Cape Breton-Canso MP Mike Kelloway is pictured at the wharf in Mabou Harbour last week while making funding announcements for dozens of small craft harbours in the Strait area.

STRAIT AREA: Small craft harbours around the region will be receiving upgrades.

On July 7, Cape Breton-Canso MP Mike Kelloway announced $14.6 million in federal funding to help make harbours safer, increase efficiency, and create more jobs in the fishing sector.

Among the projects approved are two in Canso; three in Chéticamp; three in Grand Etang; two in Little Judique Ponds; three in Mabou; and one each in Larry’s River, Murphy’s Pond, New Harbour, Little Harbour, Petit de Grat, and Upper White Head.

The MP said the news was a year in the making.

“I’ve been working on this, in terms of making a solid pitch and putting together rationales, and meeting with people for a year now, in relation to going after significant money for infrastructure for the wharves,” Kelloway told The Reporter. “We have other MPs in Atlantic Canada who are going after the same dollars, so you have to do your homework, you have to meet with fishers, you have to meet with stakeholders, you have to meet with government officials, ministers, parliamentary secretaries and deputy ministers.”

Kelloway said this announcement happened because his government committed to an increase in funding for small craft harbours over the next two years, and because the need is there.

“The small craft harbours in our riding, which are many, require some significant enhancements, whether it’s wharf development, breakwater, pavement, building of new buildings, whatever the case may be,” he stated. “When it comes to the fishery, the fishery is the number one export in Nova Scotia, anything related to the ocean sector. A distant second is Micheline Tire.”

Calling small craft harbours the heart of coastal communities, Kelloway noted in a press release that during the fishing season, hundreds of people are employed in the fishing sector. Noting that small craft harbours provide the commercial fishing industry with safe access to waterways, he said these harbours are focal points for community life, recreation and other marine activities.

Kelloway called harbours “economic hubs” comparable to a car plant in Oshawa.

“You have individual fishers, companies, you have spin-offs related to it, you have community wealth generated because of it. These are actually the main industries for those areas,” he explained. “They’re centres that contribute economic opportunity, economic growth.”

The MP said working with fishing associations across the riding educated him on this need and we vowed to continue working closely with all the fishing associations in Cape Breton-Canso.

“I think it has a lot to do with the relationship with the communities that received the money and myself, working together, and fishers within those organizations and myself and working with the minister of fisheries,” he added. “We have a lot of opportunity with the fishery in our riding, and one way to get there is through major enhancements in infrastructure, plus the jobs that it’ll create too.”