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CB energy firm to restructure

SYDNEY — The company that owns an industrial park, a metal fabrication shop and 160 hectares  of prime Sydney Harbour property will split into two firms.

“Restructuring has become necessary because of financial problems, but this will be the solution,” said Jim Kehoe, president of Laurentian Energy Corp.

The Sydport industrial park and Laurentian Steel Fabrication will remain one company, with some new shareholders, Kehoe said.

However, he would not disclose who will remain and who will give up their shares.

“It’s not finished and the lawyers and accountants are working on it right now,” he said.

Kehoe said board members voted 70 per cent in favour of the restructuring.

Laurentian Energy Corp. is in debt to Enterprise Cape Breton Corp. for about $639,000.

The harbour property will remain with the original shareholders, including local businessmen like Kehoe, Martin Chernin and Hugh Tweedie, along with New Dawn, a local community development non-profit organization, and the Membertou First Nation.

With the dredging of Sydney Harbour almost completed, hopes are pinned on the establishment of a bulk shipping pier at the site.

More than $1 million worth of marketing resulted in no offers for the site over the past few years, Kehoe said, but there is now plenty of interest with the harbour dredging nearing its end.

“There are a lot of people who have interest in the greenfield site now,” he said.

“But up until six months ago, we had just tire kickers. Since the dredging, we’ve had people coming to look from international companies in Europe and elsewhere; the interest is there.

“We just have to find the right company who needs to ship in bulk.”

Meanwhile, a report on the governance structure for Sydney Harbour was released Wednesday.

It means Sydney Ports Corp. evolves into the legal entity that will oversee the commercialization of the port.

“It will be comprised of all the obvious stakeholders who would have a say in how the port is developed and where we go into the future,” said Jim Wooder, chairman of the governance working group and of the Sydney Marine Group.

Corporation membership will include federal, provincial and municipal governments, First Nations, members of the public, commercial marine and transportation representatives.

The report calls for 10 voting directors appointed from within the membership and three non-voting directors.

Ron L’Esperance, a former senior bureaucrat with the Nova Scotia government, will oversee the restructuring of Sydney Ports. His final report on the new organization is due March 31 and will include the establishment of the new board.

Rankin MacSween, president of New Dawn Enterprises, has been vocal about how the governance model should work and what influence Enterprise Cape Breton has in the process.

“ECBC has been moving away from a community-based model, and we believe they intend to combine the Sydney Harbour with similar efforts at the Strait of Canso and appoint their own board,” said MacSween.

“We have a history in this area of this kind of thing happening and it leads to decisions about our future being made elsewhere. This is about our future and this is a community that will have its own say.”

As for Enterprise Cape Breton, it has indicated decisions regarding governance and how best to proceed as a commercialized port rest with Sydney Ports.


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