Changes recommended for Advisory committees

With a new Council in place, Town Clerk Brent Larmer has reviewed the number and roles of the Advisory committees and recommended changes.  Most are unchanged except for minor changes in their jobs but Brent recommends dissolution of the Economic Development Advisory Committee and splitting the Environmental/Active Transportation Advisory Committee into two: a Transportation Advisory Committee and an Environmental and Climate Change Advisory Committee. Brent says that the Economic Development Advisory Committee dealt mostly with Municipal Staff updates – that implies that citizens were not actually contributing but just listening to reports from staff.  The now dead CIVIC project aimed at downtown vitalization came from this committee as did most of the other Vitalization initiatives and although it’s hard to see a lot of success from them, this work is now mostly handled by the Downtown Coalition.

Brent Larmer
Brent Larmer

Another change is that the word “sustainability” will be removed from the name of the Planning and Sustainability Advisory Committee since sustainability really concerns all committees and not just planning.

The other committees were also reviewed and Brent notes that their roles might be changed when the Council completes their Strategic Plan Review on February 12 and 13.  Therefore although Brent’s report will be given at the C.O.W. meeting on January 28, he suggests waiting a few weeks before making final changes.

He also points out that the current work being done on a Cultural Master Plan could well result in the need for a new committee: a Community Arts and Culture Advisory Committee.

A practical matter is that there seems to be a problem recruiting members for the Public Library board – there are currently 7 vacancies so perhaps the specified number should be reduced.

Here is a full list of current committees

Advisory Committees:

  • Accessibility Advisory Committee;
  • Economic Development Advisory Committee – dissolution recommended
  • Environmental and Active Transportation Advisory Committee – to be split into two.
  • Cobourg Heritage Advisory Committee;
  • Planning and Sustainability Advisory Committee; to be renamed
  • Parks and Recreation Advisory Committee;  and
  • Cobourg Downtown Coalition Advisory Committee

Quasi-Judicial Committees:

  • Committee of Adjustment; and
  • Property Standards Advisory Committee

Local Boards/Legislative:

  • Cobourg Police Services Board;
  • Cobourg Library Board; and
  • Downtown Business Improvement Area Board of Management

If you are interested in joining one of the Committees or Boards, you should know that:

The role of an advisory committee is to provide recommendations, advice and information to the Municipal Council on those specialized matters which relate to the purpose of the advisory committee, to facilitate public input to Municipal Council on programs and ideas and to assist in enhancing the quality of life of the community, in keeping with the Municipal Council’s Strategic Plan principles.

You can get information on applying to join at this page on the Town’s web site.

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Walter L. Luedtke

Last year, Cobourg received $589,848 in funding from Ottawa.
This money was part of the first of two $408-million annual installments of the federal Gas Tax Fund (GTF) to Ontario. In total, the province got over $819 million.
Cobourg qualifies for the funding simply through having an Official Plan. But the expectations are that Cobourg “…demonstrates through its existing planning instruments and processes or through the creation of new planning documents that the municipality has:
– A coordinated approach to community sustainability (e.g., linkages of various plans, planning and financial tools that contribute to sustainability objectives);
– Reflected and integrated social, cultural, environmental and economic sustainability [the “four pillars”] objectives in community planning;
– Collaborated with other municipalities where appropriate to achieve sustainability objectives; and,
– Engaged residents in determining a long-term vision for the municipality.”
Good to see Cobourg moving forward here!

manfred s

“Brent says that the Economic Development Advisory Committee dealt mostly with Municipal Staff updates – that implies that citizens were not actually contributing but just listening to reports from staff.” If that’s the case, what has taken multiple terms of Council and perhaps a half dozen Deputy Mayors so long to deal with it? Funnily enough, this Committee has been under the stewardship and the domain of Mayors past and if it is as useless as Mr. Larmer implies, according to John’s take on it, why up to now has not one of them made any change to address that issue? I refer in particular to both Mayors Brocanier and Delanty who each had two terms to address that shortcoming. After all, their campaigns were heavy on ‘economic development’ priorities, if you go back and review them. Even our current Mayor had the opportunity to revise the committee and its mandate but chose to accept its status quo. Not a ringing endorsement for him either.

Walter L. Luedtke

How surpassing strange!
There are 7 vacancies on the Library Board, but last year some CTA folks involved the town in a costly Ombudsman affair just to be able to attend a board meeting.
Could it be that some boards are sexier than others and afford more opportunities for public grandstanding?
Or that the routine of board work is less fulfilling than pursuing the cause du jour to advance a political agenda?

Frenchy

Be careful sleeping tonight Walter, the CTA Bogeyman might be under your bed.

manfred s

more clutter, Frenchy, and to what end?

Frenchy

Clutter is your pal Walter blaming everything except the price of eggs on the CTA and posting that here. Pick a topic.

Walter L. Luedtke

Actually there is some good news for the hens that lay the eggs: “Canadian egg farmers to abandon battery cages by 2036.” Yay!

Miriam Mutton

Frenchy, that is one very impressive dust bunny! On the topic above, seems to me that planning and sustainability belong together. The right types of people (knowledgeable, community minded, understand development, etc.) tend to gravitate to such a committee. I am concerned about the addition of the word ‘development’ to the committee name. Planning is much more than reviewing and processing development applications and it also concerns me that the Planning Advisory Committee would meet only as required. Best way to lose good volunteers is not meeting regularly. True that sustainability refers to many aspects of local governance and administration. I always felt, though, that town planning had to become the lead department as the town grew As I mentioned to a friend recently, this term of Council is critical in setting the tone for our community and its future growth. We can grow and spread out like the GTA to the west of us or we turn and face the GTA and say, ‘you are welcome to invest here and this is what we want our community to be’. A single, first shot across the proverbial bow happened last term of Council when then DM Henderson put a successful… Read more »

Stewey

“Sustainability” certainly touches everything associated with the Town, the business community and its residents. Mr. Larmer’s report rightly incorporates sustainability into each and every Committee’s mandate — Heritage, Parks, Planning, Accessibility, and presumably the new Transportation and Arts/Culture Cttees — not exclusively Planning but it does make sense that the Committee whose mandate would focus on sustainability, GHG, climate change and similar environmental issues would be an “Environmental and Climate Change Advisory Committee”. Your reference, maybe deliberately or not, to “Planning Advisory Committee” seems bang on — an advisory committee with a mandate to address broad planning matters in the Town — which will no doubt look as much at sustainability as it will affordable housing, protection of natural features, heritage, transportation and, of course, development. I believe “Planning Advisory Committee” was actually the name of the committee before “Sustainability” was added a few years ago, so this might be a simple fix back to what once was.

manfred s

“… this term of Council is critical in setting the tone for our community and its future growth.” Miriam, I’m inclined to see every term of Council as a critical one in the process of setting out the path through the future for our community, not just this one. Every new Council brings it’s own vision of what is ideal, what’s acceptable and even what’s to be avoided, given the general momentum in municipal planning prevelant during its particular time. Resisting unfamiliar and maybe uncomfortable trends that challenge established thinking in small-town growth patterns may have its place but should not be the only end game. If Cobourg is serious about being “open for business” it also needs to be open to radical changes that come with that pursuit. If we want to attract more, much more business, we also have to provide an environment that spells it out with diverse and accommodating infrastructure. After all, there was a time that Cobourg had no multi-storey appartment buildings, never mind 6 storey ones.

Miriam Mutton

Manfred, I do not disagree with you.The problem as I see it is that what we tend to get is more of the same style of urban sprawl when ‘greenfield’ land is cheap and plentiful. Good planning principles that should prevail and can be often found in reports and studies, like those referenced by Walter, can be lost or diminished in value in day to day pressures of decision-making.

I have worked as a consultant on development projects in municipalities across southern Ontario as well as having been involved as a citizen advocate in local planning matters since the 1990s. I stand by my statement that this term of Cobourg Council is critical in setting the tone for our community and its future growth. Not all growth ensures sustainability and a healthy society. I also believe that good planning is indeed familiar, not unfamiliar, because as curious humans we are open to discovery and instinctively know what we like and feels good. And, the new businesses I have seen in town often have younger people at the helm and they can be operating with new ideas, like a group of independent contractors or sole-proprietors working cooperatively at one business location.