There isn’t enough business to justify rail line across Cape Breton, study finds

An engineer who helped author a 2023 study into the viability of a rail line across Cape Breton says there aren’t enough businesses on the island that need to ship by train to justify fixing up the crumbling rail bed, bridges and tracks.

Dan MacDonald, of DMDE Engineering, said officials wanted to do a study to demonstrate the need for a functioning rail line without a container terminal project.

To do that, the rail company has said it needs to run at least 10,000 rail cars across Cape Breton Island every year.

At a public meeting in Sydney on Monday night hosted by the Scotia Rail Development Society on Monday evening, MacDonald said the study found existing companies could use just under 3,000 cars and a statistical analysis of trucking in Nova Scotia and Newfoundland and Labrador found there could be demand for another 3,000 to 6,000 rail cars.

“We’re close,” he said. “We got to 9,300, and I think we’re only one big carrier or one big user of the railway to put that over the top and to develop the economic plan that would make it viable.”

MacDonald said later in an interview the study officially found a range of 6,000 to 9,000 cars annually was possible.

“We think that once we have the rail here, you build it and they will come, that you’ll get closer to the [9,300],” he said.

“I guess the 93 is a bit optimistic, but it’s in the range and that’s the number we’ve been quoting.”

‘We have to tell people what a great port we have’

MacDonald also said officials believe if they can find one more large rail user, they would have the numbers to convince the railway company that a line in Cape Breton would be viable.

He said they are looking out west to Saskatchewan to find a large shipper willing to use a new East Coast port.

“The Cape Breton Partnership has put in an application to Nova Scotia’s Department of Economics to get funding to try and develop this business case, to see about potash, to see about canola, to see about grain,” he said.

“This is just ideas we have here, and we need to market our port and our railway here. We have to tell people what a great port we have.”

The Cape Breton Partnership is an economic development agency based in Sydney,

Read more

Vegan cheese: Alexandria, Ont. business finds success

Natural and sustainable food products have been growing in popularity, with one business southeast of Ottawa finding success making cheese thanks to trees.

At Fauxmagerie Zengarry in Alexandra, a weeklong process is underway to turn tiny bits of cashews into a wheel of creamy cheese.

“We use cashew-based milk instead of dairy-based milk so it’s a similar kind of process with fermentation, aging, flavouring and packaging,” said founder Lynda Turner.

Turner started the business out of her kitchen in 2013 after moving to a plant-based diet in 2010.

“Back then, there were not a lot option for plant-based cheeses, and cheese was something that I really missed,” Turner recalled. “So, I started experimenting with a lot of different recipes, using cashews in particular, I had some great success.

“I experimented with the fermentation process, learned to grow my own probiotics and then we organically kind of launched Fauxmagerie Zengarry and we’ve been growing across Canada ever since.”

Now she runs a full-blown business, employing 10 people and using all natural products.

“It’s a natural process, unlike a lot of other vegan cheeses. We really care about what we put into our product,” Turner said.

Being sustainable was also key, she noted, with the tagline ‘The Cheese That Grows on Trees’ popping up when visiting her website.

“Obviously cashew nuts grow on trees so it’s a kind of a fun way of thinking about how this is a more sustainable product. It grows on trees, it’s renewable and it’s just better for the planet,” she said.

Turner also grows all of the fresh herbs used in her cheeses in house, including parsley, basil, dill and rosemary.

Fauxmagerie Zengarry grows the herbs for its vegan cheese in-house. (Nate Vandermeer/CTV News Ottawa)

“Vegan food in particular is more sustainable than animal agriculture. Animal agriculture takes up a lot of water, a lot of land, a lot of carbon and it’s just not as sustainable for food systems.”

The result is a creamy cheese in texture, perfect for wine tasting or charcuterie boards.

And when she says success, she means it.

“We have our Creamy Swiss Cheese that last year was voted the best vegan Swiss in the world,” Turner said with a smile.

“We were one of the first companies in Canada to start making cashew cheese. There are a few others now I would say maybe five or six total brands that

Read more