Invest in Cape Breton: An Enormous Opportunity Is About To Transform Sydney HarbourNovember 14, 2023

Produced by Michelle Samson, Storied Places Media

For many, Sydney Harbour is known for its hotels, cruise ships, and a giant fiddle. But that only blows over the surface of this waterbody that’s 16-and-a-half metres deep. There are more cruise passengers, more commercial traffic, more ambitious plans, and more opportunities here than anyone would fathom.

In the second episode of the Invest in Cape Breton podcast, three local leaders reveal what’s happening at the Port of Sydney today, why Sydney Harbour is a tremendously strategic site for investors, and why Novaporte’s forthcoming offshore wind marshalling port is an opportunity “so enormous it’s hard to even imagine”. First Nations and settler communities across Unama’ki-Cape Breton are set to be transformed.

Our guests are:

  • Marlene Usher, the former CEO of the Port of Sydney
  • Steve Parsons, the General Manager of Eskasoni Corporate Division and CBRM Councillor
  • Kathleen Yurchesyn, VP, Operations and Corporate Development

Listen now, or read on for a few highlights.

Sydney Harbour is Busy With Cruise and Commercial Traffic

Marlene Usher provided an overview of what’s happening in Sydney Harbour today. In 2023, the Port of Sydney welcomed 115 cruise ships carrying in excess of 220,000 visitors. That’s enough to make it the second busiest cruise port in the Maritimes (after Halifax) and a rising star as a cruise destination. It also attracts smaller leisure vessels, like sailboats and super yachts.

The cruise ships are hard to miss, but Sydney Harbour is home to lots of less noticeable commercial users too. There are Imperial Oil tankers delivering fuel, Donkin Coal and Provincial Energy Ventures vessels transshipping coal, Marine Atlantic ferries going to and from Newfoundland twice a day, the Canadian Coast Guard College doing training exercises, plus tugboats and other ships.

Even with all this activity, there’s capacity for much more.

Sydney Harbour is a Great Investment Opportunity

When asked, Marlene Usher and Kathleen Yurchesyn easily rhymed off the harbour’s many assets. It’s a sheltered deep water port with no air draft restriction. It’s a Foreign Trade Zone on the Great Circle with close proximity to Europe. It’s adjacent to an urban centre with an airport, post-secondary education institutions, and a population of industrious people. There are a lot of strategic advantages here.

Yet, unlike most of the other ports on the eastern seaboard, Sydney has large tracts of land that are portside and undeveloped, and its population has room to grow. This place is investment-ready.

Plus, a major development is coming that will increase the opportunities exponentially.

Development of a Multi-Billion Dollar Offshore Wind Marshalling Port is Underway

Novaporte is a 2,000+ acre deep-water port, logistics, and green energy infrastructure project that has been in the works for more than a decade. The partnership between Sydney Harbor Investment Partners and Membertou First Nation took a big step recently when they announced a concession agreement with Denmark-based Blue Water Shipping to develop a major marshalling hub for offshore wind energy servicing the Northeast Atlantic U.S. and Eastern Canada. Kathleen Yurchesyn says the hub will be capable of producing five gigawatts of energy and will account for up to $30 billion of investment, not counting the spinoff activities. A tender package is the last thing needed to get shovels in the ground.

Much of the spinoff will happen in the adjacent Novazone logistics park, a 1,200 acre site for support activities like logistics, transloading, packing, cold storage, and hydrogen production. In a unique move, all 13 of Nova Scotia’s First Nations communities have taken a 20% interest in the development and will co-market and co-develop it. Steve Parsons expects it will create employment and business opportunities for those communities’ band members within Novazone’s boundaries, and beyond.

Subscribe to the Invest in Cape Breton podcast

In Episode 3 we’re exploring the transformative offshore, wind and green energy projects in the Strait of Canso, an industrial powerhouse on the island’s south coast. Tune in for a deep dive of what’s going on in this natural, deep water port.

To make sure you don’t miss it, subscribe or follow now on your favourite podcast platform.