Fast & Curious: Short Takes on Random Things

Transparency 101

Rapid Housing Initiative logoAmid the blowback from CBRM council’s rejection of a staff recommendation it fund a New Dawn/Ally Centre project with the $5 million it received under the federal government’s Rapid Housing Initiative (RHI), District 2 Councilor Earlene MacMullin took to Facebook to explain why she’d voted against the project, beginning with a one-sentence explanation of why council had discussed the matter in camera:

Tender details are discussed privately for contract purposes.

Hold my beer.

Tender details are only discussed “privately for contract purposes” by councils so addicted to secrecy they willfully and repeatedly abuse Section 22 of the Municipal Government Act (MGA) which sets out the reasons why they may meet in camera—the operative word being “may,” council never has to meet in camera.

But don’t take it from me, take it from the staff at the Halifax Regional Municipality who know the difference between “choosing the winning responses to an RFP” and “contract negotiations” (the exemption CBRM claimed for meeting to discuss its own RHI projects in secret).

During an open session on 24 November 2020, HRM staff presented council with what, to the CBRM resident’s eye, looks like a shocking amount of information about the RHI projects it was recommending for funding:



Now compare that with the information attached to the agenda for CBRM’s RHI discussion:

Agenda for the CBRM special council meeting held 7 March 2023.


In a municipality where people are sleeping rough directly across the street from the shiny new central fire station, I realize secrecy is not the most serious problem, but it is a longstanding problem and one it would be nice to resolve, once and for all.



A photo of an alarm that reads "In case of emergency break 48-hour notice requirement"CBRM council CAN act rapidly when it wants to—it’s waived the 48-hour notice period required for a meeting to hold an “emergency” session on the RHI debacle this (Friday) morning.

So here’s a thought: why didn’t council hold an emergency meeting on November 11, the day after the municipality was awarded the $5 million in RHI funding?

Why did it take over a month to get an RFP out the door?

Why does council only feel a sense of urgency when it comes to defending its own actions—to dealing with an “emergency” entirely of its own making?

(Perhaps these questions will be answered during this morning’s session which I will not be watching until later because I am on the road today.)


Taking our medicine

I promised I’d share my thoughts on the $58.9 million the province has put into a med school at CBU but I’ve decided my thoughts on this are not of any particular value, so instead, I’m going to reach out to someone whose thoughts might actually be worth hearing and get back to you.