CBRM Viability Study Not Getting the Attention it Deserves

Just over one year ago, the CBRM Viability Study report was released. While the report identified some of the CBRM’s advantages and opportunities, it also identified the many challenges and threats faced by CBRM – that if not addressed will have increasingly negative implications beginning in the very near future.

” If elected for CBRM District 3, I will work to ensure this essential report is not forgotten or ignored – and these recommendations will guide my actions and decisions. ”

Some of the issues discussed in the report are now being at least partially mitigated through new developments and initiatives (e.g. new NSCC campus, Regional Hospital expansion), but for the most part the report has not received the attention it deserves.

The challenges and threats include conditions such as Cape Breton’s declining population, aging infrastructure, and lack of industry; the effects of which are now further exacerbated by the economic turmoil brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The chart below illustrates the projected fiscal state of CBRM:

Bar chart showing projected declining revenues and increasing expenditures for CBRM
Table 8, from the CBRM Viability Study. /Grant Thornton, Aug.6, 2019

These projections clearly show that as CBRM’s population shrinks, the municipality will become less sustainable. Keep in mind – the report was authored before COVID-19, so it’s reasonable to conclude that these projections are now on an accelerated path and demand our urgent attention.

The list below summarizes the eighteen key recommendations made in the August 2019 CBRM Viability Study. Some of these recommendations can be easily and quickly addressed, while others will require the concerted effort of CBRM council and administration over a longer period of time.

  1. Continue in the development of a five-year economic plan with industry specific objectives.
  2. The development of a marketing strategy with tailored value propositions for distinct target groups.
  3. Rural residential development plan: The natural assets of the region continue to attract rural development – must be utilized effectively and responsibly.
  4. Expand seniors purpose built housing and care facilities: There is a lack of accessible seniors housing, which will continue to cause a strain on municipal services.
  5. Improve accessibility to the region: The inability to easily and affordably access the region is a barrier for both tourism and investment.
  6. The decline of traditional industries means we must utilize the Regional Enterprise Network to support skills training, align job seekers with available positions, improve collaboration with higher education institutions, and focus resources on industry specific research and development.
  7. Consolidate and amend how fire services are funded, delivered and managed.
  8. Conduct a deeper analysis of police services to assess potential options for improving efficiencies.
  9. Explore the potential benefits of partnerships with external organizations.
  10. Explore the benefits of transitioning to a municipal structure consisting of three districts.
  11. Explore potential solutions to expedite the processing of delinquent and abandoned properties.
  12. Develop a business case process for requesting additional funding from external levels of government.
  13. Implement property tax incentives for urban residential development.
  14. Increase international migration.
  15. Continue exploring alternative revenue sources.
  16. Prioritize capital spending on projects that align with long-term strategic objectives.
  17. Explore the feasibility of multiple commercial tax categories or lowering commercial tax rates.
  18. Change the residential property tax structure

“With you vote I can work toward making CBRM a more viable, sustainable community.”

Leave a Comment