As evidenced by the extensive consultation planned, Mayor John Henderson and other councillors seem determined to engage with citizens on where they should go in the next 4 years. The Strategic plan will define what they hope to accomplish and up until the weekend, there were already 35 written submissions from citizens. By the time of tonight’s Public meeting, there were two more and there were seven verbal presentations at the meeting – but only about 20 in the gallery. Although Council is engaging a lot more than previous councils, it seems to not be enough – as well as the usual criticisms of specific plans, the process was also under fire. Ted Williams, Dennis Nabieszko and Keith Oliver (and arguably Lydia Smith) all said that instead of the process starting with Staff and Council, input from citizens should happen first and then a plan should be developed based on that.
However, the other comments were mostly about specific priorities listed in the Strategic Plan. During the meeting, John Henderson made it clear that further comments would be accepted – just email them to Brent Larmer. The next meeting will be a Committee of the Whole with delegations on the plan accepted. That will also be the first chance for citizen suggestions to be implemented – there was no discussion tonight.
Additional written submissions
Summaries – for the other 35, see previous post here.
- Ken Strauss – there is no mention of the Urban Forest Plan and little mention of the Waterfront Master Plan except to add slips in the west harbour which is probably its most contentious recommendation. Why waste tax monies on plans that are then ignored?
- Miriam Mutton
- a detailed critique of wording is given;
- the focus of the pillars appears to be social services and cultural experiences – where would essential infrastructure and services like delivery of potable water fit in?
- Financial performance of departments needs to be reviewed in context of deliverables, like foundation of essential services.
Summaries listed in order of presentation – as above, click on the name of the presenter to access a full copy of their speaking notes – where available. Note that all speakers were representing themselves and not any organization.
- In 2016 the average Canadian family earned $83,105 and paid $35,283 in total taxes
- In the years from 2010 to 2017 Cobourg’s spending increased by almost 30% while the average hourly wage for Canadians increased by less than 17%. This is not sustainable!
- The Town should provide an annual report detailing current borrowing and the balances of all reserve funds together with changes in these amounts and asks that the Town of Cobourg find ways to maintain essential and core services at their current levels while approving no increases in annual operating expenditures during the remainder of this term of Council.
- I am encouraged with this new Council focusing on public engagement and I am still concerned that even with extensive public engagement, citizens still feel that they are not being listened to and feel a distrust with public engagement.
- The Strategic Plan has been brought to the public only after Council has put their stamp on it. It is now extremely difficult for us, the public, to add any feedback without appearing to criticize the hard work that Council has put into it.
- The waterfront plan was another example where citizens did not feel they were properly heard. After the final Waterfront report was issued and came before Council, there were still twelve delegations criticizing the report and asking for a delay because they felt the public had not been heard.
- It is time for Council to move beyond “public engagement” to “collaborating with citizens” and to do so at the beginning of the process and not near the end.
- Thanked Council for inviting the public to participate in the Strategic Plan. It shows our new Council is listening to the people and actively encouraging a culture of participation and collaboration.
- Trust and confidence in Town processes can be achieved by making Back to Basics a priority.
- Example #1 – Cobourg Community Centre. I love the CCC but I wasn’t told it was going to cost over $1 Million per year to run it. It was originally a glowing vision – “a gift to the people of Cobourg”. The reality is quite different – the Council of the day rushed into this project. They didn’t keep their promise to seniors either. Because they didn’t listen to their seniors – Cobourg ended up with 170 seniors who refuse to use the CCC and – in fact – actively compete with it by successfully running their own Encore Club at St. Peter’s. A Back to Basics attitude might have resulted in:
- a more thorough business case up front
- an analysis at the end of lessons learned
- an incorporation of lessons learned into town methodology that would result in a culture of continuous improvement
- Example #2 the East Pier. I miss so much being able to drive out there with my Timmy’s and just sit there and relax. I always had the company of other cars – so I know others share my love of the pier. At the June 6, 2011 Council meeting, our current Mayor John Henderson raised safety and liability issues about the East Pier. And yet, instead of getting Back to Basics and maintaining what we already have, we are spending time and money on more consultants, more plans, a marina expansion and a proposed travelift for the boaters. Why are we so busy chasing new and shiny dreams while our old ones remain in disarray and decay?
Ted asked that:
- Council first solicit public opinion, listen to what the public has said and only then, make decisions that come out of the listening.
- Richard said he liked the Strategic plan and could not have done better himself with one exception
- The expansion of the Marina and safeguarding Cobourg’s natural environment are incompatible.
- Adding boat slips to the westside of the central pier is not a high priority in the Waterfront User Needs Assessment and Detailed Design. It is included in Project #7 as part of Marina Enhancement Phase 1 (p. 102), which is to begin in Year 6 (design) and Year 7 (construction). (p.116).
- The preceding Council thought they had put the issue to rest with the following motion: June 29, 2015: “Now therefore be it resolved that Council directs that any plans regarding the expansion of boat slips at the Cobourg Marina west of the Centre Pier cease effective immediately.”
- Performance arts both benefit residents and attract visitors
- Theatres bring patrons to attend shows, and also to dine and shop.
- They also attract out of town visitors who often stay for a night or two.
- It is well worth doing what it takes to help create a vibrant downtown.
- We need to make visitors aware of our rich heritage and history
- Governance is now top down but should be bottom up
- There is no universal agreement on what is meant by sustainable – we need public meeting to resolve this
- The current “listening” lacks and an opportunity for rebuttal
Although all presenters were available for questions, no councillors asked any of them any questions.