PORT HAWKESBURY: The consultant who has been hired by the Town of Port Hawkesbury and the Cape Breton Partnership to take on two separate waterfront projects hosted a community engagement session for the first project on August 13.
Terry Doyle, the town’s CAO highlighted the night was structured of work in small groups – a design workshop – to adhere to social distancing protocols.
Fathom Studios, was contracted to first, create the Port Hawkesbury Waterfront Plan and to second, conduct a feasibility study on transforming the former Port Hawkesbury Creamery site into a Marine Innovation centre.
Rob LeBlanc, Fathom’s president and director of planning suggested it’s great to be working on a plan that deserves so much attention.
“Over a 25-year period, we can see a lot has been invested, and a lot has been done,” he said. “If you’re not from the area, chances are, there’s one street to lead down to the waterfront and you really wouldn’t know it’s there.”
LeBlanc indicated this idea of creating a gateway to the waterfront will be very important.
Deputy Mayor Blaine MacQuarrie provided a historical trajectory of the town’s current waterfront, which in 1990 was in very poor shape – deteriorating over the past 35-years.
“There was nothing attractive about it,” MacQuarrie said. “However, then as now, there was and is a vision that things can and could be improved and there is some great potential.”
In the workshop session, the small groups worked on three questions; list the activities, businesses and attractions they would like to see on the Port Hawkesbury Waterfront; drawing those locations of ideas onto the map, connections that need to be made, and potential best uses for waterfront lands; and prioritizing their top five projects explaining why it’s important.
The design workshop, Doyle said, is only one component of the waterfront strategic plan study – which is sponsored by the town’s Waterfront Advisory Committee, the Cape Breton Partnership, the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency (ACOA) and Develop Nova Scotia.
“Rob is no stranger to the Town of Port Hawkesbury,” the town’s CAO said. “As a matter of fact, Rob, as a student worked on the very first strategic plan for the Port Hawkesbury waterfront.”
Port Hawkesbury’s Mayor, Brenda Chisholm-Beaton, said it is important everybody gets to see a little piece of themselves in the town’s waterfront plan.
“We know that our waterfront is a huge asset for the Town of Port Hawkesbury,” she said. “We want to maximize the potential of the waterfront.”
She advised the input from the design workshop will be very valuable to providing insight to the consultant group as to what they, as a community and residents of the town, want to see of their waterfront.
Chisholm-Beaton suggests town staff want a space to support the community and the town’s economic development; which requires the best possible plan.
“The plan needs to strike a balance between having our waterfront be a working active waterfront, [and] for it to retain and attract businesses,” she said. “But also [it has] to create a destination.”