Council Plans New Direction

After a day and a half meeting to establish a new Strategic Plan, Council came up with a draft plan with a focus that is different to the last council.  There are new actions that emphasize social issues such as affordable housing while not forgetting hot issues like extra boat slips in the Marina.  The format of the plan is somewhat different with “Pillars” replacing “Objectives”.  To reflect the changes, a new Vision and Mission have been written.  Before being officially adopted, the draft Strategic Plan will be presented to the Public for comment and possible review but I am reporting on what was said in their meeting and providing some highlights. All councillors and senior staff participated and the session was expertly led by Carolyn Kearns.

Session details

Carolyn Kearns
Carolyn Kearns

As is usual in a Strategic Planning session, the first step was a review of Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats (SWOT Analysis).  The lists were long with a few surprises and since they impact many subsequent decisions, I have listed them in this pdf for download here.

Once the SWOT was done, the “Key Strategic Issues to be addressed” were established  although the list did not seem to make much difference to the ultimate action plan (the list is included anyway in the SWOT document).

Then the Vision and Mission Statement were reviewed and were significantly changed.

Now New
Vision
Cobourg … a progressive vibrant lakeside community, honouring our past and embracing our future.
Cobourg … a vibrant inclusive community where everyone has access to meaningful opportunities and experiences
Mission
The Corporation of the Town of Cobourg is committed to open and accountable governance and to the provision of accessible services in a fiscally responsible manner.
The Town of Cobourg is committed to open and accountable governance and the provision of quality, accessible programs and services in a sustainable manner

The next step is to set objectives although it was decided to go with single word descriptions called Pillars – these have accompanying descriptions and a list of actions. The five Pillars chosen were People, Places, Programs, Prosperity and Partnerships.  But in the end, it’s the actions that are of most interest.  These list what the Council will be doing – or attempting to do – over the next 4 years.

People
The Town supports and cares for the social and physical well-being of its citizens

  1. Create a housing strategy that is in alignment with Northumberland County’s housing strategy
  2. Implement a municipal youth program
  3. Encourage healthy lifestyles across all age groups
  4. Continue to pursue the Age Friendly Communities designation

Places
The Town protects, preserves and promotes its natural assets, heritage, arts, culture and tourism

  1. Investigate the creation of additional heritage conservation districts as outlined in the heritage master plan
  2. Create a climate change action plan
  3. Review the expansion of boat slips into the west harbour recommendation contained in the waterfront master plan [The intent seems to be for this new council to vote on stopping this at least for the term of the Council]
  4. Upon completion of the cultural master plan, consider the creation of a Town arts, culture and tourism division
  5. Continue implementation of the downtown vitalization plan
  6. Review and improve the financial performance of Town operated facilities.

Programs
The Town provides efficient and effective corporate, community, business and recreational services for its residents, businesses and visitors

  1. Develop an information technology strategic plan
  2. Develop an integrated records management system
  3. Implement a comprehensive management plan for all of the Town’s assets
  4. Explore the feasibility of enhanced sidewalk snow clearing
  5. Review and assess appropriateness of agreements with third party contracts
  6. Review the mandate of the Town’s economic development department
  7. Continue to explore communications priorities including social media and public engagement tools

Prosperity
The Town plans for, markets and develops assets for economic growth and financial security

  1. Develop a policy for establishing shovel-ready development lands
  2. Coordinate funding opportunities to optimize community development capital and special projects funding
  3. Review the feasibility of expanding the Northam Industrial Park
  4. Explore innovative solutions to improve the connectivity between the beach/waterfront and downtown Cobourg
  5. Develop resources to support small businesses coming to Cobourg

Partnerships
The Town engages in strong, sustainable public private partnerships to improve the quality of life for everyone

  1. Explore feasibility of partnerships to develop a social services community hub for community health priorities such as food security, mental health, drug addiction and homelessness
  2. Explore future partnerships with Venture 13 to promote innovation, education and entrepreneurial opportunities
  3. Continue to work with Sustainable Cobourg and other stakeholders on greening Cobourg initiatives
  4. Work with transit authorities in the area to integrate transit services.

Day Two

On day 2, the work of the previous day was reviewed and tweaked – the above is after the work on day 2.  Council and Staff also went through a prioritizing exercise where they had to use green dots to indicate their top priorities (they each got 4 dots).  The result of this will not be part of the Strategic Plan but will help staff know what to do first.  The top priorities (3 dots or more) were an IT strategic plan, a housing strategy, implementing a records management system and continuing the asset management plan, setting up Venture 13 Partnerships and setting a policy for shovel-ready development lands.

There was then a discussion of Values (Council may have an exercise similar to a strategic planning exercise to decide on the Town’s core values), some debate on taxes (there needs to be better communication to taxpayers on the value for the money) and a quick mention of the ongoing review of the Town’s committees.

Below are some photos from the event.

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gerinator

I’m a big fan of these types of communication and directional efforts. Particularly pleased that Staff are involved and have an opportunity to identify their view of SWOT. Hopefully this session will be followed up with another 8-12 months down the road to review progress, deflections (they do creep in) and implement course corrections as needed.

Deborah OConnor

Just one suggestion. My vision is to see the proud Town of Cobourg push the cart of a genuine affordable housing strategy and plan well past the lukewarm version endorsed by the County. Together with Port Hope, our two urban communities should lead the charge to push the County to do better for its residents – much better. Enough with the plans and surveys. We need action. Now.

Mayors John and Bob, put your heads together and get to it! There are lots of knowledgeable people out there with the skills and willingness to help.

Wally Keeler

Pillar Policy 1 The formula is alliteration, a language device used by poets since the beginning of tongues. Poets convey many notions via alliteration. Prior to the written word, bards and troubadours recited their poems; alliteration assisted memorization for the poet, and made an easy memorable impression for the listener. Alliteration lends itself to rhythm and rhyme. The pillar policy of “people, places, programs, prosperity, partnerships,” is the most simplistic example of alliteration; the sound sameness of the initial consonant. It is the easiest alliteration to formulate regardless of the number of words; in this case, five. Alliteration does not depend on letters, but on sound. Peter Piper picked Peter Pan’s pickled pocket cuz Peter Piper’s a pea-pickin’ pocket picker. Merriam-Webster Dictionary asserts, “As a poetic device, alliteration is often discussed with assonance, the repetition of stressed vowel sounds within two or more words with different end consonants, as in “stony” and “holy”; and consonance, the repetition of end or medial consonants, as in “stroke” and “luck.” An example of intense and multi-layered alliteration is this stanza celebrating the evolution of humanity on earth in an ode to the sun entitled Sunsex: We emerged and merged and morphed evolving and… Read more »

Wally Keeler

Pillar Policy 2 Each pillar is a hat-rack. The hat on top of the ‘Places’ Pillar, is this alliteration iteration notion: “The Town protects, preserves and promotes”. Wow! Three double syllable words beginning with pr. A linguistic accomplishment? Thankfully, only policy wonks and prosebags will think so. According to Merriam-Webster, preserve means “1. to keep safe from injury, harm, or destruction: PROTECT.” Somehow a non-poet became so intexticated with mediocre alliteration that they resorted to obvious redundancy. Protect and preserve are synonyms. Again, we have bureaucrats/admins utilizing the tools of poets and producing mediocrity and, worse, teaching it to others. The point made, is that politicos and admins should stick to their bland brand and leave poetry to the poets. The powerful Welch poet, Dylan Thomas, spoke effectively about this, “I came to love words more, and to hate the heavy hands that knocked them about, the thick tongues that (had) no feel for their multitudinous tastes, the dull and botching hacks who flattened them out into a colourless and insipid paste, the pedants who make them moribund and pompous as themselves …” So I will leave you with this poem which is rich in all manner of alliteration iterations… Read more »

Doug Weldon

First of all: Thanks to Mr. Draper for this excellent report. There would be no discussion without Mr Draper’s news blog. An excellent, interesting discussion of our town’s plans and visions for the future. Right or wrong, I have never lived in a town with this scope of planning and trying to look ahead. In spite of a few negative comments, we do live in a great little town. I’ve lived in 6 towns of around 10 – 20 k in population and Cobourg is by far my 1st choice. From the picture above I would say we are getting our moneys worth from Adam Bureau and Brian Darling and from the content of the report I would say that all the other councillors had two very intense days. Thank you for your work on behalf of our town. NEGATIVE COMMENTS: I suppose this is the point I really want to make and I can be just as negative as anyone else BUT I hope that gets a bit filtered before I put it into print. There is nothing wrong with a critical comment but the ones presented below seem to be on a very childish level. I don’t really… Read more »

Miriam Mutton

I prefer the present Vision statement and changing the Mission statement to the proposed new one. The present Vision is an expression in support of being a collective, working together with positive energy. The proposed Vision seems focused on individual priorities and does not inspire.

cornbread

I’m not sure our small town can afford this big city “Wish List”…When will we ever get back to “Basics”, dump the empire building police force and leave a few more dollars in the hands of our hard working residents.

Walter L. Luedtke

Good to see a ‘climate action plan’ on the menu.
Here is Peterborough’s: https://sustainablepeterborough.ca/projects/climate-change-action-plan/ccap-background/

cornbread

When the “Wind & Solar” boys only get 10 cents a kwh
for their power, then talk to me about climate change.

Walter L. Luedtke

The Association of Municipalities of Ontario has a membership of 444 municipalities and has been accepted as the spokesperson for the local level of government.
It has been a leader in the climate change struggle and has this to say on the topic:
“Extreme weather affects our local economies, the environment and quality of life in our communities.
Municipalities own most of Canada’s infrastructure, so investing in sustainable local projects will help meet provincial emission targets and also protect residents and economies from the effects of climate change.
On November 25, 2015, AMO and the Union of Municipalities of Québec signed a Climate Change Action Covenant that commits the two associations to work together and support each other on climate action.
The Covenant signals to the federal and provincial governments that municipalities in Canada’s most populous provinces are willing partners in the fight against climate change.
Municipalities have long been climate action champions, showing proactive leadership at the local level. Local governments regularly invest in infrastructure that contributes to lower greenhouse gas emissions and helps communities adapt to climate change.
So congratulations Cobourg Council for joining the fight!

cornbread

This is what happens when politicians interfere with independent scientists…I suggest that every one read all the independent scientific reports before they form any rigid opinions on climate change. Does anyone believe that “man” could have avoided the ice age? Perhaps the opposite is also true…keep an open mind before government rules everything.

Walter L. Luedtke

I suggest that you follow Mr. Weldon’s request and post under your real name.

Dragonfly

Thanks for the excellent overview, John. Thanks to our Council, It would appear that it was a very productive, two days of strategic planning. I agree with the priorities moving forward but was surprised to see that the regional hospital and depth of arts ( music, film, theatre etc) were not listed as assets. They were certainly key in encouraging me to relocate here.

The arts have been picked up in the strategic plan but I do not see any references to NHH and helping to attract top notch medical professionals, especially doctors, to our town.

Love the focus on healthy lifestyles! Guess we can look forward to that plant-based food festival after all!

ciw

Re a focus on healthy lifestyles, a group of Cobourg residents has been promoting the construction of an outdoor exercise area in Victoria Park. I have seen examples of this elsewhere. The equipment is simple, rugged and, where I have seen it, well used. Let’s see if any action is taken.

ciw

It sounds like a high school PA day, except much longer. A lot of time ( wasted ) and not much really accomplished. There is a term I could use to describe the outcomes of this effort but my submission might not get approved if I use

Mitch

My word, feels like you were proud to have a day off school. Somewhat disappointed to see the word ” progressive” removed from our Vision

ciw

Hell no, Mitch. I’d have gladly spent the day in school, doing something that actually benefited my students.