Canada: Coal Company's Departure Creates Rare Opportunity to Move Into Coxheath Mining Subdivision
By Sharon Montgomery
June 22, 2020 - In Canada, Kameron Collieries is selling the homes they built in a Cape Breton community to house mine managers from the United States who were working at Donkin Mine.
The coal company developed the Prospect Drive subdivision in Coxheath in 2018 and built homes there exclusively for miners that are now valued at $500,000.
Joe McDonald, co-owner of Coldwell Banker Boardwalk Reality in Sydney, said three houses in the Prospect Drive subdivision are on the market.
Photo: Sharon Montgomery-Dupe
Kameron Collieries is also is selling their house at 845 Coxheath Road next to the subdivision, one on Long Beach Road in Donkin, and another in Port Morien.
All the houses are listed on the ViewPoint website as owned by Kameron Collieries.
On March 30 Kameron Collieries, a subsidiary of The Cline Group, announced it was ceasing production operations at the Donkin mine due to "adverse geologic conditions." The company said the mine would not be sealed but maintained by the small staff to ventilate and keep the facility dewatered.
One of the Prospect Drive houses has already sold and McDonald said the company is keeping another of their houses in that subdivision where a Donkin Mine manager lives.
“They are hanging on to one house because there’s still hope for the mine if coal prices turn around and things like that,” he said.
There are also still six building lots on Prospect Drive, but McDonald said they aren’t for sale.
“They are hanging on to them too, just in case.”
One of the employees still doing maintenance at the mine site is still living in the Kameron Collieries house for sale in Port Morien.
The rest of the houses are vacant and the former managers have returned to the United States.
A map outlining the exclusive Prospect Drive subdivision in Coxheath Kameron Collieries built in 2018 to house some of their mine managers who relocated here from the United States.
McDonald managed to get the exclusive listings during the pandemic.
Working in the past as a real estate agent, in March McDonald purchased Coldwell Banker Dave Butts Realty and opened Coldwell Banker Boardwalk Realty at 208 Charlotte Street in Sydney. The company employs 13. McDonald said he brought along his employees, the former Dave Butts employees and has had new hires since.
Landing all the Kameron Collieries listings was a big help and positive exposure, he said.
When the mining company first came to Cape Breton, McDonald helped them find rental properties.
“I just did that as a favour for them,” he said. “Then that favour was returned four years later — very generously — by awarding me all their listings.”
McDonald said he hopes Kameron Collieries does reopen someday and they are back because they are extremely nice people who have put so much into our economy from bringing jobs to the island to construction, restaurants, gas, etc.
“They are an excellent company to work with and they’ve done so much for Cape Breton,” he added.
Alana Aucoin, walking her husky ‘Silver’ on Coxheath Road Thursday, said she had met one of the mine managers and his wife, who also loved to walk in the community.
“They were really nice people, down-to-earth,” she said. “I was sad to hear they moved back to the states. They loved how quiet Cape Breton was, the ocean and friendliness of the people here.”
Paul Carrigan, chair of the Donkin Mine Community Liaison Committee, said he has also heard comments along the lines of Donkin Mine waiting to see if the coal prices go back up.
“I heard it’s not totally finished,” he said, adding that didn’t come from a mine official though.
“I still hold hope that someday it will reopen,” he said. “Maybe it will when the prices are better.”
As far as hearing about the houses for sale, Carrigan said it’s a shame that people came here to live on our island and work and now can no longer do so.
Meanwhile, McDonald, who opened his new real estate firm during the COVID-19 pandemic when everything was basically shut down, said that time merely gave them a chance to get the contractors in to get their renovations done with ease.
“Because things slowed down, it was the silver lining,” he said. “There wasn’t much traffic down Charlotte Street which worked out very well for our contractor.”
Another one of the half million-dollar homes for sale in the exclusive Prospect Drive subdivision in Coxheath that Kameron Collieries developed for their mine managers from the United States, in 2018.
Photo: Sharon Montgomery-Dupe
As far as selling real estate, McDonald said they focused on things with no contact.
“We didn’t do showings of occupied homes or things like that,” he said.
“But we sold a few pieces of vacant land and vacant homes and had virtual tours.”
Despite Nova Scotia just working slowly on reopening the past couple weeks, McDonald said the past month has been one of the busiest markets he has ever seen. Digging up the exclusive subdivision, was a great bonus.
“It’s been a fantastic month,” he said, adding, “We need more listings.”