The Digby Harbour Port Association and the Digby Board of Trade brought together speakers from across the Maritime Provinces to share information on the history, current situation and opportunities for the Port of Digby.
They held the Port Days seminars at Digby Hall on the grounds of the Digby Pines Golf Resort and Spa on Wednesday morning, Aug. 14, followed by the Tartan Classic Golf Tournament that afternoon and a wharf tour on Thursday morning.
Jeff Sunderland, Digby’s port manager, gave a quick history of the wharf, focussing on improvements the DHPA has made to the facility since taking over in 2007.
Before the addition of the floating dock systems the wharf held a maximum of 65 vessels in 2008. Now the wharf holds up to 83.
The breakwater project
Sunderland told the audience that Western OSC has placed 106,000 tons of rock for the new breakwater just north of the wharf. The total project calls for 175,000 tons and was originally supposed to be finished by the end of November.
The project has slowed down markedly since an excavator slipped into the Annapolis Basin in May but Sunderland says at this point, the end date for the project has not changed.
Don Cormier of Bay Ferries spoke to the audience about a slight up tick in traffic on the Princess of Acadia and new initiatives to continue that trend.
He also touched on requirements to be taken into consideration as Transport begins the search for a new boat for the Saint John Digby service.
Jim Quinn, president of Port Saint John spoke about developments on the other side of the Bay of Fundy and how they might impact 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 next 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 they do now.
Bruce Cameron, the 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 we have 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 they are working on a “one-window coordinating committee” to involve all the federal and provincial regulators –DFO, NRCan, Energy Canada, Transport Canada and NS Environment, NS Energy.
He said that government won’t tell project proponents what benefits they have to promise Nova Scotia (jobs for example) but instead they 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 in 2013 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 their deployment with a potential for 3.5 MW and 10-15 large devices being deployed in the Basin with a potential for about 20 MW of electricity.
Getting things done
Greg Kerr the MP for West Nova was the keynote speaker and he spoke about the opportunities for southwest Nova Scotia and how to be prepared for them.
He said it is important to concentrate on what we can do 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 DHPA 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.”
Lots more work to do
Reg Hazelton, chair of the DHPA, closed he seminars by thanking thanked 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.”