Fast & Curious: Short Takes on Random Things

Better than a poke in the eye

The adventure course while in operation by TreeUmph!

The adventure course while in operation by TreeUmph!

Does anyone else find it funny that our globe-trotting, international port promoter may be, even as we speak, sitting in a tree in Florida?

I’ve been following Albert Barbusci’s progress in taking over a bankrupt extreme adventure course in Hernando County, Florida, and this week, there was good news for our hero: his offer to pay $1,000/month to lease the former TreeUmph! adventure park for 12 months has been accepted.

The County had hoped for more money, but Barbusci — who has breezily assured Cape Bretoners that he’s spent millions of his own money promoting the Port of Sydney (and that financing for the $1.5 billion project is all lined up) — poor-mouthed them. According to the Hernando Sun:

Economic Development Manager Valerie Pianta reported that TBEAC [Tampa Bay Extreme Adventure Course LLP] Administrator Albert Barbusci, “doesn’t feel that there is any possible way they can come close to $4000 a month and make it work, so he’d like to be able to start the process and see how things go. He’s going to spend about $80,000 in advertising, and he needs to get some people hired.” Pianta advised the board that her department has stressed to Barbusci that, in the future, the $1000 per month rent fee would not be sustainable.

Said County Commissioner Wayne Dukes:

$1000 a month is better than a poke in the eye.

I like the way you think, Commissioner.

Although Barbusci’s Florida dream seems far less grandiose than his plans for Sydney — I don’t believe he’s attempting to make zipline history — there are some similarities. As the Sun notes:

TBEAC intends to negotiate a formal lease with the county that would include an option to purchase the 36-acre parcel and its equipment and improvements.

He does like those options to purchase, doesn’t he?

His new park (he already operates one in Kissimee, Florida), which features “ziplines, ladders, nature trails and balance beams in a natural environment,” is expected to be operational by the end of this month.

Which means he must be in Florida, which is probably just as well — were he here, he’d have to deal with the awkward information that our “ice-free” harbor is looking pretty icy:


Ships end here?

MRC excitedly welcoming the arrival of the HMCS Preserver and the CFAV Quest at its new location in Sydport Industrial Park in Sydney, Nova Scotia. 11 August 2017

MRC excitedly welcoming the arrival of the HMCS Preserver and the CFAV Quest at its new location in Sydport Industrial Park in Sydney, Nova Scotia. 11 August 2017

Reached while on holidays in the Dominican Republic, Marine Recycling Corp. founder and director of business development, Wayne Elliott, said it’s expected there will be enough work in dismantling and breaking ships for years to come. — Cape Breton Post, 25 January 2018

Sydport shipbreaking company in midst of completing $5.7M federal contract with no new projects in pipeline — Cape Breton Post, 13 February 2019

Let’s be clear: Elliott’s business is based on winning contracts, there’s no guarantee his company will win those contracts, ergo, there is no way Elliott can ever predict he’ll have “enough work” to keep Cape Bretoners employed for  “years to come.”

And yet, he went there. Because it’s no skin off his nose.

That latest story notes that Marine Recycling is currently employing “more than 20” people at the dock it leases in Sydport. (Elliott apparently counts the way I did as toddler, “One. Two, Three. Another one. Another one. Another one.” Although to his credit, he gets all the way to 20 before giving up.)

Of those 20+ workers, six are members of Eskasoni First Nation, hired under Nova Scotia’s New Opportunities for Work program which sees the province pay $10.50 of their $15 hourly wage.

Unfortunately, it doesn’t sound like Elliott has any new opportunities for work to offer them.


Conflict postcript

The ink had barely dried (figuratively speaking) on my piece this week about Nova Scotia conflicts of interest when this dropped: “Scott Brison gets corporate banking job with BMO

Per the Chronicle Herald:

Scott Brison hasn’t been out of the House of Commons for a week and he’s already got a new gig

BMO Capital Markets announced Thursday it had hired Brison as vice-chair of investment and corporate banking. According to a BMO news release, Brison will be based in Toronto and his primary responsibilities will include senior client coverage and business development.

Brison, who has served as MP for Kings-Hants for 22 years, announced in January that he would not seek re-election in 2019 and he stepped down as president of the Treasury Board and as minister of Digital Government.

At the time, Brison told The Chronicle Herald that he was leaving politics to focus more energy on his husband and four-year-old twin daughters, as well as to pursue new opportunities outside of politics.

Then, last week, Brison announced he was vacating his House of Commons seat effective Feb. 10.

I’d say I’m surprised, but I’m not really. When I heard Brison tell the CBC’s Steve Sutherland that he’d made his decision to leave politics while playing Junior Monopoly with his four-year-olds, I knew he wasn’t long for domestic life. Who could possibly enjoy playing Monopoly with a four-year-old? Two hours of, “Who ate my hotel?” and “You owe me $300. No, I don’t want your half-eaten sucker, I want $300.” (The box actually says it’s for children 5 and up.)

But if it would be hard for me, imagine what torture it would be for a high finance guy like Brison. I mean, he’d win, but how much satisfaction could you really get driving pre-schoolers into bankruptcy? You might as well just arm wrestle them and get it over with.

No, much better to take your Ottawa connections and Cabinet-level knowledge of government business and gold-plated Rolodex and get thee to a high-paying private sector job in Toronto.

The kids will be alright.


Friends who cut benefits

One of Cecil Clarke’s higher-profile supporters during his provincial PC leadership run was trending on Twitter yesterday! Here she was back in 2018 tweeting her support for Clarke:

And here she was on Thursday, at 1:27 PM Atlantic Time:


Okay, so it’s not like trending because you’ve agreed to do the Super Bowl halftime show or because you just won an Oscar, but all publicity is good publicity, right?

Hmmm… maybe not.


Golf course

I just heard John R. MacDonald of The Cape Breton Ski Club telling the CBC’s Information Morning Cape Breton that they have a right of first refusal on The Lakes Golf Club and have offered to match the offer the board recently accepted from the Ben Eoin Development Group Inc (or, if you insist, BEDGInc).

The land on which the golf course sits is leased from The Cape Breton Ski Club.

I have more to add to this story, so stay tuned for next week’s issue…


Backstory NS

But let’s end on a high note — since I first wrote about Backstory NS, Greg MacVicar’s new online publication, he’s published two additional articles, which I now have queued up to read this Saturday morning. (Full disclosure: I just lost 20 minutes reading the first part of his latest piece, a profile of Senator Wanda Thomas Bernard. It’s really good.)

MacVicar has also posted his profile of Dirk van Loon, the founder — now “publisher emeritus” — of Rural Delivery.

If I’ve done my calculations correctly, I will then be all caught up and ready for his next piece, which will be published on February 23 (he publishes biweekly, on Saturdays).

If you don’t know Backstory NS, then let me tell you what MacVicar told me about it. Backstory NS is:

…a digital publication which presents the stories of notable Nova Scotians from all walks of life in their own words. Biweekly, on Saturday mornings, Backstory NS publishes a long-form, compelling story accompanied by eye-catching photographs. Each story is based on an old-fashioned visit with the storyteller, and the result is an interview that delves far beneath the surface—in search of the backstory—and is meant to be read and reread at one’s leisure.

And as I said the last time I wrote about it:

A subscription will cost you $40 for the year ($80 for businesses and government agencies) which, if you calculate it on a per-word basis is a fantastic bargain.




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