Dr StrangeJob: Thoughts on a $5M Debacle

It was very disappointing to hear CBRM placing blame rather than taking accountability for their flawed actions, only to reverse course due to public pressure—Acting Municipal Affairs Minister Colton LeBlanc


While I don’t support Tory politics, Minister LeBlanc’s comments summarize my view on the five-million-dollar CBRM affordable housing debacle. Not only was council’s initial decision to send back $5 million earmarked for housing in CBRM egregious, but its subsequent finger-pointing has set back municipal and provincial relations for a decade.

Come to think of it, didn’t CBRM also blame the province for a delay in financial reimbursements from earlier storm-related claims? CBRM accused the province of causing the file to “fall apart” in their office. The province, on the other hand, claimed the file was not complete. I sense a trend. At CBRM council, PDF must be an acronym for “If Paper, then Don’t Fill out.”

Putting a crimp in the municipal/provincial working relationship is certainly not in our best interest; then again, I suspect we are not doing so well on the municipal/federal relationship front either. Both our MPs, Mike Kelloway and Jaime Battiste, worked diligently behind the scenes to make CBRM eligible for the $5 million. In return, council argued that they didn’t ask for the money in the first place and that the MPs didn’t provide CBRM enough time to deal with the application process.

And let us not forget Canada House and Mortgage Corporation (CHMC), i.e., the source of the funds. Council quickly pointed out how inflexible and overly complicated CHMC has made the funding process. Yes, that would be the same CHMC responsible for the funds’ administration.

Not only has council negatively impacted their relationship with the provincial and federal governments, they have also raised the ire of local organizations, including New Dawn, Town House and the Ally Centre. Erika Shea, the president/CEO of New Dawn Enterprises, is calling for the resignations of the mayor and council. Patti McDonald, Director of Glace Bay’s Town House, is organizing “The WAKEUP! Challenge” to “challenge people to make a donation and sleep in a tent, rough or in a car or make a bigger donation and not have to do that.”


Is there anyone left for council to piss off? Why is CBRM the only one of 41 municipalities approved for these housing grants to have a problem with the process? Why didn’t the mayor or staff pick up the phone and ask for help? We don’t have the answers to these questions because council made all of their decisions behind closed doors. In a move reminiscent of the previous administration, they made no effort to inform the public of their reasoning. If it were not for the outrage caused by their initial decision to return the $5 million, then the $5 million would be on its way back to the feds.

Where do we go from here? Hopefully, wisdom will prevail, and CBRM will recommend the two local non-profit applications. The New Dawn application has already met the CHMC requirements and was recommended by municipal staff. Although Town House’s did not pass muster initially, it is a noble and necessary project. There is time to rework that application. Both of these are deserving projects by local groups with a clear understanding of what is happening on the ground in our community.

On the other hand, if council continues its farcical ways, Dr. StrangeJob will be forced to declare his candidacy for Mayor in the next CBRM election. My campaign slogan will be simple and to the point—”Vote Dr. StrangeJob for Mayor: He is a Winner, not a Whiner.”


Dr. StrangeJob


Dr. StrangeJob is a local satirical blogger, retired educator, social activist, creator of Incompetents Anonymous and interim leader of the CBLA-InComps.





Editor’s Note: I wrote my own response to the “affordable housing debacle” before reading the Doctor’s column and was amused to note we both reached for the word “farcical.”