INTERNATIONAL TRAVEL (Important information, please read to the end)
Given the lingering effects of Covid-19 on travel, it is imperative that all visitors keep themselves informed and abide by all applicable requirements for entry into Canada and travel to Sydney, Nova Scotia. Also, be aware of the applicable testing requirements when you are flying out.
Download the ArriveCAN app before traveling and enter the necessary information prior to landing in Canada.
All travelers should review this website (see especially "COVID-19: Travel, testing and borders") before they start their departure for Canada. In general, proof of Covid19 vaccination is required to board a flight to Canada and also to board a flight within Canada, unless the traveler has an approved exemption. At this time, a negative Covid-19 test is required for some but not all international travel. Please review the regulations carefully as they apply to your specific travel plans for both your place of origin/return and for travel to Canada. Here are relevant pages for Canada:
https://travel.gc.ca/travel-covid (for: Travel, testing and borders)
https://travel.gc.ca/travel-covid/travel-restrictions/domestic-travel#ready (for: Boarding flights and trains in Canada)
What if I have symptoms of Covid-19 or need a test for travel home:
To speak to a nurse 24/7 call 811
To speak to a mental health counselor 24/7 call 211
For a medical or mental health emergency 24/7 call 911
CBU plans to have masking in place until the end of June. CBU will have masks and tests available to everyone in attendance even if the current mask mandate changes before the conference begins.
Covid Tests. We will have Covid-19 rapid tests available for all conference attendees. You can test yourself on arrival using a rapid test.
Please check the latest information for travelers (a news story on June 10 suggests a change in regulations is coming in a few days for travelers to the US).
If you need a Covid-19 test to travel to another country (because that country requires it) there are two options.
1. Online Monitoring. This is the better option. We can give you an approved rapid test kit. You can choose an online monitoring company to observe you take the test, at any time of your choosing day or night. One option is a company called Rapid Test and Trace (Buy Rapid COVID Tests for COVID-19 - Rapid Test & Trace Canada (rapidtestandtrace.ca). They charge $30 CAD per monitoring session if you already have a test kit. Book a time online IN ADVANCE and follow their instructions. Booking 2-weeks ahead is recommended.
2. Testing at a pharmacy. There are a limited number of testing locations in Sydney. Consult the website for each pharmacy as far in advance as possible and follow their instructions for booking. Three pharmacies in Sydney close to the conference hotels (within walking distance) can do Covid-19 tests including:
- Lawton's Pharmacy 540 George Street (phone +1-902-564-8200),
- Sobey's Pharmacy 272B Prince Street (+1-902-539-2604), and
- Shoppers Drug Mart 254 Prince Street (+1-902-562-1144).
Please note that prices for testing vary by location and that availability for booking a time to be tested is limited, and is very limited on the weekend (one pharmacy can do 2 or 3 tests a day on the weekend). We expect that approximately 45 people will fly out on Sunday and early Monday so we are recommending early booking of your Covid test for flying and to check out the online monitoring option.
Travel by Air (Airport code: YQY)
The JA Douglas McCurdy Airport in Sydney NS is close to the CBU campus where the conference will be held, approximately 2 minutes drive and less than 15 minutes from the waterfront hotels. The airport is named for the pilot of the Silver Dart, the aircraft that made history as the first to fly in Canada in 1910.
The small airport is serviced by Air Canada and Westjet year round. Both Air Canada and Westjet offer non-stop service between Montreal or Toronto and Sydney as well as connections via the Halifax International airport.
Air Canada is offering a discount to anyone booking their flight with them. To book a flight with your promotion code, access aircanada.com and enter your promotion code in the Promotion Code Box.
To qualify for the Meeting and Conventions special fares a minimum of 10 delegates is required traveling from various origins to the same destination within Air Canada's extensive North American and international network. Customers will benefit from an instant online registration and enjoy a ten per cent discount on eligible fares.
Link to the Air Canada website. Please use the discount code exclusively for PLL4: X2EY67P1
If the number of delegates arriving on the same flight warrants it, we might be able to offer a shuttle bus service between the airport and downtown hotels. Otherwise, taxi service is available at the airport, the cost of a ride to the hotels is a set rate of $15 + tip.
For delegates planning to arrive in Halifax, the Stanfield Halifax International Airport, airport code YHZ, is approximately a four-hour drive from Sydney. Driving across Cape Breton provides a choice, "old route 4" is more scenic, narrow, twisty drive with very nice views of the hills and coastline. The less scenic, wider trans-Canada highway is the other choice if driving from Halifax (each way takes approximately 90 minutes from the Canso causeway to Sydney).
Download the ArriveCAN app and complete the information required for entry into Canada before traveling.
Electronic Travel Authorization (ETA) Required
If you are a citizen of any country other than Canada or the USA and are arriving in Canada by air, you require an ETA. These cost $7 CAD and it is the responsibility of each delegate to apply and pay for their ETA and make sure they possess a valid ETA prior to departing for Canada. For many people, the process takes just minutes but, in some circumstances, it can take several days, so be sure to apply well in advance. Here is the link: http://www.cic.gc.ca/english/visit/eta.asp.
If anyone is flying via the USA, they will require the US equivalent of this authorization, even to just pass through.
Cape Breton Island, Sydney
Travel + Leisure Magazine ranked Cape Breton the #1 island to visit in continental North America and #3 in the world. Condé Nast Traveler has called it the most scenic island in the world. Cape Breton is famous for its stunning scenery (particularly along the Cabot Trail), lobster dinners, and its traditional cultures, especially the Celtic-derived fiddling and step dancing traditions and the Scottish Gaelic language, which is still spoken on the island, but also French Acadian and indigenous Mi’kmaq cultures.
Sydney is Nova Scotia’s second largest city and Cape Breton Island’s only urban area. The population of Cape Breton Island is approximately 130,000, most of which is in relatively close proximity to Sydney. Sydney is a diverse post-industrial city. Immigrants from all over Europe, particularly Italians, Greeks, Lebanese, Jews, Polish, and Ukrainians, settled in Sydney to work in the mines or steel plant. More recently, the education and health sectors have drawn students and practitioners from many places across Asia, Africa, and Europe.
For help planning your visit, you may wish to consult the following websites:
For local events, visit:
Getting around town
The social events will be held on the waterfront in Sydney and the conference program will be held on campus at CBU. These locations are about 10Km apart. We will provide transportation from the official conference hotels (Cambridge Suites and Holiday Inn) to CBU. Public transportation (bus) is not terribly convenient. To get around town you will probably need a taxi or rental car, ride share services (Uber, Lyft) are not available in Sydney.
Although Canada is a bilingual country (English and French), English is the main language spoken in Sydney and the language of the PLL4 conference.
The currency in Canada is the Canadian Dollar (CAD$). There are no exchange bureaus at the airport in Sydney so we recommend that you arrive in Canada with some Canadian currency in hand. However, you may be able to exchange currency at other airports en route to Sydney. Most banks offer currency exchange, although they may be limited to Euros (€), Pounds Sterling (£) or American Dollars. Credit cards are widely accepted and vendors will probably require you to use your PIN number. ATMs provide cash in Canadian dollars only.
Tax in Nova Scotia is added to the price of most goods and services. The “Harmonized Sales Tax” (HST) is 15% and is charged on almost everything.
Canada does not use the penny for cash transactions. Prices are calculated to the penny in electronic transactions. However, when paying cash, prices are rounded to the nearest amount ending in “5” or “0” (e.g., a price ending in 73 to 77 cents becomes 75; a price ending in 78 to 82 cents becomes 80) if paying in cash.
Sydney is in the Atlantic Standard Time Zone, 4 hours behind Greenwich Mean Time (GMT). It is 1 hour ahead of Eastern Standard Time used in Toronto and New York.
Electrical sockets (outlets) in Canada are the “Type B” North American NEMA 5-15 standard, 110-120 volts.
When dialling from abroad, the country code for Canada is 00+1; and the area/city code is 902. The code for international outgoing calls is 011. Pay phones are located in several spots around the city; you may make local calls for 25-cents or long-distance calls by credit card. Long distance calling cards are available for purchase at local supermarkets, convenience stores, and drugstores.
Cell phone service is good in the Sydney area. However coverage can be sporadic in rural Cape Breton, and not all service providers can be accessed here. You may wish to check coverage with your provider. Even if your cell phone works in the Sydney area, it may not work in other areas on the island; keep this in mind if you are planning to rent a car and travelling around Cape Breton on your own.
Hotels offer wireless internet access. Local cafés also offer internet access, and the McConnell Public Library in downtown Sydney offers free access to computers and the internet. CBU has free wifi coverage for conference guests.
Health Insurance and Medications
All visitors to Canada are strongly urged to obtain health insurance before leaving their home country. Canadian hospital and medical services are excellent, but a hospital stay can cost in excess of $500 a day, and the cost of an extended stay can be prohibitive. Be sure you are covered. If you are a resident of Canada, you should carry your provincial health card just in case you need medical attention. Please bring all medications with you, and if you are taking medicine prescribed by your doctor, it is a good idea to make a list of what you are taking in case of emergency. Bring along a copy of your prescription in the event that you need to have it renewed by a doctor in Nova Scotia.
Covid Testing in Sydney for Travelers
The Covid situation changes almost daily. At present, there is no "free" Covid testing for international travelers (not even for Canadian residents who need it to travel). However, large local pharmacies such as Shoppers Drug Mart and Lawton's Pharmacy are providing tests, such as a rapid test for a fee of approximately $40 CAD; PCR tests may be available. We do not know yet exactly what the travel requirement will be in late June. Two weeks before the conference we will post the current information on local Covid testing here on this page, have it printed and available at the conference, and send it by email for visitors coming to Canada. General information on Covid testing for travelers is available from the Province of Nova Scotia (click here).
To report an emergency of any type (e.g., medical, safety, fire), call 911.
Food & Drink
Canada enjoys a high standard of food safety. You can drink tap water without risk. Milk and dairy products are pasteurized, and all meats, seafood, fruits and vegetables are generally safe to eat.
Please note that TIPS are expected for food and beverage service in restaurants and bars/pubs alike. Tips are at the discretion of the customer, but 15% is fairly standard and considered appropriate for good service. Be prepared! The combination of tips and taxes (Harmonized Sales Tax, or HST, is 15%) means that customers should anticipate paying an additional 30% on top of advertised menu prices.
Cape Breton’s location on the Atlantic Seaboard means that its weather can be variable, so please come prepared for changes (packing sweaters, a rain jacket and an umbrella would be wise). However, late-June weather in Cape Breton tends to be nice, around 20-22 degrees Celsius during the day and 10-12 degrees in the evening). We are on the Atlantic ocean so evenings can be cool and damp, even if daytime is warm. The weather can vary and, depending on circumstance, can be unpredictable.
Cape Breton, including Sydney, is a very safe place; personal security is normally unproblematic, but as a common precaution, we encourage you to walk in groups after dark.
Smoking is not allowed in public buildings, some public areas, restaurants and pubs, but it is permitted in many open-air areas.
Cannabis is now legal in Canada but controlled and sold only in government outlets. Importing and exporting cannabis is forbidden.
The sale of alcohol is controlled. Bottles of alcohol are sold only in government-run stores or at larger airports (not Sydney’s airport), and alcohol is not sold in corner or grocery stores. Bars, pubs and most restaurants (except fast food places) will have a good variety of alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages, and the craft brewing industry in Nova Scotia has developed some unique local beers. A very good single malt whiskey, Glen Breton Rare, is made in a distillery near Mabou (about 2 hours drive from Sydney).
Downtown Sydney is not a large area but it has a number of small, family-owned businesses some of which are dedicated to local products. There is a variety of restaurants, several banks, museums, coffee shops, and pubs, plus a casino. Larger chain stores (e.g., Walmart, Best Buy) are available at or near the Mayflower mall, which is located between the conference hotels and CBU.