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New NSCC campus in Cape Breton seeks parking spaces at nearby arena

In fewer than ten months, the long-awaited Nova Scotia Community College campus in downtown Sydney, N.S., will finally hold its first classes.

But on Monday, long before all of those students arrive, parking nearby was at a premium.

“There’s not enough parking as is," said student Erin Clarke, who plans to enroll in courses at the new campus next year.

The old campus near Cape Breton University has roughly 600 parking spaces, but that kind of room doesn’t exist at the downtown location.

NSCC is asking the Cape Breton Regional Municipality if it can use parking at Centre 200, the island's largest arena.

That parking lot, located a few blocks away, goes mostly unused during daytime hours.

"We've been working for a long time on solutions for parking," said Carla Arsenault, principal of NSCC’s Marconi Campus. "We would like to have 250 spaces in or near Centre 200 on a five-year lease."

While some feel parking should have been figured out before ground was broken a few years ago, CBRM councilor Cyril MacDonald feels the Centre 200 plan would mean good spinoffs for nearby businesses.

"I would have liked to have seen NSCC come up with their own plan and their own parking, however I think this is a win-win for the municipality," MacDonald said. "A little revenue generated and an influx of 1,100 people downtown - I think that's a pretty good problem to have."

Arsenault said chances are the school will end up shuttling some students to and from some additional parking that's a bit farther away from campus, such as Sydney's Open Hearth Park.

However, she said the hope is to keep as many students as possible in the downtown core and added that she too would like to see the downtown economy benefit from the students’ presence.

"If (the Centre 200 plan) isn't accepted, we'll continue to work with the municipality to identify other options, but we are optimistic," Arsenault said.

She added there will be between 200 and 250 parking spaces on site, though many of them will be for staff, visitors, and accessible parking.

Arsenault said she expects further talks with CBRM about the parking issue.

The NSCC Marconi Campus on the Sydney Waterfront is expected to open in September 2024.

For more Nova Scotia news visit our dedicated provincial page. Top Stories

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