Tuesday, October 9, 2012

TOURISM: Is it time for St. Andrews and Charlotte County to take a fresh look at Cruise Ships?

The arrival of the cruise ship “The world” in Passamaquoddy waters this week opens up the subject of the future of the cruise ship industry here. Certainly the efforts of developers at Eastport and St. Andrews are to be applauded. Over the last few years the area has benefited from the arrival of several cruise ships. But there is still a tremendous amount of work to be done to turn this into the business phenomenon that it could be. Without a suitable port, this development will be spotty at best, unless ...

It seem that it was just a short while ago when Charlotte County entrepreneurs began courting and serving the budding east coast Cruise ship market.


One of the early cruise ships visiting the Bayside Port early in the beginning of the quarry development which can be seen in the background

As more ships were enticed to land at the Bayside Port, enterprising individuals and groups began to provide what seemed to be promising services and exciting tours while more and more people were considering putting their energies into providing shore events and services for the arriving cruise passengers. But then the shoe dropped!

The Province of New Brunswick and, ultimately the Feds, began negotiating with local and American aggregate firms for the excavation of material from the port itself and the Americans won this battle …  beginning a huge €œgive-away€ to our new American neighbours and essentially putting an abrupt end to the developing cruise ship business. All of this when Saint John'€™s cruise ship development was starting to take off and the prospects for the future there and at St. Andrews were uncertain but bright.

The deal that was sold to everyone was that once the aggregate was removed from the northern Port area, a new laydown area would be created that would foster the expansion of the port and other developments such as the cruise ship business. But in the meantime conditions at the Port precluded tourist related activities and the cruise ship development came to a screeching halt and just couldn’t seem to get started again.

Well, we all got suckered on that one. Seems our new corporate neighbour had other plans and they proceeded to gain control of the port and buy up adjacent lands. They continued on and on and the date set for the opening of the new†port laydown area came and went while they continued to use the area to process more and more aggregate from an expanded area and started plans for crossing highway 127 into their newly acquired properties which, they apparently failed to notice, are in the Chamcook watershed, the water source for many rural residents and the Town of St. Andrews. Their plans included the elimination of half of Simpson Hill, an important and popular trail and hiking area with drainage via a local stream directly into Chamcook Lake!

Fortunately,  the American aggregate company at the Bayside Port (aka the Bayside Quarry) received its marching orders ... no aggregate will be removed from the Chamcook Watershed. Keep in mind that considerable political shifts have occurred since this happened and it'€™s not possible to predict the future, but, as it now stands, it seems that the Bayside Port should now be open to expansion into the Cruise ship business and the business community should be working with Port management to ensure that this happens.

Since 1989 over one-million cruise guests have visited Saint John, New Brunswick Canada. It seems we here in Charlotte County made a huge mistake, particularly since we were giving our aggregate away for free in exchange for a few jobs. Perhaps it'€™s time to use the momentum that has been created by our tenacious local developers and get on with developing a cruise ship service industry right here ... right now!

That’s my opinion tonight. Art MacKay

TOURISM: Is it time for St. Andrews and Charlotte County to take a fresh look at Cruise Ships?

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