Comparing this Election with 2018

Municipal elections are held every four years and a lot changes in four years so I thought it would be useful to review the issues in the 2018 election.  Did Council follow up?  Are they the same concerns? No surprise, homelessness was an issue but allowing Cannabis stores was hardly mentioned.  I identified 7 other issues and asked Candidates about them.  Some things got resolved or died.  I have not heard any discussion on expansion of boat slips into the West Harbour, buying the Park Theatre or an open Q & A forum at Council meetings (more detail below).  But Tourism was being debated and Holdco’s transparency was criticized.  The candidates were different but of particular interest is what the elected candidates said in 2018.

Homelessness – What was happening in 2018

The County released a survey of the extent of homelessness – the problem was quantified although no plan was provided on what to do about it.  Transition house, Cornerstone and Habitat for Humanity got some visibility too.  See report on Cobourg News Blog here published 17 November 2018.  At this point there was no talk of the Town contributing money or land.  To my knowledge, this issue was not mentioned by any Candidate in their campaign in 2018 – although affordable housing was.

Cannabis stores

Municipalities had the option of Opting-Out and not allowing cannabis retailers to operate in the Town of Cobourg  OR allow cannabis retailers to operate only in commercial/retailed zoned areas in the Town of Cobourg.  The Public were surveyed with 78.5% of 3,458 having no concern. Then in early 2019, Cobourg decided to Opt-in (4 – 3) with John Henderson, Suzanne Séguin and Emily Chorley voting to Opt-out.  Currently, there are 5 stores authorized to open in Cobourg – 3 downtown and 2 near the mall.  Go here for a map of Cannabis stores in Ontario.  Again, to my knowledge, this issue got little or no attention in 2018 campaigns.

As a service to voters, I asked all candidates 7 questions on what I thought were key issues at the time.

Questions asked of Candidates in 2018

  1. What is your position on the West Harbour  All candidates opposed adding additional boat slips in the West Harbour – some unconditionally and some if it negatively impacted any users. This issue has died.
  2. Tourists – Are they good for Cobourg? Most Candidates supported Tourism if it was managed well – also see recent post on this subject
  3. Downtown Vitalization – What do Candidates think? Most Candidates translated “Downtown Vitalization” into the Community Improvement plan which offers grants and loans for Building improvements. There was no mention of any business attraction (to fill vacant stores) or measuring changes in downtown vitality.  It might be said that Downtown Vitalization has morphed into King Street façade improvement. It seems to no longer be a key issue although some candidates have mentioned it.
  4. Holdco – Should their finances be Public?  Apart from Brian Darling who was concerned about the legality, and John Henderson who said info is already available, all candidates supported better transparency of Holdco finances.  And there has been some improvement.  On 26 July 2022, a special Council meeting was held to hear a report from Holdco and its subsidiaries  (Lakefront Utilities Inc – LUI – and Lakefront Services Inc – LUSI).  This seems to have happened because there is a new chair of Holdco, David Tsubouchi, who agrees with the need for change.  The Cobourg News Blog report on the meeting included a link to a download of the presentation which included financial information.  Go here. Whether Council caused the improvement is not mentioned.
  5. Should the Town buy the Park Theatre?  This was an issue at the time but the price was deemed to be too high to be viable.  There is currently no talk of buying the Theatre and it could be said to be suffering from demolition by neglect.
  6. Should Council Meetings have an open Q & A Session?  Most candidates were in favour and an open forum was in fact implemented as a “Committee of the Whole Open Forum” – but it’s rarely used by citizens.  The ability to make a delegation to Council seems to be preferred by most residents with something to say.
  7. Are there any other issues you want to address?

Some candidates had no additional topics but there were exceptions.  Here is what those Candidates said (only those elected are quoted):

  • Suzanne Séguin:  Managed growth for Cobourg and launching a Small Business Resource to keep our businesses here and profitable.
  • Nicole Beatty: I, as Councillor, will initiate a framework and terms of reference for a Social Planning Advisory Council to ensure issues such as affordable housing, employment equality and food security are included in Cobourg’s Strategic Plan.
  • Aaron Burchat: The low vacancy rate and affordable housing is another issue where I know Council can play a role in closing the gap.
  • Adam Bureau: We require extra by-law enforcement for the beach in the summer. We need more by-law officers issuing tickets to tourists that disrespect our beach.
  • Emily Chorley: We need a citizen-centred Council that meets people’s needs: notifying residents of public works that affect them; addressing affordable housing by advising homeowners on how to create legal second suites; and encouraging greater youth participation by establishing an annual Model Youth Council.

The issues this time do not seem as well defined but my list would be:

  • Fewer Consultants
  • More focus on issues that the Town manages and less on issues that are the responsibility of the County, the Province and the Federal government.
  • Homeless people visible downtown and in Parks
  • More Economic Development
  • More visibility on Capital Projects and their impact on taxes – there is good support for the planned asset management plan
  • More attention to how to provide Downtown parking when existing lots are developed by their owners
  • Leadership on managing Brookside, Sibrooke, Tannery land and Park Theatre.
  • Paying Councillors in line with the work they do.

I’m sure blog readers will have their own lists and will hopefully communicate them to Candidates.

Voting is now available – more details on Town web site here

Cobourg Internet has a page with a whole lot of Election Information.

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Miriam Mutton
19 October 2022 7:05 pm

Parking was not mentioned in 2018 yet is a hot issue now. Parking downtown was free for several months recently due mostly to technical and supply matters, and will return to pay parking October 24. This presents an immediate concern about the ending of free parking downtown on Election Day, Monday October 24. Hopefully, there will be a ticketing grace day.  For example, friendly card reminders on cars with a “Welcome to Downtown and visit us again soon. This is a reminder that paid street parking downtown commenced Monday, October 24. Two hour free parking lots are also available …” and map included.

Many people prefer going to a location to vote, like Victoria Hall which has more voting hours access than Public Library hours. There is also the matter of accessible locations for people who may need assistance. Why not start downtown paid parking the next day, Tuesday? For some, voting in person will be one of the few times they have reason to enter Victoria Hall and what a jolt it will be to find a ticket on their vehicle after voting!

Reply to  Miriam Mutton
21 October 2022 9:09 am

Better yet, why not have free parking everywhere in Cobourg from Thanksgiving Day until Victoria Day weekend. Any lost income could be made up by decreasing the Police Budget by a similar amount.

Miriam Mutton
Reply to  Miriam Mutton
21 October 2022 1:39 pm

Town news today about the election and voting includes the news that paid parking downtown will commence Tuesday, the day after Election Day. Thank you to those who made the change happen!
From Town e-news to citizens:
“To ensure that (voting) number continues to rise, and all eligible electors have the opportunity to cast their vote by election day, Monday October 24, 2022, the Town of Cobourg is temporarily suspending paid parking Downtown Cobourg until Tuesday, October 25, 2022.”

Reply to  Miriam Mutton
21 October 2022 1:55 pm

Only after some noise created and concern voiced is this changed – on the surface this is a minor issue with a seemingly simple solution, however it speaks to a lack of foresight, commonsense and critical thinking. There is no bigger day in a Municipality than election day and no one raised a hand to suggest the timing of reinstating paid parking was poor. How do they except us to have faith in their ability to drive results, push for change, add value, realize potential when this type of thing so easily slips through the cracks. I’m not sure if Covid has dulled the senses but this nonsense would never be tolerated in the private sector.

Last edited 1 month ago by Rob
Reply to  Miriam Mutton
21 October 2022 5:59 pm

Yes. Common sense prevails.
Thanks to Brent Larmer and DM Suzanne Seguin who made this happen:

18 October 2022 12:54 pm

A few other observations/differences since 2018:

  • our median age has gone up 3 years.
  • for the first time, less than 60% of the population is employed.
  • 8 of the 10 top local employers are government or gov’t agencies.
  • Mall was sold by an Income Trust to a Developer–meaning that leases in the main building will no longer be renewed(except maybe, Metro…) and condos will probably be coming to Mall..
  • the school boards are the (County’s) largest employer with 2080 staff; with average salaries 3x the local median; over 70% women.(Not Agriculture. Not construction. Not Advanced Manufacturing)
  • we remain a Liberal voting town in the midst of a Conservative Riding based on both Federal and Provincial elections in the last 4 years and the local benefits accrue accordingly.
  • 4 more years of negative job growth: Weston Foods is gone(200 FTE’s); Brookside is gone(100 FTE’s?)
  • job vacancies are a critical issue for local employers, but, the ‘living wage’ in Cobourg has risen over $4/hr since 2018. Have real wages gone up 18%?
  • double digit inflation/average cost of detached home from $375k to $750k.
  • ‘affordable’ market rate apartment rental: from $1500 to $2000/mth+(?)
  • 4 more years without a ‘truck friendly’ exit off the 401.(we’ll just keep letting the trucks drive by our schools and restaurants on their way to Northam and Lucas Point)
  • 4 more years of losing 6 figures annually at the CCC…
  • 4 more years without a use-able pier…

As for what we do about locally about climate change? The next generation won’t be as concerned as you think–since they’ve already left.

As for the incoming Council? Get ready for a new 10% Budget increase in your first weeks on the job…

But , hey—we’ve got a new Legion! Go 133!

Cobourg taxpayer
17 October 2022 12:30 pm

I do hope the number of voters increases but in my opinion, after nearly 2 decades of living and voting in Cobourg, who I’ve voted for has made little difference in outcomes promised by candidates. Part of the problem is unless a councillor has others on council who have the same opinions, one or two votes only goes so far. Also I feel there’s voter exhaustion from recent provincial and federal elections held as well.
Many on this blog and elsewhere have commented on the excessive hiring of consultants by the town for years but it continues. The problems of homelessness and affordable housing have been on the agenda yet there is never a solution. The comments by taxpayers regarding high tax rates is ongoing yet taxes goes up.

17 October 2022 11:28 am

You have your finger on Cobourg’s pulse far better than most people John, so it is interesting
that 4 years after Council created the ‘Sustainability & Climate Emergency Advisory Committee’, and 3 years after Council passed the ‘Climate Emergency Declaration’, neither Sustainability nor Climate Emergency are on your list of ‘Candidate issues this time’
Pity that children and grandchildren can’t vote.

Reply to  warren
17 October 2022 3:01 pm

The good news is that Canada produces such a tiny – less than 2% – portion of world CO2 pollution that even the whole country can’t make any difference at all. Cobourg, by itself, even less.

We can continue to support world efforts on this but also stop feeling guilty at the same time.

Gigi Ludorf-Weaver
Reply to  JimT
17 October 2022 3:24 pm

It’s not about feeling guilty but about doing something instead of feeling hopeless. Cobourg as one municipality in the County is now recognized as a leader in developing a culture of sustainability which means certainly a commitment to the future. Not just a 4 year future. The numbers may seem insignificant when set against a global total but if the 6 other municipalities also adopt this culture of preserving, balancing and protecting, resources, and then the other 433 municipalities in this province also adopt this mindset then we will see a much more significant difference and show that a sustainable way of living gives us hope that we are making a difference to the preservation of our planet and our species.

Keith Oliver
Reply to  Gigi Ludorf-Weaver
17 October 2022 9:44 pm

Jim T

I support the reply to your post given by Gigi. Shes’ far too polite. I’d call your post “a cop-out”, a lame excuse to continue the status quo when we should all know by now the disastrous future our children will inherit if we don’t make significant changes.

What you and others don’t seem to understand is how beneficial many of these necessary changes will be. How a small and caring community (and by that I’m referring to Cobourg, and eventually Canada) can find solutions that will inspire others.

Sustainability for Cobourg will mean making a commitment to stay within our present boarders for the next 75 years as we triple in population, and learn to use our land more efficiently. The resulting more compact urban form will consist of a greater choice of housing types; a lower cost of delivering town services to each household, ie water, electricity, police and fire protection; an efficient, low fare, well planned public transit system that will reduce the use of the private automobile.

And by the way, electric vehicles are a delusion. The energy their production, operation and disposal consumes is equal to gasoline powered vehicles and electricity generated by nuclear and hydro sources produce major pollution.

The real solution is to drive less, develop high speed rail for people and goods.

Instead we seem to be headed in the other direction. Ie AirB+B which removes thousands or longterm rental units from the market The excess energy consumed by our new direct-to-your door deliver of goods.

A small community of comserned citizens such as Cobourg, has a real potential to discuss, acknowledge, invent and implement out-side-the-box solutions, and provide examples for others to follow.

Last edited 1 month ago by Keith Oliver
Reply to  warren
18 October 2022 9:05 am

Council’s declaration of a climate emergency was lip service to satisfy the left leaning Councils. During the climate emergency this Council approved several drive-throughs and gas stations, didn’t increase the use of solar on any municipal building and changed the traffic flow on Elgin producing longer wait/idle times. I think those who were elected had grand plans however a pandemic likely derailed much of the agenda.

Back to basics should be the moto this time around…let’s stop chasing ghosts and aggressively pursue the potential of our beautiful community.

17 October 2022 9:48 am

Yes, let’s make the homeless people invisible downtown and in parks.
(Instead of finding solutions).

Last edited 1 month ago by Eastender
Reply to  Eastender
17 October 2022 3:07 pm

Homeless people? The “unhoused” as some would have it?

Put them in the existing Golden Plough complex as soon as it becomes available in a few months – a room with attached bathroom for each plus communal rooms and a large auditorium. Communal kitchens and dining areas and 2 atrium gardens.

Of just knock it down (at considerable expense) and continue to fret over what to do with the homeless.

Reply to  JimT
17 October 2022 3:27 pm

Sounds like a good solution Jim providing the people are vetted for living skills first. In reading about the hotels in Toronto turned over for the homeless – smashed t.v.s, drug use in rooms and feces. Unfortunately some of these people are unable to care for themselves requiring a supervised environment along with addiction and mental health supports such as lock down facilities.

For people who have been evicted due to renovations, the elderly on fixed incomes could be a good stop gap until they are assisted into various full apartments.

Reply to  Dave
17 October 2022 5:25 pm

I fully agree. I’m told that GPL has a secure section designed to deal with individuals who need “close supervision”.

Keith Oliver
Reply to  JimT
17 October 2022 10:38 pm

Jim T

Those requiring “close supervision” at the Golden Plough can also be found at Palisade Gardens, and at Extendicare. The condition that qualify individuals to become subject to such treatment are advanced dimentia and alzheimers, not the anti-social behavior you seem to have so little understanding of.

Last edited 1 month ago by Keith Oliver
Reply to  Keith Oliver
17 October 2022 11:06 pm

Keith – My past includes supervision of people suffering from addiction resulting in homelessness, incarceration and the mentally ill. I am very much for lock down for such individuals not particularly in an old age setting. However the GPL would offer accommodation for people left homeless due to eviction to renovation and the elderly priced out of their homes/apartments. These former people were often charged with break ins, muggings and trafficking. They should not be at large.

Reply to  Eastender
18 October 2022 9:12 am

Homelessness is multidimensional and complex. It isn’t simply about housing and in most cases, houses is the smaller issue. This is a mental health, addiction, housing, employment, financial management, transportation issue…the list goes on. Many of those currently homeless would be homeless again within weeks or months of providing a home, even free of charge. Unable to budget, unable to work, unable to shower or shop, addicted to drugs, alcohol and other intoxicants, many living with concurrent disorders. The Town of Cobourg is incapable and not empowered to deal with the complicated issue of homelessness – this isn’t only about affordable housing.

17 October 2022 7:51 am

Your list of eight issues is a true example of an Agenda for which the new Council should aim. It appears (from preliminary televised comparative summaries elsewhere in Ontario) that fewer voters than in 2018 will elect our Council in 2022. The online voting method was easy and convenient last Friday, October 14.

Michael Sprayson
Reply to  marya
17 October 2022 9:09 am

Marya — You might be correct. As of 9am October 17 only 8.5% of eligible voters in Cobourg have indeed cast their ballots. (I’m rounding up)

Readers – if you haven’t voted yet, I would love to know why.

Municipal representatives make decisions that directly affect your quality of life.

Reply to  Michael Sprayson
17 October 2022 9:52 am

I haven’t voted yet because I haven’t made up mind regarding the non-incumbents. The incumbents have had their turn, and, after all,
nothing new there.

Michael Sprayson
Reply to  Eastender
17 October 2022 11:02 am

Is there something that could help you make up your mind at this point?

Reply to  Michael Sprayson
18 October 2022 8:32 am

In no particular order:
A commitment to condemn, appropriate and demolish Sidbrook Hospital.
A commitment to use consultants in only extreme circumstances.
A commitment to really examine any possible waste and inefficiencies in all departments, including Protection services. (An example would be new vehicle purchases; can an older vehicle be given extra life instead of buying a new one, also we spent lots of money on wonderful bus shelters which now go largely unused because Council changed the way transit operates ).
A commitment to densify new housing development and
preserve greenspace and ag lands.……and the beat goes on.
Thank you for asking.

Michael Sprayson
Reply to  Eastender
18 October 2022 9:30 am

Happy to give my response to these statements.

SIDBROOK: The town doesn’t own the property. There are limitations to what can be legally done. It is not in a state to be condemned. Many people believe it’s about to fall down. It’s not. I’ve been through the building. It’s structurally sound. The town should be fixing the roof and putting a lien on the tax bill. The town could also be more of a nuisance to the owner which may encourage him to sell. If you were to demolish the house, it would prove very difficult to build on that land because of the flood setbacks and there is a protected tree in the backyard.

CONSULTANTS: I have written extensively on the wasted money this town has spent on consultants. I would vote no in almost all circumstances.

WASTE + INEFFICIENCIES: I have written about this issue too and have had many conversations with voters about it. The rate at which new vehicles join the fleet at the Town is staggering. They are driving a $100K truck to water flowers. I usually spend $5K on a work truck and I often find them from government auction sites placed there by other municipalities who have gotten 20 years out of them. I don’t know why Cobourg doesn’t get all the life out of their vehicles. I also support employee performance reviews.

GREENSPACE + DEVELOPMENT: We need to be more mindful of our developments. Some town identity decisions need to be made. Greenspace does need to be preserved. Density is one issue. Transportation infrastructure is another. Parking is another. People need places to live but we can be a lot more creative with what those places look like.

More questions and answers here:

Reply to  Michael Sprayson
17 October 2022 10:12 am

Thanks for your comments Michael! My wife and I voted ‘on line’ on Friday, but I found the page after the nominies for ‘school board’ a little confusing?At first we left that choice blank! Later, I felt we had to put an ‘X’ beside some ones name, because when we got to the page in question, or our complete ballot would have been eliminated?
I am going to the library this morning, just to see what I was missing, when we did our voting? Maybe they can show us what the ‘wording’ is on that page? I’m sure it was our miss understanding?

Michael Sprayson
Reply to  Ken
17 October 2022 11:05 am

It was somewhat confusing. There was a button about spoiling your ballot right after the school board candidates. Hoping they can help you get if figured out at the library.

Reply to  Michael Sprayson
17 October 2022 11:23 am

Was just there, Michael and the young fellow ‘in charge’ understood what I was saying and appreciated the feedback! The fact remains, though, unless 20 or 30 people come knocking at their door with the same problem, it may not get fixed? Just my opinion.

I did tell him that otherwise, the voting ‘on line’ was a good experience!

Michael Sprayson
Reply to  Ken
17 October 2022 11:33 am

Happy to hear you had a good experience. The truth is, I don’t know how much control Cobourg has over the software, other than inputting the names of the candidates. I will also pass along my feedback to the clerk.

Appreciate your commitment to the voting process!

Merle Gingrich
Reply to  Michael Sprayson
17 October 2022 1:45 pm

What will be gained by voting on line or phone? The cost of a consultant?
I prefer paper ballot.

Michael Sprayson
Reply to  Merle Gingrich
17 October 2022 2:06 pm

I don’t make those choices. What’s gained? I think there is hope that more people will participate. Being able to log on from home and vote is appealing to many. Results are tabulated quickly.

Reply to  Michael Sprayson
17 October 2022 5:54 pm

Results may be tabulated quickly but verifiable recounts are impossible. Without a paper backup of screenshots or receipts recounts are useless. This system is not setup for verifiable recounts, it is flawed and should be adjusted!

Keith Oliver
Reply to  Michael Sprayson
17 October 2022 10:56 pm


Regardless of who has the authority over the electoral process, I do not agree with a system that does not begin with a paper balot. I believe the recent provincial election included them. Count the ballots anyway you wish including electronically, but a paper balot represents an indisputable record.

Reply to  Michael Sprayson
17 October 2022 1:42 pm

So if you do not X a specific name and don’t hit the spoil ballot button, then the those you voted for are counted. Is that correct?

Michael Sprayson
Reply to  Rational
17 October 2022 2:07 pm

Correct. As long as you don’t click on the ‘spoil your ballot’, the people you voted for are counted. Remembering that you don’t HAVE to vote for all positions or the maximum number of people required to fill those positions.

Ken Strauss
Reply to  Michael Sprayson
17 October 2022 3:20 pm

Does clicking on ‘spoil your ballot’ allow you to reselect your choices or does it submit your ballot with nobody selected?

Michael Sprayson
Reply to  Ken Strauss
17 October 2022 3:48 pm

I’m not 100% sure, but I believe if you spoil your ballot, you are deciding not to vote, so no one will be selected. That being said, you do not have to complete your voting in one sitting. You can leave mid-way through and as long as you have your PIN, you can log in or call again and pick up where you left off. Before you move on from each section (mayor, DM, councillors, trustee) you are asked to confirm your choices. Once a choice is confirmed, it can’t be changed.

Apologies if this is making it sound complicated – it’s actually a very simple process if you follow the instructions and take your time.

Michael Sprayson
Reply to  Michael Sprayson
18 October 2022 7:55 am

UPDATE: About 24 hours after my first post, more people are voting. Please encourage your friends and family to log in or visit the Cobourg Library or Victoria Hall to make sure your vote is counted.

Last edited 1 month ago by Michael Sprayson