Community Services Budget Request

On Thursday, 28 November, the Community Services Division made their requests to council for their 2020 budget – but before they started, Sheila McCoy, President of the Cobourg Art Club, asked that the Division focus more on Arts and Culture.  Sheila made the case that they pay little attention to Arts and Culture and this is supported by the job title and description of their planned new hire.  The title “Manager of Recreation and Culture” emphasizes Recreation over Arts and Culture and the job qualifications barely mention Culture or Arts.  See the links below for Sheila’s presentation and info on the new Manager position. 

Community Services Director Dean Hustwick  asked for a net increase of $643K or 8.6% over 2019’s budget.  From the details he provided, it’s difficult to see where reductions can be made to bring it back to 1.9% – although maybe he’s hoping for corresponding reductions in other divisions.

Shiela McCoy
Shiela McCoy

Community Services Overview

  • Salaries and Benefits are 57% of the Division’s costs and they just went up 5%.
  • The Facilities are aging.
  • There are more Parks (now 33 although 46 are listed here).
  • There is more demand for Facilities and Services.
  • Some responsibilities have been transferred from Works.
  • Marina Manager, Paul Gauthier will be retiring effective November 29 (no word on his replacement)
  • With the Memorial Arena closed, there is some loss of revenue.
  • There has been additional cost because of the higher Lake levels.
  • The requested 2020 budget is an increase of $493K or 7% with the total expenses budget being $7.5M [The 2019 budget can be downloaded here – it shows $6.5M so maybe $500K responsibility was transferred in from Works].
  • Revenue is expected to be down by $150K or 5%.
  • The Net increase in the budget will then be $643K.

Highlights of Operating Budget Request (My choices – See Link below for more detail)

  • Concert Hall Expenses $375K, 4.3% increase; Revenue (largest item $60K bar receipts) $181K, 8.5% increase.
  • Special Events $396K, 36% increase.  Includes Sandcastle festival $25K, Christmas Magic $75K (up from $20K), Canada Day $27K & unnamed special event $25K.   Also Community Events: Garbage removal $16K, Transportation $7K, Port-a-Potties $7.5K.  Special events expect recoveries (revenues) of $83K from grants, sponsors and fees – up from $67K.
  • Marina Revenues and expenses $707K. Revenue down from $760K – primarily due to fewer transients expected at $100K compared to $145K 2019 budget.  This is in line with 2019 actual.  Expenses lower due to less transferred to reserves.
  • Dredger – due to less expected revenue, expense requested $63K compared to zero in 2019 budget.
  • Campground – Net to Town $71K revenue compared to $146K revenue in 2019 budget.  Difference primarily due to $50K transferred to reserves and $25K online management software cost.
  • Cobourg Community Centre – Revenue expected up 3% at 1.39M and expenses up 14% at $2.66M primarily due to higher payroll and benefits – other costs were flat.  Net is $1.27M, up from $985K.  So taxes will be paying 48% of CCC costs, up from 42%.
  • Tourism – Net expense at $245K – up 15% primarily due to higher salaries and benefits.

Highlights of Capital Budget Request (My choices – See Link below for more detail)

  • Portable Toilets planned for Peak Season in Victoria Park – $30K
  • Replacing 16 butterfly wings around fountain/rink – $10K
  • Install two new water bottle filling stations in community parks each year for the next three years – $24K per year
  • Adult Fitness Park – $25K towards $90K estimate
  • East Pier – $275K in 2020 for design, engineering and consultation and in 2021 Construction costs have been estimated at $792,000 for repairs and approximately $1.34M for enhancements for a total of $2.132M.  (Per option 4 here)
  • Campground upgrades – $127K in 2020 for design, engineering and consultation. And in 2021 construction costs of $750K and approx. $500K for buildings in 2022.
  • Marina Wi-Fi upgrade – $25K
  • Cooey Park – $40K
  • Security gates for Marina – people sleeping on boats – $60K
  • North and East Seawalls – $200K in 2020 for north seawall; In 2021 Engineering of east breakwater – $140K & Construction north seawall – $2.5M;  in 2022 – Engineering for west breakwater – $100K & Construction east breakwater – $1.75M
  • Harbour Electrical System upgrade  – $310K in 2020 to upgrade electrical service to harbour and raise Marina junction boxes and replace feeders/panels/transformers; $31K in  2021 – Upgrade power receptacles for G Dock to 50A; $100K in 2022 – Replace power pedestals for C & D Docks.
  • CCC Landscaping – $100K
  • Tourist Photo Display (as done in Toronto and Kingston – except smaller, simpler and cheaper) – $20K


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You people would find something wrong with the Garden of Eden. Jeez. Seems to me we’ve got it all in my hometown; a gorgeous downtown park with summer concerts in the bandshell, beautiful sandy beach, a Mall with two movie theatres, good choice of restaurants from fancy to fast, decent community/social services, a well run town government, and a fine group of community volunteers who provide a whole range of activities and services. Oh, and a world class city a mere hour’s drive away as well as public transit options to get there.

What’s not to like?

What’s not to like?

Increases in property taxes that are above the rate of inflation.

Then move to a better place, You have options.

Wally … Agree or disagree! Regardless, you just stepped over the line!

Meh. Wally’s ideas belong in a painted trash can.

To suggest that moving to another place for lower property taxes does not step over the line. It is an option. And it is an option that is not forbidden nor illegal nor violates the Human Rights Act. I took the option to move out of Cobourg to Toronto for the expanded opportunities. It was an option. If I complain about job opportunities in Cobourg and someone advises me to move to a place with better job opportunities and I take that advice. No line is being crossed. Dump the righteousness.

Well said Deborah! Now let’s see how many thumbs down you get.

She got a thumbs up from me — the one-step-over-the-line violator.

What’s not to like?
Lack of affordable housing.

I hear/read tremendous support for the DM; less support for the Mayor; approx zero support for Dir Hustwick. What I don’t hear or see are comments directed at interim CAO Davey, who purportedly wants to be permanent CAO, and senior manage to Dir Hustwick. Where is he on the spectrum of keeping ALL budgets at the 1.9% level? Perhaps he’s hiding a bit until he gets the full time position, dunno. Without the support of the Mayor and the interim CAO the DM is doomed in her rightful/righteous efforts to keep the budget goals and objectives.

Excellent point. The CAO (interim or otherwise) is responsible for ALL Town operations including the budget. While Dir. Hustwick has drawn significant negative comment on this topic, the “buck” stops with the CAO.
As MCGA and I noted below in this thread, in the private sector, antics such as this would likely result in disciplinary action.

Under the OMA the CAO and, indirectly, all staff, are employed at the pleasure of Council. For various reasons the CAOs in Port Hope, Brighton, Belleville and Cramae have been removed over the recent past. Since the CAO can be replaced by Council why is his support necessary? Failure to control spending is entirely the fault of Council; the DM with support from three others can do what is required.

Does Mayor Henderson support his Deputy on the need to control new spending with a 1.9% cap or doesn’t he?

It’s time to climb down from the fence and to show some leadership Mr. Mayor.

Perhaps changes are coming. Note the only item on the agenda for Monday’s Special Council Meeting (

It is obvious from the draft budget also released Friday that the interim CAO and Finance Director did nothing to ensure this time that all Department Directors respected the 1.9% cap.

One can only hope that Monday’s meeting appoints an outside new CAO who can quickly instil a culture of respect for council and taxpayers and is experienced in breaking down empires. We don’t need a cheerleader for the Town’s $24 Million man.

Then again, it’s Christmas. A great time to believe in miracles.

My calculation from the numbers provided is an increase in taxes of 1.99% – very close to the 1.9% target. Of course it’s helped by the large Police component which is close to zero increase because of their profitable business dept.

Technically correct you are at least about ‘fault’. However practically speaking, based on passed discussions/issues, we know a) that Staff report to the CAO, not Council and b) that it is the CAOs job to translate Councils requirements back down through staff; and enable/support his direct reports to develop a Staff response, in support of Council. Clearly aforementioned path is not in play given a significant department has been allowed to produce, publish a budget that clearly challenges Council and its authority. This is a failure of management.

Gerinator, out-of-control staff have been a problem for years and should not be blamed on the current, acting, CAO; he should be afforded an opportunity to solve the problem. However, at least four local CAOs have learned what happens when they do not perform as desired by Council. A failure to control spending is entirely the fault of Council. Councillors have the necessary tools and they must use them.

The last thing Cobourg needs is an adult exercise park, I have seen these in many communities, in many countries but the one thing I have not seen is people actually using them. They sit there forlorn and unused
until the equipment deteriorates. There was one many years ago in Cobourg, in the park by the old County
building. I seem to remember it eventually gave up the ghost due to lack of interest and use. Save the money and put it to something more appropriate.

Pamela … To understand the fitness park proposed for Cobourg better and the Fit4LifeCobourg program that we intend to implement after the Park opens, please read my description which is the fourth to last entry in this blog. We have spoken with six park managers of the 12 parks we have visited and believe the program we plan to implement will address your concerns and result in Cobourg citizens becoming more physically active. We have the written support of the HKPR Health Unit as well as two local sports organizations. Want to see our full (90+ page) “State of the Project Report”? Call me at the number I gave.

So an opinion about Cobourg from the West Coast how are the fitness parks in Vancouver, please tell us about those rather than ones in countries you have visited.

Some of my friends have moved to the Legion Village and I visit on a regular basis.
There is a well-equipped exercise room on the 4th floor.
I have never seen anyone in it.

I have never seen anyone in it.

I wouldn’t expect much usage of exercise facilities in an attractive, well lit and heated/air conditioned environment surrounded by friends. Most seniors prefer to exercise with equipment crusted with ice on a concrete pad covered with snow. Motion sensitive lighting is an added attraction for late night exercise.

It’s important for all to understand that the Fitness Park Working Group has understood the underused of such parks and equipment long before now. On page 9 of the Towns’ June 21 application to the Federal New Horizons Program for 25,000 in funds, the Working Group lays out a 4 Phase Plan for design, fund-raising and publicity, contractor selection, construction and follow-up.
That follow-up is Phase 4 and consists of promoting the benefits of a more physically active life-style-for-all in Cobourg, plus exercises needed to recover from joint operations and injuries (OHIP gives you only 6 physiotherapy sessions and then it’s out the door) exercises to improve balance, mobility and correct imbalance in muscle groups, etc, etc.. At North York we saw Secondary School basketball players following an exercise regime set out by their coach. The fitness park will make known other exercise opportunities both formal and informal throughout the Town, including those at the CCC and through organized sports groups. After talking with 6 different parks managers and using the expertise represented on our Working Group we believe the Fitness Park is justified, will be well used, and that the community as a whole will benefit.

Well here we go again! The knives are out for Director Hustwick based on wild declarations by some who appear not to have attended the afternoon Council Meeting of the 28th (lasted well into the evening) and heard his Community Services Budget explained in detail, nor do they appear to have paid any attention to the estimate by John Draper (above) that his Budget appears to have been increased by 500 K or more because of transfers of responsibilities from Public Works to Community Services. As a member of a volunteer Group working with Hustwicks’s Dept of Parks and Rec to bring into being an Adult Outdoor Fitness Park at the waterfront, we have had our share of disagreements with Director Hustwick and his department staff, but one thing that has never waivered is our/my absolute respect for their unblemished integrity and hard work to ensure that directions of Council were followed and that Cobourgs’ tax dollars were put to the best use possible. I have nothing but contempt for those who hid behind an acronym and shoot from the hip while trying to destroy what is worthwhile an well proven, and that includes the reputation of Director Hustwick and… Read more »

Keith, perhaps you should reconsider your contempt and apologize.

I watched the entire meeting from home but you put on your hat and left at around the 2:12 mark or about thirty minutes before it was over. See

Mr. Draper clearly identified the $500K transferred to Community Services (“The requested 2020 budget is an increase of $493K or 7% with the total expenses budget being $7.5M … it shows $6.5M so maybe $500K responsibility was transferred in from Works. Revenue is expected to be down by $150K or 5%. The Net increase in the budget will then be $643K.”) Regardless of any transfers, the increase is considerably more than the maximum increase of 1.9% as requested by the Deputy Mayor. Including unnecessary expenditures such as Marina WiFi, a senior fitness park, portable toilets, “butterfly wings”, tourist photo display and numerous other items is irresponsible. In a non-government environment such disregard for direction from senior management would quickly result in appropriate corrective actions.

Shame on you for defending him!

The budget increases requested by Hustwick are exactly as I expected. He is not a Cobourg taxpayer so what does he care how high our taxes are. It’s all about building his portfolio. Why is he allowed to continue creating more positions in his department? Also notice how several existing positions got expanded job titles: guaranteed with corresponding salary increases. This department is completely out of control and the show is run by Hustwick. I wish council could reel him in but no apparently not. Please Deputy Mayor Seguin stick to 1.9% tax increase.

Hello Cobourg taxpayer, As Deputy Mayor and budget chief, I am trying very hard to stick to a 1.9% tax increase, but will need the support of Council as I only have one vote. I will be meeting with the Director of Finance this coming week to see where we can make the many cuts that will be required to achieve this goal.

Why would Town Council not readily support all cuts necessary to bring a departmental budget in line with the 1.9% or less increase limit set. Shouldn’t this be a easily decision For Town Leadership to make?

Here’s an idea Deputy Mayor.
Tell Director Hustwick that he has to keep his requests to 1.9% and let him make the necessary cuts to his budget proposals. Isn’t that one of the things he’s paid to do anyway?
Also, make sure our Councillors don’t get more than an 1.9% increase in their remuneration. Nothing like setting an example, is there?

I do hope that Council is solidly behind you on holding the line at 1.9%. If not, I can only assume that they’re not planning on seeking re-election. For a Director to ignore a Council directive as evidenced by the outrageous budget submission by Cobourg’s $24 Million Man is a clear act of insubordination. The problem with this year’s budget review is the unsustainable and unrealistic demands being made for new spending. None of the existing or new operational costs or the capital budgets have been prioritized within each department and then across the Town as a whole. My initial casual review suggests that Director Hustwick has inflated the basic costs of some of his empire building projects in anticipation that Council will cut them back. Most importantly, he is not an engineering expert and all structural repairs related to the pier and harbour should be re-assigned to the Public Works Director. Hustwick needs to be instructed to reduce costs, not increase them, to substantially reduce the CCC deficit and explain why the Development Charge Reserve account being used to pay off the CCC debt is almost $2 Million in the red. Mayor Henderson has disappointedly shown no leadership since… Read more »

In my experience as a corporate controller, not adhering to budget targets and guidelines would not be viewed favourably and did in some cases result in disciplinary action.
Executive Staff are responsible for developing the departmental budgets within the set guidelines and targets. Some might view non-compliance by staff as an abdication of their responsibility and an attempt to make Council “the bad guys”.
The days of the bottomless taxpayer money pit are gone and the sooner staff come to terms with this the better.
I strongly encourage DM Sequin to hold the line and force staff to bring in departmental budgets that meet the guidelines and targets. Council should not be the “bad guys” make the cuts. Send the budgets back to staff for rework to meet the targets.

The mayor must back up his deputy mayor! If he does not, he should resign. John…stand up and be counted.

In any financial organization I was part of or consulted to it was fully understood that the budgetary guidelines, as set by senior management, were expected to be adhered to, spare an act of God. If corporate management established a target for revenue and expense growth and divisional or subsidiary entities disregarded those parameters it was likely that they would be “seeking an alternative environment more conducive to their personal and professional development.” To Council: justify your self awarded raise by actually leading.

I would think there would be some analysis about the risks for each project. That is, a matrix that assists Council in determining whether to proceed with each project.

There is no detailed analysis in the budget sheets provided by staff and I haven’t attended the public meetings so maybe the costs/benefits were discussed verbally.

A review of the requests indicates that there are many items that can be deferred:

Portable toilets – $30,000
Butterfly wings – $10,000
Cooey Park – $40,000
Landscaping – $100,000

I believe everyone is ignoring the elephant in the room: the CCC has been losing huge amounts of money since it opened. Why? What can be done about it? Is the manager of CCC qualified to run a centre like this? Does the manager have contacts in the entertainment world to bring in activities that people will pay to see? Why are there so few activities that generate income?

Eva, I fear that your concerns are misplaced; the problem is not the Manager of the CCC but at the Director level. If you listened to the budget presentations every area other than Mr. Hustwick’s complied with the requested cap on budget increases. Mr. Hustwick just said that costs were increasing and ignored any restraint. A competent Director faced with a 5% increase in wages (who negotiated that contract?) would present a budget with a combination of compensatory reductions and increased profitability of other areas. What did Council get? An extended, self-congratulatory, monologue about Hustwick’s accomplishments and an unapologetic list of planned increases in various areas. Why is such poor performance allowed to continue?

Looks like the problem is “Dean Hustwick” in his loss of management control/budget control. If I was him, before I spend $100,000 on CCC landscape, I would clean up the “Ashtray” appearing east side entrance way…discusting!

Sorry, change the “c” to a “g” in disgusting…Thanks…I-pad got confused again.

The presentation by Sheila McCoy seems to be accurate and realistic. Her preference to change the emphasis for more attention to culture rather than recreation seems to be in line with the town’s professed priorities.

The job posting for the manager gives the manager responsibilities for budgets and everything else. I wonder what the director is going to do ?

The proposed Community Services budget is up by 8.9%, and shows little attention to the towns request for 1.2% increase. Yet revenues are projected to decrease by 5%. Looking at the proposed uses I wonder why they include “$25K toward 90K for an adult fitness park” 100k for CCC landscaping , and 750 +500K for campground facilities. There seems to be little realism in the budget requests, and I hope the council a can recognize this.

I don’t care how you cut it, but this town is packed with senior citizens who collect CPP and OAS to pay the bills. These 2 payments are not increasing enough to cover new Carbon Tax, much higher food prices and rents and big increases in local taxes. It’s time for Cobourg to get back to BASICS…cut out the “nice to” and concentrate on the really “need to” requirements of this small town. Perhaps you have to fire the big spenders, the empire builders and put the town in the hands of people who know and respect the value of a dollar. Our mayor has to get back control!

The job posting for the manager gives the manager responsibilities for budgets and everything else. I wonder what the director is going to do?

Director Hustwick ignored our Budget Chief’s instructions and plans to increase spending by 8.9% instead of a maximum of 1.9%. In 2018 Mr. Hustwick’s salary was $129,724 plus benefits. Is there an opportunity to reduce expenses?

To Greg H. Like every other item in the budget, there is a good reason for the Adult Fitness Park.. On June 10 the Council directed the Parks and Rec Department to work with what quickly became a five member citizen based Fitness Park Working Group to apply for a 25,000 Federal New Horizons for Seniors Grant to build an Adult Fitness Park at the waterfront. 1038 citizens had signed a petition in favour in late 2016 and after becoming a consideration over 16 months of public meetings, the project was included in the 2018 Waterfront User Needs and Detailed Plan. The New Horizons application has a good chance of success since it met all program goals and more. We will hear back shortly. The grant will be good for only 12 months and therefore it mandated that we move ahead as quickly as possible. The FPWG brought together a physio therapist, a fitness trainer, a retired geriatric nurse and two more including one with construction management experience. Representatives from the Group have visited, photographed and evaluated 12 fitness Parks from Smith’s Falls to Elmira north of Kitchener. We have a draft budget. The FPWG laid out a development plan… Read more »

Some residents care about the environment. Have you considered the impact of your proposed fitness park? Poured 3 inches deep, the 28 cubic metres of concrete that you mentioned will cover an area about 65×60 feet or an area far larger than most Cobourg homes. Manufacturing that amount of concrete produces about 11 tonnes (410 kg/m3) of polluting carbon dioxide. As a point of comparison, that is more carbon dioxide than that produced by driving my car from Cobourg to Vancouver 10 times (see Considering that we now have a climate emergency in Cobourg, it is unconscionable to produce so much pollution and cover so much of our green space with concrete.

Ken why do you not say you disagree with the concept of an Adult Fitness Park instead of being obtuse with such a silly environmental argument. Stick to the topic instead of heading off on a tangent that will fill another comment column as large as the last one that covered environmental issues.

Ben, based on the advice from 97% of scientists and a teenage expert from Sweden our Council has concluded that we have an “environmental and climate emergency” that requires immediate action including spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on consultants to develop sustainability plans. Why do you feel that environmental considerations are “silly”? Are you a climate denier who has no concern for the future of humanity?

So do you intend to rebut/interject any future comments/posts with environmental opinions? Bit of a one trick pony but definitely a move away from CTA dogma

It’s not a one-trick pony; it’s a “top priority” pony, as declared unanimously by Cobourg Town Council.

I have obviously had an epiphany after studying recent presentations to Council. My concerns are not mere “opinions” but are the result of the advice from 97% of scientists and even some teenage experts.

silly environmental argument.”

Carbon dioxide is the demon gas that must be reduced in order to save the planet. The Town Council declared that addressing climate change is the Town’s “top priority”. Ken has done the Town a service with his calculation of the carbon dioxide that would be emitted from a project. It’s no longer about the monetary cost but also the environmental cost, the carbon cost, the new “top priority”. Every project of the Town going forward must be seen through this new lens.

Ken … I believe in getting the facts straight. Because the area in and around the waterfront is predominantly sand and since frost under those conditions brings with it the possibility of frost heaves because of ice lensing, the slab will be 5″ thick and reinforced with wire mesh. More energy use, more CO2 produced. Concrete wil be pumped using a 34 metre pump probably sent from Peterborough. Some equipment may be supplied by Greenfields out of California and HealthBeat out of Minnisota. We have a proposal from TGO out of England who have built over 1,000 Parks in Europe and the Middle East. Then of course there’s possible motion sensitive lighting to discourage drug dealing by childreñ under five who should be home in bed, along with clandestine night meetings of organized networks of recent immigrants who we all know have criminal intent while at the same time doing so with the best of intentions and loudly singing O’Canada wherever they go to disguise themselves. The proof of this is that someone told me many have brought their scimitars with them. Boarder Security let’s them in because they need them to slaughter cows at the high point in their… Read more »

Keith, I appreciate your updated information. If the slab is to be 5 rather than 3 inches thick your estimated concrete requirements will cover an area approximately 50×50 feet. From the standpoint of loss of green space this is certainly preferable to my original estimate of 60×65 feet. However the amount of carbon dioxide produced in the manufacture of the concrete is not reduced. Even worse, the inclusion of steel reinforcing material will create more CO2 than my earlier estimate. The added information that the equipment may be shipped thousands of miles rather than locally produced is certainly not welcome news. I hope that our sustainability consultant will insist that the town buy local to avert the end of humanity due to climate change.

I assume that your racist comments are the result of listening to Mr. Cherry or perhaps a misguided attempt at humour. It is 2019 and they are not funny!

Ken … You are my moral-compass and upon reflection I’d like to say I’m sorry if I hurt anyone’s feelings … which is more than Mr Cherry ever said.

Ken … You are my moral-compass and upon reflection I’d like to say I’m sorry if I hurt anyone’s feelings … which is more than Mr Cherry ever said.

Thank you!

What do we do to ensure the survival of humankind? Will you include the purchase of carbon offsets in your proposed fitness park?

Not a bad idea Ken but difficult to do since our glorious leader Doug Ford cancelled the Carbon Cap and Trade Program between Quebec, California and Ontario at a cost of 245 million dollars to the Ontario taxpayer. Being irresponsible has its’ price. This not to mention the 103 million cost to us of Fords’ forced cancellation of Hydro Ones’ well thought out attempted merger with the Avista Utility in the American Northwest. Amazing how much damage ignorance can do.

Amazing how much damage ignorance can do.

Indeed, Keith. Consider Cobourg.


You already know, from my posting when you first raised this idea, that I have witnessed similar fitness parks in different locations from Toronto to Malta and have noticed that they are always deserted.

I am in favour of fitness, and in Cobourg I have belonged to the YMCA, GoodLife Fitness and currently Anytime Fitness. However, persuading the Town to build an open air fitness park is prescribing an idea, that you have, to people who don’t want it.

The town’s money that you propose to spend could more effectively be used to increase affordable housing, or even for the town to plow snow from sidewalks, both of these ideas have much greater public support.


Greg … If you’ve read any of my postings you’d know that in late 2016, within four weeks and at random along King Street and the waterfront, a friend and I gained 1038 signatures on a petition in favour of a fitness park. When you saw underuse at those parks, did you enquire? We spoke with 6 parks managers and got a very different story.

Which Managers and at what municipalities? What did they tell you that painted a different story? What do you estimate the number of users would be in Cobourg over the winter months?

It is hard to refuse a polite request from two charmers!

Do the signatories represent 1038 individuals or a somewhat smaller number of families? Of those who signed, how many are Cobourg taxpayers? How many are Cobourg seniors who would actually use the proposed fitness park?

Without answers to such questions mentioning 1038 signatures is meaningless.