Council Meeting – May 10

Monday’s Committee of the Whole Council meeting covered a good number of issues including some interesting announcements.  CAO Tracey Vaughan gave her regular report on Cobourg’s Covid-19 status and also summarized the results of the Council’s recent review of their Strategic Plan.  With about 18 months to go in their term, there’s not really a whole lot of time to accomplish their revised goals.  A decision on what to do about managing summer beach crowds was deferred to May 31 although that will be complicated by an extension of the current lockdown to June 2.  Tracey said that she had heard that legislation has been passed to do that but as yet it has not been announced by the Premier.

Marina Parking Config
Marina Parking Config

But work continues in the Town’s Departments – here are some highlights:

  • The Marina parking lot will be upgraded and traffic flow revised.  This is partly to improve the safety of pedestrians who walk through on the way from the West Beach boardwalk to the path in front of the Yacht Club.  The parking lot will also be repaved and re laid out. The planter boxes will again be placed north of the new compound to provide a buffer between traffic and the pedestrian area. Additionally, signage will be posted and line painting will be applied to delineate the pedestrian walkway. The cost is estimated at $30K.
  • The boat lift in will be postponed – tentatively to June 6.
  • The contract to provide an organization review has been awarded to KPMG for $86K.
  • As required by the Province, a report listing Compensation to Councillors (and others) was provided by Treasurer Ian Davey.  This is included on this page.
  • The Beach Canteen will not be opening this summer but instead local businesses will be given the opportunity to operate “Pop-ups” at the waterfront to provide food services.  These will be located in the fenced in, paved area adjacent to the Victoria Park Canteen and the grassy area to the south of the Cobourg Yacht Club building.  Each applicant will be limited to three weekends.
  • Council approved subsidies to the County Project at 265-327 Elgin East which will convert 18 existing units to 40 new units in four 10-plex buildings. Twenty eight of the units will be subsidized – a net increase of 10 subsidized units.  All current occupants will be housed during the transition.  Subsidies are in the form of “a 50% reduction in the Demolition/Building Permit fees for the project in the amount of $52,525 …. and a 5-year, interest-free deferral of the balance of the Permit fees.”  The Development agreement was also approved – re-zoning had previously been approved. (See report on Provincial funding of this project here 24 July 2020).
  • The Sustainability and Climate Change Advisory Committee changed their name to Sustainability and Climate Emergency Advisory Committee.

Note that since this meeting was a Committee of the Whole, the above decisions will need to be ratified at the Regular Council meeting next Monday.

Strategic Plan Review

Mid Term Strategic Plan Priorities
Mid Term Strategic Plan Priorities

The key takeaway from CAO Tracey Vaughan’s report on the mid-term Strategic Plan review was a clear setting of priorities. She was reporting what Council decided as priorities so Staff would act accordingly.  Based on the new chart:

Top priorities

  • Housing Strategy
  • Align Asset Management with Budget
  • Enhance Shoreline Management. Steward and safeguard the Natural Environment of the West Beach and Headland
  • Repair and Rejuvenate East Pier and Harbour
  • Improve Corporate Governance
  • Improve Corporate Effectiveness
  • Promote Local Economic Development

OK to defer

  • Consider Arts, Culture & Tourism Division
  • Continue Downtown Vitalization

It looks like the one person Economic Development Department will get a boost, Downtown Vitalization will go on pause and there won’t be a new Arts, Culture & Tourism Division.

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Art Seymour
12 May 2021 3:22 pm

I agree fully with NOT a consulting firm to study our Town Organization. Having been a subject to so many “org. reviews by such firms, and having directed a very large national 24/7 activity , I found that it more often turned out that those outside consulting “experts” are usually very young folks, no doubt intelligent and might even a have a little knowledge of organizational structures. They never had “managed” any type of organization and hence do not possess experience NOR abilities to discern and/or “dig out” major existing inefficiencies and non-effectiveness in an organization, assuming this would be the main reason for the “study” in the first instance, barring of course, major change in the overall function of the entity. In this case I don’t think the Town ” functions and accountabilities ” have changed.
Time for putting our Town Managers to work on getting to know a little more “governance” and take on this task!! And excuse my typing!!

cornbread
12 May 2021 10:23 am

I must mention…there is No Climate Emergency in Cobourg. The emergency is located in China and India. And the little “climate lady” doesn’t have the you-know-what’s to tackle the real problem.

cornbread
12 May 2021 8:50 am

Organization Review…Another $86,000 down the drain. Don’t we have any “bright” department heads, staff or councilors in this town to perform this analysis and recommendations? Also, why would you want to direct traffic thru the parking lot of the marina parking lot? Looking for accidents?

JimT
Reply to  cornbread
12 May 2021 1:08 pm

I fail to see how altering the flow of traffic through the parking lot will “improve the safety of pedestrians who walk through on the way from the west beach”.
Perhaps I am missing something here.

Last edited 1 month ago by JimT
Michael Sprayson
11 May 2021 3:19 pm

Other than aligning asset management with the budget, I think this list should be turned on its head. If you remove the beach from the Cobourg equation – what’s left? We need the things that are on the deferred list to not only improve the quality of life for Cobourg citizens but to actually attract tourism spending (not beach day-trippers – who, I would bet, often cost more than they spend in our town). Look at the towns we are often compared to – what do they have? — Thriving arts, education, food, and retail. There is a reason to visit and stay in these towns – there is something to do, things to see, experiences to have. The resources we do have and the people who keep them alive here should have our attention and our support. I’ve noticed that recreational opportunities for youth don’t warrant top priority listing. The basketball net that used to be at the beach was removed. It was never relocated (as far as I can find). The skate part is embarrassing. Just look to Port Hope and/or Brighton for inspiration. We can do better. For those kids who like to get outside – there isn’t a whole lot for them to do here. Instead of turning outside of the community and consulting big city firms, why are we not turning inwards – we have so many passionate, competent, creative, educated humans who live here and who struggle to find an appropriate, meaningful platform to use to share their ideas, much less contribute. •• Housing appropriate to the income levels of tenants could be looked after by the private sector if only those who insist on putting up roadblocks would get out of the way. There are people who are willing to do it. They… Read more »

Carol
Reply to  Michael Sprayson
12 May 2021 8:17 am

I couldn’t agree more well said

Lyle
Reply to  Michael Sprayson
12 May 2021 9:06 am

I couldn’t agree more ,why do we have to always give any outside consultants ( KPMG etc ) our tax money when we have competent people on staff or available citizens, I’m sure that they could dust off the payload of previous reports that current and previous councillors have commissioned perhaps they could read and act on them.

Bill Thompson
Reply to  Michael Sprayson
12 May 2021 12:12 pm

“Instead of turning outside of the community and consulting big city firms, why are we not turning inwards – we have so many passionate, competent, creative, educated humans who live here and who struggle to find an appropriate, meaningful platform to use to share their ideas, much less contribute.”

This great suggestion has been offered so many times over the years to the town councils but ignored .I suppose it’s much easier to pay the so called “experts” large amounts of money.

The old saying ” You pay experts to tell you the time with your own watch” applies.

Gerinator
Reply to  Bill Thompson
12 May 2021 3:03 pm

There must be a liability issue at play here.????

Conor
Reply to  Michael Sprayson
12 May 2021 3:23 pm

There you go making a comment that day trippers cost more than they spend in town. Do you have proof of that? Tourism doesn’t include day trippers?

Michael Sprayson
Reply to  Conor
12 May 2021 7:41 pm

I specified ‘beach day-trippers’. And no, for the purposes of the points I was trying to get across, those visitors are not what I am considering tourists. Do you have proof to counter what I was saying or are you just choosing to be contrary?
My observations come from sitting outside my home and watching the beach parking lot fill up. People empty their cars – blankets, drinks, coolers, food, wagons, tents, recreational items…these are not things I would guess people visiting would buy in duplicate while they are here. I’m also not saying they should. I have, however, watched many throw their garbage directly on the ground outside their car and drive away. There are community members who meet most mornings to socialize in the same parking lot and I see them often picking up the garbage that has been left by those visitors who couldn’t quite seem to find the garbage cans.
If you re-read my earlier post, I wondered what do we have without the beach? So again, for the points I was making, those visiting for only the beach for only the day are not factoring in to what I was actually addressing.

Wally Keeler
Reply to  Michael Sprayson
12 May 2021 11:00 pm

I have, however, watched many throw their garbage directly on the ground outside their car and drive away.”

Those individuals could have come from Nickerson Drive as well as from Port Hope, or from New Amherst as well as from Peterborough or Scarborough.

What do we have without the beach? We have a retirement town, very sedentary. The humans that began their lives like verbs, have settled in to enjoy the comforts of becoming nouns.

Perhaps the elderly on their mobility scooters could organize scooter drag races on the east pier. Or a performance of synchronized scooting. etc.

Ken Strauss
Reply to  Wally Keeler
13 May 2021 7:54 am

What do we have without the beach? We have a retirement town, very sedentary.” And, Wally, why is that bad?

Wally Keeler
Reply to  Ken Strauss
13 May 2021 11:24 am

It’s not bad. It’s boring. It’s still water, placid, pleasant, YAWN!!!!! It’s become a bloated bland gland where nothing happens, a place where creativity is discouraged. The most exciting thing in town are the walker races in the halls of the Legion Village.

Sedentary is still water. I prefer the excitement of white water rapids, or the sound of water falling, water in movement, like a verb. Still water is pond water, stagnate. Life is movement, action, a verb. Nouns are sedentary. Lard is a noun.

A retirement community is largely a community of mediocrity. Low low energy from the elderly who are barely running on fumes. Sadly, many retire with worn out, diminished imaginations.

Please note: cemeteries are sedentary.

Michael Sprayson
Reply to  Wally Keeler
13 May 2021 8:14 am

Wally – the individuals could have come from anywhere. Many commenters tend to shift conversations to insinuations of xenophobia. I didn’t specify where they came from. I was making a case for needing the things that were put on the ‘ok to defer list’. I was offering some anecdotal evidence, that’s all.
I think the town has the potential to offer more than the beach. And, we are not just a retirement town. We have 2 large high schools. We have more than half a dozen elementary schools. Four of our members on council are under the age of 50 and certainly not retired. I understand that it may feel like it’s a retirement town, but that brings me back to the original points I was making and it has not always felt that way. And, even if you are retired – you still want enjoyable things to fill your day. I’m not sure scooter races on the pier would cut it for very long.
If we had an arts, culture and tourism division perhaps we would get some real ideas to pursue – like you are often asking for in these comments. Maybe then, the people who live here would become more involved and invested in the community.

Wally Keeler
Reply to  Michael Sprayson
13 May 2021 12:09 pm

“If we had an arts, culture and tourism division perhaps we would get some real ideas to pursue”

That is a very bad idea. It is a mediocre idea insofar that it is common. A bureaucratic ‘division’, committee, task force, etc are all uncreative — that is to say that arts and culture are antithetical to bureaucrazy. Groups of any sort do not generate ideas.

Groups can carry out the creative ideas of individuals. Port Hope is a community with many creative individuals who manifest their art in the public domain, Critical Mass Critical Mass | A Centre for Contemporary Art (criticalmassart.com)

Critical Mass is a not-for-profit contemporary art organization based in Port Hope, Ontario. We believe that art changes how we see the world and our place in it. We bring contemporary art experiences to Port Hope so that everyone in our community can have the opportunity to see the world anew.

Cobourg by comparison is a Lay-Z-Boy community — sedentary. It doesn’t want to be culturally vibrant like Poet Hope.

I mention the scooter drag races as a bit of tongue in cheek. But it is thinking outside the box, new fresh ideas. Synchronized scooting like the Mounties Horse show, scooters weaving in and out. Such an idea is unlikely to be lucrative, but what does that matter if it costs nothing for tightwad taxpayers. And it entertains ephemerally.

Many individuals on his blog call for fresh ideas, for creativity, for something imaginative — but virtually none have offered an idea of their own. It is so bad that no one has any ideas of how to extract $$$$ from beach day trippers, but they have a lot of moans and groans about the terrible burden they put on our beloved beach.

Wally Keeler
Reply to  Michael Sprayson
13 May 2021 12:24 pm

“the individuals could have come from anywhere. Many commenters tend to shift conversations to insinuations of xenophobia. I didn’t specify where they came from.”

I noticed that you did not specify from where they came. And I appreciated that. My comment was not an insinuation. Quite the opposite. The general reference on this blog is that it is outsiders from the GTA. I enhanced and strengthened your comment by adding that garbage can also come from ourselves and neighbours as well as GTA.

I really enjoy the presence of day trippers to the beach. I encourage them to visit. They provide a wealth beyond picayune monetary concerns.

JimT
Reply to  Wally Keeler
13 May 2021 12:11 pm

Good point, Wally, but please be careful not to point a finger at any one particular neighbourhood or street, however hypothetical your intentions may be.

Wally Keeler
Reply to  JimT
13 May 2021 12:31 pm

Recent reports assert that a lot of the garbage comes from the residents of 151 John Street.

Informed
Reply to  Wally Keeler
15 May 2021 6:26 pm

I would go see the scooter races.🙂

Ken Strauss
Reply to  Conor
12 May 2021 7:44 pm

Conor, perhaps you would like to provide *ANY* evidence that beach visitors are beneficial.

Wally Keeler
Reply to  Ken Strauss
12 May 2021 10:32 pm

Beneficial in terms of $$$$$$$$ only?

There is lots of evidence that beach trippers benefit Cobourg in terms of cash. You can find some on YouTube. Just one example is Mohammed who brought his family — his children frolic. He went uptown and bought 4 large pizzas and brought them back to Victoria Park. I presume he spent $$$$$$$ for those pizzas.

But focusing only on $$$$$$ benefits is myopic. There is a bigger picture.

Cobourgers are good at whining about the burden of $$$$ from beach trippers, but they can’t even get themselves together to charge a hefty parking fee for those trippers. No one lobbies Council to increase fees for non-residents.

There are many ways to extract $$$$$ from day trippers.

Bryan
Reply to  Wally Keeler
12 May 2021 11:23 pm

Congratulations Wally !!
You have hit upon the most practical way of making the beach a “pay for play” site…..big parking fees….Toronto sized parking fees. No fences, gates or paid staff checking DLs and collecting money.

Expand the paid parking area to extend from the lake north to Spencer and Ontario St. east to Abbott Blvd. Weekend rate $4 per hr Max $24 per day.
Provide a weekend parking pass for Cobourg residents.
Weekday, same as current: $2 per hr. and reduce the paid parking zone size to the current size.

Kevin
Reply to  Bryan
13 May 2021 6:57 am

If Abbott is to be paid parking then maybe the multi-use path path across Donegan Park will finally get developed. People have parked on Abbott and walked to the beach.

Conor
Reply to  Bryan
13 May 2021 4:08 pm

Why stop at $24.00 a day.?

Conor
Reply to  Ken Strauss
13 May 2021 4:05 pm

Stop all non Cobougers from entering town. Perhaps guards on Highway 401 and Highway 2 for 2 weeks and see the results. Perhaps then you will see they are beneficial.

Informed
Reply to  Conor
15 May 2021 6:25 pm

Or make them park downtown so the beach daytrippers actually know where it is.