Council’s regular meeting on December 14 covered a lot of ground and it was followed by two budget submissions meetings. Earlier posts covered some issues but not all – this post will attempt to partially fill the gap. Topics covered in the regular meeting included a decision to terminate an agreement with the County on Economic development, an update on Brookside and a planned demolition of downtown buildings to permit a future development. Then Tuesday’s budget meeting included discussion of micro-transit as covered previously but also several other interesting projects. These included re-construction of Albert Street, downtown street lights, replacing parking meters with “pay and display” downtown and renovating the West Beach boardwalk. Both meetings also included other more routine items.
Regular Council Meeting
Currently Cobourg pays $45,000 per year to the County to contribute to the cost of a “Manufacturing Attraction Specialist” in the County’s Economic Development Department. But the recent KPMG report pointed out that there have been “no meaningful outcomes that have benefited the Town” so CAO Tracey Vaughan suggested that the Town terminate the agreement. Council agreed so the Town will be giving the County the required 12 months’ notice to terminate. When Councillor Adam Bureau asked what plans are in place to do the work of attracting manufacturing to Cobourg, Tracey said that at this time there are no plans. However, a planned Economic Development Strategic plan plus an organization review will help formulate a plan in time for a proposal for the 2022 budget as to how best to spend the $45K for economic development in Cobourg.
In the discussion a few months ago about Transition House, a number of people suggested that since Brookside is underutilized, it could be re-purposed. Even if it’s not used for that, you have to wonder why the Provincial Government continues to operate the facility with a reported low occupancy. In July of this year, Councillor Beatty moved that Council request staff to formally ask the relevant Ministry for a status update. Her motion was approved. The reply (dated 26 November) was provided at the December 14 Council meeting but it didn’t help much. Basically it said that since there is now “a focus on prevention, diversion and community-based programs”, there is “a 78 per cent reduction in the number of youth admitted to custody and detention in Ontario”. The letter noted that the Brookside Youth Centre is the “only directly-operated secure custody/ detention facility for youth in East Region” and “the Ontario government is presently reviewing all youth open and secure custody facilities as per the Provincial Budget announcement”. There was no indication of when that would be completed.
Councillor Beatty reported that the Town had received a request for a demolition permit for the buildings at the South West corner of Albert and Division. This includes the old Cogeco building at 9 Albert plus the house at 185 Division. The buildings are not designated Heritage. The owner said he plans a future development.
Albert Re-construction Capital Project at an estimated cost of $785K. Engineering work for this project was completed last year and tenders will close December 22. Work required includes reconstructing Albert Street between Hibernia and Third Street, replacing the sanitary sewers and watermain plus 65 m of storm sewer. It will also include upgrading the traffic signal at the Albert Street and Hibernia Street intersection.
Downtown Heritage Street lights – cost between $275K and $1.7M, depending on option selected. The presentation by Director of Public Works Laurie Wills said that the poles, lamp fixture and lamps should all be replaced although not necessarily all at one time or immediately. In every case the new lamps would be LED replacing the current induction type. Three fixture types were offered and two pole types were offered. The problem with the poles is that the heavy hanging baskets plus the banners supported in the summer cause an overload on the poles. The banners act as a sail due to their large area and wind causes the poles to flex at the base so that they degrade and are at risk of falling down.
Options to resolve this include:
- Reducing size of banners and baskets and keeping existing poles and fixtures
- Replacing with plain new steel poles or
- Replacing with fluted new aluminum poles.
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See full presentation in links below for images of fixture types and additional details.
Laurie also offered several implementation options including spreading the cost over several years and/or only replacing poles when they fail. Her nominal budget request for 2021 on this project was $500K.
Pay and Display King and Third
The meters on King Street are averaging 7 years old and are creating a maintenance burden as the mechanisms cannot be fixed locally if at all and typically are replaced when they stop working. In 2019, the Town suffered an extensive amount of damage to parking meters and theft of fares. During busy tourist season, the meters are filled up more frequently than they can be emptied by staff. To empty the meters it takes two staff members nearly a half day to complete plus time for a finance staff member to sort and count.
In 2021/22, Staff are proposing to replace the King Street and Third Street meters with pay & display machines so that as well as solving current problems they will add a payment by credit card option. Each machine costs $7,200 including tax, supply, delivery and installation. Total cost in 2021: $21,600.
Mayor John Henderson remarked that he would like to see paid parking extended so that the large number of summer visitors parking in residential streets would be charged. Councillor Brian Darling said that the Transportation Advisory committee is already discussing this.
West Beach Boardwalk
Laurie Wills said that the boardwalk at the West beach needs to be repaired and upgraded since the wood underneath the walking surface is rotting out. The budget request is for $30K to do design work with actual work in 2022. Laurie said that “a replacement boardwalk will not be as simple as it once was 15 years ago. The design will incorporate a wider platform to accommodate cyclists, accessibility, safety guard rails for areas that are higher than 60cm off the ground, a sustainable and low maintenance construction material, and lighting in accordance with the recommendations of the Waterfront User Needs Study.”
The week of 14 December had three Council meetings – a regular Council meeting and two Budget presentation meetings, Although I report on what I consider to be highlights, citizens are encouraged to view the complete meetings. The new escribe system makes finding agendas and videos of meetings much easier. Go here and click on “upcoming”. See also links below for selected Council documents.
The draft budget is scheduled to be online for public feedback on December 22. This should be edited from budgets presented to meet the target of no more than 1% tax increase.
- KPMG Report – Service Levels Review” Final Report – 16 November 2020
Public Works Budget presentations