CIP program expands scope for 2018

Previous Downtown Community Improvement Plan (C.I.P.) grants and loans were aimed at improvements in facades and roof improvements but for 2018, with a $150K budget, the scope is expected to expand to include “refurbishment of the upper floors of downtown buildings”.  Many of the existing downtown buildings have upper floors intended as apartments but many are in a poor state of repair so have been empty for years.  In addition, instead of two intakes, there will be only one with a deadline of July 13, 2018 and approval (or not) by Council by August 13.  A single intake in July allows more time for applicants  to “obtain relevant information, complete design work, secure quotes and obtain necessary approvals” as well as allowing staff more time to publicize the program and process applications.

History of Downtown C.I.P.

  2016 2017 2018 – from
2017 budget
& applications
2018 (plan)
Applications Approved 5 11 2  
Grants Approved $54,696 $80,046 $25,750  
Loans Approved $51,886 $31,862 $15,000  
Total Allocated $62,780 $85,653    
Budget $50,000 $150,000 $150,000

Expanded Criteria for Project Selection

Empty Store on King Street
Empty Store on King Street

Subject to approval by Council at their C.O.W. meeting on April 23 and the regular meeting on April 30, Heritage Planner Dave Johnson proposes that the 2018 CIP program will:

“…..have a greater focus on larger improvement projects, including but not limited to such projects that feature intensification and/or refurbishment of the upper floors of downtown buildings resulting in new or improved residential dwelling units and/or commercial space, and/or for projects that involve securing a landmark or anchor business, such as a bank or grocery store.

“A larger project focus would also allow for more resources to be targeted at major building improvements. Therefore, a larger proportion of available funds are proposed to be dedicated to one or more “significant” projects such as noted above and a smaller allocation of available funds would be directed to less significant exterior cosmetic alterations (i.e. roof work, façade improvements).”

The photo at top right is of a store that has been closed for some time and has unused accommodation above. Note that the total cost of required renovations is significantly more than grant/loan amounts but the Town’s (taxpayers’) contribution could be enough to cause the landlord to decide to renovate.

To make sure all the Downtown businesses are aware of the program and know that they are encouraged to apply, a marketing campaign is planned using newspaper ads, the Town’s website, and social media.  In addition a brochure/flyer summarizing the C.I.P. program will be mailed out and the DBIA will be asked to help get the word out.

Maybe with this expanded program plus the removal of the tax break for empty stores, we might see a ramp-up in downtown store/building renovations.

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perplexed

FYI Just confirmed this inspection process with the local F —Dept
Its up to the Town ByLaw enforcement and Building Standards Dept to Make the Call
or call them in to inspect and comment

Wally Keeler

What is a F—Dept? What is the name of the public servant that confirmed that process to you?

perplexed

Check again they never entered many of the buildings ,
and never went through the necessary steps

Wally Keeler

Can’t check because you withhold the name of the inspector that led you to believe that stuff.

Walter L. Luedtke

Smiles.
“A few yrs ago the Fire Dept. attempted to go through and inspect many of the upper floors of these buildings they were as I was led to believe by one of the inspectors told by council to lay off as the pressure would not benefit or aid in the downtown recovery efforts , I understand that if problems were discovered the solution was to simply close down the floor and disconnect the services.”
According to the Fire Captain. who is Cobourg’s Fire Prevention Officer, this story is a complete fabrication.
Perpy just makes these things up.
In fact, although fire inspections are request and/or complaint driven, Council has requested that the King Street buildings receive special attention.
Also, vetting for fire code infractions is part of the application process for CIP grants.

Wally Keeler

“…I was led to believe by one of the inspectors told by council to lay off…”

That is quite a serious assertion. If one of the inspectors told you that, then we have a serious dereliction of duty by that very inspector. perplexed should have advised the Fire Chief as soon as he learned of this matter. perplexed failed their civic duty. By refusing to divulge the name of this public servant, perplexed is aiding a cover-up of municipal malfeasance.

gerinator

Would a request to the Fire Department for information

    about last time

they inspected the addresses of the vacant properties (residential, business) be a good starting point? I like the notion of adding a fire code certification to the process of acquiring CIP funding. Since our Council seems so concerned about litigation it seems to me that a CIP grant provided to a potential fire hazardous situation might fall into the category of aiding and abetting should a catastrophe occur.

perplexed

I like the way Tim presents the case Dead on and to the Point . and as for where these land lords live it doesn’t matter Many of them originated in Cobourg or have family here The fact is with out progressive municipal bylaw enforcement , penalties with fast approaching time lines nothing will happen . A few yrs ago the Fire Dept. attempted to go through and inspect many of the upper floors of these buildings they were as I was led to believe by one of the inspectors told by council to lay off as the pressure would not benefit or aid in the downtown recovery efforts , I understand that if problems were discovered the solution was to simply close down the floor and disconnect the services , Our group recently had a fire inspection on one of our industrial / commercial buildings with out notice with out notice I might add. We were presented with a small list of concerns and deficiencies with respect to meeting the up dated standards even though 6o % of the building was empty at the time and not being used . We were given 30 days to comply and up… Read more »

Tim

What you’ve written is very important.

Walter L. Luedtke

Yes, yes Timmy you have made it clear before that Council is made up of idiots and we are the idiots who elected them.
How about an insider, investigative, fact-based post that tells us who the “greedy, wealthy” landlords are and how many are based out of town?
Or do you just make these things up??

Tim

Only my mother calls me “Timmy”.
You’re very sensitive about my use of “idiot” to describe the Town Council. I’m tired of it myself but I can’t think of a more appropriate substitute. “Corrupt” perhaps? But that would imply too much brain power. Maybe you could suggest a more appropriate adjective to describe a Town Council that claims it cares about heritage but allows some of the most distinguished buildings in Canada to rot before everybody’s eyes instead of enforcing the laws on the books to make sure these buildings are brought up to code, at the very least. Instead, they offer more and more taxpayers’ money to well-off property owners in order to inspire them to renovate. “Idiot” isn’t strong enough!
Unfortunately, I don’t make anything up. It’s all too true. There are public records so check it out yourself. If you can afford to buy a property and just sit on it for years, you’re wealthy; and if you’ve accepted tax rebates for your empty property or public money in any form for renovations, you’re greedy. It’s quite straightforward.

Walter L. Luedtke

Now who are the “greedy, wealthy, out-of-town” landlords?
Do you have names or are they just fig leafs of imagination?
And rather than throwing around insults, do this!
“If you have witnessed a property in Town that you do not feel meets the standards set in the Property Standards By-law you can fill out a by-law enforcement complaint form and submit it to the Town of Cobourg, Attn: Property Standards Office, 55 King Street West, Cobourg, ON K9A 2M2 or come into our office to complete.”

Tim

Logic is clearly not your strong suit. It has already been established that many of these heritage buildings on King Street are derelict and getting worse by the minute. Many have been unoccupied for decades and therefore, it stands to reason that the electrical wiring and plumbing in these buildings would not pass present day safety regulations. The Property Standards Office in Cobourg should have targeted all of these heritage buildings years ago. They should be regularly inspected and if they’re not up to code, the owners should be fined and required to bring them up to code.
I’m not going name names on this blog but what I have said is true and verifiable. What I don’t understand is why anyone would be interested in defending owners who are letting important heritage properties molder. It’s also mystifying that you condone the use of public funds in the form of grants and interest-free loans (to be repaid in ten years) when the Council itself has admitted that this money can’t solve the problem but they’re hoping it will encourage the recipients to renovate. I often wonder if I live in Cobourg or Chelm?

Walter L. Luedtke

Sighs!

Wally Keeler

the most distinguished buildings in Canada to rot before everybody’s eyes

Really? What would those buildings be? Remember, not the most distinguished in Cobourg, nor in Ontario, but all of Canada.

Tim

The exact quote was:

“some of the most distinguished buildings in Canada”

and I’m referring to the buildings that make up the core of down town Cobourg, mainly west of Division Street. Unfortunately, some of the heritage buildings east of Division have already been dessimated.
And yes, Wally, the Town Council is allowing these heritage buildings to rot before our eyes. Please read what Perplexed has got to say at the top of this blog.

Wally Keeler

Wishy washy. Which particular buildings in the downtown core west of Division are some of the “most distinguished buildings in Canada.” It’s quite a hyperbolic assertion, so I am curious to know what buildings are “most distinguished” in all the thousands of communities in Canada. What distinguishes them from so many others less distinguished. They look like the dime a dozen I see in the downtowns of all towns in Ontario.

perplexed

Tim you Hit the Nail on the Head —- with out Motivation, Enforcement and Teeth , these programs are just a Hand Out or Give away , that by the way have failed time and time again here in Cobourg .
But what can be done when Council has not wanted to move in that direction for some reason .
Aren’t they in fact the problem !

Tim

The only thing that can be done is to send e-mails to each councillor personally demanding that they enforce the laws of this town and fine these property owners for not keeping heritage properties up to every building code on the books; and insisting that any public money that is handed out is only handed out to people who can genuinely establish need and who will turn the upper stories of these buildings into proper apartments for families – one apartment per floor, which is how these floors were originally. If any councillor votes to continue to squander our money on handouts to the well-off, we should vote them out at the next election.
Mayor Gil Brocanier gbrocanier@cobourg.ca
Deputy Mayor John Henderson jhenderson@cobourg.ca
Councillor Suzanne Séguin sseguin@cobourg.ca
Councillor Forrest Rowden frowden@cobourg.ca
Councillor Brian Darling bdarling@cobourg.ca
Councillor Debra McCarthy dmccarthy@cobourg.ca
Councillor Aaron Burchat aburchat@cobourg.ca

Tim

Fines, not handouts!

Tim

Downtown Cobourg is an architectural gem which has been allowed to molder for too many years because our idiot representatives on the Town Council have no imagination and have always been too quick to hand out our money to the wealthy, greedy owners of these empty properties who are sitting on them until they go up in value, which they inevitably will. Why are we handing out more money to these very same people to motivate them to finally renovate these buildings? When does the stupidity end? These are heritage buildings. Our heritage is at stake here and many of these owners aren’t even based in Cobourg and have no interest whatsoever in this town except for the money they can extract from it and they’ve extracted plenty already. Instead of providing grants or interest-free loans to these freeloaders who can well afford to pay for their own renovations, they should be heavily fined for allowing heritage buildings to fall into a state of disrepair. When are the people of Cobourg going to wake up! We have been had and continue to be had. The upper floors of the buildings on King Street have high ceilings and large windows and… Read more »

sandpiper

Now then when do we take that Pro active step and enforce the building & fire codes / standards and eliminate that Vacancy Tax relief upon these down town property owners requiring them to bring these buildings up to Usable and Safe conditions —
for both commercial and residential prospects .
Suggestions and free $$ have not brought about the changes and up grades required to make these buildings
functional or habitable .

Deborah OConnor

Finally the CIP has developed into something useful. In the past I have lived in several downtown upper floor apartments, and as a low-income single parent, these locations were perfect for us. Close to school (in those days) and handy for both shopping (we had two grocery stores downtown then) and Victoria Park close by for the kids to play. Rents were reasonable and because so many apartments had tenants, the downtown was lively with all kinds of people, day and night.

This is a win-win if landlords sign up to make downtown full of residents once more. It’s not just landlords who benefit, it’s tenants too, and all of Cobourg for that matter. If we truly care about our downtown and want to restore it, we have to spend some cash to make it happen. Times change and our thinking needs an upgrade too.

Congratulations to Town Council for doing the creative thinking to come up with this plan, we need to take action that’s positive for all of us.

Walter L. Luedtke

How predictable!
Perpy and Sandy don’t like it one bit. Duby won’t either.
But we are not alone.
“A small change could be a big help for downtown building owners as the City of Oshawa is considering offering grants for electrical work to old buildings in and around the city centre.
The change came As part of a small amendment to the Urban Growth Centre Community Improvement Plan (CIP) that went before council during its recent meeting of the Development Services committee, suggesting the addition of electrical upgrades as as eligible cost for grant funding.
Currently, under the CIP, which includes all of the Downtown Business Improvement Area and some outlying areas, building owners can apply for a number of grants to assist in covering everything from ventilation, heating and plumbing improvements along with the larger Facade and Accessibly Improvement Grant or Increased Assessment Grant.”
http://oshawaexpress.ca/city-looking-to-improve-aid-for-downtown-renos

Frenchy

Well, if it’s good enough for “The Shwa”, it’s good enough for us.

sandpiper

We have been saving Cobourg for about 15 years now under the present thought process and 20 yrs before that
and its Not Working ! There are more empty stores now than ever before . There has been some jockeying about by the same old tenants in search of cheaper rents and a few more have left town one way or the other .
But what is left to save Summervilles is the only one that comes to mind .
and very little original architecture

perplexed

Time to Move on — this program is nothing new ( Just a different name ) to down town Cobourg I believe this is the 3rd time a program like this has been available in Cobourg since I came to town 40 yrs ago.

The only difference is Cobourg society and the methodology of has not changed , and like every thing else in Cobourg we are Heritage Thinkers and our ideas on Retail and Tourism has failed to keep apace with society
its wants and local needs .
Not only are many of the shops in deplorable condition but just take a look at our Public parking lots
they are worse than many Barn Yards I have never seen so many Giant Pot Holes and mud in any other town .
Step out of your car and your up to your ankles . This is not a fair weather or summer time deal if you want
us down town

Old Sailor

One of the problems facing owners of buildings with “heritage” doors or windows that need replacing is finding anyone within Northumberland or Durham counties who can quote on that work. The suppliers either don’t exist or the few that do are backlogged over a year.

Cobourg used to have a “heritage” supplier list on its website but it was very out of date. Many suppliers no longer existed or offered “heritage” type work. Just try and find a wooden door manufacturer. You will have to go to a GTA door manufacturer and pay a small fortune.

The CIP program is a good idea which is need of suppliers to complete the picture.

Bozy

What a joke, where do I apply as a private home owner to fix up my property! You own it you fix it!

Bill Clinton

Ah yes but these aren’t private homes on some random street. This is the heart of Cobourg we’re talking about here. To do absolutely nothing would be a travesty. I’m sure like anything else there will be the odd landlord that plays the system but what can you do? Downtown Cobourg is worth saving.

cornbread

In my opinion, let the downtown go to hell in a handbasket without the aid of my tax dollars and everyone else’s taxes. As soon as the downtown owners have nothing of value left of their current investment, they will sell out cheap to people who will make something out of it.