PORT HAWKESBURY: A diving school received support from town council to place a deep dive platform in the town.

Kimball Johnston, founder and president of the Atlantic Commercial Diving Centre (ACDC) in Summerside, PEI, wrote council that Port Hawkesbury Paper (PHP) is currently putting together an emergency response plan to address the aging underwater pipe system that provides fresh water to its facility.

Johnston said Atlantic Sub-Sea Construction and Consulting of Port Hawkesbury, currently does not have reliable access to a deep dive platform, which could impact their ability to support not only the emergency response plan of PHP, but also the general growth of their company.

Since the closest available deep dive platforms are located in Halifax – and must be transported via water to Port Hawkesbury, at great expense and often times with delays, and ACDC needs a deep-sea dive platform for training – the company said Port Hawkesbury is an ideal location. The letter said the Strait of Canso offers superior water clarity, appropriate depth and shelter from harsh wind conditions, while being close to shore.

The company anticipates the platform to be in the water from March to November and stored in Port Hawkesbury for the remainder of the year, with easy access should an emergency arise.

ACDC said it looking for support from the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency (ACOA) to build a platform that will be approximately 30 feet by 60 feet and will feature a hyperbaric chamber, a launch and recovery system for the divers and high pressure and low pressure breathing air compressors to support the diving operations, the letter states.

“We do not anticipate any environmental impact of having the diving platform in the Strait of Canso,” the letter states. “This would also mean an increase support for the local economy as ACDC brings its students and training partners to the area for specialized training on the deep dive platform.”

During the regular monthly meeting of Port Hawkesbury Town Council on March 2, town councillor Hughie MacDougall asked where in the town the platform would be located.

Deputy warden Blaine MacQuarrie made a motion to send a letter of support for the project, to both ACDC and ACOA, along with questions for the company about where the platform will be located, which was approved.

Following the meeting, Mayor Brenda Chisholm-Beaton called the proposal “great news” for the region, which could benefit the NSCC Strait Area Campus, as well as the town’s plans to develop the waterfront.

“It really is about building capacity for oceans and marine innovation, and we certainly have that in spades with the nautical institute,” she said. “They have a direct presence at the waterfront, the creamery building, and we also have the pending oceans innovation space that’s presently being cultivated. These are all really interesting puzzle pieces, as they fit together; it lends capacity to creating that critical mass of marine infrastructure and certainly training and employment opportunities.”