At the Council meeting on March 16, Councillors decided to cancel the following meeting scheduled for March 30 so that the next meeting will be April 6 which is about the date when most of the Covid-19 restrictions will either stop or be renewed. At the March 16 meeting, Interim CAO Ian Davey reported on what the Town has been doing – most of which has been already reported publicly. There was nobody in the public gallery and no media were there – no doubt they heeded the advice to watch the meeting online. But Police Chief Paul VandeGraaf was there and in response to questions from Councillor Emily Chorley, spoke about how the Police were responding, particularly in regard to homeless people.
The meeting was chaired by Deputy Mayor Suzanne Séguin because Mayor Henderson did not attend. Neither did Councillor Nicole Beatty – although no reason was given for their absence.
Councillors (and the Chief) discussed the crisis and made a few comments and some decisions:
- To limit danger to staff, all Municipal buildings will be closed to the Public effective March 17;
- There&’s nothing the Town can do to help businesses; it&’s also not the Town&’s place to tell businesses to shut down;
- Town staff will be allowed to work from home where practical but this is often not the case. They will “work with staff” who have to stay home because of children;
- Police calls over the weekend were slightly below usual;
- David Sheffield of the Greenwood Coalition asked for consideration of homeless people and pointed to recent changes at the Police Comfort Centre;
- The chief said that furniture at their comfort centre had recently been changed to plastic that could be properly cleaned. He said that it was never intended to be for sleeping and in fact the centre does not meet standards for that and overnight sleeping will soon be banned.
- It was mentioned several times that looking after homeless people was a County responsibility although the Town would cooperate with them. The Town does not have staff with appropriate expertise nor the facilities to assist in this.
- Council nevertheless passed a motion to ask the County to call a meeting to coordinate issues regarding shelter and accommodation (e.g. WiFi) for homeless people. Attendees would include Police, the Town, the County and other stakeholders.
- All further Council meetings will be cancelled in March (that is, the meeting scheduled for March 30)
- A by-law was modified so that for Emergency or Special meetings remote participation via electronic means would be allowed except that the member attending remotely would not count towards a quorum (4 of 7 for Cobourg) nor be able to vote in closed sessions.
The meeting then continued with its agenda.
- In her Coordinator report, Emily Chorley said that the Marine reservation system would be open on April 1, that the boat lift-in was scheduled for May 16, several engineering tenders were being organized for the Harbour and the Marina Electrical system upgrade would hopefully be ready for the coming boating season
- In his Coordinator report, Aaron Burchat said that the CIP for Affordable & Rental Housing is on hold – the stakeholder meetings and open house have been postponed although the draft CIP document will be put online at Engage Cobourg in the next 2 weeks.