Town accused of not listening

In a last ditch attempt to stop the approval of the conversion of 394 College to 5 apartments, Emily Chorley made a presentation to Council tonight that accused Council of not listening and of not following proper procedure.  Emily represents the residents on College street and you have to give her credit for persistence and not giving up.  Her presentation was organized and systematic with specific concerns about how the zoning and site plan approval has been done.  She said that 92 local residents did not receive notification of the project, that there were external changes even though it was said there would be none and that they were foreseeable and that none of the suggestions or requests for concessions by residents were listened to since none were implemented.

Emily Chorley
Emily Chorley

She said that the Council was giving preferential treatment to the developer and that the Integrity commissioner was preparing a report with the implication that his report was about this issue.  She asked that the decision be delayed until after this report was received.

Emily made these recommendations

  1. That the Town review their practices in approving developments – she said she is losing faith in the Town
  2. That Council automatically seek Heritage committee approval for projects in a Heritage District
  3. Per above, that Council defer approval on this project until after the Integrity commissioner has reported.

Glenn McGlashon conceded that a large number of Condo Residents had not been included on the mailing list and blamed it on a glitch in the GIS system.  But he said that the newspaper notice in Northumberland Today met the requirements of the Planning Act and that mailings were something that the Town tried to do but were not legally required.  This was confirmed by the Town’s solicitor.  He said that the GIS glitch has been fixed.

In response to Emily’s presentation, Jason Schmidt, of Schmidt Law Legal Services defended the process and said that all Heritage guidelines had been followed.

There were three minor changes to the building that Emily said should have been made public but were not until after the fact.  These were a window in a basement door that was enlarged, another window that was enlarged and a balcony that needed repair.  Glenn said that these were minor, that minor changes always occurred and were to be expected and that they were minor enough that staff could decide if they were acceptable.  The changes were required by the Building code and maintained the Heritage look of the building.

When it came to a vote, Council unanimously approved the development.

Links

Earlier posts on this topic.

Update

The following link shows what the apartments look like:

https://www.hgtv.ca/home-tours/photos/you-wont-believe-how-this-once-empty-heritage-home-was-transformed-1920524/ 

 

Click to Notify me of
Ancient wisedom

How can one find out what the town’s legal obligation is when it effects changes to existing buildings? Are they required to post changes or to inform neighbourhoods of said changes?

Walter Luedtke

“I wonder what it would take for a local unknown candidate to be elected Mayor in this town…..fresh thinking, new ideas…”
Low pay for municipal politicians make local politics a hobby for retirees.
Perhaps we need younger, ambitious women and men who think of being Mayor as the beginning of a political career, rather than its end.
IMHO anyway.

Ewok

I agree Walter! The structure, timing of meetings, etc… seems to default to retirees vs. younger, employed people….

Meg

It appears that, on numerous occasions last Summer/Fall, Council listened to both sides of the story, sought advice, debated the issue and made a decision to accept the zoning change. The did not deny anyone a chance to provide input, but not agreeing does not mean they were not listening. Not asking questions does not mean they ignored someone or that the issue was unimportant. The decision was made, yet it seems the issue is being re-tried all over again. The bus has left the station…

Ewok

I wonder what it would take for a local unknown candidate to be elected Mayor in this town…..fresh thinking, new ideas….

Ben

“She said that 92 local residents did not receive notification of the project, that there were external changes even though it was said there would be none and that they were foreseeable and that none of the suggestions or requests for concessions by residents were listened to since none were implemented.”

Interesting point. In this long process and considerable public consultation Council has proudly trumpeted that process and presumably think they are good listeners. They may think that but good listening means that some of what is said should be reflected in their answers. In this case because not one of the suggestions from an intelligent and credible objector was taken up I would say Council failed the test. To add insult to injury in Ms Chorley’s final presentation not one councillor credited her with adding to the local democratic scene. In fact they gave the “Cobourg Cheer” – “Any questions of the presenter?” asked the Mayor. Not one councillor responded; they might as well of told her to take a flying jump!!

Walter Luedtke

What would the ‘local democratic scene’ be? Please explain.

Ben

Walter, at the moment it is only an abstract concept for as we see seven councillors intent on minding the business of the Town appearing to give lip service to public participation e.g extensive Marina consultation only to end up with the top two priorities being those of Staff and Council as opposed to the public choices, another example is this one – a member of the public chasing council to adopt at least one suggestion from the Council.

A local democratic scene would be one where members of the public felt comfortable, whatever their opinions are appearing before Council and being encouraged to be there. Ms Chorley was not wanted at Council and it showed.

Cobourg Person

How was it demonstrated that Ms.Chorley was not wanted at Council? Council listened to concerns from both parties (twice), completed further studies, and made a decision. I consider that to be quite democratic, and demonstrates Council’s willingness to listen to the residents of Cobourg.

I agree with Maureen Holloway, the process is not flawed because Council did not agree with Ms.Chorley.

Dubious

A reader of Cobourg Person’s posting might easily conclude that because “Council listened to concerns from both parties (twice)” Councillors were making a particular effort to understand Ms. Chorley’s concerns. Not so. The Council’s approved procedures require that they allow anyone who applies, using the correct form, to present a delegation. The fact that no Councillor asked a question of Ms. Chorley is proof that none considered her issues to be important.

Kath

This issue has received plenty of due process. I was impressed with how much time the Council gave this issue. They listened to the concerns, completed further studies, and made a fair decision. The world has enough serious problems that should put this very minor matter into perspective for the residents of College Street.

Dubious

Yes, the world has many serious problems. However, I don’t think that the trivial matter of a Peewee hockey team approaches the importance of preserving Cobourg’s heritage districts. Obviously His Worship disagrees…

Walter Luedtke

To ‘listen’ or not to ‘listen’.
One meaning of ‘listen’ is to ‘hear attentively, give consideration’.
That Council did – twice!
Another meaning of ‘listen’ now seems to be to ‘heed, accommodate, give in’ or even to ‘cave in’.
That Council did not do and rightly so!

Ben

How about conceding that the objectors had even one little point that made a difference.

How about taking up the suggestion that a sign be put up announcing a rezoning change is being considered – other place make this mandatory.

These two suggestions might demonstrate commitment to the listening process but certainly not caving in.

Bill Thompson

If we’re into semantics there is sending and receiving in the communication process .
Hearing but not listening to what is being said may be playing a major role in this case.
Filters in play perhaps ?

Maureen Holloway

This College Street resident is not behind Emily Chorley. Nor are my immediate neighbours within a stone’s throw of 394. It is time for her to accept that change is going to happen and let the work begin. Her arguments now are going to create lingering discontent. There is a process and not getting your way is not proof that the process is flawed.