Council meeting – April 20

Council are continuing to meet via video-conferencing using Zoom and even presentations are done that way.  Last night’s meeting kicked off with a 45 minute presentation from Oscar Poloni of KPMG.  He is the consultant hired to review Cobourg’s service delivery to see if it could be made more efficient.  He went through what he expected to achieve with a timeline of completion by September in time for the 2021 budget.  The only other significant agenda items were 1) to prepare an emergency policy for floods and 2) to allow the Farmer’s market to open despite Social Distancing policies.  Both of these were because Councillors had made “notices of motion” which add items to the Council’s agenda – the first by Councillors Chorley and Beatty and the second by Councillor Bureau.

Emergency Flood Plan

The existing Emergency Plan covers emergencies in general and was invoked for the Covid-19 crisis but it says nothing about what to do about floods that threaten properties in the Town.  A flood emergency plan would be an appendix to the main plan and would determine actions by the Town in the event of a flood emergency.  On April 14, the Ganaraska Region Conservation Authority (GRCA) issued a flood watch that compared this year to 2017 and 2019.  Specifically, they said:

…the water level of Lake Ontario is currently at 75.27m above sea level (as measured at Cobourg) which is 43cm above normal and 65cm below the record high set in 2019. Water levels are expected to continue to rise for the next several weeks as runoff from snowmelt and above average inflows from Lake Erie continue to make their way through the system. Lake Ontario is forecast to reach a peak water level of 75.56m by the middle of May under average rainfall, while wetter conditions would result in higher levels. The peak level of 2019 was 75.92m and 2017 was 75.88m.

The GRCA is not responsible for taking actions on the shoreline – they simply warn – municipalities are responsible for any actions, hence the emergency plan.  Council passed a motion to direct staff to prepare a flood emergency plan by September 14.  There was some concern that staff may be too busy with the Covid-19 crisis but Emily and Nicole said that the date is flexible.  The motion needs to be confirmed in the regular council meeting on April 27.

Opening of Farmers’ Market

Adam presented a motion to open the market as usual on May 2 but Staff (Brent Larmer) recommended a delay until the state of emergency ends.  The proposal from Adam on behalf of the Farmers’ market included a large number of restrictions that would enforce social distancing but also included a suggestion that customers could order food in advance for pickup.  Councillors were generally in support of the market but picked up on online ordering as the only viable solution.  There was discussion about whether the market is considered an essential service.   Although not designated as an essential service, food production and sales are essential.  However, Deputy Mayor Suzanne Séguin pointed out that many of the 24 vendors do not sell food but would be considered artisans – this is especially true at the start of the season which is before the growing season.

Reference was made to the local REKO network which is already doing online selling of food.  Councillor Burchat asked Cobourg’s IT manager Ron Jeschke about using Cobourg.ca for food e-commerce but Ron thought it not to be workable.  Instead, it was proposed that the Town’s web site include pointers and links to Farmers’ market vendors.

In the end, a motion was passed that directed staff to come up with a short term solution using on-line ordering and curbside pickup to be presented to Council at the Committee of the Whole meeting on May 11.  Meanwhile, the market will not open on May 2.

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Observer
22 April 2020 11:56 am

Flooding and Properties – saw a lovely place in Lindsay before resettling here. But on closer thought did not make an offer. It was right on the Otonabee?, don’t know the area, but it was right at the water’s edge. Afraid of flooding – buyer beware perhaps rather than expect compensation.

Canuck Patriot
22 April 2020 11:46 am

The joint motion says that in June 2019 the Emergency Planner promised a flood mitigation plan would be developed. So what progress has been made the past 10 months? It appears none.

What has the Emergency Planner been doing with her time since then and before COVID-19 other than assisting Director Hustwick with his harassment of the Dragonboaters and.the Green Canoe?

Flooding is always worse in Spring so the question that must be asked is why she didn’t give this her highest priority. And what specifically is she currently spending her time on with the COVID-19 crisis?

The fact that Council under a new procedure that prohibits any criticism or questioning of staff must resort to a motion requesting action be taken reflects how staff have again neutered Council in its ability to oversee management of our Town.

Termination is an option that would have better suited the incumbent’s inability to deliver.

Curmudgeon
Reply to  Canuck Patriot
22 April 2020 2:32 pm

What we have right here in our Cobourg is a “deep state” of faceless, unelected bureaucrats and overpaid, useless consultants.
Lock them up!
Liberate the town!
Make Cobourg Great Again!

Dubious
Reply to  Curmudgeon
22 April 2020 3:55 pm

Thanks for the reminder. MCGA (Make Cobourg Great Again) had frequent interesting posts here a few months ago. Any idea why he (she?) disappeared?

Merry Mary
Reply to  Canuck Patriot
23 April 2020 1:10 pm

“The Lake Ontario-St. Lawrence River System: Comparison Update and Outlook” is much greater than the Town of Cobourg, and it is not the responsibility of a local Planner or of an Incumbent. The water levels in our area are below the previous risk levels and are expected to remain as such based on the type of Spring to date. Did anyone do anything interesting yesterday for Earth Day?

Canuck Patriot
Reply to  Merry Mary
23 April 2020 1:54 pm

The Emergency Planner said to Council in June 2019 that she would prepare a flood mitigation plan for Cobourg. If that is not part of her responsibility she should have said so. I disagree that a plan specifically for Cobourg cannot be developed.

Ken Strauss
Reply to  Merry Mary
23 April 2020 4:54 pm

Merry, I believe that you are confused regarding lake levels. It is now about 9 inches above the same time last year and 6 inches higher than a week ago. You can get weekly updates at https://www.lre.usace.army.mil/Missions/Great-Lakes-Information/Great-Lakes-Water-Levels/Water-Level-Forecast/Weekly-Great-Lakes-Water-Levels/

Merry Mary
Reply to  Ken Strauss
23 April 2020 5:11 pm

I do receive the routinely emailed information, Ken. The water levels are below the flood risk threshold.

Ken Strauss
Reply to  Merry Mary
23 April 2020 6:27 pm

Merry, I’m unsure of the exact meaning of “flood risk threshold”. However, levels are now 9 inches above the levels at the same time last year. In 2019 many Cobourg residents plus others all along the shore of the lake suffered significant property damage due to high water. Please don’t assume that the IJC and GRCA emails (propaganda releases is more accurate) reflect the issues from the perspective of Ontario and New York state property owners; they do not!

Merry Mary
Reply to  Ken Strauss
24 April 2020 7:23 am

Frequent checks and observations of the lower water levels in the Harbour and along the shoreline of Lake Ontario tell us, residents who suffered in 2017 and 2019, what to assume and how not to be confused at this time. We are dealing with the force of nature which might change at any time. Lake Ontario receives 85% of its water from Lake Erie where residents are also unfavourably impacted and it is that 85% factor that leaves me with a lack of comprehension and with much confusion for a remedy. I do not consider the IJC and GRCA emails to be propaganda.

MiriamM
Reply to  Canuck Patriot
23 April 2020 3:32 pm

What joint motion from June 2019? (Canuck Patriot post)
The Committee of the Whole (June 24 and July 22) meeting agenda and minutes indicate a presentation by a guest, Sarah Delicate, on matters pertaining to regulation of lake levels by the International Joint Commission (IJC). A long and detailed motion was passed by Council asking all levels of government address matters on lake water levels including Plan 2014. The Town’s Emergency Planner also made a presentation but there is no motion or delegation action that I could find as follow-up to their presentation nor is there a note on the unfinished business listing. Also, no mention at the following regular meeting of Council either.
Maybe Council just formalized their ask of staff?

Canuck Patriot
Reply to  MiriamM
23 April 2020 6:05 pm

Please tead the joint motion that was approved by Council at its last meeting.

MiriamM
Reply to  Canuck Patriot
23 April 2020 8:12 pm

I did. IMO, and based upon my recollection from viewing the Council meeting at the time, it is unfair to blame the Emergency Planner (EP) or Council. In addition, I recall that the ‘other side’ of facts were not fully presented at that meeting and since that time more information has become available. For example three conservation authorities, including the local one (GRCA), collaborated on a plan for the shoreline since that June 2019 Council meeting.

Ken Strauss
Reply to  MiriamM
23 April 2020 8:50 pm

Miriam, “other side of facts”? Is there any dispute that high lake levels have damaged Cobourg’s marina and other public infrastructure plus the private properties of many Northumberland residents? Is there any dispute that flood mitigation and flood response should be a responsibility of our Emergency Planner? If such is not part of her job then what is?

MiriamM
Reply to  Ken Strauss
23 April 2020 9:09 pm

The Great Lakes are a part of a system, rather a series of connected systems. Seems the expectation on one local staff person is rather big. Just sayin’.

Ken Strauss
Reply to  MiriamM
23 April 2020 9:21 pm

Obviously we can’t fully control the Great Lakes! However, shouldn’t Cobourg have plans or at least recommended best practises regarding sandbags, pumps for condo parking garages, when to remove power from marina electrics and many other issues related to lake levels? Do we have plans for tornados? For hurricanes? For pandemics? What plans has she prepared?

Merry Mary
Reply to  Ken Strauss
27 April 2020 9:18 am

How has it been established that plans have not be prepared?

Ken Strauss
Reply to  Merry Mary
27 April 2020 10:55 am

If there were plans why are Councillors passing a resolution to obtain one? Surely if the plans were complete the emergency planner would just publish the plans and finish the matter.

Frenchy
Reply to  MiriamM
23 April 2020 9:44 pm

I think Canuck Patriot is referring to the joint motion ”at its last meeting” Miriam. The last meeting being April 20, 2020.
Notice of Motion Councillor Emily Chorley and Councillor Nicole Beatty, regarding a Flood Mitigation and Response Plan. It’s at the 51:37 mark of the Utube video.
https://cobourg.civicweb.net/document/187880?splitscreen=true&media=true

MiriamM
Reply to  Frenchy
23 April 2020 10:07 pm

Thanks Frenchy. That is the same one I read and heard also. In essence, the movers of the motion want Cobourg to be ahead of the provincial government’s mandatory directions (details yet to be decided it seems, but intentions announced in March) with regard to a flood mitigation and response plan. Nothing wrong to be proactive, but why the blame game?

Observer
Reply to  MiriamM
24 April 2020 11:45 am

I read that the St. Lawrence waterways were adjusted so that Montreal would not flood and that is the reason it is backed up and flooding here now. See “Flood Thy Neighbour” article – link provided for verification.
https://www.theglobeandmail.com/canada/article-flood-thy-neighbour-as-spring-arrives-higher-great-lakes-water/

Frenchy
Reply to  Observer
24 April 2020 11:46 pm

Sorry Observer, I don’t like to follow links in case they contain viruses.😐 Can you please cut/paste the contents here for all of us to see.

Observer
Reply to  MiriamM
24 April 2020 6:58 pm

Miriam M. – Plan 2014 says it all Miriam. So all that is left to do is prepare for a flood. Under Plan 2014 it is either Montreal that is flooded or further west into the province of Ontario. Unless the controller Cornwall is regulated prepare for a flood and buyer beware as the flood should water levels rise will be further damage – glad I didn’t buy the property in Lindsay – the Bowmanville, Brighton home owners will be flooded again just like before. Provided link on another posting.

Curmudgeon
22 April 2020 10:10 am

Ganaraska RCA warns that Mother Nature again sends snow melt runoff and high inflows from upstream into Lake Ontario. And those factors will bring high water levels again.
At least GRCA didn’t mention global warming.
But this will never do.
Somebody has to be blamed and sued.
Probably some pointy-headed science ‘experts’ and civil ‘servants’.
Brighton is already trying to do just that and get some money for the lakefront property owners who converted summer cottages into year-round homes.

MiriamM
22 April 2020 8:57 am

First, the suggested REKO business model for market vendors and customers suggested by some members of Council relies on using Facebook. This alternative has been in place in Cobourg but does anyone know if the host business, Re-Store, is willing to host this service this year? And, second, a consideration for Cobourg, from Peterborough Farmers Markets web page: “COVID-19 update April 2020 The Peterborough Regional Farmers’ Market will continue to operate every Saturday from 9:00 a.m. until 12:00 p.m. at Citi Center, at the corner of Aylmer and Charlotte Streets in downtown Peterborough. The market has adjusted operations to be an outdoor grocery store and has taken measures to ensure customer and vendor well being, health and safety. We have been in regular communication with Peterborough Public Health and they have been inspecting our operations every week. Over 20 vendors (listed below) continue to participate at the Market every Saturday. Please consider contacting these vendors and arranging preorder and prepayment, so you can quickly and safely pick up your order at market with limited social interaction. Other Market vendors have withdrawn from the market temporary, but are offering alternative modes of distribution and delivery. If you can’t find your favourite… Read more »

MiriamM
21 April 2020 4:10 pm

From a note I sent today to Council:
“What, no local ‘produce’ in early May, some say? Check again… My past purchases at early market days include … root crops from last year like potatoes, turnips, carrots, dried products like local kale and apple/veggie chips, baked goods, maple syrup and honey, handmade soaps (those will be popular as well as creams and lotions to help soothe over-washed hands), greenhouse sprouts, apple cider (frozen from last fall’s crop), frozen local meats … and not long after, heritage vegetable and flower plants I keep indoors for a few weeks until danger of frost has passed. And, now and then, a bouquet of early bloom flowers.”

Johanne
Reply to  MiriamM
21 April 2020 8:03 pm

Important are the vegetables. But social distancing is a must. And we have it in the food stores. If they cant make a deal with a local store to sell there, it won’t be possible. They can use an empty store, with their sales people work under distanciation policy. Someone could vote this resolution for discussion. Are they willing to ? That is something else of course.
It’s more work than honking around the golden plough.🚜