Sydney port's new board a nod to more transparency, says councillor

Sydney port's new board a nod to more transparency, says councillor

The Port of Sydney Development Corporation in Cape Breton has appointed seven new board members. 

Their names were approved at a Cape Breton Regional Municipality council meeting on Wednesday. The appointees for the volunteer positions were vetted at an in-camera session at a previous council meeting.

The new members are: 

- Elizabeth Brunet, Owen Fitzgerald and Jerry Gillis (business and commerce representatives)

- John Khattar (lawyer)

- John Strasser (marketing expertise)

- John Anderson (accountant)

- Lucia MacIsaac (engineer)

Coun. Ray Paruch said he's thrilled to see the new incarnation of the board.

"I'm very, very pleased," said Paruch. "It's long overdue. We had a so-called interim board that ran for approximately a period of three years that I never agreed with."

First Nations members to be appointed

That board included Mayor Cecil Clarke, four councillors, and Michael Merritt, the CAO of the municipality. Council decided the new board can't contain elected officials, a move Paruch said would improve "transparency and accountability." 

"These are community-minded people. They're all very successful in their fields," he said of the new board members. "When you get professionals like these people and they are willing to serve on a volunteer basis, I'm very, very encouraged by that."

The board will appoint two more members — one from Eskasoni First Nation and one from Membertou First Nation.

No role in container terminal project

The board will oversee the operations of the Joan Harriss Cruise Pavillion, the marine terminal and wharf, and handle the marketing of the port. It won't play a role in the potential container terminal project slated for Sydney harbour, which will be led by the private sector, as guided by council.

The board will provide monthly financial statements to council. They expect to raise enough money from port activities, including cruise ships and facility rentals, to fund their $2.2 million budget for the 2017/18 fiscal year.

The new board takes over on April 1.