News and Decisions coming to Council

As previously reported, the CoW Council meeting on Monday 26 will have a long Agenda.  This is the fourth article (post) on this meeting – see Resources below for a list of earlier articles. Apart from the five items which are already the subject of my reports, I count four more items of interest coming before Council as well as a number of routine items (mostly Heritage Permits but also some new policies).  1) Keith Hearst, recently hired Grant and Policy Writer, provides a report on applications made and approved in 2022; 2) If approved, the development at the corner of Albert and Division will proceed – but it’s controversial;  3) A use has been chosen for the empty Memorial Arena;  4) Some of the Memorial Arena Parking lot will get another use.

Update on Grant Applications in 2022

One of the main purposes of the new role of the Grant and Policy writer was to centralize the grant application and tracking process. Previously, each Division in the Town applied for grants and tracked the progress of their grants independently. Keith has provided a detailed list of grants and their status and plans to do this annually. His full list is a major eye-test so I made an abbreviated version omitting some information but even that needs good eyes if you print it. I recommend viewing on your computer where you can expand. But so far this year, $884K in grants have been written and approved and another $147K is awaiting approval. Several more are being written, notably for the harbour work. See Keith’s reports in Resources below.

Albert/Division Street development

On February 17, 2021, the buildings on the south-west corner of Division and Albert were demolished. Council later approved re-zoning on that property to allow a mixed use development – residential and Commercial. One of the sticking points was that the normal zoning for that location would require 45 parking spots but even a revised plan only provided 35. It’s planned to have 20 apartments, 3 live/work units and 7 retail units. The developer pointed to the availability of transit plus nearby parking availability including 6 on-street spaces.

At the CoW on Monday 26 September, Council will be asked to approve a by-law to implement a cash-in-lieu-of-parking bylaw. The amount would be $86,930 and would be held in a parking reserve. This approach was approved by Council when the re-zoning was approved and there are no policies or plans prohibiting it. Update 26 Sept.  Council approved this proposal at the CoW on 26 Sept 2022.  The vote was 6-1 with Suzanne Seguin against.

Separately, with the new development happening, the Town took the opportunity to widen Albert Street at the corner and this project is going ahead. The Town recently announced that Albert Street will be closed for construction from Third Street to Division Street from September 26 to November 30. Details at the Town’s announcement here.

Decision on Use of Memorial Arena

The Memorial Arena closed in 2019 and in 2021 an Ad Hoc Committee was set up to recommend what to do with the building. They reported to Council in July 2022 with their first choice being to lease the building to Canadian Fire Fighters Museum (CFFM) for use as a museum. Second choice was a lease to Top Prize Events. These two contenders were asked to submit business plans and based on these, Staff is recommending a lease to CFFM – see staff report in Resources below.

One of the advantages of the CFFM Proposal was that visitors would be steady with no large peak so not all of the parking lot would be required.  Therefore a secondary recommendation is that the gravel lot be made available for affordable housing – see next item in this report.  Update 26 Sept.  Council approved this proposal at the CoW on 26 Sept 2022.

Some of the Memorial Arena Parking lot will get another use

Over the past two years, Council and Staff have been investigating if there is any Municipal land that is surplus and could be used for affordable housing. The report by Staff on “Next Steps” recommends as Priority #1 using the “lands to the west of Memorial Arena” (as described above as the gravel parking lot). Further, staff recommend exploring these options:

  1. Tiny Home Demonstration Development
  2. Transitional Housing
  3. Affordable Rental Apartment Building

Staff does not provide any rationale for these options.

The impact of this proposal is that Planning staff would need to spend time on it although there are no dollar estimates provided. If Council approves this idea, the next steps would be “Staff will review best practices relating to a Call for Proposal that could be established seeking interested parties who wish to pursue a project of this nature.” Update 26 Sept.  Council approved this proposal at the CoW on 26 Sept 2022.

On another subject, if you looked at the official Agenda, you’ll notice another hot item (hint – it’s an addition to the Agenda). Stay tuned for a report on that on Cobourg News Blog after the CoW meeting – that is, on Tuesday. Tuning in online to Council meetings can be an ordeal but can also be interesting.

Resources

Cobourg News Blog Reports on Final CoW meeting for this Term of Council

Other Cobourg News Blog reports

Staff Reports
Hosted on Cobourg News Blog

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sandpiper
25 September 2022 10:34 am

Division and Albert I can.t think of a more concerning intersection where parking is required . As it is there is No available on street or delivery parking most of the year or any in tourist season . We also know that cash in leu of parking solves nothing and only frustrates the exsisting neighbourhood and traffic congestion As far as plenty of neighborhood parking lots go there is None they all have development plans on them and are not owned by the town . As an example we can look at the old Plaza Hotel conversion at the S E corner of King W. and George i believe that was the last time cash in leu was accepted . They can t keep tenants and the bussinesses don t survive . When with this town learn from their prior mistakes

Ahewson
Reply to  sandpiper
25 September 2022 11:40 am

They’re widening the street so I’m assuming there will be some more on street parking until the corner, similar to the rest of Albert.

And you’re obsessed with designing the area for cars. There are other users in the area. This development will enhance the walkability of the downtown.

sandpiper
Reply to  Ahewson
25 September 2022 12:05 pm

First off there is no allowable parking that close to an intersecton . Secondly the only people living in a 3 story walk up with No elevator are usually younger where are the high paying jobs with in walking distance Again look at the Plaza hotel conversion .
Besides whats wrong with building with in the established guide line for the location

Ahewson
Reply to  sandpiper
25 September 2022 1:07 pm

Some 200 ft of Albert is being widened. You’re right that not all of that will be able to accommodate on-street parking (close to the intersection, etc) but some of it certainly will. I’d say at least half.

As for high paying jobs within walking distance. Off the top of my head there’s all the major banks, Lakefront Utilities, town hall, dentist office, optometrist, physio therapy, post office. Not to mention some of the units are literally being marketed as ‘live/work’.

Sandpiper
Reply to  Ahewson
25 September 2022 4:54 pm

Great $50 K to $70 K jobs after deductions will not pay for a $ Million dollar unit

Sam Westcott
Reply to  Sandpiper
30 September 2022 1:33 pm

Sandpiper,
They are all supposedly rentals. Commercial & Residential.

Bryan
Reply to  Ahewson
25 September 2022 6:08 pm

Ahewson,

What is your definition of “high paying jobs”? I think it would have to be higher than the $50-$70K that Sandpiper suggests. How many $100K+ jobs are available at the places you mentioned?

Ahewson
Reply to  Bryan
25 September 2022 7:03 pm

How do you expect me to answer that question? The town has roughly 50 staff between town hall and the Police force (also within walking range) making over 100k. As for the rest, no idea. I imagine those working in the top ranks of the banks and Lakefront are over 100k. There are a lot of financial services downtown in general.

Ultimately the market will bear out what the units sell for anyways.

Sam Westcott
Reply to  Ahewson
30 September 2022 1:35 pm

Ahewson

All the Units are rentals. Probably because you could not sell 3 Story Walk up Condos.

Michael Sprayson
Reply to  sandpiper
26 September 2022 8:25 am

Agree with you, Sandpiper. This development as it has been submitted will be a nightmare. There is no parking for people, visitors, customers or delivery vehicles. The other major problem I see is sightlines. Already, even though I’m used to it and have done it for more than 30 years, I HATE driving through the intersection on Division and King. This new development will only add to the congestion and back everything up even further. Now we will have two hazardous intersections right beside each other. The hazards come from cars, walkers, tourists, and cyclists. It becomes very dysfunctional.

3-floor walk-ups, no elevator, small units, right on the property lines. Where are the setbacks? They are taken to allow for the limited parking spaces in the plans. Downtown Cobourg is not a downtown metropolis. While I’ve been out campaigning, voters don’t want it to be either.
Compromising sightlines and space is dangerous.

The optics of paying in lieu of parking are terrible. A one-time $87,000 payment (one that would barely cover the consultant we just hired, we didn’t need). That building will be there for years – our parking issues will not go away.

To be clear – I’m not against developing there. The development just needs to consider sightlines, congestion, parking, growth and tenants/owners who tend to find a home and work in Cobourg. The way this sits now, the builder nor the town is considering the residents who currently live here.

Development in Cobourg is something I have both interest in and concerns about. If you have a question I can answer in my daily campaign newsletter, please visit http://www.michaelsprayson.ca or click here to ask.

Last edited 2 months ago by Michael Sprayson
Ahewson
Reply to  Michael Sprayson
26 September 2022 9:16 am

Cars cars cars, parking, driving. To be clear, this line of thinking is how we ended up with the write-off that is Strathy Road. Cobourg prides itself on its downtown, not just for the historic buildings, but the environment in which they were built, which pre-dates automobiles.

Doug W.
25 September 2022 10:15 am

So the town is interested in purchasing the old West High School’s football field ?? Can’t wait to hear what this is all about. We (Cobourg) currently have a lot of opportunities to improve some significant parts of our town. We should add the demolition of the old hospital on King St.(Sidbrook).That eyesore building will never be wheelchair accessible or find a viable use. The same applies to the old house on the Brookside property. I worked at Brookside and assure you that that office building has been torn apart to such an extent that tearing it down would do the town a favour. But we should grab the opportunity to make a beautiful walking path along Brookside Creek, from King St.all the way to Elgin. That would provide a SAFE WALKING PATH for the hundreds of school children that currently live north of King St. That area is set to explode with new housing. Currently those students are required to run across D’Arcy St and Brook Rd North as neither street has proper sidewalks or any safe crossings other than at King St.and far north at Elgin St. I have contacted the town several times about the lack of a controlled/safe crossing on D’Arcy St other than at King and then a mile or more at Elgin St. Those are the only 2 crossings with a 4 way stop sign or a light. The East side of D’Arcy – where all the housing is, north of the Railroad – has no sidewalk at all. Walkers can stay in the mud beside the RR crossing or run across before the traffic comes by. Currently when a break in the traffic occurs, one student yells out “run” and instantly 8 or 10 kids run across the road. Pedestrian deaths have occurred… Read more »

Just a thought
Reply to  Doug W.
25 September 2022 11:57 am

How would you propose the town undertake or be responsible for demolishing buildings that exist on property the town does not own?

Doug W.
Reply to  Just a thought
25 September 2022 12:31 pm

I’m sure there are rules around derelict and abandoned buildings. Safety requirements as well. Currently the local interest wants to maintain these buildings through various bylaws. but for some old derelict buildings, their time is done.
In any case I would rather see a clean up of what is a very, very dangerous situation on D’Arcy St.

Sandpiper
Reply to  Just a thought
26 September 2022 9:05 am

If they are Condemned and found structurally un sound
by the Building and By Law there is a way
but remember this town is Reactive not Proactive

Wally Keeler
Reply to  Doug W.
25 September 2022 1:36 pm

I had pointed out a few years back that rr crossing was perilous for those in mobility scooters. Took pics of how derelict it was. The Town did respond by replacing the crumbled sidewalk. It was an improvement. It did have its protocol challenges because train schedules prevailed. The sidewalk gate remained, which necessitated mobility scooters to drive out onto the shoulder to face ongoing traffic at their peril. The shoulder is unpaved roughage. It discourages use of the CCC by disabled seniors. (There is a beautiful long way if the scooter has the range, to go up Division and turn east on Kerr Street, freshly laid out, smooth, and dedicated lane for scooters and bikes and pedestrians)

It might be prudent to look into building a pedestrian bridge, similar to the one in Toronto off Roncesvale/King W and Sunnyside. It allowed pedestrians, bicyclists, accessibility vehicles to cross safely. It is a safety issue, not just for students, but also seniors. It would facilitate usage of the CCC.

Last edited 2 months ago by Wally Keeler
Old Sailor
25 September 2022 9:39 am

Re the best use of the old Memorial Arena, was a sale of the property considered? If Council’s choice is to have a firefighters’ museum as the tenant and the first three years of a 10 to 15 year lease are free, perhaps a sale of the property would have been a better choice. Do we have a cash flow forecast for the first five years of the lease? The net benefit to Cobourg of this decision escapes me. Please advise.

Bryan
Reply to  Old Sailor
25 September 2022 10:14 am

Who pays for the cleanup and renovating the Memorial Arena: the Town or the CFFM? Building maintenance? Parking lot maintenance? Utilities?

Sandpiper
Reply to  Bryan
25 September 2022 5:03 pm

The Tax Payers of Cobourg of course.
These Fire Fighter Not For Profit bunch had their hands out for $$ in Port Hope so many times over the years that it was not feasible for the town to warrant keeping them
Why would Cobourg like any other reasonable / responsible Landlord ? Property Manager not run a back ground check before taking this position and obligating
the residents to this additional $$ burden
Is there No accountability with this exsisting council ??????????

Bryan
Reply to  Sandpiper
25 September 2022 6:15 pm

Sandpiper,
It’s not just Council. It’s mainly staff. Staff evaluated the situation and made its recommendation. Council of course, doesn’t ask any substantive questions. Instead, they blindly follow “the experts” recommendations.

Bryan
Reply to  Old Sailor
25 September 2022 1:23 pm

Old Sailor,

Some considerations if the MA is to be sold:

  • Does the Town pay the penalty regarding the solar panel contract? This assumes that the purchaser will demo the arena.
  • How much?
  • What is the preferred uses of the property once sold? Housing, parking, industry
  • What means does the Town have to “encourage” the purchaser to pick the Town’s preferred use?
Last edited 2 months ago by Bryan
Michael Sprayson
Reply to  Bryan
26 September 2022 8:09 am

The Town should not pay for the solar panel contract, if we were to sell. It would be a lien or lease against title and become the problem of the buyer. Additionally, the town could make it the problem of the buyer in the purchase agreement.

The Town has means of encouraging the purchaser. Before selling the property, the town can use their own Zoning bylaws to encourage whatever they want. Additionally, again with that purchase agreement – they can stipulate future use. If the buyer agrees, they are obligated. If the buyer doesn’t agree, they counter or withdraw the offer. It’s not complicated.

Last edited 2 months ago by Michael Sprayson