Cobourg has a Town-wide Community Improvement Plan that targets affordable housing. Clause 3.8.8 says that the Town could provide some of the land it owns at a low price so as to effectively subsidize such housing and at meetings in November 2020, Council asked staff to “put together an inventory of potential municipal-owned surplus lands, buildings and/or facilities” to potentially be used for this purpose. At the Committee of the Whole meeting on April 19, Staff will be providing this requested report. Based on information in the Town’s GIS System (Geographical Information System), the Town owns “a total of ~226 ha (558 ac) of land within the municipal boundary or just over 10% of the total land area of the municipality (@ 2,237 ha or 8.6 sq. miles)”.
Owning does not mean it’s suitable or available and staff have included these attributes in their report (see links below for the full report).
- Parkland – 60 ha. According to the 2013 Parks Master Plan, the ratio of parkland at that time was 4.3 hectares per 1,000 population. However, the goal is to increase this to 6.0 hectares per 1,000 population. If Council and the public agree, then some Parkland could be used for housing but “this would be counter to the principles and recommendations of the Parks Master Plan which aim to increase the supply of public parkland (as opposed to reduce it) and foster a healthy, ‘green’ community.”
- Environmental Constraint/Floodplain – 58 ha. These areas (i.e. floodplains, Lake Ontario shoreline, woodlots, sensitive lands, etc.) are undevelopable for any habitable use without comprehensive environmental and floodplain analyses and approval by the GRCA and/or MNRF (Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forests).
- Employment Lands – 71 ha – conversion is not permitted without “an extensive employment conversion exercise being conducted in accordance with Provincial, County and municipal policies” but “given the limited supply of employment land and the generous supply of designated residential land in the municipality, it is unlikely that a conversion would be justified”. (See full report in links below)
- Existing Municipal Facilities – 16 ha
- CCC complex – 11.96 ha
- Memorial/Heenan arenas — 1.16 ha
- Cobourg Public Library — 0.67 ha
- Victoria Hall — 0.53 ha
- Cobourg Police Station/parking lot — 0.37 ha
- Dressler House — 0.15 ha
- Municipal Parking Lots — 1.24 ha
Some of these have some level of potential for infill development. The use of these parcels may be limited by servicing, floodplain, land use compatibility and/or other physical constraints, and could have the effect of reducing land available for other municipal services, such as parking, facility expansion and so on. An amendment to the Official Plan and/or Zoning By-law and various supporting studies would be required in most cases to permit residential uses on these municipal lands. As with park lands, a public engagement and communications plan would be an integral component of this review.
- Transportation and development Road Allowances & Main Central Commercial – 10 ha. Small and/or irregular parcels forming unopened/future road allowances (Kerr Street, Roger’s Road, White Street), stormwater management facilities, creek/floodplain lands, and sewage pumping stations.
- Glen Watford Road Tax Sale Lots – 3 ha – no access and unserviced.
- Tannery site – 2.7 ha – this is suitable! See article in links below. Photo of property at top right is from 2014 – it’s still vacant today. It seems to be permanently on the Town’s carry forward agenda although it’s no longer on the ongoing Council list of unfinished business.
- District Commercial – 3 ha. Current Status: Road Allowances, Pumping Station, SWM Pond, Creek Lands, Future Road Allowance.
- Residential – 2 ha. Current status: Parkland, Walkways, Creek Lands, Dressler House
As well as a cover memo, the report provides extensive detail in the form of three Appendices:
- Appendix I: 80 properties are listed with a location, area, category, services and a short description.
- Appendix II: A map showing location of the 80 properties
- Appendix III: Raw property data spreadsheet extracted from the Town’s GIS system – includes zoning.
Under the heading “Next Steps”, Director Glenn McGlashon suggests “that an ad-hoc Working Group be established to undertake a shortlist exercise and formalize an implementation plan moving forward. The Working Group could be comprised of 2-3 members of Council and a member of each of the Parks & Recreation Advisory Committee (PRAC) and the Planning & Development Advisory Committee (PDAC), with staff from Community Services/Parks, Public Works and Planning Divisions acting as a resource.” He notes that residents should be provided “with an opportunity to review options and provide feedback prior to a decision being made by Council.”
Stay tuned for more on this subject.
Previous relevant articles
- Community Improvement Plan up for Final Approval (article with details) – 20 November 2020
- Affordable Housing CIP Public Meeting – 8 December 2019
- Tannery Project – 30 March 2018
- List of Cobourg Parks
- Download Community Improvement Plan
- Staff Memo – Cobourg Municipal Land Inventory
- Appendix I
- Appendix II
- Appendix III
- Parks Master Plan – 2013
- Town of Cobourg Web page about Tannery District
Key clause in CIP
Donation or Sale of Surplus Lands, Guarantee Borrowing, and Exemptions from Levies, Charges and Fees for Affordable Housing
- The Town may, in its discretion, donate, lease or sell any surplus property of the municipality at below fair market value for the purposes of redeveloping such surplus lands for the purposes of affordable and/or rental housing, industrial or commercial development.
- The Town may, in its discretion, guarantee borrowing, or provide for a total or partial exemption from any levy, charge or fee for the purposes of affordable and/or rental housing, industrial or commercial development.