At the regular council meeting on Monday, John Lee and Patrick Bonneville made two presentations that showed that although there are many closed stores on King Street and many in bad repair, the ones that his company Phoenix Genesis have been involved with were in much better shape. They also pointed to Condo developments they had done. He made a number of suggestions on how the Downtown could be vitalized and also made accusations that the Town was biased and unhelpful in his dealings with them. Along the way, John clashed with Mayor Gil Brocanier and seemed to not make any friends on Council. He also quoted Cobourg Blog News as saying that Gil said that he “would hold his feet to the fire” on something.
In a Council report on June 20, 2016, there was a mention of a Heritage permit that they had applied for and the report included the comment: “Gil Brocanier made sure that the timelines to implement the work were strict – he was concerned that it might never happen.” If there was any other comment made, this blog did not report it.
The suggestions made were radical and controversial and were these:
- Downtown needs unique stores
- We need to think big.
- The Town should sell Lakefront Utilities and Northam Industrial park. This would net $120M (see Gil’s comment on this below)
- The CCC should be sold to a private company – this might incur a loss but it would be easily covered by the $120M above.
- Use the money to revamp downtown
- Extend DBIA to cover all of Cobourg
- Stop RibFest or at least insist it be held outside summer peak season – it drains downtown businesses.
- The Economic Development Officer should get out and see other towns.
- Council failed to support Phoenix Genesis projects
- Economic Development has not helped Downtown vitalization
- It was a bad move to allow the LCBO to move to the Mall (that is, set up an additional store there). The Downtown LCBO was an anchor but is now moving out. (See Gil’s refuting of this below)
- Shoppers should never have been allowed – the architecture is not heritage
- Parking is poor and installing meters was a mistake
- Cobourg is now almost a lame duck
- Former Economic Development officer told him to “get out of Town”
- There is too much red tape when he tries to do Heritage work.
- The Town is biased against him – he wants help not hindrance
- There is not a level playing field.
Response from Mayor Gil Brocanier
- Gil said that just this morning (Monday morning) the LCBO told him that they had no intention of moving out of Town. Gil had two witnesses to this statement and he asked John for proof of his contention that the LCBO were moving. John’s response seemed to be that he had concluded that the move would happen based on their actions.
- The $120M that John said was to be had for the sale of Lakefront Utilities and Northam park included $70M for Lakefront. Gil said that in fact, the valuation was way off. It was much less.
John Lee has made several presentations to Council on the subject of Heritage permits. He objects to the Town’s requirement that he get an independent Heritage Impact Assessment study (e.g. if he wants to install new windows at the jail) when between him and the Town staff there is sufficient Heritage knowledge. In a recent presentation, he estimated that these cost about $8,000 and five of these would be $40,000.
Addendum – Clarification from Glenn McGlashon – 24 March 2018
The Cultural Heritage Impact Assessment (CHIA) that is required by the Town specifically relates to the development of the proposed 14-15 residential unit condominium project to be located within the compound surrounding the former Jail manor house, known as Heritage Harbour condo. The CHIA was imposed as a condition of the Heritage Permit granted by Council in June of 2016, with the advice and recommendation of the Cobourg Heritage Committee (CHC), and is designed to ensure that the proposed alterations associated with the development appropriately integrate with and conserve the existing heritage resources on the property (ie. no negative impact on the heritage attributes of the historic Jail manor house), and to demonstrate that the proposed alterations will not impact the surrounding heritage district, including Victoria Hall (a heritage resource of national and provincial significance). The requirement for a CHIA is in accordance with Provincial policies and legislation (Planning Act, Heritage Act, Provincial Policy Statement), as well as the Cobourg Official Plan, Heritage Master Plan and Heritage Conservation District Plan and By-laws as part of the proposed infill development of this heritage-designated site — the CHIA is not required for the installation of windows and replacement of verandah roofs (a Heritage Permit has already been issued for these smaller, incremental improvements that are more reflective of ongoing maintenance and stewardship of the resource than intensive development).
The onus is on the developer/proponent to submit the requisite documentation with the use of qualified experts in the field, typically those recognized by the Canadian Association of Heritage Professionals, for review by municipal heritage planning staff before making a recommendation to the CHC and Council. It is not the role of municipal staff or the CHC to undertake the work on behalf of the proponent.
Council has approved a Downtown CIP grant equal to $2,500, or approx. 25-30%, of the cost of the CHIA for Heritage Harbour condo, however the grant will not be issued unless Mr. Lee undertakes the CHIA. If Mr. Lee is not satisfied with Council’s or municipal staff’s position on the CHIA, he has the right to appeal to the Provincial planning appeal tribunal for a ruling shortly after making an application for Site Plan Approval.
Glenn J. McGlashon, MCIP, RPP
Director – Planning & Development Division
The Corporation of the Town of Cobourg
55 King Street West, Victoria Hall
Cobourg ON K9A 2M2
(905)372-1005, ext. 4450
- John Lee and Patrick Bonneville Presentations
- John Lee at Council Meeting May 2017