The Cape Breton Laborers Development Company: A Case Report
The main activity of this trade union owned non-profit company is to finance and construct affordable housing. An inspired example of social and economic solidarity at work: the resulting model became recognized well beyond the borders of Nova Scotia. Paradoxically, the financial self-reliance of the CBLDC attracted the support needed for a swift take-off into a substantial housing construction program. The details of the model and its evolution bear careful scrutiny. It is simple and effective. Why has an obviously successful model for creating affordable housing not been replicated, despite many efforts to enlist other trade unions in becoming similarly engaged? Boulot Vers was a successful adaptation from Europe of a very specific type of social enterprise and the model has expanded across Quebec, largely because of a web of supports, particularly the provincial government. The authors of the Potluck (Lougheed Green, 2004), Atira (Abbott, 2005) and Inner City Development (Donkervoort, 2006) articles pose the question about whether replication is possible at all, unless more systematic supports are put in place. This is particularly poignant coming from these authors, both having been centrally involved in achieving the success. Then there is YouthBuild (Lewis and Gilson, 2002), born and raised in Harlem and then successfully spread across the country or, in stark contrast, the Cape Breton Labourers Development Company (Perry, 1994), internationally recognized and lauded but not ever able to find traction off the island that birthed it. Answering the question why is facilitated by reflection on research reported in O'Regan and Conway, 1994 & Lewis, 2000.