YEAR IN REVIEW: Top Cape Breton Post Business Stories in 2021


SYDNEY, NS – Times may be tough, but the hurdles and obstacles presented by COVID-19 have not deterred some entrepreneurs and business owners in Cape Breton.

As the pandemic devastated parts of the economy, including the very important tourism and hospitality industries, not all businesses suffered – and the Cape Breton Post took these successful businesses as history. commercial of the year.

Food delivery has become one of the fastest growing businesses in the local economy. The number of delivery drivers on the roads of the Cape Breton Regional Municipality has increased significantly since the start of the pandemic, but despite this, the industry still had its share of issues related to the pandemic.

“After COVID started, we saw our business really grow, but at the same time we had fewer drivers because of the pandemic, so it was tough,” said Kendra Donohue, dispatcher and driver at First Class Delivery Services in Sydney, Cape Breton. Post in October.

“High gas prices have hit us hard as well. It is affecting our business as it takes more and more money out of the drivers’ profits. It costs a lot more to drive now, so hopefully gas prices will drop soon.

Some niche companies, like Sundaylace Creations, have seen huge sales increases. Eskasoni-based owner / operator Mariah Battiste said purchasing restrictions and increased internet usage have allowed unique businesses like hers (she sells native bead supplies) to thrive.

“Anytime a new business can start, it’s good for the community,” said Battiste, who is also an advocate for supporting women entrepreneurs.

Indeed, many of the new businesses that sprang up in Cape Breton in 2021 were owned and / or managed by women, many of whom are still in their twenties.

One of them is Rochelle Simmons, a 27-year-old woman from Sydney who opened Sawyer + Sunny Boutique, a Charlotte Street boutique dedicated to mothers and babies. For Simmons, establishing the store was a dream come true. And she said she wanted the store to be more than a baby store.

“I wanted to create a community space where people could come and relax,” she said. “I wanted a place downtown where moms could come in and feel comfortable, a place to come together and experience the community resources that we have here.”

Other new business openings over the past year include, but are not limited to, the Auld Shamrock Irish Pub (Dominion); Old Navy clothing store (Mayflower Mall); Super Bun (Sydney River) and Super Hut (Sydney); The price is the right move and trucking (Gardiner Mines); port city grocery store (Sydney); Pepperell Place Inn and Chocolaterie (St. Peter’s); TALO on ice (Glace Bay); Halal Royal Restaurant (Sydney); Fiddler’s Lake Resort (Gabarus); Elle Dawn Dance Academy (Sydney); GrooveBox ice cream and coffee (Port Hawkesbury); The Miss Brenna pop-up store (Mabou) and the Annex restaurant (Mabou).

The following are several other important business stories from the past year.

Harbor Royale Development Ltd. President Martin Chernin addresses Cape Breton Regional Municipality council as lawyer Dwight Rudderham looks on.  Chernin cut ties with the municipality.  IAN NATHANSON • CAPE BRETON POST
Harbor Royale Development Ltd. President Martin Chernin addresses Cape Breton Regional Municipality council as lawyer Dwight Rudderham looks on. Chernin cut ties with the municipality. IAN NATHANSON • CAPE BRETON POST

Chernin breaks ties

Sydney businessman Martin Chernin has said he will no longer do business with the Cape Breton Regional Municipality.

The long-time real estate developer, whose exclusive waterfront development agreement from Harbor Royale Development Ltd. with the CBRM expired earlier this year, expressed frustration with the municipality after council rejected its latest proposal by a 9-2 vote at a meeting in October.

“That’s it for me and the Cape Breton Regional Municipality,” said Chernin, who told the Cape Breton Post that he presented what he believed to be a reasonable proposal that included development of the property that ‘it owns and on adjacent land owned by CBRM, both located on the Sydney waterfront near Dorchester Street.

Chernin had initially expressed interest in a joint project with the municipality that would have included a new library. However, plans for a new library were scrapped earlier this year after the council deemed the project too expensive.

Atlantic Canada's first gondola opened in August at Destination Cape Smokey Resort in the Ingonish region of Cape Breton.  DAVID JALA • CAPE BRETON POST
Atlantic Canada’s first gondola opened in August at Destination Cape Smokey Resort in the Ingonish region of Cape Breton. DAVID JALA • CAPE BRETON POST

Opening of the gondola

Up, up and far.

After a number of COVID-related delays, Atlantic Canada’s first gondola opened in the Cape Breton Highlands in late August. The cable car offers visitors a panoramic view of the spectacular landscapes of the highlands and the ocean. Of course, the ski lift will also operate in winter during the ski and snowboard season.

The gondola is part of Cape Smokey Holding Ltd.’s ambitious $ 130 million plan. aiming to transform the operation into an all-season resort that will also include a hilltop tree-walk attraction.

The company, led by elite Czech skier Martin Kejval and backed by a Czech consortium, purchased the 162-hectare Ski Cape Smokey ski resort and all of its assets from the province in 2019 for $ 370,000.

The resort has become a major player in the campaign to increase Cape Breton’s status as an all-season destination. The company has also become a major employer in the region.

Sydney Airport Authority CEO Mike MacKinnon is well aware of the impact the COVID-19 pandemic has had on the operations of Sydney's JA Douglas McCurdy Airport.  JESSICA SMITH • CAPE BRETON POST
Sydney Airport Authority CEO Mike MacKinnon is well aware of the impact the COVID-19 pandemic has had on the operations of Sydney’s JA Douglas McCurdy Airport. JESSICA SMITH • CAPE BRETON POST

Hop on and off time at the airport

To suggest that 2021 has been a turbulent year for Sydney’s JA Douglas McCurdy Airport would be an understatement.

By early January, all flights to and from the besieged airport serving Cape Breton Island had been canceled. Flights only resumed in July and on a limited basis.

Off the track, the news was mixed. In June, vandals caused extensive damage to the airport pumping station. In July, airport CEO Mike MacKinnon got some relief after the facility received a $ 2.7 million grant from the federal government as part of its COVID-19 recovery program.

In November, Air Canada announced that it was canceling its Halifax-Sydney flights effective January 10, 2022. The carrier will maintain its Sydney-Toronto and Montreal routes.

In the meantime, air travelers must now be prepared to show proof of vaccination, have received their second dose at least 14 days before travel, show no signs of COVID-19 and wear a mask.

Charlotte Street in downtown Sydney is undergoing a $ 9 million renovation that will make the shopping district more pedestrian-friendly and more attractive to locals and visitors.  DAVID JALA • CAPE BRETON POST
Charlotte Street in downtown Sydney is undergoing a $ 9 million renovation that will make the shopping district more pedestrian-friendly and more attractive to locals and visitors. DAVID JALA • CAPE BRETON POST

Million dollar makeover

Decades after its heyday, Cape Breton’s premier shopping district is receiving a little love.

In a series of announcements earlier this year, the provincial, federal and municipal governments each committed $ 3 million to redevelop and modernize downtown Sydney. Work on the taxpayer-funded $ 9 million project is expected to begin in spring 2022.

The initiative is focused on Charlotte Street and will include the installation of square-wide sidewalks, a one-way, one-way lane for vehicle traffic and parking on both sides of the street. There will also be green infrastructure, including rainwater collection equipment, solar lighting and electric car charging. Other features include fiberglass utility poles, buried communication wires, landscaping and street landscaping.

CBRM Mayor Amanda McDougall said the impetus for a revitalized downtown area came from public consultation.

“Business owners and the community have told us how important it is to have a vibrant and beautiful downtown,” McDougall said.

Once construction begins, it is expected to create more than 160 temporary jobs over the next three work seasons.


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