Downtown Vitalization update – April 2018

Carol McCann
Carol McCann

At the meeting next Monday of Cobourg Council, Carol McCann of the Downtown Coalition Advisory Committee will be presenting a progress report on how their efforts are improving Cobourg’s Downtown. The first thing to know is that “Downtown” is much bigger than just King Street – it includes the area from Lake Ontario north to James Street, East to Church/College and West to approx. Ball/Durham.  The mandate of the committee is quite broad and they are in fact making progress albeit slowly.  We know that because they are counting open businesses and documenting things that have changed.  They have also started to count pedestrian traffic which helps in the understanding of the impact of “events”.  For example, the Rib Fest has virtually no impact on downtown pedestrian traffic.

Mandate and Project Overview

The Downtown Coalition Advisory Committee projects include:

  • Downtown Master Plan (DMP) (Download a copy here) & Community Improvement Plan (CIP) – completed 2016
  • Town Tourism Assets Study – completed 2015 (Post on this here)
  • Venture Initiative (CIVIC) (on hold since 2016 pending review of CIP success)
    • Post Secondary Institution to DT, (Not feasible)
    • Municipal Business Certification, (Not feasible)
    • Town Redevelopment of a DT Building, (Not feasible)
  • Victoria Hall Square  – On Hold pending funding (Details here)
  • Signage and Property Enhancements – in 2018 budget
  • Municipal Culture Plan – to be addressed in 2018
  • Downtown Marketing – Approved by Council October 2017 – to be completed 2018
  • Vacant Building Utilization *
  • Building Renewal *

* New in 2017

The Coalition created graphics of a number of their measurements (see below) but also tabulated key metrics from 2013 to 2017.  These include vacancy tax rebates, CIP payments, number of businesses and employees, tax revenue from commercial properties and residential statistics.  Not all are complete but the idea of making these measurements is good.  The full presentation is available from a link below.

Below are highlights of the Presentation – click any image to enlarge and watch slide show of them all.

Links

Download full presentation

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Click to Notify me of
Wally Keeler

Tell the CTA to come out into the open, into the sunshine, the best disinfectant of all.

Rusty Brown

This is the first use of the term CTA on this page. None of the remaining 29 occurrences define what CTA stands for. Of course it doesn’t matter if it’s just a small group of insiders here talking to each other and no one else.

Walter L. Luedtke

Google it!

Dubious

CTA = Cobourg Taxpayers Association
For their website see http://www.cobourgtaxpayers.ca/
Signup for their free newsletter to learn more about what Wally and Walter hate!

Bill Thompson

For all the CTA doubters….Have you ever considered going to one of their meetings and find out for yourself what /who it’s all about ?
Of course it’s more enjoyable and preferred to just pontificate from a keyboard and repeat ,repeat the same old lines without getting involved.
Try it sometime to get a first hand live perspective …you might be surprised .

Walter L. Luedtke

Cobourg is not alone!
This from the Manchester Guardian about Britain’s ‘high streets’.
“It is not just about shoppers preferring to buy online – although 20% of fashion sales, where the pressures are perhaps worst, have now moved to the internet. There’s been a seismic shift in the way we spend our time and money. Social media, leisure, travel, eating out, eating in – using takeaways and delivery services – and technology are all taking time and cash that would once have gone straight to shops.”
Cobourg is still lucky to have such a high percentage of Seniors, who are often uncomfortable with online shopping.

Rusty Brown

A very temporary situation. Seniors-in-training – those who will become official seniors over the next few years – will have no such inhibitions.

perplexed

Tax payers and how much we pay to live down town or close to the water has nothing to do with it even though its nearly double what we might pay in Toronto for a similarly priced property. We would all like to have a Interesting , Vigorous and Clean down town with Paved parking lots and stores with reasonably competitive prices I truly wish there was something to walk through and shop at Daily , But that’s not the Case — The Town with its over staffed and underachieving Economic Development office has failed to deliver that to us in the last 10 years . I see nothing the Tax payers can do , while I have seen a small fortune laid out on studies , ideas and wages on the same thing year after year all For-NOT Every spring we hear about the Revitalization, Marina Expansion , The Beach will Save the Downtown we hired a new front person to lead the charge and another study of some sort has been commissioned Smarten up look to other successful towns our own size and population We are not Kingston or Niagara or Barrie

Wally Keeler

OK, so smarten us up and tell us about the successful towns our own size and population. According to you we are not Kingston or Niagara or Barrie. Name the towns that you think our municipal apparatus should emulate.

Walter L. Luedtke

Leave it Wally!
These birds only know one song – it’s about bloat.
The bloated Parks Department, the bloated Planning Department, the bloated Economic Development Department, the bloated Police Department etc.
In the meantime, we don’t know how skinny their Cobourg Taxpayers Association is.

Wally Keeler

The CTA calls for transparency in government but declines to be transparent to taxpayers. That’s a winner. I’m a Cobourg taxpayer and CTA doesn’t speak for me. Matter of fact, I’ve spoken with many taxpayers, having grown up here, and mostly none of them know about the CTA nor care and the handful who have heard of it, know nothing about its org. If the CTA folks get elected we can be sure that there will be zero transparency from them, reflecting their own policies and procedures. If CTA deliberately refuses to be transparent about itself, then how could any voter expect they would be transparent if one or more of them were elected to office? When the election comes, ask every candidate if they are a CTA member, yes or no.

Fact Checker

Wally, Wally, Wally, your obsession with the CTA is old and long past boring.
The CTA is a private organization, like Rotary, Lions and many other organizations and clubs. and is not accountable to the public and least of all you.
The elected officials on the other hand, have made promises of improved Town government transparency and accountability. Other than the CTA and some similarly engaged citizens, who is holding them to account. Certainly not you Wally.

You mention that you have spoken to many taxpayers. How many? When?
How did you determine that they didn’t know or care about the CTA?.
What questions were they asked?
How were the answers tabulated and analysed?
Is your documentation available for public review?
If some CTA folks were to run for office and get elected, how do you know there would be zero transparency? Did your tea leaves and chicken entrails reveal this to you?

Your issue is fake news: old and boring.
Move on to something relevant and contribute to the solution rather than being part of the problem.

Deborah OConnor

You said “The CTA is a private organization, like Rotary, Lions and many other organizations and clubs. and is not accountable to the public and least of all you”.

Sorry, but you’re wrong. A search of Four Info’s database turned up listings for both the local Rotary and Lion’s Club. Both are non-profits and as such they are most definitely accountable to all of us. In both listings contact information is provided. But, after double checking, I found no listing whatsoever for the Cobourg Taxpayers Association. So they alone are unaccountable – to the public and even to their own membership.

In declining to have their name listed along with the other community organizations the CTC could well be considered not only unaccountable, but deliberately operating in the shadows. No wonder informed residents have no confidence in them and their pronouncements.

Dubious

Wrong again! There is absolutely no requirement for a not-for-profit to be listed in Four Info or any similar database. Unlike Cobourg’s government, not-for-profits are funded privately rather than by our taxes therefore they are not required to be “accountable” to the public. Perhaps you are confusing a not-for-profit with a registered charity.

Fact Checker

Being a non-profit organization does not come with any onus of public accountability. Non-profit is an organizational structure where the organization operates for the benefit of it’s members and in general is tax exempt. Member owned golf/sports clubs, for example are non-profit organization and have no public accountability requirements. The organization may provide information if it’s members decide to do so.
Rotary, Lions and many other organizations are registered charitable organizations which is primarily a tax status having public disclosure requirements but not public accountability. Rotary for example is accountable only to it’s members. Rotary provides certain statute required information as well as other information that the membership has agreed to provide.

You state that the CTA is unaccountable to it’s membership. How do you know this? Are you a CTA member?

You state that the CTA has declined to be listed with other community organizations. On what “list” have they declined to be listed? How do you know they have declined? Were they asked?

Who are the “informed” residents? How many are there?
How have you determined that “informed” residents have no confidence in the CTA?

Wally Keeler

“How have you determined that “informed” residents have no confidence in the CTA?”

What a display of ignorance. Deborah has been an involved activist in this area for as long as I have been a freedom fighter. Her decades of involvement and depth of involvement in this community, and in Northumberland, exceeds my own, so when she says she knows informed residents have little or no confidence in the CTA, it comes from a lifetime of experience.

If you, Fact Checker, had any depth of experience of this community, you would have known that Deb and I, and many many many others, are qualified to assert that there is a wide swath of Cobourg residents that neither know nor care about whatever it is that CTA claims to do on behalf of Cobourg residents.

CTA is as opaque as a bunker. Cobourg taxpayers know that and make of it what they will.

Wally Keeler

Oh fact frack hacker checker: I get it, the CTA is a private person’s rehashed ‘old boy’s club’. Nothing to see here. I never suggested that the CTA SHOULD BE transparent. I was just pointing out that the CTA is profoundly opaque, not transparent. People make of that fact whatever they want. It’s open to speculation. A membership of three? Yep, I spoke with many Cobourg taxpayers that I grew up with in this town. This amounts to 50 years of mixing with Cobourgers, dancing with them, playing games with them, eating with them, making love to some of them, all kinds of life. They are not only the self-regarded elitists who have parachuted into Cobourg the past 10 or 15 years and have often displayed their arrogance towards Cobourg’s council and to many municipal staff. I’ve got five generations of family in this county, and three generations of family in Cobourg. I think my experience of this town goes quite deep, so when I tell you that CTA is not in the consciousness of most Cobourgers I speak from that background and experience. CTA has no relevancy to most Cobourg citizens, and the deep opaqueness of CTA is unhelpful… Read more »

Wally Keeler

Foot traffic in May and June consists largely of the locals, but the noticeable increase of foot traffic in July and August is likely the result of all the tourists. Ribfest neither contributes foot traffic to downtown nor sucks foot traffic away from downtown. That should settle some of the groundless arguments of the anti-tourist ilk. Btw, the tourists that arrive in July August measure a whopping increase of 20,000 individuals per month.

Dubious

And how does this foot traffic from tourists improve the lives of Cobourg’s taxpayers?

Wally Keeler

And how does this foot traffic from tourists harm the lives of whiney Cobourg taxpayers?

Dubious

We waste a fortune on studying how to increase it!

Wally Keeler

Good, lets increase the 40,000 per summer to 60, 80,000 tourists, and perhaps add 20,000 to June and September. And tourists can bring their money with them and spend it downtown, or spend it in the park, or spend it at the fuel stations or fooding up at Walk-Mart, or renting a room, not to mention, the valuable networking opportunities for Cobourg’s young people. Hardly a waste; more like a good investment.

Fortune“? WOW! I didn’t know it was a fortune being wasted. Is Cobourg spending a couple million? That would be regarded as less than a fortune these days. So what do you mean by this bloated claim of a wasted fortune?

Dubious

Perhaps a “couple of million” dollars isn’t significant to you but it is to many of the rest of us. Why should tax payers spend a cent to promote a gas station? Enhanced “networking opportunities” is a bit of a stretch. Just admit it: tourists are not a good thing for Cobourg!

Wally Keeler

What is a fortune? Methinks that you consider 2 dollars a fortune. You claim a fortune is wasted but no facts nor figures, just an empty bellows and bloated claims.

Wally Keeler

A little over a decade ago, I was the chair of the finance committee and the capital planning committee for a co-op housing development in downtown Toronto which had a budget of one million. It’s likely increased since then. But that is a co-op not a municipality of roughly 20,000. That is to provide a sense of proportion. So again, what constitutes a fortune that gets your knickers in such a pathetic knot?

Frenchy

What has your imaginary neighbourhood and it’s million dollar (maybe even more by now…. what?) budget got to do with this argument?
If some of that “fortune” of two million dollars (your imaginary figure pulled out of your air) contained some of your hard earned money in the form of taxes, you might care a little.

Wally Keeler

Nothing imaginary about it. https://co-ophousingtoronto.coop/alexandra-park-co-op/ So quit making up fake news about me.

Dubious

Very impressive. You were able to locate the website for a coop in Toronto but I don’t see any mention of your importance in its operation. Transparency please Wally!

Stewey

I completely agree John — this is a waste of time and space.

perplexed

The foot traffic count is partially increasing due to the Poor and Lack of Parking especially in the winter that just past , Even the Banks and Employees admit to the lack of parking and require more some banks have no parking ie TD I find myself having to walk farther as its faster in many cases than trying to find parking close to where I need to go . Tough for an aging population , I was hoping that some one would post a chart as to the number of businesses that have opened and closed / gone out of business in the down town over the last 5 to 10 years Devastating I bet . These are numbers that the Economic Development office has refused to release or share in the past I believe if we were to reach out to all these people – Entrepreneurs that left we would hear comments as to the real reasons of business failure that the Town won’t acknowledge . This would both be eye opening but use full WE can Learn from other peoples hard ships and past mistakes or failures as the case may be . I have made many… Read more »

Rusty Brown

I can well believe that operating a small business in downtown Cobourg is very similar to the situation of the farmer who, when asked what he would do if he won a million dollars in the lottery, said he would probably just keep on operating the farm until the million was all gone.