Low pay, high living costs force soldier to busk

Darenn Tremblay, a member of the Canadian Forces Base Cold Lake, was outside a Cold Lake...

Darenn Tremblay, a member of the Canadian Forces Base Cold Lake, was outside a Cold Lake establishment on Jan. 9, 2014 protesting a rent increase on subsidized military housing. (Jordan Small/QMI AGENCY)

JORDAN SMALL, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 7:39 PM ET

COLD LAKE, Alta. - Rising housing costs at CFB Cold Lake prompted one soldier to busk for change on a town sidewalk, where dozens of supporters dropped cash into his upturned combat helmet.

Cpl. Darenn Tremblay, 25, with his guitar in hand, set up a cardboard sign outside a local store Thursday night reading: "I am in the Canadian Forces posted to Cold Lake with a family. Any spare change will help."

The soldier -- from Jonquière, Que., and posted at CFB Cold Lake for the past two-and-a-half years -- said he is just trying to make ends meet while sending a message to protest recent cost increases to military Residential Housing Units (RHU) in the booming oil town.

"I do that because we don't have any money to pay our rent basically," said Tremblay, who is married.

Part of the problem is the high cost of living in Cold Lake, driven by the area's booming oil and gas industry.

Soldiers in Cold Lake receive a $319-per-month Post Living Differential (PLD) -- an allowance designed to stabilize cost of living. But in Cold Lake, it's lower than other military communities, including Edmonton, where soldiers receive a $684 PLD per month.

The PLD rates in Cold Lake haven't been adjusted to the current economy in more than three years.

Housing costs are up while "our salary stays down and like everybody, we got lots of debts," said Tremblay.


Videos

Photos