Review of Council Work Plan

About a year ago, with Covid-19 not on anyone’s mind, the Town of Cobourg staff were trying to follow the Strategic Plan that was approved in early 2019 (see links below).  The soon to retire CAO Stephen Peacock issued a work plan that gave staff direction on how the Strategic Plan translated into actual actions – see the link below for my detailed report on this and a copy of the Strategic Plan.  But given the disruption caused by the virus, maybe it’s time to review the key actions.  These include a Town wide CIP with a housing strategy, creating an action plan for Climate, review organization re Economic Development and Tourism, develop an Information Technology (IT) strategic plan and many detailed initiatives.  Although some of these have been done, many have not.

Stephen has not been around to direct the actions and interim CAO Ian Davey is holding down two jobs so it’s not surprising that the emphasis seems to be on maintaining the status quo and responding to the Covid-19 crisis.  But let’s look at some of the more ambitious goals/actions.

Work Time Target Current Status
Town Wide CIP – to allow the Town to provide subsidies for affordable housing anywhere in Town March 2020 Report posted on Cobourg News Blog – 3 July 2020 – CIP may possibly be completed in time for funds to be allocated in 2021 budget.
Establish a Youth Advisory Committee Jan 2020 No action or progress
Investigate the creation of additional heritage conservation districts as outlined in the heritage masterplan – Initiate and Carry out studies – RFP July 2020 Not started
Create a Climate Action Plan with input to 2021 budget Sept 2020 Not started
Review and improve the financial performance of Town operated facilities – including Memorial Arena End 2019 No report
Repair and rejuvenate the East Pier – Prepare engineering plans and tenders July 2020 Engineering work has started.
Develop an information technology strategic plan Aug 2020 Tender results from contractors in January 2020.  No contract awarded.
Work with transit authorities in the area to integrate transit services, including accessible and active transportation services – Tender west Northumberland integrated transit study RFP Dec 2019 No progress
Review feasibility of expanding Northam industrial park July 2020 No report
Review the mandate of Town’s Economic development department TBA No action or progress.
Consider creation of Town Arts, Culture and Tourism division Late 2019 Maybe idea was rejected? Or maybe this is called Community Services? No report.

Town of Cobourg LogoNote that the “Current Status” is what is visible – there may be work happening which has not yet been reported to council.  There are more actions on Stephen’s list – the above are highlights.

Other Actions

However, we have had action on items not on the list:

  • Harbour Safety Review (Aquatic Safety – Take 3)
  • A contract to restore the Stone Portico entrance to Victoria Hall was awarded.
  • Kerr Street is being built from Division to D’Arcy
  • The Planning Department is busy with multiple developments
  • Outside recruitment for a replacement CAO has proceeded and is nearly complete.
  • There have been many actions related to the pandemic – notably cancellation of all events and closure of the Beach until August 31.

There are also some new actions mandated by Council and listed under Unfinished Business on each Council meeting Agenda.

Here are some highlights as shown in the Council meeting on 27 July (some items omitted):

Unfinished Business Item Meeting Date Department/ Division Deadline Date
Terms of Reference regarding a social planning and/or Community Development Advisory Committee, regarding affordable housing.(Originally due 25 Nov, 2019) 28 Jan 2019 Legislative Department Sept 14, 2020
Traditional Land Acknowledgment Statement to be read at Council Meeting 13 May 2019 Legislative Department Sept 14, 2020
Staff Report on Innisfil Ridesharing Transit Model 27 Jan 2020 Legislative Services/ Public Works Sept 14, 2020
Motion – Flood Reduction and Mitigation Strategy 27 April 2020 Emergency Management Sept 14, 2020
Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Policy 29 June 2020 Legislative Services Aug 24, 2020
Dec 7, 2020

My conclusion is that we badly need two things:

  1. The end of the pandemic (at least the beach will be open Sept 1 – or maybe not pending a decision by Council at their next meeting)
  2. A CAO to be hired so Ian Davey can focus on money issues.

We also need the Strategic plan to be revised – or at least reviewed.

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15 Comments
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Sandpiper
17 August 2020 11:08 am

Non of these items appear to be productive and expense cutting More of the same old , make work and look busy this stuff has been kicked around for a decade
. The Town should stick with the job it was voted in to do –GOOD Governance
Not
Real estate and
development, Not CIP and playing Banker with Tax Money Affordable housing is in the hands of the County leave it there we don’t need duplication Nor do we need the Town competing with the private sector of Industrial space and leasing at sub market rents so the private sector won’t come to town and build . More Heritage committees stifling .
Sell off the Towns $$ money loosing ventures and get out from under Let a real Event & Sport group take over the CCC one that will bring in new and exciting programs , diversify the buildings use so it can become profitable
Probably efficises the whole operation some thing the town can’t or has not been able to do
We have a council not a Bunce of experts in every thing new .

Wally Keeler
Reply to  Sandpiper
17 August 2020 11:41 am

“efficises”?

ben
15 August 2020 5:51 pm

Having read six comments let’s get real – this list was compiled on the orders of the present Council, ‘crats only respond to directions, so if some reports are not satisfied it comes back to Council not doing their due diligence and followup! Blame Council and its leadership for these failings!

Merle Gingrich
Reply to  ben
15 August 2020 6:34 pm

Ben, you should become our counciler of conscience.

Bryan
Reply to  ben
15 August 2020 8:24 pm

Agree with you Ben that Council (current and prior) has been less than diligent in task followup. They don’t seem to take their oversight responsibility as a serious obligation. That said, the CAO owns a significant portion of the blame. He is responsible for operations management….seeing that stuff gets done….on time and in a cost effective manner.
An interim posting (CAO) is almost always doomed to under-deliver, so its somewhat unfair to tag Ian Davey.
Hopefully the new CAO will bring things in line promptly

Informed
Reply to  Bryan
16 August 2020 2:18 pm

Not if the CAO is a puppet to 2 or 3 councilors.

Bryan
Reply to  Informed
16 August 2020 2:29 pm

This then is where it gets interesting. Right now the new CAO is an unknown. We don’t know his background, what his/her goals are and if he/she has an “agenda”. Given the selection committee members, I believe the new CAO will be progressive, a good “team” manager, a consensus builder, a good fiscal manager, will show insight and out of the box thinking. Lastly, and most importantly, not a puppet.
I have high hopes. Time will tell

Frenchy
Reply to  Informed
16 August 2020 10:14 pm

What two or three might you be referring to Informed? And who might they be taking their cue from?

GailR
15 August 2020 10:35 am

Many thanks, John, for your excellent reporting, as always.

cornbread
15 August 2020 8:29 am

Coburg is trying to be “too much” to “too many”…we can’t afford this wish list. Staff/Council..get back to work and stop dreaming up more wish lists.

JimT
Reply to  cornbread
15 August 2020 9:53 am

OK, but us locals usually spell it “Cobourg”.

cornbread
Reply to  JimT
15 August 2020 11:23 am

Thanks Jim…Oh, it must have been a slip of the finger on the “o”. After 26 years as a taxpayer in Cobourg, I consider myself to be a local although I have not as yet purchased a burial plot in any of our lovely cemeteries. Cheers…

JimT
Reply to  cornbread
16 August 2020 8:36 am

I knew that, of course. It’s just that making snarky comments is one of the few diversions I can still manage at this point in my life.

Last edited 2 months ago by JimT
michal Hasek
15 August 2020 8:14 am

This must be written by Monty Python.

Dunkirk
14 August 2020 9:03 pm

This is a great status report , John D. Sadly it really is a bureaucrats wish list of items whose quality of completion really has no standard of measure. If I was a shareholder in the town(and maybe all of us are..?) I’d be selling my shares after reading this…
Lets hope the new CAO comes in and makes his/her own list. Maybe there could actually be some benchmarks in terms of time & money to justify the strategy?
Our poor Council needs some reliable information and be served with some ‘yes’ or ‘no’ actions to take.