DIGBY - After years of planning and lobbying, and millions of dollars worth of repairs to the town wharf, area fishermen now have a safe and efficient facility, says the Digby Harbour Port Association.

The association held a reception Friday in Digby’s fire hall to celebrate the repairs and to talk about future possibilities for the area’s key piece of economic infrastructure.

DHPA chair Reg Hazelton told the 60 people at the reception about the struggle to regain local ownership of the Digby wharf from the Maritime Harbour Society.

Jeff Sunderland, the project manager and former wharf manager, listed the repairs and improvements carried out since the local group took over the wharf in 2007. They included new floats and gangways, demolishing the middle ell, rewiring and adding new lights and building the new breakwater.

The finishing touches—filling gaps on the outer face with concrete and shotcrete—should be done by the end of this month or early in December.

“And with that, we have put the wharf in a condition to allow fishermen to tie up safely and given them a stable platform to work from for years to come,” Sunderland said.

New wharf manager Ed Chisholm talked about ideas the association is pursuing to diversify the port’s business.

He said the association wants to attract freight customers who use either small Great Lakes-style ships or barges to transport wood chips, round wood or other commodities.

And he spoke about expanding the wharf facilities to include a facility for tidal turbine servicing and deployment.

Of three sites identified in a 2013 consultant’s report, Chisholm says building a site 300 metres northwest of the present wharf with fill, armour rock and a wharf face on the end is the association’s number one choice.

Chisholm said the other sites, near the provincial look off on Shore Road and just north of the ferry terminal, both have deeper water but the six metres just off the Cannon Banks in Digby is enough based on comments from the industry .

Chisholm said the federal government is looking to divest itself of the Digby harbour seabed.

The town and the Digby Development Agency is hoping to assume control of the 111 hectares between the post office and the Digby Pines, which would simplify planning and approvals for the construction of tidal servicing facility near the wharf.

Let the world know that good things are happening here. West Nova MP Greg Kerr

Mayor Ben Cleveland spoke about the recent international conference on ocean energy and how Digby County is starting to see results from marketing of the area.

West Nova MP Greg Kerr was the final speaker.

“The future here looks bright,” he said. “You have a lot of potential but nothing is going to be handed to you.”

He told the audience that it’s important to keep the buzz going.

“Government likes to partner up when good things are happening and they see good people leading the charge,” he said. “If you’re seeing economic results already, then brag about it.

“Let the world know that good things are happening here.”

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