Council responds to input on Strategic Plan

Tonight’s Committee of the Whole Council meeting was the first chance Council had to respond to comments made by the public on the proposed Strategic Plan.  There was a public meeting on April 7 where a large number of written and verbal comments were made (see link below for report) and tonight the council showed that they listened.  Several Councillors moved amendments and all were passed.  Brian Darling was the first; he pointed to the Strategic Action that said: ”Review the expansion of boat slips into the west harbour recommendation contained in the waterfront master plan” and wanted it removed.  That motion passed.  A short while later, Emily Chorley moved that instead of being simply deleted, the action should be replaced with “No expansion into West Harbour in this term of Council”.

Nicole Beatty and Adam Bureau
Nicole Beatty and Adam Bureau

But there was more: Nicole Beatty had a collection of motions too numerous to list. (In reality, my note taking could not keep up! See the link to the You-Tube recording of the meeting for details.)  In essence, she modified the language in the plan to emphasize healthy lifestyles, climate change and sustainability as well as changing the wording of the Prosperity goal to read “The Town plans for, markets and develops assets for economic growth resiliency and financial security”.  (The photo above-right was taken at an earlier Council meeting). Then Emily Chorley moved that a new action be added to “Repair and rejuvenate the East Pier” so that this will be done in this term of Council.  She also moved to add an action to make Cobourg more accessible.

All amendments passed without discussion or objection.

However, one must remember that although the Strategic Plan sets the direction of Council and instructs staff what they should work on, all initiatives and changes will need specific approval from council before they are actually implemented.

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Rational

There is an exceptional amount of time by Cobourg Leadership to get the perfect Strategic Plan, with the exact wording. Yet Town Leadership ignores and/or does not respond to residents when they have, what is believed to be, a legitimate concern. This is not the right way to build confidence.

Miriam Mutton

Dear Rational,
You will drive yourself crazy if ‘perfection’ is what is expected in any government. IMHO, there is no one right way to fit all situations. Local government is an ongoing dialogue between citizens and their elected leaders. The strategic plan is Council’s communication to the community of what they collectively believe to be the way forward … this does not mean ‘Cobourg Leadership’ will stick by the plan 100% for what they believe to be the right answer right now, to be the best answer tomorrow when information may be different. Quite frankly, a lack of response to a concern is a response. And, follow-up is essential. Advocacy sometimes needs an activist mind set or, sometimes, a gentle reminder. And, a citizen who is unfamiliar with local government process needs to find someone, on Council or within their own sphere of contacts, who will help them. About governments, a successful advocate told me, ‘It is the second letter that gets their attention.’

Rational

My comment was not to suggest any more time be spent by Leadership on strategic plan. It was saying that immediate residents concerns are not being addressed by Leadership, but yet they have an abundance of time to wordsmith the Strategic Plan. I do understand what, and the purpose of, a strategic Plan is. To your last sentence – followup has been made, with no results.

Walter Luedtke

comment image
Hi Miriam!
Where have all the swallows gone?
Interesting to see the Willow Beach folks soldiering on with a ‘nature preserve’ in the West Harbour
Makes you wonder whether they have caught up with the ‘apocalyptic’ decline in our insect population.
As here we see: https://www.nytimes.com/2018/11/27/magazine/insect-apocalypse.html
Perhaps they could take on the local franchisees of the lawn and garden industry, who peddle poison:
“Demand for home and garden pesticides in the US is projected to rise 3.1 percent per year to $2.4 billion in 2020. In the lawn and garden segment, gains will be supported by ongoing growth in new housing completions, and by increasing consumer spending on and interest in lawn care and gardening.”
Maybe with the insects gone, the birds will be next?

gerinator

Walter, Miriam I believe you are correct something is afoot. It seems to me that this area should be full of butterflies, sparrows and swallows. It was so in Ottawa, a far more urban (pollution, people, development, industry, pavement, etc) locale than Cobourg.

gerinator

Does “No expansion into West Harbour in this term of Council” effectively kill the Travel Lift?

Miriam Mutton

Short answer, I think not. But I expect there will be major discussion about a travel lift or lift service of some sort during this term of Council. At about 31.18 minutes into the meeting (link provided above) the motion put on the floor includes specific wording about no expansion of boat slips in the west harbour area and no mention of a travel lift. The motion does not appear to speak to the needs of most other harbour user groups … but this might be handled in another forum like future public meetings. Overall, I think Council fine tuned their strategic plan nicely. Watching previous meetings on the town budget process I got worried Council wanted to undertake a total redo of the waterfront master plan process! By the way, in unrelated research I stumbled upon a 2004 Council meeting agenda item, a letter from a local and well respected nature organization (WBFN) asking for protection of the natural environment in the harbour area. Maybe it is time for some serious action on this recurring and long time request. Protecting and enhancing the natural environment on the west headland is both a human and environmental benefit and could also… Read more »

gerinator

Thanks Miriam, though to be honest not the hoped-for response. Good intel on the rest though.

Jim Thomas

Maybe we should do a full-sized plank-and-2x4s mockup of this monster, painted in the appropriate bright colour, so that we can fully appreciate the visual impact it would have on our lakeside parkland if we were actually to acquire one.

Walter Luedtke

Where have all the swallows gone?
Interesting to see the Willow Beach folks soldiering on with a ‘nature preserve’ in the West Harbour
Makes you wonder whether they have caught up with the ‘apocalyptic’ decline in our insect population.
As here we see: https://www.nytimes.com/2018/11/27/magazine/insect-apocalypse.html
Perhaps they could take on the local franchisees of the lawn and garden industry:
“Demand for home and garden pesticides in the US is projected to rise 3.1 percent per year to $2.4 billion in 2020. In the lawn and garden segment, gains will be supported by ongoing growth in new housing completions, and by increasing consumer spending on and interest in lawn care and gardening.”
Maybe with the insects gone, the birds will be next?

Miriam Mutton

Lawn care industry is a very American thing, a way to measure status between neighbours (who could also afford homes). A week or so ago in Northumberland News there was an article by a college student on how their generation views lawn care and care of the environment. The next generation does not hold the same priorities when it comes to the value of perfect lawns on drugs.
And perhaps like affordable housing, which now has the attention of most local governments who no longer say the subject is not their concern but that of the upper tier government, local government needs to no longer ignore the fact Ontario has a ban on cosmetic use of pesticides and to take local enforcement seriously. It is after all, within the realm of sustainability and resilience featured in the strategic plan.
When the insects like the pollinators of many of our food crops are gone, so are humans.

Jane

Why do all the local stores still carry RoundUp for anybody to buy? i’m sure that it’s used for cosmetic purposes for the ‘perfect’ lawn.

MRS BIGLEY

A CUT BACK IN TOURISM FUNDS? REALLY? IS THERE A CHANCE THAT COBOURG COULD/WOULD CLOSE THREE BLOCKS IN THE DOWNTOWN AREA TO TRAFFIC IN THE EVENINGS AND EMULATE THE EUROPIAN CITIES – A WALKABOUT- TALK ABOUT – STROLL PLACE – SURELY WOULD ENHANCE BUSINESS AND LETS DO IT BEFORE PORT HOPE PUTS THE PLAN IN PLACE-

manfred s

regardless of how romantic those ideas are, they’re just not appropriate for our reality. We don’t have the population to make this concept viable from a business perspective. These ideas need deep pockets to sustain them and I can’t see that being the case at this or any time soon. Better to develop our own unique features to achieve the same level of interest and attraction. It’s not necessarily a good idea or guarantee of success to emulate one that works somewhere else, somewhere that’s completely different in many ways.

Dan

And basically every time anybody has tried to encourage businesses downtown to stay open past 5 or 6pm, there appears to be a lot of pushback to doing so. The events that cause some stores to manage as much as 8pm are perceived as only being successful due to their rarity providing novelty.

It’s awkward, because any one general retail business staying open until 8 or 9pm would be very likely to not see enough business to justify the expense of staffing/power/etc, because “Everybody knows downtown closes at 5” so there’s disincentive to be the first to try it, which seems to extend to trying to get everybody to all agree at once as well.

manfred s

as I read your comment with one of those “been there, done that” smiles on my face, Dan, I recall how many times I’ve heard those words, or ones eerily similar. Heck, I did it too, early in my time on main street, full of pluck and great ideas that had never been tried. hmmm… in one of the issues of the day, it was about opening late Thursdays AND Fridays, which was a departure from closing Wednesday afternoons and opening late Saturday evenings, something that had seen its day some time before. My resolve was to remain open late Thursdays for 2 full years, and a few others played along here and there. After 2 agonizing years I got the message being left for us by the consumer…”not interested, thanks anyway”. The thing is, entrepreneurs come up with all sorts of ideas and consumers are a finicky lot that picks at them to see if it gives them something they find worthwhile to them. As it turns out, there aren’t many ideas that survive that trial. As choices continue to expand, the job just gets harder and casualties pile up and fade away. The very nature of the ‘independence… Read more »

Dan

I had a surge of business between 5:30pm and 6:30pm pretty much every day as the 9-5ers got off work. I was at one point open at 10am, closed at 8pm. I pushed it to Noon to 10pm, and sales went up. More people came in after 8pm than were coming in before noon.

Part of that is demographic, but surely part of that is the fact that we have a lot of 9-5 and a lot of shift work in town. I got tons of post 6pm tourism in the summer, and people remarked frequently that it was such a shame that the whole downtown shut down at 5:00.

“A few others played along here and there” is exactly the problem. The overall mindset of the town is “Downtown will be closed” and if 3 or 4 stores are open and the rest aren’t, that is still basically “Downtown is closed” to most people. It would have taken actual unified whole-downtown commitment for months before you could actually conclude fairly that ‘being open after dinner’ was a failure for Cobourg.

Dan

I actually went and counted, just to see, the hours of operation of every retail store on King St.

Among other things, of the 43 retail (so not food, or services, I also didn’t include Mac’s or Shoppers Drug Mart since they are chains (but did count Woody’s for example)) operational locations that I counted on King Street, only 31 even -had- hours posted. And of the 31 that did, the most businesses open on a Sunday at any point was 11 (between Noon and 3:00pm)

On a Saturday, you don’t cross over 50% of businesses open until 10:00am, and you drop back below 50% (To 4 total businesses) at 5:00

manfred s

the long and the short of it, Dan, is that you could be open 24/7 and nothing much would change unless the retail/service offerings and mix changes. The customer ultimately shops where they get what they need and hours are a secondary consideration. Playing with hours SEEMS like a solution but in the end it has far less impact on the purchasing process. It just gives the merchant the excuse of doing “something” to boost business. The ONLY thing that truly boosts business is having the right product for your clientele and the right clientele for your product. Everything else is as close to fluff as you can get in today’s marketplace.

Dan

Then I wonder why I so frequently heard and hear people say “I would love to shop in the downtown, but they don’t make it easy when they’re never open during the hours I can actually shop.”

I’ve definitely heard more people say there are things they want to buy, but bad hours than say they are free to shop downtown but just don’t have anything they want.

Deborah OConnor

Interesting conversation. I’ve been waiting for my perspective to be aired but it seems to stand alone. Since I’m used to being mocked, here it is.

I am a proud anti-consumer, anti-capitalist, anti-materialist natural world loving spiritual tree hugger. The sweet songs of the Summer of Love still echo in my mind and I just wish there had been more of us. Who knows, maybe we could have saved the planet. At least we might have slowed down the mad shopping frenzy for unneeded, frivolous and resource wasting shiny baubles.

manfred s

Yup. I maintain that good business is meeting the “consumer”‘s need by supplying what is needed at a fair price and in good time. Beyond that it’s all forced commercialism and not necessarily a good thing. Problem is, it’s not enough to sustain some, if not many businesses in today’s economic environment. The shift into superfluous commercial activity can provide enough resources to sustain a struggling business and allow it to continue to fulfill its core purpose, and that IS a good thing. In that context I can support some superfluous commercialism.

manfred s

during my first 20 years downtown I hung on every word that folks uttered and tried to respond appropriately, however, it became clear that much of what was said turned out to be mostly self-centric and was of little significance in my planning and buying processes. It reflected their thoughts in the moment rather than a general overarching thinking on their part, usually driven by a disappointment at the moment rather than a systemic shortcoming. How often did you get a recommendation for carrying items that they were “sure would do well”, usually because they were looking for that item at the moment? The same goes for hours. Eventually one realizes that you set your hours to accommodate your core business and the rest will make it work as they need it. At least that’s where I ended up and it was the best all round it could be.

Dubious

“I would love to shop in the downtown, but they don’t make it easy when they’re never open during the hours I can actually shop.”

Perhaps because many are unwilling to be honest with “I don’t shop downtown because there is nothing that I want there”?
Downtown open times are becoming less important. Amazon has now ditched Canada Post and is providing one-day shipping to Cobourg with their own Peterborough based delivery service. Walmart is rumoured to soon be following Amazon’s lead.

Dan

I don’t tend to spend much time discussing matters of interest or import with people who’d lie to me about them. YMMV

That said, when there was a point recently where King St was about 1/3rd retail, 1/3rd food and services and 1/3rd -empty- which definitely limits the kinds of product and service that are available. But that’s a whole other separate discussion.

manfred s

“YMMV”….?

Wally Keeler

Your Mileage May Vary.

manfred s

thanks. However, that’s way too cryptic for this simple mind to make a connection

Dan

Where is the confusion? I pointed out that people tell me they want to shop downtown but the hours prevent them. You suggested those people might be lying to me. I said that I don’t talk about matters I care about with liars.’Your mileage may vary’ suggests that perhaps you -do- talk about those things with people who would lie to you, but I have no way to know that.

manfred s

thanks for the clarification Dan. “liars” seems a bit harsh to me. I think those folks do believe that they might shop downtown more often if the hours there suited them but it is my measured opinion that they are actually fooling themselves and just using that as a convenient excuse to not do so. I don’t think it’s an intentional “lie” on their part. Talking to them gives me insight, even if I take the conversation with a grain of salt.

Wally Keeler

Dubious wrote: “Amazon has now ditched Canada Post and is providing one-day shipping to Cobourg with their own Peterborough based delivery service. Walmart is rumoured to soon be following Amazon’s lead.”

Dan, manfred s are dialoguing about the past. Dubious has pointed out the current and future challenge for retail stores. New ways of thinking are required, applied creativity.

manfred s

Wally, do we learn enough from the past to make a difference in how we approach the future?

Wally Keeler

Dunno Manfred, really, just don’t know how to measure it.

Kyle

Canada Post service interruptions at Christmas time obviously severely affected Amazon a HUGE customer. Canada Post’s demise will only accelerate now.

Wally Keeler

Repair and rejuvenate the East Pier

Miriam-Webster Dictionary.
rejuvenate
1a : to make young or youthful again : give new vigor to
b : to restore to an original or new state, rejuvenate old cars.

How youthful?. During the 60s the walk out to the lighthouse was a smooth walk. It has crumbled considerably since then. I hope it will rejuvenated with imagination; illumination, think of selected colours of cement, electrical and plumbing infrastructure for future possibilities.

perplexed

Can we leave out the Fog Horn ! I remember that as well
but I don’t need to hear it

manfred s

aw, I like the old (currently silent) fog horn. I think it would really add some ‘historically significant personality’ to the waterfront.

…as a salute to creativity, make it sound like a bagpipe and replicate the ‘lone piper at sunset’ that was recently introduced by the Legion pipers… or not…

Wally Keeler

As close as I could find, Manfred.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wcsGzbEffjI

Ken

And don’t forget the park benches, so all us ‘old people’ can stop and rest!

Jim Thomas

The ones on King Street certainly are a godsend for some of us, whether to sit on them for a while and rest our tired old bones, or just to stand behind them and perch for a few blissful seconds.
I know whereof I speak.

Wally Keeler

Hopefully we won’t be stopping and resting next to trashy-looking trash cans.