Councillors were Busy at their First Meeting of 2019

At their first Committee of the Whole meeting on Monday, in addition to discussing a report on the election, debating and deciding on a new Council meeting procedure and on whether to have retail Cannabis stores in Cobourg (see links below), Council also heard a delegation on Christmas lights, discussed business carried over from 2018 and decided on whether to re-hire the same Integrity commissioner.  Bruce Moore made a presentation that asked to “Make Victoria Park Great Again” by restoring Christmas lights there.  He said that it was supposed to be a temporary move and it was now time to move them back [They were moved in 2015].  He said that new technology could avoid damage to trees if that was the problem.  To support his thoughts, Bruce setup a Facebook survey which supported his idea “Almost 1300 Voted and over 1200 said ‘light the park’ and 44 said ‘no leave it where it is’.”

Christmas Lights

Bruce Moore
Bruce Moore

In Bruce’s presentation to Council he said (abbreviated):

In the current location at the harbour the majority of the town cannot see the display. I remember walking on King Street last year at night and thought to myself – wow this town does not look decorated at all for Christmas. The only way I saw the lights was to look down Second Street and see just a small portion of it. Now at its current location it feels like a private display for the condo owners.

If it goes back to where it was, everyone that drives through town will see the lights. If someone from out of town was driving through they would not see the display at all.
Victoria Park and beach is our largest tourist attraction and we should show it off all year long and not just during the summer.

Many of you while you were campaigning said you’re here for the people; this is a way to prove it. Let’s get Victoria Park out of the darkness and bring back the light.  Light up the Park!

Adam Bureau then moved that Council setup an Ad-hoc committee and include in the budget deliberations staff involvement in moving Christmas Magic into Victoria Park.  Brian Darling asked that a survey also be done by the Town to find out what citizens think but after debate Council decided that the committee would decide on that.  Adam’s motion was approved.

Appointment of Integrity Commissioner, Municipal Ombudsman and Closed Meeting Investigator

Instead of simply renewing the appointment of the John Ewart in three roles as Town of Cobourg 1) Integrity Commissioner, 2) Ombudsman and 3) Closed Meeting Investigator, Council agreed with a proposal by Councillor Emily Chorley to call for 3 separate Requests for Proposal (RFP’s) for the 3 roles and to report back to Council. John Ewart recently ruled against council in the case of Public attendance at a Parks and Recreation Advisory Steering Committee meeting (see link below).

Unfinished Business

If a subject is brought to Council but no decision is made, all subsequent agendas list the subject as “unfinished business” at the bottom of the agenda.  At Monday’s meeting the 8 items still at the end of the Agenda at the end of 2018 were reviewed.

  1. Traffic Study Lower Division Street/Esplanade Area (Public Works)
  2. MOU between YMCA Northumberland and the Town of Cobourg (Parks and Recreation) – there is no Federal or Provincial funding available for the $10 – $15m cost of moving the YMCA to the Community Centre and merging operations.  This item is not viable so is tabled.
  3. Traffic/Parking Concerns Condo. Corp. #58 – 148 Third Street (Public Works)
  4. Public notification, meeting and engagement procedures pertaining applications submitted under the Planning Act (Planning and Development)  – in response to a question by Emily Chorley, Planning Director Glenn McGlashon said that before any final decisions are made, a public meeting would be called to get citizen input.
  5. Petition excessive vehicular traffic and speeding on Monroe Street, Cobourg (Public Works)
  6. Delegation Action, regarding a community proposal to revitalize waterfront waste disposal bins.
  7. Motion from the Secretary, Cobourg Planning and Sustainability Advisory Committee regarding the future management of sustainability in the Town of Cobourg. Mayor John Henderson commented that this subject would be covered by one or more of:
    1. The ongoing by-law review
    2. An organization review by the CAO
    3. The Town’s Strategic review to be held February 12 and 13, 2019.
  8. Memo from John Ewart, Town of Cobourg Municipal Ombudsman, regarding a Town of Cobourg Ombudsman Complaint 1-2018.

In the end, it was decided that all items (except #2) will remain on the unfinished business list since work by staff has been started and is partially completed.  When the work is complete, staff reports will be brought to Council for Council decisions.

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Walter L. Luedtke

As part of the previous Liberal Ontario government drive for ‘openness and transparency’ in municipal government, Cobourg appoints an Integrity Commissioner, an Ombudsman and a Closed Meeting Investigator. Council agreed with a proposal by Councillor Emily Chorley to call for 3 separate Requests for Proposal (RFP’s) for the 3 roles. Does this mean, that we shall have 3 different lawyers for these jobs. I hope not. Last year, Councillor Chorley accused Council of “giving preferential treatment to the developer (395 College Street) and that the Integrity Commissioner was preparing a report with the implication that his report was about this issue. She asked that the decision be delayed until after this report was received.” Was there ever a report by Integrity Commissioner, Mr. Ewart, on that charge? Who knows? Openness and transparency can be a murky business, as here we see: The Integrity Commissioner should be able to investigate complaints related to conflict of interest matters under the Municipal Conflict of Interest Act, with the authority to impose penalties. An Integrity Commissioner can be appointed under the Municipal Act to deal with codes of conduct complaints. And then there is also a Provincial Integrity Commissioner. And apparently there is still… Read more »

Walter L. Luedtke

I am saddened by the display of all those toddler Christmas trees at the Esplanade.
Reminds me of ‘The Slaughter of the Innocents’ by Herod the Great, as told in the Gospel of Mark.

manfred s

Sad it is, Walter. If artificial trees are acceptable ‘at home’, why not use them for these public displays, and they can come pre-wired. Surely we can negotiate a ‘deal’ with the manufacturer if we organized a group of municipalities into a buying group.

sandpiper

May be a Traffic study of the water front areas on Third st and the Division st Esplanaude areas wouldn’t be necessary if the Town quit selling off our parking lots like the one by the post office at 1/2 price to local developers — and directing traffic to the water front areas on the pretext its beach goers will some how turn into shoppers and save the Down Town . I believe the waterfront traffic is working just fine for the locals and residents of Cobourg But when the town tries to turn us into a CNE or a Toronto Ontario place then yes there are problems but its not a local or naturally occurring problem it a created problem . When you get food truck deliveries that double parking for 30 Mins. at a time and 6 or more tour buses at a time down there with drivers that don’t know the area or the drive part way out to the pier and then have to back out There is a Problem . Put some signs up No trucks or Buses past this point or eliminate the street parking from Queen and Albert south to allow for it… Read more »

Ken

What’s the old saying…..’if it aint broke, don’t fix it’!

Old Sailor

Right on Sandpiper.

Put Cobourg residents first. Selling off that parking lot across from the post office and getting all the non contributing GTA weekenders to fill the lakefront parking lots is dumber than dumb.

We need a change in full time senior staff at town hall. Cobourg residents pay the taxes and should be first in line to enjoy our waterfront.

manfred s

That parking lot decision is another byproduct of the policies driven by the unfortunate and desperate choice to put all the eggs in the provincially promoted “tourism” basket. There is one benefit though, and that is the tax revenue generated by any serious development of the parcel is far greater compared to it being a tax free municipal property. We are potentially going to see more of this ‘conversion’ thinking as time moves on, I’m afraid. One could say that the ‘tax-fighters’ are likely quite happy about such thinking and likely would encourage more of it rather than less. I think the ‘staff’ only carry out what they’re directed to do, even if some of the ‘thinking’ may originate with them in the first place. That’s part of their function and job, though. So, WE, through our Councillors, have to decide our priorities, more tax revenue to restrain increases or amenities such as open spaces and public facilities. 👈 or 👉

Ben

Of course the real benefit here is when Council decides (read never) to apply the tax benefits from this loss of parking to the construction of a multilevel parking garage in Covert St.

perplexed

Do we realize the repercussions that this will have on the already struggling down town Business If we close off or reduce the existing Covert st parking lot for a construction project likely to last well over a year for a new Multi unit facility
This will devastate the remaining shop owners unless they receive a loss of revenue compensation . Many of us remember the year they decided to tear up King st
for only a couple of wk s to install new sewer & water lines 6 months latter
Many of the stores were closed and out of business for good I would say that yr. was the beginning of the Killing of King st .
For a small portion of the cost of construction of a new multi unut Parking facility we can easily afford to Buy the land now leased by the town behind the stores on the south side of King between First and Second sts and Pave it as well,

manfred s

that’s short-sighted, perplexed. Once built, the parking garage will provide a major boost to the downtown as healthy businesses rebound and exciting new ones emerge to take advantage of the new facility. Short term pain, long term gain certainly applies here. Yes, King St. reconstruction was difficult but not fatal in as many cases as you suggest. The parking garage IS one of very few options open to the downtown if it is to remain viable in a commercial sense.

Ben

If you believe that perplexed you will remain perplexed.

A short history lesson in 1986 myself and another Titan of local government – Nick Marrocco, pushed for and received a “parking garage study”. The same tired argument as yours was raised by the stalwarts of the then DBIA – come on down Gary Sharpe et-al – complained vociferously to the Mayor and he killed it. Even though the conclusion was that a facility would be viable at $1.50 an hour for parking.

Apparently the opponents then, as now, failed to understand that with the abundance of parking in other parts of the downtown and building the facility in halves would have overcome the whiners and we would have had such a facility for future of the time, although today it would have been in the past!

BTW another history lesson the rebuilding of the King St occurred in the 90s some years after the study.

manfred s

Ben, time is such a deceiver but King St reconstruction happened in 2001

Stewey

Based on recent posts on this Blog, everyone needs to get the facts straight about the McGill Street parking lot sale, as reported in detail on this very site in June 2018: https://www.cobourgblog.com/news-2018/town-to-sell-parking-lot-on-queen-street/?highlight=McGill%20Street%20Parking%20Lot . There will be no net loss in public parking spaces by this proposal and there will be considerable cash, tax and development revenue, not to mention population in the downtown, generated by this multi-million dollar proposal. These public-private partnerships are quite common and municipalities are using these types of creative partnerships to benefit the community. One can notice many office building and condo developments in Toronto that include Green P public parking within their underground garages.

manfred s

Stewey, it’s difficult for me to see how the same footprint plus some additional space added will provide an equal number of public spaces plus all those private spaces for the tenants. Perhaps in theory, but how will it actually play out after the property owners could possibly ask for a redraw of the parking plan, something I figure is inevitable?

Stewey

According to the blog and the staff report, there will be a total of at least 155 parking spaces including the 64 Green P spaces spread over a large multi-level parking garage within the building on BOTH properties. It is certainly realistic that this can be implemented with proper design. Sure they could request re-design but I suspect that would require further review by Council and their approval.

manfred s

yup, proper design is the goal…but…
well… we shall see, won’t we. Of THAT, I AM confident.
btw, you should know that my skepticism is inherited so I can’t help it, lol

Stewey

Never a bad thing to be cautious…:-)

Mrs. Anonymous

Regarding the Christmas lights, I wonder if there would be any interest in keeping the lights as they are along the waterfront AND adding new lights/decorations to the old Victoria Park location. Perhaps a new display could be more child friendly.–stuff kids would find fun.

Our town has grown, so potentially there could be more volunteers available to help out, and lights are now cheaper and more energy efficient which would help keep the costs down.

perplexed

Lets find the Volunteers first — the weather was cold and wet here at the harbour wind tunnel and thank god for the faithful few that returned again this yr
The so called X mas tree decorating challenge went off like a flop with only 1/2 of the trees being decorated mostly at the west end . Not like Port Hope .
Most of the trees around the rink area were done over 5 wks with municipal Bucket trucks , back hoes & augers making hole s to stick trees in and a dozen PUC type employees to electrify the operation I hate to think what that cost . Next will come 3 to 5 days removing all the lights and Tree chippers going at full blast as loud as they can chipping all those now dead trees
Not to mention the mess they leave our green space in some times a ( Mud Hole ).
This is nice for the Rink goers But yes please bring the lights back to Victoria Pk.

Frenchy

Tree chippers going at full blast as loud as they can chipping all those now dead trees

And someone was worried about putting stress on a few trees in Victoria Park. I’ll bet these trees felt a little stress when they were chopped down and chipped up.

manfred s

hey perplexed, ever consider the possibility that those PUC workers might have been volunteering as well? Just because they were using PUC equipment doesn’t they were being paid. They’re community members as well and take pride in their community like any other everyday folks.

Frenchy

So, were they volunteering?

manfred s

I don’t know, Frenchy, but if it bothers you, why not call the PUC and ask them? I just choose to not judge when I don’t have full information about something.

Frenchy

Didn’t say it bothers me. You brought it up so I thought you might have some inside information. You might as well say the man in the moon volunteered too if you are just going to toss stuff out there to clutter up the conversation.

Wally Keeler

Actually it was perplexed who brought up the PUC.

Frenchy

I thought it was manfred s who brought up the idea of PUC staff volunteering, sorry.

manfred s

I think you missed the point, Frenchy.

Frenchy

Didn’t miss it at all.
Clutter.

manfred s

Perplexed…” done over 5 wks with municipal Bucket trucks , back hoes & augers making hole s to stick trees in and a dozen PUC type employees to electrify the operation I hate to think what that cost”, manfred s…”hey perplexed, ever consider the possibility that those PUC workers might have been volunteering as well?” = “clutter” – Frenchy…you missed the point alright

btw, would “And someone was worried about putting stress on a few trees in Victoria Park. I’ll bet these trees felt a little stress when they were chopped down and chipped up.” qualify as “clutter” as well?

Merry Mary

Is there any information regarding the comparison of the vandalism and theft on the displays, known when they were in Victoria Park, and the vandalism and theft on the displays while at the Harbour location?

manfred s

The ‘lighting’ of the park was initially volunteer driven, and the highlight was the ‘storybook’ depictions in the bandshell. As can be the case, once the vision and enthusiasm emanating from those who spearheaded the early efforts is gradually replaced by less engaged individuals and groups, it becomes more of a chore. Committed volunteers become scarcer, making what has then become more job than passion even harder to deliver an ever more dazzling product. Maybe trying to maintain an idea is now too demanding so if the idea were to die a death by apathy, there would eventually be a resurgence of desire and purpose led by a revitalized core group. Maybe some re-envisioned concepts would blossom and a new chapter would be created in the book of ‘community spirit’. Sometimes losing what we have only makes us realize what we really value.

Rob

Might be interesting to explore the possibility/potential of hosting a Christmas Market, similar to the one in Toronto (scaled down of course). This could be done in and around Victoria Park or maybe the vacant trailer park. If you haven’t been to the one in Toronto – its pretty special and worth taking in.

Walter L. Luedtke

Coburg, Germany’s Christmas Market in front of the Town Hall.comment image

Rob

Now why couldn’t the Town of Cobourg pull off something like that….but with a waterfront view!

Wally Keeler

and light up the lighthouse https://youtu.be/_AMXg0jjs90

manfred s

naturally, ’cause what’s a lighthouse for in the first place?

manfred s

political will, for starters…and the likelyhood of lots of blowback from some of the residents along the waterfront

manfred s

could be a bit crowded in the trailer park once the boats are being stored there in the off-season, Rob. 😉