Down with the causeway? Cape Breton says not yet

No one is officially considering closing off the Canso Causeway due to the coronavirus, at least not yet.

However, Cape Breton Regional Municipality Mayor Cecil Clarke said the topic of restricting access to the only land connection between the island and the mainland has come up.

The suggestion arose among on-island politicians after the Nova Scotia government began taking steps to control people coming into the province by ferry, car and airplane.

Clarke said closing the causeway has not been raised with the province, but that time might come eventually.

"It has been a discussion point, but it has not been an agenda item at this point," he said.

"Quite frankly, if it is a matter of greater discussion, I think it will be based upon any spike in potential cases from a containment point of view."

'Down with the causeway'

The mayor's spokesperson said the discussion came up during a meeting between CBRM and Membertou and Eskasoni First Nations, in the context of looking at all possible measures to keep people home to prevent the possible spread of COVID-19.

Cape Bretoners are known for regularly invoking the joking phrase 'Down with the causeway' whenever someone disagrees with decisions or suggestions that come from the provincial capital in Halifax.

It didn't take long for that sentiment to arise after the pandemic hit Nova Scotia.

Brenda Chisholm-Beaton, Port Hawkesbury's mayor, said no one has discussed closing the transportation link with her.

If that time comes, she said, groceries, medicine and some people will still need to get into Cape Breton.

"I can understand why some people in our communities of Cape Breton would think it would be a good idea, because flattening the curve and minimizing the spread is very important, but as those formal conversations do take place, we definitely want to make sure that we're seeing the full picture," said Chisholm-Beaton.