Port Days hears about wharves, tidal, ferries and the future

Presenters at the Port Days seminars included Jeff Sunderland, Chuck Brown, Reg Hazelton, Don Cormier, Jim Quinn, Peter MacLellan, Greg Kerr, and Bruce Cameron.

From page 1 Speakers from across the Maritime Provinces were in Digby last week to share information on the history, current situation and opportunities for the Port of Digby

The occasion was Port Days, a project organized by Digby Harbour Port Association and the Digby Area Board of Trade

Seminars were held at the Digby Pines Golf Resort and Spa on Wednesday morning, with a wharf tour on Thursday morning.

The board of trade’s annual Tartan Classic golf tournament, normally held during Scallop Days, was delayed to allow participation by those attending Port Days.

Jeff Sunderland, Digby’s port manager, gave a quick history of the wharf, focusing on improvements the port association has made to the facility since taking over in 2007.

Before the addition of the floating dock systems, beginning in 2008, the wharf held a maximum of 65 vessels. Now the wharf holds up to 83.

Sunderland outlined progress, too, on the protective breakwater now under construction by Western OSC.

The company has placed 106,000 tons of rock just north of the wharf. The project calls for 175,000 tons and has a completion date of the end of November.

The project slowed markedly after an excavator slipped into the Annapolis Basin in May, but Sunderland said the end date for the project has not changed.

Don Cormier of Bay Ferries spoke to the audience about a slight increase this year in traffic using the Digby-Saint John ferry Princess of Acadia and new initiatives to continue that trend.

He also touched on requirements to be taken into consideration as the federal Transport department begins its search for a new boat for the ferry service.

Jim Quinn, president of Port Saint John, spoke about developments on the other side of the Bay of Fundy and how they might affect the Digby area and all of southwest Nova Scotia.

Chuck Brown, a communications manager with Cooke Aquaculture spoke about the economic benefits of fish farming.

He said more senior executives of the New Brunswick fish farming giant couldn’t make it to Port Days because they were on a trade mission to Scotland and Norway with the Atlantic Canada Fish Farmers Association.

Linda Gregory, warden of the Municipality of the District of Digby was also on that trip and arrived home Friday, Aug. 16.

Brown said Cooke Aquaculture is “well on track to open a hatchery in the Digby area by the end of this year.”

As the company expands into Nova Scotia and gets a processing plant in Shelburne up and running, Brown predicts Cooke will be shipping five time as much freight via the Digby – Saint John ferry as it does now.

Bruce Cameron, executive director of Sustainable and Renewable Energy at the Nova Scotia Department of Energy, spoke about the potential for tidal power in the Bay of Fundy.

He said Nova Scotia and, by extension, Digby, are well-positioned to lead the industry because there is the resource opportunity, experience with marine industries, local research capacity and an accepting positive social environment.

He spoke about the International Conference of Ocean Energy, scheduled for November next year in Halifax, and about a initiative to streamline project applications and approvals.

He said the province is working on a ‘one-window coordinating committee’ to involve all federal and provincial regulators—DFO, Natural Resources Canada, Energy Canada, Transport Canada and the province’s Environment and Energy departments.

He said government won’t tell project proponents what benefits they have to promise Nova Scotia ( jobs, for example), but instead want each proponent to describe what benefits its project would offer Nova Scotia.

“So, it’s not a prescriptive regime, but we will ask in a competitive way, tell us what does your project do for us?” he said.

Cameron also laid out a tentative schedule for tidal energy development in Nova Scotia.

“This is very much subject to other people’s investment decisions,” he said. “It’s not a schedule you should take to the bank, but it is our best estimate. It’s going to change.”

Feed-in tariff rates for large projects will be set this year and Fundy Tidal Inc. is making its share offering now for small projects.

In 2014, he expects the large projects in the Minas Basin will be awarded and device assembly will begin. Fundy Tidal Inc. should also begin deployment next year.

The large projects could begin deployment in 2015.

Between 2016 and 2019, he foresees Fundy Tidal Inc. finishing deployment with a potential for 3.5 megawatts and 1015 large devices being deployed in the Minas Basin with a potential for about 20 MW of electricity.

West Nova MP Greg Kerr was keynote speaker and spoke about the opportunities for southwestern Nova Scotia and how to prepare for them.

He said it is important to concentrate on what can be done in rural settings.

“Change is going to happen,” he said. “Can I stop it? No. Can I influence it? Yes.”

Kerr said in his 30 years in politics he never saw a good project that didn’t face some opposition.

But he said taxpayers want to see results, which only comes from cooperation.

“It comes down to getting things done,” he said. “There is no room for the small and the petty. It’s about why is this project good the community? If it’s good for the area, we should do it.”

He said decisions, like the one the port association made to take over the Digby wharf aren’t easy.

“There are risks to decision making,” he said. “You have to ask your critics, what’s your better idea? It’s easy to be against something. It takes commitment to be for something. Listen to your critics, yes. Learn from them and then move on.”

Port Association chair Reg Hazelton closed he seminars by thanking Kerr for his support over the last five years.

“He worked very hard for us,” said Hazelton. “Every time we asked him to have a meeting, he agreed. I look forward to lots more meetings in the future because we have lots more work to do.”

Story by: Jonathon Riley
The Digby County Courier
August 22, 2013