public health measures helped the east coast provinces, which have a combined population of 2.4 million, tamp down COVID-19 early on and largely keep the virus at bay even as the rest of the country entered a second wave of infections.

That success came at a cost. More than 171,000 jobs were lost, exports plunged and the region’s C$5 billion ($3.8 billion) tourism sector was crippled, with all four provinces swinging from economic growth to sudden contraction.

While the initial impact was similar to what happened in the rest of Canada, data shows the rebound in jobs and economic activity that followed was quicker, bolstered by the ability to reopen the economy faster than the rest of the country. tmsnrt.rs/2FRnExA

“We knew (the Atlantic bubble) was going to help, we just didn’t know what it would look like,” said PEI Tourism Minister Matthew MacKay. His tiny province of 160,000 people ended up getting about a third of the record 1.6 million visitors it saw in 2019.

Without the bubble, it would have been far more painful, he said.

Between local support and bubble travelers, business at Mike Fritz’s coffee shop along a popular PEI trail was surprisingly strong. But he is eager to welcome a wider range of visitors next summer.

Slideshow ( 2 images )

“We are hoping that at least the tourists from Ontario and Quebec can come back next season, because that’s almost 60% of our business,” said Fritz.

But both of Canada’s major airlines have slashed service to Atlantic Canada, which experts say will slow the broader tourism recovery and could discourage outside investment.

BY THE NUMBERS

After months of strict restrictions and mandatory quarantines, the four Atlantic provinces began to allow travel between themselves in early July amid concerns the sudden freedom would lead to a rash of outbreaks. That did not happen.

There have been 73 COVID-19 deaths in the region, the bulk occurring before the bubble opened. There are now fewer than 15 active cases in PEI, Newfoundland and Labrador, and Nova Scotia combined. In New Brunswick, which borders with Quebec where case counts are high, there are two outbreaks with 75 active cases.

By comparison, Canada as a whole has had 9,862 deaths and currently has 23,481 active cases, with an average of 2,425 new infections each day. The second wave has already led to targeted shutdowns in a number of non-Atlantic provinces.

That resurgence has hurt Canada’s recovery, with the economy forecast to shrink 5.9% this year, according to a Reuters poll.

Three of the four Atlantic provinces are set to fare better than that, according to analyst estimates, shrinking between 4.3% and 5.4%. tmsnrt.rs/31BgNjG

The surge in cases has also made it less clear when Atlantic Canada might reopen to other provinces, with public opinion firmly against expanding the bubble.

In Newfoundland and Labrador, tour boat operator Joseph O’Brien took the unusual step of teaming up with his main competitor so the two could split costs and guests, rather than jousting for the limited number of visitors.

He estimates he averaged only 8% of his regular capacity over the prime summer months, mostly due to not having visitors from Ontario, Canada’s most populous province. Still, O’Brien supported the strict restrictions to keep people safe.

“I’m not a scientist, but I know that drastic times call for drastic measures,” he said. “What don’t break us usually makes us stronger.”

Graphic: Jobs shed and regained by Atlantic province – here

Graphic: Select Canada real GDP forecasts – here

Reporting by Julie Gordon; Editing by Alistair Bell

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