Last Council Meeting for 2020

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

Business attraction

Tracey Vaughan
Tracey Vaughan

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.

Downtown development
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.

Budget Meeting

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.

Director Laurie Wills
Director Laurie Wills

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:

  1. Reducing size of banners and baskets and keeping existing poles and fixtures
  2. Replacing with plain new steel poles or
  3. Replacing with fluted new aluminum poles.

Cost Options

Option Fixture
$ / Each Total $ + HST
1 A $1,600 $275,200
  B $2,075 $356, 900
  C $1,125 $193,500
2 A $3,825 $657,900
  B $4,300 $739,600
  C $3,350 $576,200
3 A $9,250 $1,591,000
  B $9,725 $1,672,700
  C $8,775 $1,509,300

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.


Public Works Budget presentations

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21 December 2020 5:30 pm

With the current economy, most citizens in Cobourg are most likely planning LESS expenditures in 2021.
Why is our town not planning a reduction in expenditures in 2021? Let’s get real…how many homeowners won’t be able to pay their house taxes next year? Time to tighten the belt…cut out the frills.

Reply to  cornbread
25 December 2020 8:09 am

cornbread – they are making service cuts – Micro Transit and delay on hiring. Look for further service cuts in the new year.

Ken Strauss
Reply to  Pat
25 December 2020 1:26 pm

Pat, there may be service cuts but, based on the draft operating budget, they plan to increase spending by over $600,000. An increase in spending is not an austerity plan!

Reply to  Ken Strauss
25 December 2020 10:38 pm

Of course! But service cuts will be brought in strongly and have begun.

Ken Strauss
Reply to  Pat
26 December 2020 9:55 am

Cobourg has numerous expensive frills that pander to special interest groups — Art Gallery of Northumberland, Dressler House, outdoor adult fitness park, lawn bowling, marina, etc — that can be eliminated long before reducing the essentials. Paying higher taxes but getting less should be a recipe for a taxpayer revolt.

Last edited 2 years ago by Ken Strauss
Wally Keeler
21 December 2020 12:37 pm

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.

Should have been established long ago. Good to know it will happen going forward.

Ken Strauss
Reply to  Wally Keeler
21 December 2020 2:47 pm

Meters on residential streets? Will residents and their visitors have to pay to park?

Wally Keeler
Reply to  Ken Strauss
21 December 2020 3:14 pm

Who said meters? Pay & display.
Residents free, visitors not.

Ken Strauss
Reply to  Wally Keeler
21 December 2020 6:48 pm

How exactly will that work? As a resident can I have multiple cars? If so, how many cars? Do I need to register a new car prior to parking? Do I have to apply for a permit? How about a rental car? How about a trailer? How many permits per residence? How about relatives (son/daughter/brother) who are visiting? Do basement apartment renters get parking permits? You have argued that we cannot charge tourists to use our beach due to difficulties but this sounds even more challenging and subject to abuse.

Wally Keeler
Reply to  Ken Strauss
21 December 2020 9:29 pm

I agree with you — free parking for everyone from everywhere. The questions you raised changed my opinion. It’s a project unworthy of the effort. Besides, the traffic chaos during summer weekend events is amusing to behold, especially for those using manual wheeled vehicles.

Reply to  Wally Keeler
22 December 2020 9:44 am

The town should issue “Guest Passes” to home owners on residential streets where and if they have installed/require paid parking.

Liz Taylor
Reply to  Wally Keeler
22 December 2020 12:50 pm

Where I live residents clog up the streets, not visitors. Some have access to pay parking but don’t want to pay, others have paid but leave their spot open and park on the street overnight as they can’t be bothered walking from the lot, others drift from their driveway homes to park on the street there – perhaps restrictions of parking in their exclusive enclave driveways? Further developments have just come in – we’ll be up to our armpits in parked resident cars. Great venue for needed town revenue through parking tickets.

Last edited 2 years ago by Liz Taylor
Reply to  Wally Keeler
22 December 2020 4:29 pm

You have that all wrong. It should be visitors free and residents pay.

Liz Taylor
Reply to  Conor
22 December 2020 7:23 pm

Conor – I posted as these people with access to parking and others living in homes complete with driveways and garages totally park up the street. Many squeeze in in a non-parking spot with their front end protruding – all for the sake of not paying for the available parking supplied or in their homes driveways. Many children in the area darting out into the street – wonder if it will take one of them being killed to have something done about this irresponsible behaviour for absolutely no reason. There is also further development of housing there.

Last edited 2 years ago by Liz Taylor
Reply to  Liz Taylor
22 December 2020 7:32 pm

I understand I was just making jest of the situation. We have the same problems in Whitby.

Wally Keeler
21 December 2020 12:23 pm

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 …

1.  There are no plans.
2.  There is a planned … plan plus
3.  a review to help form a plan.

Reply to  Wally Keeler
21 December 2020 2:35 pm

OMG… head is spinning too, Wally!

Wally Keeler
Reply to  Ken
21 December 2020 6:05 pm

I plan to plan a plan for a poem.

Reply to  Wally Keeler
21 December 2020 7:27 pm

Perhaps a Christmas Haiku?

Just Wondering
21 December 2020 7:36 am

When the parking meters were first installed, I guess 7 years ago, I wondered how the town could have been so shortsighted not to install pay and display machines. The technology certainly existed, it would have been far cheaper, it would have eliminated the need for people to carry change and finally it would require far less manual intervention. Why did this not happen?

Canuck Patriot
Reply to  Just Wondering
21 December 2020 8:56 am

Ask Bill Watson who was Director at the time. However, he.may be hard to track down as his subsequent job as Brighton’s CAO was short lived.

John L. Hill
Reply to  Just Wondering
21 December 2020 8:57 am

Not only would pay and display eliminate the need for clearing cash from the meters, it would eliminate the need for painting designated parking spots. Only restricted areas would need painting.

Reply to  Just Wondering
21 December 2020 8:58 am

Perhaps there was a desire to create employment by requiring manual collection and handling of payments?

Liz Taylor
Reply to  Just Wondering
21 December 2020 9:00 am

Just Wondreing – Perhaps as there had not been a charge previously for parking there. Nothing like seeing a great big old parking meter staring one in the face to remind you it is pay parking. A kiosk down the street would be much less noticeable and people would easily walk away not realizing they must pay. Today so many I talk to from large centres – plan to move out to smaller centres, look at the residential growth development in Cobourg. Now that everyone is used to the meters they know they must pay and just think as Cobourg grows as it is pointed out a credit card can be used the fees can be raised and raised as the town continues to grow. Who every heard of using a credit card for the present $1.00 needed max for parking time. My thoughts Just Wondering – anybody else?

K Krakenberg
Reply to  Liz Taylor
21 December 2020 10:11 am

I’m assuming if it would take a credit card it would also take a debit card which would be the most preferred option for many people for such a low value. Can someone clarify? I’d also think this would mean signs at each parking spot referring to the kiosk to pay at. Perhaps the existing poles could be capped and use to hold such a sign.

Liz Taylor
Reply to  K Krakenberg
21 December 2020 10:18 am

Don’t know – debit wasn’t mentioned. Presently 10 cents buys 8 minutes – $1.00 therefore buys 80 minutes – enough time to have lunch, shop but new rates may be coming – great idea by the way about keeping posts to mark parking. Nothing like being boxed in!

Reply to  Just Wondering
21 December 2020 10:16 am

Just Wondering, you asked why not pay and display instead of meters at the time metres were installed.The folks, including me, who wanted pay and display at the time were over ruled, put simply. Other posters here have noted reasons why meters were selected. Now, more than ever, accessibility is a factor and cleaning paths out to each meter in winter adds costs to maintenance also. However, let’s not get pay and display machines that are too big for the street. And, with P&D, receipts for paid parking will be possible too. There are distancing considerations for locating such machines and it looks like more details have to be worked out.
On a related topic, I hope downtown streetlights are repaired and refitted with new light technology and more robust bases rather than being replaced entirely.

Bill Thompson
Reply to  MiriamM
21 December 2020 11:20 am

If I recall correctly when the parking meters were being installed on Church Street I asked one of the workmen why they were so rusty .
He replied they were used ones that used to be in the marina area and had been kept in the cellar of the town hall.

Reply to  MiriamM
21 December 2020 9:01 pm

“It seemed like a good idea at the time…”