Cobourg Planning Update – Highlights

At Monday’s Council meeting, Councillor Nicole Beatty, in her coordinator role, reported on activity in the Planning Department.  Her list was long and included projects adding perhaps 1000 new housing units – most of these in Cobourg’s East End but some in the West part of Town.  Although there is a list of planning projects on the Town’s web site, Nicole’s list was longer and included some interesting updates.  She did not provide a publicly available transcript [Update: full Transcript now available – see Links – Thanks Nicole] but I have provided highlights below including updates on some old projects as well as newer ones.  See the links below if you want the whole thing.  She finished with a comment on how busy the Department was and that it was understaffed but hoped to hire two planners soon.

Highlights

Included are additional details that were not part of Nicole’s report. Photo is file photo of Nicole from 2019.

Councillor Nicole Beatty
Councillor Nicole Beatty
  • The Densmore Meadows Condo development is located north of St. Mary’s and was approved in 2013.  Selling started in about 2017 but although pre-servicing work has been completed, “construction has stalled and the property is under power of sale”.  There are discussions with potential buyers but there is no date for completion.
  • The Golden Plough Lodge has received final approval subject to ratification which will come to Council shortly.  Construction is expected to start this Fall.  Details here.
  • The Balder project on University and William has been approved – construction is expected to start “in the coming weeks”.  Details here.
  • The new Mall Strip Plaza and driveway re-alignment have been approved and construction can start.  More here and an update here.
  • The new 6 plex in New Amherst  has been approved and  construction is expected to start “in the coming weeks”.  This will be a three storey building with 6 units and is proposed for the SE Corner of New Amherst Blvd. & Charles Wilson Parkway.
  • The Holiday Inn Express next to Home Depot is approved except for work needed on sanitary sewers.  More here.
  • The expansion/conversion of Foodland to Sobeys has been delayed – the latest is that construction should start in 2021.  Details here
  • The Legion project is nearing completion.  That’s a new “clubhouse” on the ground floor with Condos above on what was originally their car park.  Occupancy is expected in the Fall and then the old building will be demolished to become their new car park.  When proposed it was contentious and was the subject of an OMB hearing which the Town lost.  A little bit more here.
  • The Certo building on the old Kraft property is falling down but FSD Pharma promised to restore it.  Although FSD Pharma is no longer growing Cannabis and has the property up for sale, they have now hired a company to  restore the south gable brick wall and replace the roof.  Work is expected to start in the next few weeks.  More on FSD Pharma here. More on the Certo Building here.
  • In December 2019, a Town wide Community Improvement Plan was started with the idea of providing incentives to build affordable housing. More details here. A page to gather citizen input was started on Engage Cobourg with a schedule that was extended due to the Covid-19 crisis (completion is now scheduled for October 2020).  Nicole said that the resulting documents would be on that page for citizen review starting September 1.  She also announced that there will be a public meeting in the Concert Hall at Victoria Hall on September 28 at 5:00 pm – subject to Victoria Hall being open by then.
  • Work on the delayed Comprehensive Zoning ByLaw review has restarted and is now expected to be completed by September 2021.

If you want to know the status of a project not included in my highlights, you could start by watching the video of Nicole giving her report – see link below.  More details are on the Planning Department’s web page (also see link below) but not all projects are listed there.

Links

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Cobourg taxpayer
7 September 2020 9:24 pm

Oh great hiring two more municipal government employees while many others are being rapidly promoted up the ladder and pay scale. Why does the director of community services now have an assistant director? How about fewer staff? While all government jobs increase in numbers, private businesses downtown close.

Informed
Reply to  Cobourg taxpayer
8 September 2020 5:53 pm

In this case there is no correlation between hiring two more municipal staff for those positions and that of retail stores closing.

Ken Strauss
Reply to  Informed
8 September 2020 6:20 pm

Informed, I believe that you are mistaken regarding the lack of correlation. Hiring more municipal staff increases taxes. Increased taxes makes it harder for a retail store to make a profit. A store that cannot make a profit closes.

Informed
Reply to  Ken Strauss
8 September 2020 9:07 pm

A town without enough planners will have existing planners looking elsewhere for work. Growth is needed to expand our tax base or commercial tenants etc will look elsewhere if there are unnecessary delays because of understaffing. An expanded tax base will lower taxes in the long run.

Last edited 2 months ago by Informed
Ken Strauss
Reply to  Informed
8 September 2020 9:14 pm

Perhaps but the original comment was “Why does the director of community services now have an assistant director?” How does that new hire relate to planners?

Informed
Reply to  Ken Strauss
8 September 2020 10:12 pm

I dont think it does

Fact Checker
Reply to  Informed
8 September 2020 11:21 pm

Informed:

You wrote “An expanded tax base will lower taxes in the long run….“. How many years is a “long run”.
Is this an assumption (speculation) or based on a competent third party study?
Cobourg has been growing at a fairly consistent rate for the past 5-10 years. I don’t believe that property taxes have decreased in that time.

Informed
Reply to  Fact Checker
9 September 2020 7:08 am

Its my opinion based on what I learned years ago studying micro and macro economics. Property taxes generally never decrease and Cobourg taxes are definately not low. Losing a major manufacturer such as Kraft Food was a major set back so we must continually attract new business to grow the tax base.

Ken Strauss
Reply to  Informed
9 September 2020 9:04 am

Alternatively, Informed, we could do as any prudent business or person would do: If income decreases then reduce spending! Don’t waste money on unnecessary frills such as consultants preparing “masterplans”, an un-affordable art gallery that very few visit, expansion of the harbour, unwanted sidewalks, replacing water meters that still work well, etc, etc.

Informed
Reply to  Ken Strauss
9 September 2020 10:38 am

I agree but my original comments were directed more to the news of hiring additional planners if warranted.

JimT
3 September 2020 11:50 am

The details of the new Balder building on University Ave. west (3 July 2019) says they plan to “…build a new 4 storey 71 unit apartment building with 14 affordable units”.
The implication I take from that is that the other 57 units will not be affordable.

Informed
Reply to  JimT
3 September 2020 6:11 pm

I think it implies that the developer is interested in capitizing on his investment yet is creating 14 affordable units . Good for them. Thats 14 more than we had.

SW Buyer
Reply to  Informed
3 September 2020 9:40 pm

Balder isn’t doing this entirely from the goodness of their heart. The Town had to kick in some dollars and other concessions to make it happen. The Town should get a tip of the cap also.

Affordability is a somewhat flexible term. It all depends on the market segment being considered. CMHC’s definition is a bit richer than the County’s

Informed
Reply to  SW Buyer
3 September 2020 9:57 pm

Good point

Wally Keeler
Reply to  SW Buyer
4 September 2020 10:54 am

The Town should definitely get a tip of the hat, because they represent the compassionate generosity of most Cobourg residents, rather than the whiney tightwads of a few miserly Cobourg residents.

Bryan
Reply to  Wally Keeler
5 September 2020 4:02 pm

Wally:
I agree with you that the Town’s help with this project is a reflection of the compassionate generosity of most Cobourgers. However, it is the County’s mandate to be responsible for social housing, not the Town’s.

I believe that the County could (and should) do more. Northumberland residents should encourage (push) the County to do so. .
Unfortunately, County Council is not an elected body so it is difficult to apply public pressure. County issues are rarely addressed at municipal Council.

Perhaps a way is to get local Councillors involved and have them pressure the Mayor(s) who are the County Councillors.
Do delegations to local Council and ask Council to direct the County to produce more tangible “social housing” projects and results.

Cobourg and Port Hope have a greater say in County affairs due to proportionate (population) voting power

Involve the local MPP David Piccini as well.

Wally, you and others who frequent this blog are smart, creative and skilled writers. Put your talents to work. Lobby local and County Councils for what you believe needs to be done.

Last edited 2 months ago by Bryan
JimT
Reply to  SW Buyer
6 September 2020 11:17 am

My point was that, if only 14 units are literally “affordable” then it would seem that no one can “afford” to live in any of the remaining 57 units. Which is not the intended meaning, obviously.

ben
Reply to  Informed
5 September 2020 8:19 am

“Thats 14 more than we had”

Granted but a mere pittance when we have 900 people on the housing list for Northumberland!

Canuck Patriot
Reply to  ben
5 September 2020 11:33 am

Always ungrateful. Can you ever say thanks even if you don’t consider it enough?

Attitudes like yours are what turn people off to social assistance if all you can do in return is complain and demand more.

Wally Keeler
Reply to  Canuck Patriot
5 September 2020 1:23 pm

Ben is as much of a Canadian Patriot as pseudonymous you. And he ain’t afraid to own his comment with a real living human name. And he stepped up the plate to run for election. Never seen a pseudonym step forward to take any responsibility other than as a self-righteous scold.

Canuck Patriot
Reply to  Wally Keeler
5 September 2020 3:37 pm

Never disputed whether he’s a Canadian Patriot. Whether he is or isn’t, whether he uses his name or a pseudo is irrelevant. A little appreciation rather than constant griping about not enough is not asking for much.

Wally Keeler
Reply to  Canuck Patriot
6 September 2020 11:55 pm

he uses his name or a pseudo is irrelevant. A little appreciation rather than constant griping about not enough is not asking for much.”

It is relevant, because you are making personal remarks about him. I know him personally and I know that he is not what you are making of him. I trust Ben because I know him in person as flesh and blood. You are just a pseudonym without flesh and blood and unworthy of trust.

You assert that Ben is ungrateful. He is not, He has poured blood sweat and tears to improve this town over many many years. By comparison I have never seen a pseudonym run for election, nor have I ever seen a pseudonym put their human name to the test. If there is any ingratitude around here it is whiney self-righteous grump. You should be grateful to Ben, who has put far more effort to improve this town than have you.

ben
Reply to  Canuck Patriot
6 September 2020 3:25 pm

Always ungrateful. Can you ever say thanks even if you don’t consider it enough?”

I don’t recall that this article that illustrates the miniscule effort by local authorities was to be welcomed with accolades and cheers.

The 14 units in the Balder complex are already spoken for with an agreement with a local womens’ shelter, thus the great majority of the 900 on the wait list will still be unhoused.

Benevolence is not always good when the majority of the benefit goes to the benefactor.

And the gall of the writer to infer that I am an ungrateful SOB that does nothing but complain is insulting.

I will surely give thanks to those who provide benefits but in this case you can hear my one hand clapping!

Wally Keeler
Reply to  ben
7 September 2020 1:20 pm

I know for a fact Ben, that you have put more effort into improving the Town than any pseudonym, and you own your remarks, instead of hiding behind a mediocre pseudonym. Canuck Patriot. How would anyone know that the pseudonym really is a Patriot.

Many times you, Ben, and I have been on opposite sides of a political issue, but I am grateful that you have taken your civic responsibilities to improve this Town over many many many years. That is the kind of civic engagement to be encouraged and it is a pity that self-righteous pseudonyms who have done so much less, call you out as an ingrate. Typical pseudonyms.

Frenchy
Reply to  Wally Keeler
7 September 2020 1:45 pm

How do you know that for a fact? You don’t even know who most people here using a pseudonym are, never mind how much they have contributed to our town.
If Canuck patriot had a great pseudonym instead of a mediocre one would his/her comment(s) be as good as Ben’s?😄
And… you used the word pseudonym 5 times in that dumb post.🤣 Give it a rest.

Wally Keeler
Reply to  ben
5 September 2020 1:19 pm

A hat tip to the Town for the very lucky 14. Kiss, kiss, kiss, kiss, kiss, kiss, thanks thanks, thanks, thanks, thanks. Now let’s get on with the glorious generosity of helping the other 886 people on the housing list. At the rate of 14 per year, it will be 2083 before all in need will have a shelter. Perhaps the Town could add a dollar extra to the charges to be levied on non-residents for use of the beach. Call it the social assistance supplement.

JimT
Reply to  Wally Keeler
5 September 2020 2:17 pm

And yet the County is going to tear down a perfectly functioning facility at Golden Plough Lodge – plumbing, heating, electricals – all in fine working order. Perfect for a fast conversion to housing units for those without homes.

My ten bucks says it would cost less to convert as much of the existing complex as is currently needed for basic accommodation for those in need than it will to tear it down and dispose of the resulting detritus.

Last edited 2 months ago by JimT
SW Buyer
Reply to  JimT
5 September 2020 3:20 pm

JimT: You have a valid suggestion.
You should suggest it to the the County and require a non-fluffy answer as to why it is not being done.

Please share the results of your suggestion/inquiry.

Paul Pagnuelo
Reply to  JimT
5 September 2020 3:54 pm

Excellent suggestion which the County should adopt before demolition starts and it’s too late. They also need to reconfigure the new layout to reflect the COVID reality. No shared rooms. And scrap the archive in place of additional patient rooms.

A new GP, convert the existing one to affordable housing and turn Brookside into a transition and drug rehab centre. We have an MPP whose voice is being heard at QP and who has been working full speed at improving the quality of life for our residents. Perhaps with the right funding and a strong dose of common sense all three can happen with David Piccini’s assistance.

Informed
Reply to  Wally Keeler
7 September 2020 1:19 pm

What can you contribute to alleviate the wait list?

Informed
Reply to  ben
5 September 2020 4:56 pm

Bet you any of the 14 will be happy

Wally Keeler
Reply to  Informed
7 September 2020 1:26 pm

Yes they will be happy. And the remaining 886 will not be happy for many many years to come.

Sandpiper
Reply to  JimT
4 September 2020 8:59 am

This gets them all those extras by using those Key words Nicole Beatty likes to throw around Affordable , & Sustainable , In any event they got reductions of Development charges and development cost etc. and who knows and enforces that those units stay as Affordable
What is affordable In PEEL region they are bringing in 3000 new units at rents between $750 & $800 not the $1600 .– figure used around Cobourg

SW Buyer
Reply to  Sandpiper
4 September 2020 10:03 am

This is the range that Trinity is aiming for. The units in Peel are likely owned by Peel Regional Housing and would have subsidized, geared to income, rents similar to the County’s housing.
Balder’s units are not this. It will be interesting to see what the rents actually are for the 14 “affordable” units and the 57 non-affordable ones.

JimT
Reply to  SW Buyer
4 September 2020 12:26 pm

Myself, I can’t imagine living in an apartment without a deck or balcony of some kind to step out onto occasionally – “affordable” or not.
I’m not claustrophobic, but not comfortable living in a totally enclosed space like that, either.

Rob
Reply to  JimT
4 September 2020 1:37 pm

Your point is a good one however when you live in poverty your immediate needs are quite simple in terms of ensuring the very basic human needs are taken care of. Once you have physiological (food, water, shelter) and safety (security, employment) needs satisfied you can concern yourself with finding a room with a view.

JimT
Reply to  Rob
5 September 2020 8:15 am

But it’s not just the “affordable” apartments that have no balconies; none of them do except the top floor, according to the information I can find.

They’re allowed to build apartment buildings with no balconies, to be rented at “market” rents? Surely we can do better than that. Build apartments that at least have a balcony or deck, or don’t build at all.

Now I am starting to feel claustrophobic.

Last edited 2 months ago by JimT
Kevin
Reply to  JimT
4 September 2020 5:35 pm

There was a presentation at the library some time ago. CMHC is providing some funding (loans?) with the condition of some affordable units. Affordable in this case is the CMHC definition. The other units will rent for market rates which are quite high because of the very low number of vacancies. The CMHC will likely require the rent role as a condition of the funding.

Nicole Beatty
3 September 2020 8:40 am

John, thanks for writing an article about the Planning Department updates. If you’d like a copy of the transcript you can email me at nbeatty@cobourg.ca to request it.