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Planners propose future actions at Yarmouth Waterfront Symposium

Supporting and growing existing industries viewed as important component for success

YARMOUTH -  Planners with WSP engineering and consulting services provided solid advice for the development of the Yarmouth waterfront in their Oct. 18 presentation at the Mariners Centre.

Information from public visioning exercises at the first Yarmouth Waterfront Symposium, held a week earlier, was combined with their research.

One of the fundamentals in future growth is the support of existing industries.

“Waterfront industries are critical now and in the future – they are what make our waterfront an authentic working waterfront,”

said independent consultant J.D. MacCulloch.

Suggestions brought forward during the evening included the improvement and regeneration of waterfront infrastructure, the creation of an industrial land bank, pursuing investment and potential partners for waterfront businesses, the establishment of harbour boat tours and experiential fishing tours, as well as the transfer of air rights over some of the working wharves as a way to help fund the maintenance of some of those facilities. Portland, Maine, uses the front end of some of its properties for non-marine use.

Planners spoke to the owner of a Yarmouth waterfront property to see if he would be interested in leasing the right to build over where he stores his traps and other gear. 

“You might put several units in there, maybe a restaurant overlooking the water or an artisanal enterprise. He thought it was a great idea,” said MacCulloch.

Planners also said there were ways to leverage the existing Southwest Nova UNESCO Biosphere Reserve Centre in the Killam Brothers building to a higher profile and that more festivals and events could be hosted on the waterfront.

Some of the challenges that need to be addressed include the establishment of a truck route and better pedestrian access between Water and Main streets. People complain about the steep climb, says MacCulloch, and one of the solutions suggested was a trolley system in the summertime.

The shallow depth of the harbour also creates challenges for boat access and dredging is required.

Jeffrey Ward, senior planner with WSP, said 20 years from now Yarmouth’s successes could earn the following description.

“The Yarmouth waterfront is an attractive and lively place that mixes an expanded fishing industry, business ventures and tourism development.

“Combined with the downtown area it’s an international tourist destination where attractive streets, wharf vistas and amenities offer welcome. Its many entrepreneurs offer a wide range of authentic cultural, historic and dining products with a focus on ocean-to-plate culinary experiences indigenous to the area.

“The port is a transportation gateway and employment hub for southwest Nova Scotia.

“As a progressive, forward-looking workplace, it’s an important part of Canada’s ocean research network and activity helping to maintain its role as a key economic driver in the region. Other towns try to emulate your success.

“Think about that,” he said.

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