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Comfort centres coming to Cape Breton after Fiona


It’s been more than two months since post-tropical storm Fiona hit the Maritimes and left a lasting impression.

Now, the Cape Breton Regional Municipality (CBRM) is looking at ways they can be better prepared for the next major storm.

“The idea is to identify comfort centres on a go-forward basis, where people can go for a warm meal, to charge their cell phone or if they need a roof over their head,” said councillor James Edwards.

In the days following the storm, there were long line ups at gas stations.

Many of them had no power, making for frustrating fuel shortages.

Edwards says a proactive approach is needed.

“The first day after Fiona, the CBRM advised the Glace Bay Miners Forum would be a comfort centre, and we get here and there wasn't any generators,” he said.

The request comes as Nova Scotians could be seeing their power bills increase by 14 percent over the next two years.

While the provincial government introduced legislation to cap rate increases, that cap did not extend to fuel costs.

Even two months post-Fiona, there are frequent power outages and some feel more work is needed to keep people connected to the grid.

“Sometimes privatization is not better than things being in public hands,” said Cape Breton University professor Tom Urbaniak. “There was an ideology afoot in the 1990s that the private sector can do everything better. We're seeing from this that, no, the private sector can't always do everything better.”

Urbaniak says governments at all levels need to be better prepared and learn from how Fiona was handled.

“I do see many gaps in public policy, many gaps in infrastructure and some of them are practical and basic gaps, including the absence of comfort centres in some large communities,” said Urbaniak.

Edwards says he was without power for nearly 10 hours on Saturday.

“Yesterday wasn't a really cold day, but if it was February and it was a really cold day, all of a sudden that comfort centre is more important,” he said.

Edwards says an issue paper has been sent out to determine the cost surrounding such projects. Top Stories

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