Budget Meeting – Beach and Events

The budget meeting last Thursday and Friday covered a lot of ground – budgets for all departments were reviewed so staff and councillors talked about many issues and provided a lot of insight into what is being planned for 2021.  For example, what’s happening because of the pandemic; what projects will go ahead; will Tourism be encouraged?  As several Councillors said, it’s too early to decide whether the Beach should be open or how it should be managed but this certainly is an important subject.  Although budgets decide on money allocation, Council budget decisions also point to what staff should spend their time on.  Below are some of the things that Council and Staff mentioned and decided and help us understand what is likely (but not certain) to happen in this uncertain year.

Budget Meeting – Beach and Events

A future article will cover Police, Fire and a large number of other items

  • Council and Staff expect that there will be no major events this year: No waterfront Festival, No Sandcastle Festival, no Movies in the Park and only virtual Canada Day celebrations (no fireworks).  Others like the Highland Games and Rib Fest are not budget items but are also likely to be cancelled.
  • In any event, Council debated whether there should be Beach Lifeguards.  If the beach is open, smaller crowds are expected, few other beaches provide lifeguards, it’s debatable whether it helps reduce liability and there are times when there are no lifeguards anyway.  Council passed a motion to cancel lifeguards for 2021 for a savings of $109K.
  • A decision is needed by May first as to whether the Beach will be open so a canteen contract can be organized.  It is currently planned to open beach washrooms with covid-19 rules being followed.
  • The number of summer students for Victoria Hall, Tourism ambassadors and Parks and Recreation was drastically reduced.  I lost count but instead of maybe 20 in a normal year, it would be more like 3 or 4.  The cost of some summer students would be covered by grants but not all.
  • There is no budget for the Concert Hall in 2021 – their staff have been re-assigned.  However, Councillor Nicole Beatty moved that the Concert Hall be re-opened once it is safe to do so but that it then be operated on a cost-recovery basis.  (Download Nicole’s motion here). Although it has never been operated this way – there has been in effect a subsidy – Nicole’s motion passed.
  • It is currently planned to re-open the CCC in February.  The CCC net budget for 2021 is $1.234M compared to the 2020 budget of $1.237M.
  • Communications asked for $32K for Advertising and Promotion but this was reduced to $25K.  The fee of $12K for maintenance of “Bang the Table” Software which is used for “Engage Cobourg” was approved despite a question that Councillor Darling asked.  Given the low number using it, “Is it worth it?”
  • The West Boardwalk badly needs work – supporting wood is rotting.  Council was concerned with some of the plans suggested that could cost close to $1M although minimal plans would be much less.  The Parks and Recreation Advisory committee also recommended “the creation of a natural system stewardship plan prior to any redesign of the West Boardwalk”.  Director Laurie Wills asked that if such a plan were created it should be done in parallel and not in advance.  In the end, Council approved $60k to include design work plus the creation of a natural system stewardship plan. A public meeting would be included in the process.  See the Staff report here for more detail.

It was a long meeting – two full days.  There will be more on this in the next few days.

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18 Comments
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ciw
25 January 2021 9:32 am

What the heck is “bang the table”?

Greg H
24 January 2021 3:09 pm

Thank you John Draper for proving such detailed reports.

With regard to the board walk on Cobourg’s West Beach.

I started to walk on this beach before the boardwalk was constructed. The West Beach is a suitably wild and undeveloped, and I think of it as the “Wild Beach”. However the current Board Walk does not adversely affect the Beach and makes it more accessible.

The Staff Report by Laurie Wells, Director of Public Works is titled ” Wood Boardwalk Replacement Justification” and gives an impression of a board walk that is ready for replacement, but my recent walks on it have not revealed any hazardous conditions, and it seems to have been well repaired.

Laurie Wells report gives the following options:
1. Replace the walk “as is”, 3 metres wide at a cost of $170,000
2. Replace at 4 metres wide, with composite materials $680 to 725 K
3.Raised wood plus asphalt/concrete $ 370 -440K

Yet the Council apparently approved $60,000 to “study and design”.

I think the “study and design” for $ 60,000 is a wasteful option since it could be completely replaced ( if really required) for $170,000.

The option of widening the walk for the accomodation of more cyclists is unnecessary. I am also a cyclist, but would be happy to ban all cyclists from the boardwalk in order to keep it a low key and friendly place.

JimT
Reply to  Greg H
25 January 2021 9:41 am

I enjoy riding my mountain bike along the boardwalk, but I do agree that it would not be much of an imposition to require cyclists to walk their bikes when on the boardwalk and save the cycling part for the rest of their outing.

Frenchy
23 January 2021 9:22 pm

Kudos to Councillor Darling for bringing up the cost of that silly “Bang the Table” with its low, low use.
Here’s a post I was preparing on Dec 29 but never published so the numbers might be a bit outdated:

Here’s one place we can save some dough…
Engage Cobourg https://engagecobourg.ca/2021-budget/forum_topics/share-your-thoughts-on-the-draft-2021-municipal-operating-and-capital-budget  or “Bang the Table” (dumb name) can be cancelled for approx $12 grand/year savings. 0 comments since the forum opened up on the 2021 budget while there have been 60 on this thread alone. This was one of the biggest planks in Mayor Henderson’s (non)platform before being acclaimed in 2018. Why spend all that money when John Draper provides it here (and better) for free?
166 responses on the whole website since it opened on October 22, 2019 and only 16 topics since its inception. Pathetic return on investment.
As of noon Dec 29, 252 comments from the public have been made on 6 news post since Nov 23 re: 2021 budget on John’s website.
Since December 22 on Engage Cobourg there have been zero (0) posts on the same topic.

And…all the Councillors, bureaucrats and chairs of various boards regularly read this blog so citizens voices are being heard (although usually ignored).

Ken Strauss
Reply to  Frenchy
24 January 2021 9:25 am

Bang the Table is a total waste of money! Why not reallocate the funding to Mr. Draper for his work?

Wally Keeler
Reply to  Frenchy
24 January 2021 9:47 am

Write on!

Ahewson
Reply to  Frenchy
24 January 2021 10:10 am

I must say that I take issue with the last bit of your final paragraph. The comment section of this blog is not necessarily representative of all town residents and should not be a factor in town decisions. Any town official that basis their decision off of a smattering of blog comments would be a poor one in my opinion.

I would further add to that, for the reason that this blog is so successful is also why it shouldn’t be a factor in town decisions whatsoever. It is very very easy to manipulate the up and down system, very easy to make multiple accounts. Bang the table is more convoluted and harder to manipulate. It is more frustrating to use and gets lets use for it, its results though, if it were actually used, could be more trusted and therefore factored in to town decision making.

Frenchy
Reply to  Ahewson
24 January 2021 11:17 am

The comment section of this blog is not necessarily representative of all town residents and should not be a factor in town decisions. Any town official that basis their decision off of a smattering of blog comments would be a poor one in my opinion.

Couldn’t agree with you more Ahewson.
However, in reality it’s done every day in every community, province, state and country. At least one of our Councillors asks for input on their Facebook account.
Govern by Facebook? Why not, there used to be a POTUS that ruled by Twitter. 😉

Last edited 1 month ago by Frenchy
Wally Keeler
Reply to  Frenchy
24 January 2021 12:11 pm

Why not, there used to be a POTUS that ruled by Twitter.”

Wrong. Twitter ruled POTUS and deleted thousands of conservative accounts. Any POTUS is powerless to reverse this.

Frenchy
Reply to  Ahewson
24 January 2021 11:49 am

Bang the table is more convoluted and harder to manipulate. It is more frustrating to use and gets lets use for it,

Then why oh why would we spend $12 grand a year on it?

Ahewson
Reply to  Frenchy
24 January 2021 12:22 pm

In context to this blog it is those things. It has been successful in other communities .

Bryan
Reply to  Ahewson
24 January 2021 1:00 pm

Ahewson:

Success in other communities (one, Kingston??) was the original excuse to give BTT a try. Success here is the benchmark, not success elsewhere. It hasn’t worked in Cobourg, so move on.

John D does a fine job with this blog and “Draper” has become almost indispensable for those wanting to stay current with Town affairs. Good print and radio media are also needed and these are somewhat lacking. Perhaps something along the lines of the Wasaga Beach’s Beach Booster

https://www.beachbooster.com/

Ahewson
Reply to  Bryan
24 January 2021 7:36 pm

Absolutely John Draper does an amazing job with this blog, my issue is that it was implied that this blog could be used in the decision making process by town council. BTT is designed for that, this blog is not and shouldn’t expected to be.

Bryan
Reply to  Ahewson
24 January 2021 8:32 pm

I agree. However you take the information where you can get it.
BTT doesn’t work for Cobourg, for whatever reason(s). JD’s reporting and the comments in response provide some useful information. This blog and BTT should not be considered or used as a sole source. Staff and Council need to do the required due diligence and gather information from several (numerous) sources including “Draper”

Frenchy
Reply to  Ahewson
24 January 2021 8:36 pm

Ahewson, I never implied that it could be used in the decision making process by town council”.
I implied that “all the Councillors, bureaucrats and chairs of various boards regularly read this blog”. This blog shouldn‘t, but I’m suggesting that it does, influence decisions. But of course they all would deny it.

Cap’n John
Reply to  Frenchy
24 January 2021 12:17 pm

I have recently started following Mr Drapers website, blog and letters to the editor features, and I am impressed by his work. I consider it a very important way to keep informed about issues in Town, Council decisions, citizen feedback, etc. Cobourg is lucky to have him.
Keep up the good work, John. We need more folks like you!

Ken Strauss
Reply to  Cap’n John
24 January 2021 2:19 pm

Precisely Cap’n John. So stop wasting money on Bang the Table and give it to John!