Tannery Master Plan once again before Council

The Tannery Project has a long history.  The property at the north end of George and near the railway line originally was home to a factory for James Crossen to build railway carriages and subsequently as a place for tanning hides – hence the name.  But the building was abandoned and the Town eventually took ownership because of unpaid taxes and tried several times to ask developers to take it on (see Stephen Peacock’s background report in links below).  This did not work so the Town expanded the scope and decided that the area should be subject to a CIP (Community Improvement Plan) and a secondary plan which mandates a residential sustainable development.  This too has been slow to be defined although it’s coming once more to Council’s next Committee of the Whole meeting.

Tannery District
Tannery District

The Planning & Development Advisory Committee (PDAC) has reviewed the Consultant’s 410 page 165MB report and recommends acceptance subject to one more public meeting and an Engage Cobourg Survey with final acceptance scheduled for 14 February 2022.  The final report will recommend details of zoning and a Secondary Plan for this area. Whew. This has been a long process. Hopefully at the Public meeting we will get more details on how this project will go forward.

The Town has a special page on this web site giving more details (see links below).  There are two issues which I see as separate:

  1. Development of the vacant land with a sustainable, affordable, residential development.  The Town has made it clear that they are not in the development business so will rely on someone else to do this.
  2. Defining a larger area for similar development – this includes land currently used for other purposes (e.g. the GM dealership and the two legacy arenas).  This is a 20 to 50 year plan and is described with a “Master Plan” (See Master Plan Background report) and “Secondary plan” – available on the Town’s special web site page – see links below.  It was discussed at a public meeting on 30 March 2018 (Photo shows area being considered)

However, these now seem to be unified with no new plan to incentivize a developer to create a sustainable neighbourhood on the Town owned vacant land.
The planning department categorizes this as a “Special Project”.

At the next Committee of the Whole Council meeting, Council will be asked to endorse the PDAC recommendation.  This project will then hopefully exit the first stage of planning in February 2022 but it still needs a developer to buy the Town owned land and proceed with the ambitious, sustainable, residential development.  Good luck with that.



At the Committee of the Whole meeting on 23 August, Matt Reid of the Consultant Fotenn Planning and Design presented details of the design. This is helpful in understanding current thinking and is a lot shorter!  Matt also commented that making the plan happen depends on the affected Land Owners – e.g. the owners of the GM dealership would likely want a return on their recent investment in their facility.  He basically confirmed that this is a LONG TERM plan with no specific dates.

Download presentation here.

Print Article: 


Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
23 August 2021 3:36 pm

Quick question – is this land contaminated? The tanning process used to use hexovalent chromium and some likely ended up on the ground.

John Draper
Reply to  Jeffy
23 August 2021 3:54 pm

Short answer: yes, a little. See Peacock’s memo for details.

Reply to  Jeffy
23 August 2021 5:56 pm

“Interpretation of these results indicate that the contamination on the site is stable and slowly dissipating. “

Considering the tests were done over a decade ago it is highly likely that attenuation of the contaminants would have taken place and therefore the little contamination is even less today. So in the big scheme of things the land could be considered clean to a ‘minor cleanup’.

23 August 2021 7:03 am

What exactly is a Legacy area or is this just another Control or Hold on the Zoning ?

If a Developer buys a contaminated property and expect to get a return after Purchase , Taxes and Clean up Should they not be allowed to do what they know and do — Make a profit and meet supply and demand as quickly as possible .

Reply to  Sandpiper
23 August 2021 12:04 pm

Developers are good at meeting the demand for the upscale properties that will make a profit. Unfortunately, they are blind to the huge demand for affordable housing and, so, do not build to supply it. We have to move beyond profit as the main criterion for feasibility.

Reply to  Maureen
23 August 2021 3:32 pm

You, Maureen, as a free citizen, may also go ahead and develop a non-profit housing project and lose a lot of money in the process. Consider why you haven’t done that yet and you will understand why other developers don’t either.

Reply to  Maureen
23 August 2021 5:48 pm

Not so and I believe you are falling short on how Affordable housing does and has worked in the Past Red Tape is the Killer of affordable projects
TIME IS MONEY so is the cost of highly paid professionals that the town like to dance around with revision after revision and study after study . Builders of affordable units love to work with educated funded municipalities . especially when it comes to subsidized units Its guaranteed income to a builder or a Banking lender on a project
there are many Builders out there that do this but only in communities that what them and can work quickly and efficiently and help the Builder Developer navigate the paper work required . Not one that sits around not knowing what services and capacities are at the street and ask for studies that in some cases take up to 9 months to complete
ie. sanitary flow testing

Just Wondering
22 August 2021 4:59 pm

If the area in light pink designates the “larger area for further development” it doesn’t include the legacy arenas, they are just west of the Victoria Street border.

John Draper
Reply to  Just Wondering
22 August 2021 6:36 pm

You are right. Saying they were included came from a comment I made in 2018. Maybe I misheard something at that time.

Reply to  Just Wondering
23 August 2021 7:39 am

Not only that, but the pink area includes a lot of privately-owned properties that are peoples homes, including a number of historic mansions on George St.

22 August 2021 4:37 pm

There are two key elements to consider:
What is the price for the Town held lands?
What is the price of the privately held lands and are they for sale
Are any of the properties “brown-field” and if so, what is the cost of remediation. Who pays…the Town?

22 August 2021 2:27 pm

Seems to me that this prime real estate right adjacent to the CN station would be an excellent location for 2 or 3 high-rise apartment buildings for commuters who want to live in Cobourg while working in bigger cities farther down the line. Earn their money there, spend it here.

Might be justification enough to extend GO train service to Cobourg both for regular commuters and locals wanting or needing to go to Toronto for the day as well.

High-rise living – “cliff dwellers” as some say – can be a very easy and comfortable lifestyle. I know whereof I speak.

Last edited 1 year ago by JimT
Reply to  JimT
22 August 2021 4:25 pm

The chance of Go train service coming to Cobourg this century are 0 to none.

Reply to  JimT
22 August 2021 4:38 pm

VIA high speed with an improved schedule and fewer stops between Cobourg and major destinations both west and east may be preferable to GO. I might be wrong on this but it seems GO, although a more frequent (and until now, with lower fares) rail service, is also accompanied by massive suburban sprawl.

Reply to  MiriamM
23 August 2021 7:10 pm

There is not one mile of track in the entire country that is suited for high speed rail.

Reply to  Jeffy
23 August 2021 7:28 pm
Pete M
Reply to  MiriamM
24 August 2021 2:26 pm

And not in Cobourg at any time . You will see the proposal is for Toronto to Peterborough to Ottawa.

So we are still left with either a Metrolinx/GO expansion or our current VIA rail service.

Reply to  JimT
22 August 2021 4:43 pm

PRIME realestate??
I don’t think so:
Semi industrial,
beside 2 main RR lines (NOISE)
likely brownfield

Reply to  Bryan
24 August 2021 5:35 am

Conversely, on the other hand:

  • Just 2 blocks from a rail station
  • Semi industrial until it isn’t
  • Lots of houses & small apts. closer to the tracks than this
  • Known to be not seriously polluted

Takes a bit of imagination to see the potential

Last edited 1 year ago by JimT