As someone who spends his days thinking about tourism development for Indigenous communities across Canada, I see great potential in the idea of an airport for western Cape Breton.
The Inverness airport project deserves support for a number of reasons.
The transformation of Inverness, spurred by the creation of the Cabot golf courses, is stunning. More importantly, the reversal of the decline of one of our rural communities is unprecedented in this province. That sort of transformation should not only be supported; it should be viewed as a model for how we strengthen the economic ecosystem of rural Nova Scotia going forward. The Ivany report identifies strong growth in tourism as fundamental to the economic survival of rural Nova Scotia. The creation and growth of world-class tourism assets is a cornerstone of that growth.
“What I’m really trying to communicate is the great opportunity I see emerging around the tourism cluster in Western Cape Breton, and the importance of air access to achieving that potential” said Michel McKenzie, the former Deputy Minister of the Nova Scotia Department of Tourism, Culture and Heritage, and the past President and CEO of the Canadian Tourism Commission (now Destination Canada).
Re: Karen Foster’s July 12 online opinion piece regarding the investment in tourism infrastructure in Inverness County. With the utmost respect for an accomplished academic, I find it strange that someone in her position would not have given recognition to what has been achieved at Cabot Links and Cabot Cliffs.
On my way home the euphoric thoughts of Cape Breton left me saying I need to return. I called my friend and thanked him for telling me to go and see such an amazing place. I raved about the beauty of the island as he made jokes about how there was now another person outside his family who would continue to tell him how he needs to go. I asked him why he has never been? His response was "I can't find the four days to travel there and home." I agreed the 18 hours from Toronto was a commitment but assured him it was worth it.
The idea of a new airport for western Cape Breton has stirred up a lot of conversation. Not all of that conversation has been based on facts. This one is.
While there are pockets of economic growth, Cape Breton continues to struggle in many respects – between 2011 and 2016, the island’s population decreased by over three per cent. Employment growth is sluggish, the population is aging, and far too many people are struggling.
First, I should say that I am from away since my mother's family moved to Halifax from Mabou and my father’s family moved to Boston from Strathlorne. My wife and I live in Boston and we spend our summers in Baddeck.
I have heard about the possibility of having an airport near Inverness that could accommodate commercial flights from Boston and elsewhere.
People arriving to the west coast of Cape Breton Island have always been struck by its beauty. The rugged cliffs, deep valleys and unparalleled views of the Northumberland Strait are enchanting. The pure water of MacLellan’s Brook drew the original owners of Glenora Distillers to the area for business reasons – the chance to produce the only single malt whisky in North America, at Glenora Distillery.
Ben Cowan-Dewar and Michael Keiser have built something that has international recognition for its integrity and quality. Everything about Cabot Links is first class, including the people who run it. They have recognized the extraordinary beauty of Cape Breton, taken enormous risk and are succeeding beyond the wildest dreams of most people outside of their visionary prism. In fact, they are defying odds for success on multiple levels.
For far too long, Cape Breton has been defined by a nagging sense of decline and stagnation. As MLA for Cape Breton Centre for 17 years, I saw proud people struggle to find work, saw sons and daughters leave for chances elsewhere, and felt a sense of hopelessness set in. We Cape Bretoners are a resilient bunch, but times haven’t always been easy.