Preliminary Review of Municipal Election

Nominations to run in the October Municipal election have been accepted since May 2, 2022 – they close August 19 so there’s plenty of time yet.  So far John Henderson has filed to run as Mayor, Suzanne Séguin is wanting to be Deputy Mayor again and Adam Bureau has filed to run for a Councillor position.  The last 4 years have been turbulent with the pandemic but also with major Capital Projects and a new-found interest in County responsibilities: affordable housing and homelessness.  Culture and Downtown vitalization seem to be on the back-burner and Tourism will no doubt take a hit with the new Parking fees. Big expenditures are planned to fix the Harbour and maybe enhance the East Pier.  The next term should be interesting to say the least.

Town Clerk, Brent Larmer, has a page (updated daily) which lists nominations filed – go here.

At the risk of losing some objectivity, I have a list of what I think will be key election issues.

  • Should Cobourg Council use taxpayer money to support affordable housing since this is a County responsibility?
  • Should there be an immediate move to build a multi-level Parking Garage on Covert Street? (Since developers seem to want to build on their land now used for parking).
  • Should Harbour improvements be limited to repairs or should the East Pier be enhanced?
  • Should the Town actively promote Tourism?
  • Should projects close to Downtown (like at the corner of Division and Albert) be approved with limited Parking for residents?
  • Should the CCC actively look for more major events like the recent Blue Rodeo concert?
  • Do we really need “new blood” on Council?

This list is of course based on what’s been happening but there will no doubt be new challenges. My list probably leaves out some issues – feel free to add them in your comment(s).

Prospective Councillors will not get enough salary to live on so they will need to be getting a pension or have a “day job” (except for the Mayor) so the number of people willing to stand for election will be limited.

Below are file photos of the three nominated so far.

Three nominations to date
Three nominations to date

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Kevin
28 June 2022 8:02 am

JD put affordable housing at the top of the list and noted it is a county issue. I think this is important for a couple of reasons. Politicians, of all levels, really need to do the jobs they were elected to do. For our local politicians that is representing the best interests of the citizens of Cobourg. There is nothing wrong with helping rental housing projects but for the most part there are other issues to deal with. Affordable housing is not within the town’s responsibility.   The other reason I find placing affordable housing first on the list interesting is that I think it represents a big problem. Housing has changed so much over the decades. How many people lived in a small 2 or 3 bedroom house with parents, siblings and 1 bathroom. Now people want bigger houses with everybody having their own bedroom and even own bathroom. This is much more expensive. When you take into account all the things, like appliances, that do not last nearly as long as they once did, housing costs are much, much higher than they were. A smaller house requires fewer resources to build, less energy to heat, etc. Have you ever shopped for a new kitchen faucet? There could be over 100 options from one company alone. What if there were 3 or 4 options? Replacement parts could be readily available which would reduce maintenance costs. The same is true for appliances. How many of those settings do you actually use on your clothes washer?   Safety of our housing has gone so far as to make things worse in some ways. With the strict electrical and fire codes new houses need arc-fault circuit breakers and hardwired smoke detectors with strobe lights in each bedroom. This adds to the cost… Read more »

Eastender
27 June 2022 2:28 pm

Yes, for sure we “new blood” on Council. I think voter mandated “term limits”
keep Council fresh, inspired, and less apt to be comfortable and complacent.
I also feel Council is too large and we definitely don’t need a Deputy Mayor.

Bill Thompson
Reply to  Eastender
27 June 2022 4:05 pm

Number of employees enter into the equation at all also ?

Last edited 5 months ago by Bill Thompson
Eastender
Reply to  Bill Thompson
27 June 2022 5:35 pm

Absolutely!

Ken Strauss
Reply to  Eastender
27 June 2022 5:51 pm

I disagree. Traditionally the Deputy Mayor has been responsible for the budget which requires significant additional time beyond the usual Council work. We obviously need someone on Council who is fiscally prudent and none of the current Councillors fulfills the need. Also, there must be a ready alternate when the Mayor is unable to perform his duties.

Eastender
Reply to  Ken Strauss
27 June 2022 6:49 pm

Maybe we need to get rid of “tradition” and get with the modern world.
As far as a ready alternate, any Councillor would suffice.

Cap’n John
26 June 2022 9:03 pm

I think that we ( the taxpayers, the Town) need to do more to encourage qualified and interested people to run for office. Our future as a town will be determined by the decisions that we make now.
There are many qualified citizens who, with some encouragement and support, might be willing to run for office.
We should do more to encourage and celebrate those citizens willing to make the sacrifice and run for municipal office in order to help build the future for Cobourg.

Bryan
Reply to  Cap’n John
26 June 2022 11:16 pm

Cap’n John:
Totally agree that Cobourgers need to encourage interested, skilled, qualified people to run for municipal office.
Why does it have to be a sacrifice?
The Town could pay Council members more. That would reduce (eliminate ??) the financial barrier. What other sacrifices are you concerned about?

Last edited 5 months ago by Bryan
Bryan
26 June 2022 3:40 pm

Regarding JD’ points: “Affordable” (reasonable cost) housing: as JD notes, this is a County responsibility and the County’s efforts appear to fall short of resident expectations. County Council is not elected and Cobourg’s rep (J Henderson) rarely reports to Cobourg Council on County affairs and doesn’t solicit direction or advice from Cobourg Council (or residents) regarding County affairs. The Town does have a CIP that can be used to assist reasonable cost housing development. I would rather see this used for non-profit housing rather lining developer’s pockets. Parking garage: This has been a pie in the sky Cobourg dream for years. If it was a financially viable project, a developer would have done a deal with the Town and built one. If the Town undertakes this, look for a $15-20M money pit just like the CCC. Harbour repairs & Enhancement. Fix the harbour and East Pier as needed. This work is long overdue and has been known by staff and long term Council since 2002 when the Town purchased it from the Feds. I have not found any information on the “needed repairs” noted in the sale documents or the $400K cash paid to the Town in lieu of repairs. Open the EP and leave the pier enhancements for a later time. Promote Tourism: Yes and no. Yes to promoting Cobourg as an arts/shopping/visiting/exploring place. No to promoting the beach. It is already popular enough and as many Cobourgers know, beachers contribute little economic benefit to Cobourg. Trading resident parking: Undecided. Haven’t seen any alternatives suggested CCC major events: Depends. Did the CCC make or loose money on the event or simply subsidize the promoter at the taxpayer’s expense. No event “accounting” has been provided by the Town. Council new blood needed: Absolutely. Council needs to push operational decisions back… Read more »

Last edited 5 months ago by Bryan
concerned
Reply to  Bryan
27 June 2022 2:41 pm

Interesting that Councillor Beatty has added a last minute item on homelessness and instead of directing this to the County who is funded and staffed for this she wants the town to help the County do it. If she so focused on it why is she not trying to organize something through the County and its membership municipalities everything doesn’t have to be put on Cobourg and its residents. How about we ask the county to just do their job since they are funded and staffed for it and stop trying to do their work for them. The staff are already behind on many items and here comes another pet project. Although it is an important one, it is one that is already tasked to the higher tier. It this another item that will cost the town money, that we aren’t funded for?

Last edited 5 months ago by concerned
Dubious
Reply to  concerned
27 June 2022 3:28 pm

After this morning’s murder on King Street aren’t there more important issues than homelessness?

Ken Strauss
26 June 2022 1:49 pm

There is little that Cobourg can do about cost of living increases other than to control taxes. Sadly, things don’t look good.

A huge portion of town expenses are salaries and they will almost certainly increase. In addition to wage increases for staff, Council has approved spending over $1M per year for unnecessary additional managers. Fuel for buses, snowplows and other purposes is another significant expense that is increasing.

Council has recently approved increasing spending on storm water management by about $1.2M per year (https://www.cobourgblog.com/assets/2022/Stormwater-Rate-Assessment-FAQs.pdf, bottom of page 1). This has been deceitfully termed a “user fee” but actually amounts to a property tax increase of almost 5%.

Add the desire of some to spend more on county responsibilities of “affordable” housing, drug harm mitigation and other issues. Plus John’s list of expenses. Will residents like a 15% tax increase? Tighten your belts!

Informed
Reply to  Ken Strauss
26 June 2022 7:38 pm

Perhaps the Town needs to identify some news sources of revenue. EG.Beach visitors are an expense so stop throwing more money at. People are using it already! Stop calling it tourism because it implys that large amounts of money are feeding the coffers. Increases in personal taxes are not enough to foot the bill and we need some new ideas.

Ken Strauss
Reply to  Informed
26 June 2022 8:25 pm

Informed, perhaps the town needs to identify some new sources of profit; we already have ample sources of revenue which are actually just ways to squander our taxes. Renaming additional taxes as “user fees” is not helpful.

Bryan
Reply to  Informed
26 June 2022 8:36 pm

Informed:
The Town does not have a “revenue” problem. It has a “spending” problem. Council collectively needs to grow a pair and learn to say NO to staff

Gerinator
Reply to  Bryan
29 June 2022 11:05 am

Say NO to staff AND County AND other hangers-on.