Fast & Curious: Short Takes on Random Things

I Swear

I discovered the CBRM was planning an in-person swearing-in ceremony for mayor and council not from CBRM communications but from a reporter for another news outlet I happened to bump into in front of Sobeys on Tuesday night.

Honestly, as a form of communication, it’s not ineffective.

The initial plan was to limit attendance at the event — which happened last night at the Joan Harriss Cruise Pavilion — to some senior CBRM staff and a few guests for each elected official.

This was a terrible idea, which was pointed out to the mayor-elect by the Cape Breton Post, resulting in a change in the rules to allow news organizations (including this one) to send one reporter each to the event. (I didn’t go because I was feeling a bit under the weather and didn’t want Dr. Strang mad at me.)

The swearing-in ceremony is not a special occasion for the families and friends of the incoming mayor and council, it’s a special occasion for the citizens of the CBRM who are represented at such events by the press. If COVID constraints are forcing you to choose between your supporters and the press, you choose the press.

That said, watching the Post‘s “acting news editor” sound off about this affront to the “tenets of democracy” on Twitter was pretty funny, given I’ve never seen him kick up a fuss about other such affronts — like in camera meetings, high FOIPOP fees, inadequate public consultation or MGA-flouting property sales.

We’ve been covering actual council meetings via livestream for months now, so the idea that we’d cover the swearing-in ceremony by livestream would have been reasonable if everyone were going to participate by livestream. It became problematic when a few people were hand-picked to attend an in-person event and the press was barred.

I’m glad the swearing-in ceremony rules were changed, but what I really want to see is fewer in camera meetings (and where they’re necessary, more information as to why they’re being held), lower FOIPOP fees, improved public consultation and an end to dodgy property sales.

But given the new mayor and council took office, literally, last night, I won’t be pronouncing any judgements just yet.

In fact, I will congratulate Mayor Amanda McDougall and all the new and returning councilors.

And I will hope for the best.


Public housing

File this under: loose ends.

While writing about the need for affordable housing in CBRM this week, I contacted the province to get on update on the public housing stats for CBRM.

Krista Higdon, spokesperson for the Department of Community Services which oversees public housing, provided me with the stats from the Cape Breton Housing Authority as of end-October 2020:

October 2020 stats Cape Breton Housing Authority


I discovered in 2017, when I last published these stats, that units can be vacant because they “have no applicants on file for the unit or no applicant has accepted the unit at this time.” I was also told that the CB Housing Authority “refurbishes/prepares” about 460-500 units each year or 38 to 42 per month.

But the stat I was most interested in was, how many people are on the waiting list for public housing. In 2017, the list numbered “about 612,” including 416 “eligible seniors” and 196 “eligible family applicants.”

As of September 2020, Higdon told me there were “about 765 applications for public housing in CBRM.” That number represents 28.4% of the total number of available units.

I’ll be writing more about housing in the days to come, but wanted to share that information today.


Something totally different

Filmsuck logoI remain as addicted to podcasts as ever and thought I’d indulge myself — ’cause it’s Friday — by talking about one of my current favorites.

It’s called Filmsuck and it’s:

…a weekly podcast about film hosted by Eileen Jones, an American film critic and recovering academic, and Evgenia Kovda, a Russian filmmaker.

In this podcast for the people, we bring you the truth about the rotten state of cinema, its generally crap politics, and its occasional glorious bursts of courage and brilliance. We get into new films and old films, genre films and art films, blockbusters and neglected B-movies, and films from around the world. We let other people talk too, interviewing filmmakers and film scholars and just plain film freaks.

Jones, the former film critic for EXiled who now writes for Jacobin, and Kovda (whose work you can view on her website) are clearly friends and listening to the podcast feels like sitting next to them in a restaurant, shamelessly eavesdropping on their conversation.

Every other episode is free, so you can get a feel for what they do without having to cough up any money, but I found I needed a weekly fix so I signed up to support them on Patreon.

Some things they love (like Will Ferrell’s Eurovision) other things they hate (like the Netflix series Unorthodox which they gleefully trashed after I’d watched it entirely uncritically, much to my chagrin.) Some things they agree on (like Sofia Coppola) and some things they butt heads over (like the Brazilian film Bacurau). But whether they love something or loathe it (and let’s be honest, especially when they loathe it) their discussions — which go beyond actual films to encompass most aspects of the film world — are super interesting.