Major Harbour Repairs Required

It’s not just the East Pier that needs fixing, it’s the whole harbour. Teresa Behan Deputy Director, Community Services, estimates that “repairs to all aspects of the waterfront area may be upwards of $12M including all fees (see table below). This does not include any ‘enhanced features’ and landscaping that will be proposed for the final design of the east pier project.”  Major Repairs are required for both the east and west breakwaters, the basin east and north walls and minor work on the centre pier. In addition, the estimate for rehabilitation of the East Pier has been revised upwards.  The project will also include assessments of the Fuel Dock and Coast Guard Wharf.  The amounts shown are still estimates but will be better known once construction tendering takes place.

Before 2004, the Harbour belonged to the Federal Government but in October 2004 ownership was transferred to the Town.  The problem seems to be that the harbour’s infrastructure is now either at or nearing its end of life.

Location  Work required Cost Remaining structure Life
East Breakwater Remove concrete cap, fill voids, place armour stone (130 meters) $1,750,000 Less than 5 years
West Breakwater Place additional armour stones, and bring entire west breakwater to a higher level of stability (180 meters) $975,000 (temporary) and/or $3,250,000 (permanent)  Less than 5 years
Centre Pier Failed concrete section for 6 meters $75,000 End of life at section noted and 10 years for rest of pier
Basin north wall Repair timber crib walls and install sheet piling for 210 meters $1,950,000 End of life with restrictions put in place for pedestrians only
Basin East wall Replacing sheet piles, filling voids and placing a concrete cap for 115 meters $1,170,000 End of life with suggested monthly inspections

Note: Add 10 – 15% for design engineering, tendering, and contract administration/ inspection of the construction.

Teresa adds:

In addition, the original cost estimate for the rehabilitation of the east pier was $792,000 for repairs and approximately $1,340,000 for enhancements. Upon further review and inspection, the current engineering consultant has advised that an additional ~$150,000 will be required to complete the desired rehabilitation of the east pier.

Teresa Behan at East Pier COW
Teresa Behan at East Pier COW

On a snowy December 1st, Council convened a special Committee of the Whole meeting on the East Pier to hear Teresa explain the problem (see photos).  Then at a special regular Council meeting on December 3, Council was asked to approve the next step.  That is, to request quotations for the design and tendering of the necessary harbour infrastructure repairs including condition assessments of the Fuel Dock and Coast Guard Wharf.

The expanded work has surfaced partly because the Town is pursuing an asset management plan as required by legislation. This requires an assessment of all Capital Assets owned by the Town. 

At the Special Council Meeting, the following motion was passed:

THAT Council receive this report for information purposes;

AND FURTHER THAT Council direct Staff to request quotations from Shoreplan Engineering and Riggs Engineering for the design and tendering of the necessary harbour infrastructure repairs noted in the Shoreplan Engineering report dated July 2020;

AND FURTHER THAT Council direct Staff to include the cost of Condition Assessments for the Fuel Dock and the Coast Guard Wharf in the 2021 budget;

AND FURTHER THAT given the anticipated cost of repairing the harbour walls and breakwaters, Council reviews and reprioritizes all existing waterfront capital projects as needed during the 2021 budget deliberations;

AND FURTHER THAT Council direct Staff to provide additional Information in 2021 regarding the timeline for repairs to the harbour, potential sources of funding, and the financial implications for the Town of Cobourg.

Tendering for design work (including more detailed estimates) will now happen in time to include the expected ~$750K in the 2021 budget.  This work would then be done in 2021 and tendering for construction would be in late 2021. Construction would start in 2022 and will take several years once started. Harbour operations will be maintained to some extent during construction.

There are no known upper tier Government grants to cover these costs although staff “will pursue all areas”.

Treasurer Ian Davey said that there would be no problem with the Town borrowing the required funds and with current low interest rates the pay back would be in the range of $700K to $900K per year range depending on the pay-back period.  Ian confirmed that some of the revenue from Northam Park could be used.

Until the work is done, the East and North basin walls are in danger of collapsing but they will be inspected monthly to be sure there is no immediate danger.

See the full Shoreplan report for more details.

Photos of Special “On-site” Committee of the Whole meeting

Links

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52 Comments
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Informed
8 December 2020 7:16 am

Rebuild the East pier with small water front buildings housing dining establishments accessible to pedestrian traffic only.Taxes will pay for the repairs.

Leweez
6 December 2020 3:06 pm

$12 million? Sell Lakefront Utilities and you could have the nicest pier in Canada

greengrass
Reply to  Leweez
6 December 2020 9:16 pm

Pardon Me! sell lakefront utilites when you have the cheapest electricity rates in the County!

Fact Checker
Reply to  greengrass
10 December 2020 1:50 pm

The electricity rates are the same throughout the County. All of the electricity is supplied by Hydro One at a uniform price. The delivery charge (about 25% of the total bill) varies from town to town depending on the local carrier: Hydro One, LUI, or Elexicon

For example:
LUI:
Basic customer charge $23.30
Delivery $0.0131/KWH

Elexicon:
Basic customer charge $27.19
Delivery $0.0115/KWH

Hydro One:
Basic customer charge $33.57
Delivery $$$$/KWH

greengrass
Reply to  greengrass
28 December 2020 3:46 pm

RATES MEANING THE BOTTOM LINE!

MiriamM
6 December 2020 1:09 pm

Seems to me that Town of Cobourg-Federal Government arrangements predate 2004, make it about 1964, and Mayor Jack Heenan and related harbour lands arrangements. A note appears on the Cobourg Yacht Club web site. Was money also exchanged at that time (or later) for anticipated harbour repairs? I do not know. And, I agree with the remarks the rebuild needs to last for 200 years. A unique and multi-purpose infrastructure for Cobourg to have and the cost estimate makes it about half of what it cost to build the CCC. The Cobourg waterfront and harbour may have even more future possibilities as a public asset.

Liz Taylor
Reply to  MiriamM
6 December 2020 1:20 pm

Curious also about revenue to be generated from this Miriam – CCC before closure was bringing in 980K, almost half of the Revenue shortfall of 2.1M. What kind of revenue will this the Harbour Pier bring in?

Bryan
Reply to  MiriamM
6 December 2020 1:52 pm

The purchase (transfer) agreement is dated 2002
Price $1
Cobourg agrees to keep the harbour operational for 5 years
Feds pay a one time payment in lieu of repairs $400K

Repairs needed list?
$400K spent on what?

Frenchy
6 December 2020 12:18 pm

Rebuild the piers and walls to last 200 years. Decide later what to put on top and inside them.
Didn’t the feds give us a bunch of dough to fix up the harbour when they gave it to us? Whatever happened to that money?

Bryan
Reply to  Frenchy
6 December 2020 12:29 pm

…as stated in the purchase agreement: $400K payment in lieu of repairs.

Anyone know what the money was actually spent on?

Frenchy
Reply to  Bryan
6 December 2020 6:25 pm

I’m gonna guess… money went to “general revenues” and spent on whatever the “project of the day” was on the minds of our councilors.

Last edited 9 months ago by Frenchy
Kevin
6 December 2020 9:18 am

It seems like Cobourg will have to pay millions or have no harbour. Be careful of the low interest rates for borrowing to pay for these repairs. If interest rate go up in 5 years payments will increase and/or pay back period extended. Either way this will really limit future abilities of Cobourg to provide services. With record levels of federal spending it is quite possible that taxes of some kind will be increasing. There are many people struggling now. The talk about a minimum guaranteed income will help lower income earners afford to live if there is housing for them to live in. But somebody will have to provide that income and housing. It may not be the Town of Cobourg’s responsibility to provide that housing but the citizens of Cobourg also live in Ontario and Canada and pay taxes to those governments. Taking on too much debt now will greatly limit options in the future.

Bryan
Reply to  Kevin
6 December 2020 1:02 pm

The Town typically borrows from the province (Infrastructure Ontario) at favourable terms, typically: 15 year term and 3% (give or take) interest

$12M financed at these rates would require a debt service payment of about $995K per year. At 2% the repayment would be about $927K per year.

Ian notes that revenue from Northam could be used (in part) to fund this. Northam’s surplus is probably a more accurate description of the funding source. The down side of this is that Northam’s $900-1M would not be available for other Town purposes…other capital projects, “affordable housing” or lower property taxes

In 2018 and 2019, Northam reported a surplus of $2.1M and $2.2M respectively. Northam’s June 2020 FS (6 months) show that Northam is on track to have a similar surplus in 2020.
Further, Northam has already transferred $887K to the Town in the first six months of 2020.

Liz Taylor
Reply to  Kevin
6 December 2020 4:08 pm

Minimum guaranteed income was discussed and to date is found not to be sustainable Kevin. However the increase to the minimum wage is kind of a form of this concept but supported through private industry and the public in purchase of products. Prior to OT – $560 – $616 per week as compared to $440 – $484 previously. Further assist – Provincial income taxes forgiven and rebated on minimum wage income.

Affordable Housing – I hope builders and renovating home owners will be offered good development fee and incentives for building further residential units. Nothing like good old supply and demand over socialist housing. The entrepreneurial spirit this country was built on. Sadly the Federal Government forgot to look in the supplies cupboard before encouraging such massive immigration.

Federal Election coming soon, perhaps in 2022 instead of 2023 – keep your ears tuned for sensible policies low cost to taxpayers to correct these problems.

Minimum wage is province specific – the $14. only applied to Ontario – provincial tax forgiveness is also province specific. A provincial election is much closer – hope everyone will think about policies before casting their vote. I like the direction this provincial government has taken.

Last edited 9 months ago by Liz Taylor
Kris
6 December 2020 9:10 am

I have a solution. Give it back to the Federal Government.

Wally Keeler
Reply to  Kris
6 December 2020 12:06 pm

The feds ain’t ever ever ever going to take the pier back.

Kris
Reply to  Wally Keeler
6 December 2020 12:15 pm

It’s like Cobourg should never have taken Pier over. They were warned about this happening.

cornbread
5 December 2020 10:14 am

Guess what Cobourg? We can’t affo rd this expense. Perhaps we should let it revert to an natural over time and let the coast guard station go somewhere else.

Wally Keeler
Reply to  cornbread
5 December 2020 2:13 pm

That is the sort of notion that advised against constructing Victoria Hall. That is the sort of notion that advised against the restoration of Victoria Hall, preferring a parking lot. That is the notion that devalues heritage, perceiving it as worthless. Thank goodness that Cobourg people rejected that sort of miserly notion

cornbread
Reply to  Wally Keeler
7 December 2020 9:50 am

Great comment when you probably have no “skin in the game”. Cobourg should learn how to live within its means. Good paying jobs are hard to find in Cobourg and it could be that if it were not for outsider retirees moving to Cobourg and living in high tax paying houses, this community would not have what it has today. We need new industry in Cobourg plain & simple.

Wally Keeler
Reply to  cornbread
7 December 2020 1:31 pm

Blah blah blah. I do have skin in the game, so there is no “probably” about it.

We need new industry in Cobourg plain & simple.

New industry is good to obtain, but letting the pier fall into dereliction, decay and uselessness, as you propose, will not attract new industry to Cobourg. It’s a ludicrous idea.

The proof is that your proposal received 23 thumbs down whereas my comment that generations of Cobourg residents value their heritage (Victoria Hall, Harbour) got 21 thumbs up.

cornbread
Reply to  Wally Keeler
10 December 2020 10:15 am

Thumbs Up…Thumbs Down as you said in Oct 2018 are a useless metric of measurement, so Wally…eat your words.

Wally Keeler
Reply to  cornbread
10 December 2020 10:27 am

In most cases they are a useless metric, however, when the discrepancy is this wide, it clearly indicates that your idea is a downer. Look, it’s growing wider; you now have 27 thumbs down and counting, whereas I have 25 thumbs up and growing. My words are edible whereas your words have all the nutrition of a concrete block.

Stanley
5 December 2020 9:46 am

With so much thinking about the future of the harbour it might be a good time to invite you to look again at the past as told by the Cobourg Museum here:
http://www.virtualmuseum.ca/community-stories_histoires-de-chez-nous/cobourg-harbour_port-de-cobourg/story/17-harbour-area-enjoyed-by-all/

Wally Keeler
Reply to  Stanley
5 December 2020 2:32 pm

Thanks for the refreshment, Stanley. The Museum article contained an error. “All year round, people drive out onto the East Pier” Not in winter.

Sandpiper
5 December 2020 9:36 am

Surely– This can’t be the same pier that Cobourg Councils have been repairing for the past decade
the one Terisa has made a Carrier out of .
Now we need a Tourism Tax similar to the Toll Tronto wants to place on the DVP or the Gardner . Just a thought

Greg H
4 December 2020 10:43 pm

I am always wary of politicians, or in this case civil servants, who come up with sudden disaster projections. It makes we wonder if they are trying to rush the public into spending money, or that they have not been doing their job very well.

If the repair requirements can be spread over 10 yers it would be only 1.2 million per year and should be manageable without borrowing more money.

However I think that these sudden new cash requirements mean that the Town should put an immediate freeze on current frivolous spending, including cancelling all tourism marketing, and make greater efforts to stem the financial hemoraging caused by the CCC. The most recent consultant report on how the town can save money should be seriously studied, and acted upon.

The option of just spending more money and expecting residents to pay higher taxes is not acceptable.

Liz Taylor
Reply to  Greg H
5 December 2020 5:51 am

The budget reflecrts reduced spending on CCC of 166K, Tourism Marketing 50K, reduced CCC Revenue due to closure of 950K and 2.1 million in Revenue overall. With government grant injection we have a 216,000 surplus Greg. Taxes again are being held to 0 – 1% increase and the last several years property tax increases by the town are minimal to being decreased – see link. MPAC has a great influence on tax increases due to property value increases which are phased in over 4 years and we all know that the purhcase price of a home has doubled in a few very short years for reasons I have stated with the population increase and no preparation for housing and services to accommodate such. Good news is there is now a construction boom to build the housing and infrastructure needs required yesterday.
Link – https://www.cobourg.ca/en/my-cobourg/Tax-Rates.aspx

Liz Taylor
Reply to  John Draper
5 December 2020 7:59 am

Thank you John – apparently there are some on the blog whose property taxes have doubled.
Tax IncreaseIF (a big if) the MPAC valuation of your property increases by the same amount as the AVERAGE increase for all Cobourg properties, then your annual increase will be the same as what Council announces as the tax increase. For 2021, their target is 0 to 1%. If your valuation is higher or lower than the average MPAC increase, then your taxes will increase by more (if higher) and may even go down (if significantly lower).

Seems unlikely anyone had a decrease considering the real estate market.

Sandpiper
Reply to  John Draper
5 December 2020 9:28 am

Does this mean that all those water front owners paying huge taxes will get a reduction in taxes while all this construction and noise is taking place over the next 3 + yrs

Liz Taylor
4 December 2020 2:26 pm

Marina, tree counting, sewers, the Firehall – the crumbling theatre sitting downtown. Property owners say they are stressed with almost doubled property tax. Low interest rates continue to enable so many to enter home ownership, -struggling businesses. Hopefully this can all be accomplished otherwise Cobourg could wear a tattered old dress that’s seen better days.

Conor
Reply to  Liz Taylor
4 December 2020 2:51 pm

It’s about time they fixed up the harbour. Not much has been done since I lived in Cobourg in the 1960’s when Cobourg was under federal government responsibilities. They paid for the dredging of the harbour which allowed for German freighters to bring in steel for Cobourg Wire and Cable if I not correct. I pretty well grew up on the beach although that makes me an “out of towner” now. Oh well I guess you folks are out of pocket for restoration costs now.

Liz Taylor
Reply to  Conor
4 December 2020 3:14 pm

Always surf around Conor. Whitby is another nice locale but I notice the housing prices consequently property taxes are very high there also and will increase as more people move from the Toronto area. I hear regularly of people who have sold their home in Toronto recently and are happily moving to Whitby creating higher housing prices yet there. Same thing you will need further infrastructure – transit, sewers and all the other services increased. So I guess you too will be paying for your own new true love. Does Whitby not have a Blog for you?

Last edited 9 months ago by Liz Taylor
Conor
Reply to  Liz Taylor
4 December 2020 3:32 pm

No but I have adopted Cobourg as my blog.. I still have some Cobourg blood in me or maybe it is coal dust.

Liz Taylor
Reply to  Conor
4 December 2020 3:59 pm

Don’t know Conor but much of your input tinges with bitter. As you have moved to Whitby why not embrace where you live? Cobourg is now but a memory for you. (sorry Conor, have to re-read before I post – spelling correction edit)

Last edited 9 months ago by Liz Taylor
Conor
Reply to  Liz Taylor
4 December 2020 4:39 pm

Oh I am not bitter. I just read some of the comments on here and wonder why Cobourg people are so bitter about those so called ” out of towners” They seem to have hatred for them and blame them for their high taxes. I get a kick out of it. We all have to live together don’t we?

Ken Strauss
Reply to  Conor
4 December 2020 6:41 pm

I don’t blame out-of-towners for high taxes. Our high taxes partially result from gullible Corbourgians paying for other’s recreation.

Liz Taylor
Reply to  Ken Strauss
4 December 2020 7:36 pm

I’ll keep that in mind Ken when I visit Toronto and go to the beach that I am an out of towner using their services just like here and getting it all for free!

Liz Taylor
Reply to  Conor
4 December 2020 8:04 pm

Yes Conor, we are all in this together. The home I sold back in Toronto 10 years ago would sell today for 2 1/2 times what it sold for then – and the property taxes would look a lot different on it today. Rents have gone up 75% to 150% per cent. People feel squeezed. Yet the Federal government in its wisdom has invited thousands without preparing for housing or infrastructure – bidding wars on homes – taxes to try and make up for the lack of services. That is why many are upset today and looking to defray their costs instead of writing to their MP.

Sandpiper
Reply to  Conor
5 December 2020 9:32 am

thats because you have not seen what they leave behind
and if we got to see the true cost of Tourism to the water front NOT downtown and the fact the locals don’t come here while the Toronto crowds are on the beach you might understand

Ken Strauss
Reply to  Liz Taylor
4 December 2020 6:36 pm

Whitby is another nice locale but I notice the housing prices consequently property taxes are very high there also and will increase as more people move from the Toronto area.

Excessive spending by Council rather than high property prices causes high property taxes. Consider that Toronto property is far more expensive than Cobourg but they have much lower property taxes.

Liz Taylor
Reply to  Ken Strauss
4 December 2020 7:30 pm

Except Ken you can buy a small old home in Toronto – price $800,000. The Mill rate is lower but the property tax you pay is very high for what you have in a home – come to Cobourg and buy an $800,000 home and you get brand new and beautiful. Same tax payment but here you have much more. As people go to bidding wars and the prices are driven even higher your property tax goes up proportionately. You said your taxes had doubled in the last 10 years due to the mill rate on your home If your home was only worth $400,000. (For an older home here I see them staring at $249,000, Toronto you may get a condo. 10 years ago and is now worth $950,000. no wonder it has doubled just as you couldn’t buy the same home today for $400,000. with lower property taxes. We have a smaller base of tax payers here in Cobourg therefore a higher mill rate and lower house prices.

Last edited 9 months ago by Liz Taylor
Ken Strauss
Reply to  Liz Taylor
4 December 2020 7:56 pm

The tax that an individual pays increases if his property value increases faster than the average increase for the community. If all properties increase by the same percentage then, ignoring spending increases, taxes will remain the same.

We have a smaller base of tax payers here in Cobourg therefore a higher mill rate and lower house prices.

No, having a smaller base should mean that we have fewer residents and thus smaller expenses. The only reason for a high mill rate is the extravagances of Council. Affordable housing will make things even worse since we will have more residents who want services but smaller average property values.

Liz Taylor
Reply to  Ken Strauss
4 December 2020 8:20 pm

The property value is factored in over 4 years – the mill rate is then applied to the new value. Affordable housing – Ken you really should write to your MP – I did and the MPP along with many others hence affordable housing as it is needed. Today a news report advised if you want employment and are young or reasonably go into construction as it is where the jobs are with the thousands of people that have come here and the government not seeing there is housing for them among other things. Just think the more housing and the less your home will be worth hence your taxes won’t be as high.
Here is a link Ken for property tax for Coboug going back to 2015. I see nothing about great walloping increases – this year is 0 – 1%, 2019 was 1.9%.
https://www.cobourg.ca/en/my-cobourg/Tax-Rates.aspx

Last edited 9 months ago by Liz Taylor
Ken Strauss
Reply to  Liz Taylor
4 December 2020 11:47 pm

Just think the more housing and the less your home will be worth hence your taxes won’t be as high.

I don’t understand your point. The only things that determine your property taxes are town spending, the number of properties in town and by how much your property is more or less valuable than the average in Cobourg. If every property in Cobourg were to double in value and nothing else changed there would be no change in the Cobourg portion of your tax bill. Your school taxes would however double.

Last edited 9 months ago by Ken Strauss
Liz Taylor
Reply to  Ken Strauss
5 December 2020 6:04 am

Look up MPAC Ken – your asset, your home is taxes through MPAC – value x mill rate, the tax increases by the town have barely moved as reflected since 2016. Did you review the link I sent you showing what the town increase is? It also reflects tax reductions by the town for many of those years.

Ken Strauss
Reply to  Liz Taylor
5 December 2020 8:16 am

Liz, what you are ignoring is that if the town were to keep spending constant the mill rate would decrease with increasing property values. However, in Cobourg, values increase yet the mill rate is little changed. Historical mill rate data is available at https://cobourgtaxpayers.ca/wp-content/uploads/resources/taxes/historical-mill-rates.pdf Note that the educational mill rate has decreased significantly which has reduced the impact of Cobourg/county increases.

Last edited 9 months ago by Ken Strauss
Liz Taylor
Reply to  Ken Strauss
5 December 2020 7:49 am

Ken you stated in a prior blog that taxes would increase substantially in coming years – to back your claim here is further news on the probability personal income tax will increase.

  • 800,000 people applied for and collected CERB that were not qualified and many didn’t even file income tax the prior year – try recollecting that back – people with little or no income
  • Federal grants to people suffering in the military due to sexual orientation dating back to the 50s
  • Funds provided to the Indigenous for their problems
  • Generous grants to immigrants for resettlement
  • Community building in basketball courts, activities for the poverty stricken in major cities

There are further grants issued recently by the Federal government Ken for various reasons all of these are in very sizeable amounts. So you are right. Personal income taxes will probably increase greatly. It isn’t free money these grants. Someone has to pay it in. I will add I once applied for a position with the CRA – I didn’t make the grade – the test was not on the subject matter but a mental arithmetic test.

cornbread
Reply to  Liz Taylor
5 December 2020 11:10 am

Hey everybody…property taxes are a “charge” to your investment or your “capital”. Toronto is the better deal by far…do the math.

Informed
Reply to  Conor
4 December 2020 4:57 pm

Once its all done and paid for you will be sure to drive down from whitby and enjoy it for free.

Conor
Reply to  Informed
5 December 2020 9:35 am

Sounds like an invitation. You can always visit Whitby for free of course.