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L&rsquo ;NS tourism industry wants to attract superyachts to Cape Breton

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Some superyachts can accommodate helicopters. (Archive photo)

The Canadian Press

Cape Breton, Nova Scotia, seeks to attract billionaires and their superyachts. The tourism industry sees them as a boon for the local economy, but some criticize the pollution caused by these sea giants.

Not long ago, Cape Breton's largest community was best known for being home to one of the most toxic waste sites in North America: the infamous Tar Ponds. Sydney.

Containing one million tonnes of oozing sewage and industrial sludge – left behind after centuries of oil manufacturing. steel – the site has since been covered in concrete and transformed into a large urban park that opened ten years ago.

This is a transformation from an industrial economy to one more focused on services, technology companies and education, says Terry Smith, president and chief executive officer (CEO) of Destination Cape Breton, the island's tourism marketing organization.

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As memories of the tar ponds fade, the port city is now trying to cultivate an upscale vibe, including attracting billionaires and their wealth. It wants to become a destination for superyachts, the world's most expensive and luxurious boats, which have become the ultimate status symbol for A-list celebrities, internet titans and lesser-known oligarchs alike.

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The CEO of Destination Cap-Breton, Terry Smith.< /p>

Destination Cape Breton has hired Halifax-based Superyacht East Coast to lure to the island those who own boats like the Archimedes, a 68-metre superyacht valued at around $100 million. According to, the ship has a marble jacuzzi, a grand piano, an enclosed gym, a wood-burning fireplace and six cabins.< /p>

Compared to some superyachts with helicopter hangars and glass elevators, the Archimedes is considered a low-key boat.

Property owned by American billionaire James Simons, the ship spent at least a week last summer in Cape Breton, moored at the community wharf in Baddeck, Nova Scotia, where it caused a sensation among locals.

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Baddeck hosted a superyacht during the summer.

The larger yachts are the ones people tend to gravitate towards, said Adam Langley, CEO of Superyacht East Coast. They dock and suddenly hundreds of people are buying ice cream or lunch and enjoying the environment these boats create.

And the economic benefits don't stop there, said Adam Langley. The owners of these floating homes typically spend a small fortune on provisions after arriving in port.

After the Archimedes completed its eight-week tour of Canada's east coast, the captain told Saltscapes magazine that its owner spent US$400,000 on fuel, groceries , tours, guides and entertainment.

Think of them as big floating resorts, Adam Langley illustrated in a recent interview. They will spend thousands of dollars on things like flowers.

Tom Urbaniak says there needs to be a broader discussion about using public funds to attract superyachts to the East Coast.

It's really marketing to an infinitesimally small group of oligarchs, the super-rich, the super-celebrities and the people who swoon over them, Tom explained Urbaniak, professor of political science and director of the Tompkins Institute at Cape Breton University, Sydney.

It's not just a celebration of wealth. It's a celebration of almost unimaginable excess.

A quote from Tom Urbaniak, professor of political science and director of the Tompkins Institute at Cape Breton University, in Sydney

The professor says that at a time when Canadians are being asked to make sacrifices to deal with climate change, this is not enough. It makes no sense to cater to the needs of the rich who flaunt their wealth on ships that leave a huge carbon footprint.

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Tom Urbaniak is a professor at Cape Breton University.

Terry Smith says attracting superyachts is just a small part of a wider strategy to bring more boaters to the region. And he disputed the argument that superyacht owners represent the worst category of polluters.

I don't agree with that, argued the CEO of Destination Cap Breton, whose non-profit organization gets most of its budget from a levy imposed on those who pay for accommodation in Cape Breton, as well as to the provincial and federal governments. There are now electric superyachts. I think we're going to see a transformation in terms of cleaner fuels and cleaner ways of doing business.

As for courting oligarchs, Adam Langley says they won't come to Atlantic Canada anyway.

We're seeing more explorer yachts that aren't not the huge 600- and 400-foot superyachts, he said, adding that superyacht builders now want to use hydrogen technology to power their boats.

These are usually 200 feet and under, and they are usually owned by people who are very sensitive about where they are going and they are operated by respectful captains. environment].

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