Accessibility at Cobourg Health Centre

Greg Hancock is concerned about accessibility at the Cobourg Health Centre at 316 King Street East.  His letter to the Town was referred to the Accessibility Committee and they recommended that Council respond to his concerns.  Unfortunately, he will most likely be out of luck.  First the Town is not the body to help and second there is no legal requirement to retrofit existing buildings.  Greg says that he was hoping that the doctors there would be moving to the planned “Northumberland Medical Arts Building” near the Hospital but believes that project is dead – but it is not.  Project spokesman Doug Mann told Cobourg News Blog that “We continue to work on the concept. It is not cancelled.”

316 King East
316 King East

Greg’s letter will be presented to Council at their meeting on Monday January 15 (download a copy from Link below).  The recommendation by the Accessibility Advisory Committee will also be presented.  They say that they “encourage Council to respond to Mr. Hancock’s concerns”.

Greg originally expressed concern in October 2009 with concerns for his aging mother but now says:

Some things have changed in the past 8 years.

  • My mother reached 103 years old, but has now died. However the access problems remain the same.
  • The Cobourg Health Centre was slated to move to a new building near the NHH, but this appears to have been cancelled.
  • It has become more apparent that the Accessibility Act does apply to private businesses.

I am therefore resubmitting my submission of 2009, with the request that the council should reconsider the matter.

Greg summarizes his concerns with:

Access to the Cobourg Health Centre is made difflcult for handicapped or elderly patients by steep steps, lengthy ramps, lack of elevator access at ground level, and by a $3 access charge.

Download his complete letter from Links below.

A Google search found some relevant facts (see links below).  Accessibility standards are governed by the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA) and the Ontario Building Code.

  • The AODA requires organizations to incorporate accessibility when building new public spaces, or making planned significant alterations to existing public spaces.  
  • Organizations are not required to retrofit public spaces to meet the requirements. This means that an organization is not required to alter its public spaces if it has no plans to do so.
  • The Building Code is a “go forward” standard. That is, new requirements apply only to new construction and extensive renovations and it does not mandate the retrofit of existing buildings.

Greg includes the fact that the Cobourg Health Centre requires a $3 fee to Park or even access the back door but that is not governed by AODA or the Building code nor to my knowledge is it regulated by the Town.

Town staff have recommended that Council direct Staff to send a letter to Mr. Hancock outlining the options available. 

It seems to me that the options are:

  • To wait for the Doctors to move to a different location such as the Northumberland Medical Arts Building when it eventually gets built;
  • Hope that the owner (or new owner, it’s up for sale) will make the improvements.

Links

Note on Northumberland Medical Arts Building

In 2015, a consortium of Doctors and others announced that they were planning to build a large building adjacent to the Hospital.  With financing an issue, they asked Cobourg Council to invest $303,652 by waiving development and other fees.  After initially approving the idea, public questions eventually caused Council to NOT approve the “donation”. Since then, the project has not moved forward but Doug Mann assured me that work continues on the project and it has not been cancelled.

Links re Northumberland Medical Arts Building

Update – January 15

At the regular Council meeting on January 15, there was no discussion by Council on this subject.  It was referred to staff to handle.

 

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perplexed

Cobourg is not Toronto or Barrie or any of the other communities that we often refer and compare our selves to Its the little town of Cobourg with a Little Residential Tax base to support it self on , Now that most of the Industry and down town commercial have left for greener and more lucrative pastures . It will be yrs. before we get there and until then we can’t afford anymore handouts . We need Developers and Free hold enterprise that can afford to do business here with out dipping into the tax payers pocket any further . I also re call there being a Buy out clause in favour of the Dr. developers which would not see any benefit coming back to the Town or Taxpayers who by all wrights could be share holders rather than Guarantors of debt I also understand it there were a couple of other WELL FUNDED private investment groups wanting to develop a similar grander medical facility prior to the local group — which was stalled in lieu of our own local group of Drs. that as I was led to believe wanted to Pay Less than market rents to someone other… Read more »

Fabio Fiumana

Join the discussion

Fabio Fiumana

I am one of the leasing brokers for Northumberland Mall, we have under contract since Apr/16 and have followed the Medical Arts Building project since before 2015. Although the Town waiving the development charges would have helped, I think the main issue is that there were not enough financial participants to build a multi storied building and conventional financing will not be available for a building on leased lands. Northumberland Mall had negotiated with the group of doctors and I personally met with them to proposed space to develop a medical arts centre. However, the project did not get traction due to the doctor’s financial expectation, their previous commitments with existing premises and a host of other issues that I feel could be solved. I read that the community is at a disadvantage with the current facilities, that patients are being charged for access and parking, that this is not a viable situation. Well, I encourage the community to consider that Northumberland Mall has available space that can me made to suit with a much smaller investment than building a new office building. We are here and willing to talk, if the Town was considering a $300,000 donation, that would… Read more »

Walter Luedtke

“The relevant question is why hasn’t Town staff (the ones earning the big bucks) and the Town’s high priced municipal law expert figure this out.”
Ah yes, of course. Now it’s the fault of Cobourg’s bloated bureaucracy.
But the fact remains – thoroughly documented below – that municipalities all across Ontario use waiving development charges as one item in their toolbox to encourage commercial, industrial and residential development.
Let’s get the Northumberland Medical Arts Building back on track!

Dubious

A new medical arts building would be an asset to Cobourg. However, if Cobourg taxpayers are to fund any part of the development it must be presented as a commercial enterprise (not a commercial enterprise disguised as a not-for-profit), without below market rate rental deals for physicians (not as a subsidy for physicians disguised as a subsidy for the hospital), built on commercial real estate (not using the publicly owned hospital grounds for the site without purchasing them), subject to the same taxes as comparable projects, provide its own parking rather than encroaching on already limited hospital parking, etc, etc.

Bryan

Walter, are you proposing that the Town’s well paid staff should not do competent thorough due diligence and research to support their recommendations to Council? In addition, are you suggesting that the Town’s vaunted municipal law expert is not providing top drawer legal advice?
If not Town staff and hired experts, who then is responsible for correctly advising Council?

The London Free Press article that you reference states “The city is on pace to forgive $12 million in development charges to builders by 2019 — instead, taxpayers cover it”.
Note the time-frame, 2019. In fact, each of your examples is in regard to very current or future time-frames, not the statutory environment at the time of the NMAI decision (Feb 2016).

Perhaps statutory conditions have changed, and if so, staff should be knowledgeable about this and advise Council accordingly if the situation arises.

Walter Luedtke

Just a few more examples of municipalities waiving development charges.
“Waiving core development fees could lead to burden on ratepayers.”
http://www.lfpress.com/2015/02/01/waiving-core-development-fees-could-lead-to-burden-on-ratepayers
And
https://www.ottawacommunitynews.com/news-story/7342999-habitat-for-humanity-construction-begins/
And
http://www.stcatharinesstandard.ca/2017/10/25/industrial-association-supports-dc-bylaw
And
“City gives affordable housing project a break on development charges.”
https://www.waterloochronicle.ca/news-story/7474474-city-gives-affordable-housing-project-a-break-on-development-charges/

Maybe the deep thinkers at the CTA can figure out why municipalities all over Ontario can waive development charges to advance affordable housing, commercial and industrial building projects, but Cobourg can’t.

Bryan

The relevant question is why hasn’t Town staff (the ones earning the big bucks) and the Town’s high priced municipal law expert figure this out. The onus is on the Town to do the due diligence, not the CTA

Dubious

Waiving development charges imposes an additional burden — effectively a tax increase — on existing taxpayers. What are you doing to combat the illegal actions that you have noted?

Walter Luedtke

Hmmmm …Development Charges are forgiven all over Ontario. Such as:
Toronto … the city forgives building fees, development charges, planning fees, parkland dedication and provides tax relief totalling about $40,000 per rental unit. ….
https://www.thestar.com/news/city_hall/2017/10/02/as-projects-struggle-to-reach-completion-critics-say-definition-of-affordable-housing-needs-reboot.html
Barrie ….The big-money incentive of $200,000 is for a business that opens in Innisfil Heights, located off Highway 400 near Innisfil Beach Road. Half of the money comes from the town in a development charge forgiveness, and the county matches the other half.
https://www.simcoe.com/news-story/7324870-community-grant-offers-200-000-to-innisfil-business/
Maybe they don’t have a CTA in those places, yes?
Or maybe the CTA folks should read a newspaper sometime.

Bryan

Walter, how does this address the primary issue that granting the NMAI a development fee waive would be contrary to the Ontario municipal Act, sect 106? The Town got 2 legal opinions on this matter and voted accordingly. The CTA’s part in this (as well as numerous concerned Cobourgians) was to prod the Town into doing sufficient due diligence including a second legal opinion. As for your suggestion that the CTA folks reading the newspaper sometime, makes the flawed assumption that they don’t. Further, your premise that “Development Charges are forgiven all over Ontario” is seriously flawed based on the examples that you provided. In the Barrie example, the grant had nothing to do with a development charge waiver. It was a CIP grant. https://www.simcoe.com/news-story/7324870-community-grant-offers-200-000-to-innisfil-business/ Langdon was the first recipient of the Town of Innisfil’s Community Improvement Plan (CIP) grant last year. Your second example involves grants & waivers provided by the City of Toronto under their “Open Door” program to promote affordable housing as outlined below. The article does not discuss the specifics of how Toronto is able to do this. It is worth noting however that Toronto is governed by the City of Toronto Act and not by… Read more »

Dave

Well said. On topic and to the point. Thanks! And my thanks to CTA as well.

Kyle

My doctor is located here. I am in a wheelchair. I have asked for over five years to turn the handle on his door from a round door knob (which I can’t grip, along with many others), to a lever-style handled. Forget an electric door opener, this is a $30 handle that, even after five years, and every time I ask, still isn’t installed. The argurment is always ‘we are just tenants’. Doctors are extensions of the health care system, and it’s pretty bad when one can’t even open the door because it’s not to code, or there are petty excuses like ‘we are tenants’. You would think a doctor’s office with joint annual incomes from other doctors of about $5 million, would install at $30 handle out of the goodness of their hearts..

perplexed

Its going to cost you just as much at the new location sharing the Hospital parking lot.

and for the record that building on King street was design built by some of those Drs you refer to
I believe one was Mr DR. Broderick

Mrs. J.

Just for the record, the parking lot access fee is NOT $3.00 but rather $4.00

Old Sailor

I remember looking at the offering document used to solicit investors in the proposed medical arts building. The principal was completely unsecured. Interest was to be covered by tenant rents to the extent there were tenants. And there was no risk premium in the interest rate. 2% as I recall. The project needed the town or the province to backstop investor capital risk. There may have been a subsequent more investor favourable offering. Worthwhile project for sure.

Quack McDuck

Good to see the cheapwads successfully slowed down the process that was to be the medical arts building near the hospital. In the end it will cost those stakeholders more and the town is without what would have been a major asset for who knows how long.

Cost of everything value of nothing.

Dubious

You appear to have conveniently overlooked the fact that the requested “donation” contravened the Ontario Municipal Act and was therefore illegal. For some the end justifies the means regardless of the cost.

Dave

Well said. Thank you.

Walter Luedtke

Was that the time when CTA supporters flooded Councillor’s mail boxes with thousands of emails on the weekend before the vote?

Frenchy

I think so, seems democracy works.

Walter Luedtke

Well, at least the CTA did not have to resort to pitchforks and torches. Whew!

Frenchy

No, that was the time that somebody finally woke up and realized that the “donation” contravened the Ontario Municipal Act and was therefore illegal.

perplexed

and we forget when dealing wit a new clinic — that there are still some unresolved issues over the firing of the Financial controller
for the health team when she refused to sign incorrect reports . I am presuming the same Drs. will be involved
Is that not when the idea of a New Medical center ground to a halt ?