Nova Scotia Transportation Minister Geoff MacLellan will now be responsible for the controversial Bluenose file. The Premier’s Office made the announcement this afternoon, just hours after province’s Auditor General released his report on the troubled Bluenose II restoration project. Michael Pickup says that poor planning, inadequate management and weak government oversight increased costs and contributed to delays on the project. He adds that staff with the lead department on the project, Communities, Culture and Heritage, lacked experience managing large construction projects. Premier Stephen McNeil says that the Transportation Department has experience managing large and complex projects, which is why MacLellan was asked to take on the file along with his deputy Minister, Paul LaFleche. The long-delayed Bluenose II rebuild was originally billed at 14-million dollars, but Pickup says that figure has since ballooned to 20 million, with an additional four to five million in dispute.
Students in the Cape Breton Victoria Regional have their second day in a row off, today. The Board has cancelled all classes due to road conditions. Classes at Etoile de l’Acadie in Sydney are also cancelled, today. Police are warning drivers to allow extra time this morning because some roads are slippery. Meanwhile, more than 11-hundred customers in northern Cape Breton are without power at this hour in the wake of yesterday’s storm. Nova Scotia Power says the outage from the Ingonish area to Pleasant Bay occurred shortly before 2:00 this morning due to high winds and snow. The estimated restoration times range from 10:00 this morning until 2:00 this afternoon.
A spokesperson for Nova Scotia Power says the company is in active negotiations with the developers of the Donkin mine. Beverley Ware adds the utility is very interested in Donkin as a potential local supplier of coal because that would keep money in the Nova Scotia economy. She says NSP is trying to determine if the price and quantity of coal from Donkin will meet their expectations. Last month, U.S. mining giant the Cline Group LLC gained full control of the Donkin mine buying a 75 per cent majority stake in the operation from Glencore Xstrata and a 25 per cent interest from Morien Resources. The company is now in the process of pumping water from the mine which is expected to take until March. Regional Councillor Kevin Saccarry says word of NSP’s interest in Donkin coal is good news. Saccary adds if Nova Scotia Power makes a deal to burn coal from Donkin, it’ll not only change the economy of Cape Breton, but of the province, as well.
The cancellations are piling up as a blizzard makes it’s way to Cape Breton. Classes are cancelled in the Cape Breton Victoria Regional School Board, today. The Board is telling students to check its website for changes to exam schedules. The Marconi Campus of the Nova Scotia Community College and Cape Breton University are closed today as well as Etoile de l’Acadie in Sydney. All provincial government offices are also closed, today. All flights between Sydney and Halifax are cancelled at the Sydney McCurdy Airport until late this afternoon. Marine Atlantic has postponed this morning’s ferry crossings until tonight, weather permitting and Maritime Bus is warning passengers that its service on all routes could be delayed or cancelled, today.
Cape Breton Regional Council has voted to provide Two Rivers Wildlife Park with 20-thousand dollars in emergency funding. Council held an emergency meeting yesterday after the Development Association that runs the Park said it needed the money in order to make payroll next week. The CBRM is advancing the last two monthly payments of its $35,000 annual municipal grant to the Park. Two Rivers Development Association president Roland Doncaster told Council that the weather played a big factor in the Park’s funding shortfall, interfering with their major fund raisers such as Fright Night. Mayor Cecil Clarke says he’s asked the province to match the CBRM’s 20-thousand dollar contribution with a request to Economic Development Minister Michel Samson. Clarke says that Samson is generally supportive of the idea, though it’s not yet known which provincial department will provide the money.