AMHERST – As he looks back at 2017 and ahead to another year, Cumberland-Colchester’s member of parliament sees Bay of Fundy tourism having an important role in his riding’s future.
In a year-end interview with the Amherst News, Bill Casey said he’s optimistic work will continue in 2018 to develop the Bay of Fundy as a world-class tourism destination similar to the Grand Canyon in the United States and he believes businesses and communities from St. Stephen, N.B. to Yarmouth, N.S. will benefit from increased tourism.
“We have had two meetings in New Brunswick and one in Nova Scotia as a caucus of Liberal MPs and I really believe this is the year that we’ll begin to take some major steps toward making the Bay of Fundy a tourism destination area,” Casey said. “I see both Cumberland and Colchester counties benefitting from this and playing a big role in this because of our location and what we have to offer.”
The seven MPs, whose ridings border on the bay, began meeting as a group last spring and have expanded their consultations to include the Nova Scotia and New Brunswick governments, ACOA, the CBDC and businesses and chambers of commerce in communities around the bay.
With the Joggins Fossil Cliffs, Cape Chignecto, the Cliffs of Fundy Geopark, Debert, Truro and Stewiacke, he feels there are plenty of attractions for people to visit as part of a Bay of Fundy experience.
Casey said work is also ongoing to include Maine in the discussions and build on an already existing relationship between the state and New Brunswick around the theme of the bay. He also sees the Bay of Fundy tourism experience connecting to the East Coast Greenway Trail that runs from Calais, Maine to Key West, Florida.
“The trail goes through 15 states and includes millions of people, part of it is motorized and part of is not. If we could become part of that trail through the Bay of Fundy it would represent millions of dollars in potential tourism revenue for our two provinces,” Casey said.
Other issues the MP plans to continue working on in 2018 are getting assurances the RCMP communications centre will remain in Truro while a new use will be found for the Col. James Layton Ralston Armoury in Amherst now that National Defence has declared it surplus.
He is also looking ahead to continued development of the Beaubassin tourism project near Amherst that will celebrate the former Acadian village that pre-dates Fort Beausejour across the marsh in Aulac, N.B. He also wants to bring more recognition to the historical Indigenous settlement at Debert that dates back several thousand years.
Casey also believes that the Dalhousie Agriculture Campus in Bible Hill will play a prominent role in agricultural research, including a pair of projects he announced in 2017 that will support the Christmas tree industry and protect agricultural land from rising sea levels.
The MP is also hopeful more work will take place in 2018 to further development the geothermal potential in Springhill as well as tidal energy in the Minas Passage off Parrsboro.
One of the most significant issues moving forward is continuing to work on a solution that would protect the dikeland infrastructure between Amherst, N.S. and Sackville, N.B. Casey said both the Nova Scotia and New Brunswick governments have committed to working together on a solution while the federal government recently received an application to study the options to shore up the dikes and protect valuable infrastructure, namely the railway and the Trans-Canada Highway across the marsh.
“They’re looking at this very closely because it’s a vital transportation corridor and a lifeline for the port of Halifax,” Casey said. “At least 400,000 containers pass through that area every year. If that shuts down in the event of flood or a breach of the dike, Halifax would be severely hit.”