August 12 Council Meeting

Presumably to reduce summer workload for Councillors and Town Staff, in each of July and August, only one day is set aside to have council meetings.  So on August 12, there were two meetings back to back: a Committee of the Whole meeting and a Regular meeting.  As you might expect a good number of decisions were made – this News blog has already reported on some of these but there are more.  Already reported are 1) acceptance for review of the Coast Guard’s Site plan for a new building; 2) a decision to reimburse William Street brewery for over-charging by LUSI; 3) the publication of the Work Plan to accomplish the Strategic Plan (more on this below) and 4) approval of extending the lease for Dressler House to the Marie Dressler Foundation to accommodate an expanded Museum.

Committee of the Whole – August 12

Leaking of Confidential Information from Council closed sessions

John Henderson
John Henderson

John Henderson (file photo above right) and the CAO said that they have reason to believe that Closed Session Information and in-camera discussions are being shared outside of closed sessions.  Therefore he asked for a motion for Council to authorize a “fulsome investigation be initiated on the June 3, 2019 Closed Session of Council by the Town’s Integrity Commissioner to determine the source or sources of the breach of trust and the disclosed Closed Session information, and that those findings as well as recommendations for penalties if warranted of the offender(s) be shared, with Council as well as the Public.”;

But Councillor Emily Chorley said she “had no reason to believe there was any leakage of confidential information and in my opinion, this motion was a disproportionate response to an unsubstantiated claim that unnecessarily damages the reputation of the Town and divides the council and infringes upon the independence of the integrity commissioner – it’s his job to decide if any investigation is warranted.  This motion does not follow the complaints process outlined in sections 8 and 10 of our code of conduct and it actually endangers our accountability mechanism by commandeering and misusing that process.  For these reasons I will not be supporting this motion”;.

Councillor Adam Bureau supported Emily and said that since joining Council  he has learned that each Councillor “has Cobourg’s best interest at heart”;.  He pointed out that the Mayor’s message has been received but an investigation is not warranted.

But Councillor Brian Darling said that he believed that some information had leaked out so supported the motion.

When a vote was called, it was supported by John Henderson, Brian Darling and Aaron Burchat.  The other four opposed so the motion was lost.

Motion to ban expansion of boat slips on West Pier

Deputy Mayor Suzanne Séguin moved that “no expansion of boat slips at the Cobourg marina will be considered during this term of Council and the natural environment of the West Harbour will be safeguarded and protected.”;

Suzanne said she has reason to believe that staff are still considering “portions of this on an ongoing basis … so this is to re-enforce what we have discussed”;.

Councillors expressed concern that the restriction might stop other acceptable changes like those needed because of flooding but John Henderson pointed out that the wording was identical to that in the already approved Strategic Plan.

The vote to approve the motion was unanimous.

Work Plan to accomplish Strategic Plan

The CAO report included a large amount of information (see Cobourg News Blog report here), a short time was provided for review and some items are missing.  Because of these issues and with a change of leadership (CAO leaving), this was referred to the Sept 23 Committee of the Whole meeting with the request for a revised plan to be submitted.

East Village Phase 5 Site Plan

This was the subject of a public meeting and there was some discussion on details of the plan.  The project was referred to the Accessibility Advisory Committee and the Sustainability and Climate Change Advisory Committee.  The project was accepted by Council with the inclusion of their recommendations although these recommendations are not mandatory since standards are governed by Provincial legislation.

Regular Council Meeting

In the following Regular Council meeting, motions passed at the C.O.W. were confirmed (with no surprises) but there were a couple of items of interest in the “coordinators”; reports:

  1. Deputy Mayor Suzanne Séguin announced the schedule for developing and approving the 2020 budget.  The date for the meeting for public input is tentatively set for September 16 (more info here. ) The target for the resulting tax increase is 1.9%  Suzanne said she wants the focus to be on projects that may not be exciting but that have not yet been done but should be.  She also re-assured us all that the Provincial download of expenses that is causing concern at the County is not a problem for the Town. Budget presentations from staff to Council will take place between November 15 to November 29 – these will be open to the public.  The results will be published no later than December 6 with a full public Council review during the week of January 13, 2020 and final approval before the end of January 2020.
  2. Councillor Nicole Beatty gave a notice of Motion to reconsider increasing Councillor salaries at the next available agenda (September 9, Regular Council meeting).  The proposed salaries would be as listed in the failed motion on 21 May 2019 (see links below). This passed with Councillor Darling against.

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8 Comments
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Frenchy
17 August 2019 9:07 am

That was quite a rigorous opposition displayed by Councillor Chorley to the motion regarding leaked information coming out of a close session.
disproportionate • unsubstantiated • unnecessarily • infringes • endangers • commandeering • misusing…

Cobourg Person
Reply to  Frenchy
17 August 2019 9:48 am

I also find it interesting that both Councillor Chorley and Deputy Mayor Seguin abstained from voting on July 3rd when this issue was first discussed. However they felt it was appropriate to vote on the issue on August 12th.

Further, the fact that the vote was split 4/3 indicates a divide within council.

Councillor Chorley preaches transparency and accountability. I presume that only applies to Town staff and not Council.

Ken Strauss
16 August 2019 4:33 pm

The target for the resulting tax increase is 1.9% Suzanne said she wants the focus to be on projects that may not be exciting but that have not yet been done but should be.

It that a 1.9% increase in the levy (total Cobourg taxes collected) or 1.9% more collected after including assessment growth?

Ken Strauss
Reply to  John Draper
16 August 2019 5:04 pm

It is far clearer to state a tax increase as the change in levy rather than confusing things by including changes in assessment. Perhaps Suzanne would be willing to clarify.

Suzanne Seguin
Reply to  Ken Strauss
17 August 2019 9:44 am

Hi Ken, My hope for the 2020 budget deliberations is 1.9% after growth. However, at this time we do not know the anticipated percentage of growth for 2019 so if the final increase to the levy is 1.9% that is close to the cost of living rate.

Cobourg Person
Reply to  Suzanne Seguin
17 August 2019 9:50 am

When will citizens receive an update on the 2019 actual compared to budget? There has only been one update and details were minimal.

Suzanne Seguin
Reply to  Cobourg Person
17 August 2019 12:02 pm

Second quarter financials should be ready for Council and the public to review by the September 3rd COW meeting.