GUYSBOROUGH – The leadership of the proposed Melford International Terminal says a recent report that recommends the provincial government focus on supporting the Port of Halifax, and not other proposed ports in Nova Scotia, is an “amateur” piece of work.
“How could a credible consultant say to the province you shouldn’t be supportive of Sydney or Melford if they have not done a cost-benefit analysis?” asked Melford’s vice president of marketing, Richie Mann, during an interview with The Journal on Nov. 18. “We are offering to build this terminal at no cost to the province, with potential for big benefits to the province.”
Given that cost-benefit reality, Mann said the report by CPCS “just defies logic.”
The $80,000 report on Nova Scotia’s shipping gateways was paid for by ACOA and the Dept. of Transportation.
The report, entitled “The Nova Scotia Transportation Sector: Global Market Challenges and Opportunities” calls for the province to “focus on enabling greater critical mass of traffic through the Province’s primary gateway assets: the Port of Halifax and the Halifax Stanfield International Airport (HSIA).”
It recommends that “public policies, plans and investments should focus on incremental improvements to bolster the competitiveness of these gateways and associated corridors to inland markets.”
The consultant looked at plans for new container terminals at the Strait of Canso (Melford) and the Port of Sydney, and offered a gloomy assessment: “It is our view that the current market would be unlikely to support more container ports in Nova Scotia.”
Melford project proponents were interviewed by the consultant last winter, said Mann.
“We met with the author of the report for a rather lengthy interview...They either didn’t understand what we were talking about or they chose to ignore it.”
He said the province was quick to say it did not endorse the report. The report was also recently slammed by the Municipality of the District of Guysborough.
“It’s flawed in a number of ways,” said Mann. “It is an injustice to the province and to the changes that have taken place in the industry.”
Mann said the Melford project is well positioned to be a hub for shipping to and from Europe. He said the Port of Halifax has significant problems that will be difficult to overcome.
Asked about potential damage from the report in terms of investor concern, Mann said he does’t think that will be a problem. “They know the province is supportive of what we’re doing...We’re willing to put our money where our mouth is and put our money on the line for this development and they applaud that.”
In the end, Mann said the report is a lot of “noise”.
“And at times that can be a nuisance.”