Productive First Council Meeting

The Council meeting on Monday night was the first real meeting of the new Mayor and Council.  It started with a technical glitch with the sound that delayed the start for 30 minutes and then went on to discuss the items on the Agenda.  First was a motion to suspend appointments to advisory committees and coordinator roles pending a review of Governance – as described in a previous post, see Resources below. In response to questions from Councillor Miriam Mutton, Brent Larmer explained that there would be staff research and public engagement and the whole process would take until the end of the first quarter (but no external consultants).  Brent noted that a change to standing committees would require a large number of documents to be changed.

Councillor Adam Bureau asked why the Mayor was not nominated for the Police Board and Mayor Lucas Cleveland responded that his father and other family members were police officers so there might be a perceived conflict of interest.  Nominating Deputy Mayor Nicole Beatty would also satisfy upcoming requirements for more diversity of representatives.

Some other discrepancies were noted in the list of boards and committees: an Accessibility Advisory Committee is mandatory and the citizen representative on the Police Board must be named. (Currently Dean Pepper).  These will be done at the January 16 Council meeting. (If I get anything wrong, it’s because the sound from the meeting was still distorted even after the glitch was fixed).

Lucas proposed to implement a “consent Agenda”.  Applicable to routine items, this would allow multiple agenda items to be passed with one motion instead of one motion for each thereby speeding things up.  His motion was simply to consider the idea, not to immediately implement. His motion passed.

The next Agenda item was to set the meeting schedule for the year.  But first, Adam Bureau moved an amendment that meetings start at 4:00 pm instead of 6:00 pm.  He was concerned with the long hours put in by staff.  But Councillor Aaron Burchat was concerned that this might make it more difficult for access by the Public. He suggested that the subject should be part of public engagement in the Governance review.  So Adam’s amendment was defeated and the schedule on the Agenda passed (see Resources).

Before Council could submit comments on Bill 23, Premier Ford’s government passed the bill and sent it for royal assent. Nevertheless, Planning Director Anne Taylor-Scott presented her objections to the Bill as documented in a previous post on this blog.  Her slides were concise and very clear – using screen grabs, I have built a pdf of most of her slides – see “Bill 23 – Selected Slides” below.

At the risk of overlooking key points, here is a summary of her summary:

  1. The role of the GRCA is significantly reduced and they will no longer be able to help Cobourg’s planners. That means it’s possible that the Town will in some cases need to hire a consultant to do that job.
  2. Development charges will no longer be required for affordable housing projects.  This will likely mean the burden will fall on taxpayers or on Development charges to other projects.
  3. Three dwelling units will now be allowed on detached, semi-detached and Townhouse properties.  This could be a problem with the capacity of water and sewer services and also cause street parking problems.
  4. The scope of Site Plan approval will be reduced.  This means that the Town’s Urban and Landscape design Guidelines will no longer be used. 
  5. Despite an increased need because of increased density, there will be less parkland.
  6. The Town will be severely limited in implementation of plans to address climate change concerns. 

Nicole Beatty was particularly vocal in criticizing the impact of Bill-23 – she said that the Town already has the tools to provide for more affordable housing. Lucas said that Anne’s concerns have already been expressed to MPP Piccini.  As an indicator of the Financial impact, Lucas said that the County estimated the loss at $2.5M “at the county level” and CAO Tracey Vaughan said that AMO estimated the cost across Ontario at $1B.

The motion on the agenda was to submit a letter to the Government including MPP Piccini.  At Miriam’s suggestion the words “many of the revisions to” were removed from the sixth paragraph of the resolution so that it reads:

“Now therefore be it resolved that while Council for the Town of Cobourg generally supports many of the revisions to provincial legislation to support increased housing supply, the Town of Cobourg respectfully objects to:”

The amended motion passed although it’s too late since legislation has already passed.

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21 Comments
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Gerinator
2 December 2022 3:45 pm

Just read a Ford-ism – to paraphrase ‘there should not be any tax increases due to the loss of developer revenue. Munis would/should be able make up the deficiencies by removing waste’. How utterly pompous of this derriere. Without consult, without a lag before implementation, Ford believes/says that waste (undefined) would/should make up for the lack of developer fees. Further this largess on the part of the Province is not tied to accessible, low rent housing. So I suppose developers, due to a sudden streak of altruism, are to just stop making high priced homes, communities? KingFord needs to hear from the Ontario citizens that this type of autocracy is not appreciated. Finally, follow the money as it concerns Ford and his cronies.

Dave
Reply to  Gerinator
2 December 2022 7:49 pm

All kinds of housing is needed. Prices for private will come down as supply rises to meet demand.

Last edited 2 months ago by Dave
Kevin
Reply to  Dave
6 December 2022 8:08 am

Yes, all kinds of housing is needed. Supply is one of the factors affecting price. It takes time to build houses and there seems to be a labour shortage. Regardless of demand supply can only act so fast. Somebody bought a new house but it was delayed by most of a year. The new owner has been living in an apartment which means the apartment is not available to anybody else. I agree with Gerinator’s comments about Ford’s opinion on tax increases. When something is changed, like development fees, there will be other changes to compensate. The other changes could be very unexpected. Higher interest rates and a slowing of the economy might have a greater effect on housing prices than supply. At least for the next couple of years.

Dave
Reply to  Kevin
7 December 2022 12:22 pm

Brought out today Mayor of Mississauga waives development fees for downtown business development, takes in taxes on residential home building and parks yet puts a good portion into Reserve Fund. Aside from the Green Belt issue Ford stated municipalities will be fully compensated for reduced income on Development Fees and 300,000 in immigration to Ontario is the norm each year. So Kevin what to do? Your suggestion? The housing market is in crisis?

And let us not forget it was revealed the Federal government handed out mega bucks and overspent on vaccines during COVID. Apparently paying out billions in COVID benefits to among unqualified who applied to also dead people! Smells like an individual tax increase to me.

Bryan
Reply to  Dave
7 December 2022 12:40 pm

Dave:

And here we are in Cobourg on Dec 7, none the wiser regarding the Town’s financial status:
-Audited 2021 Financial Statements not presented to Council
-Provincial Financial Information Report not filed. (due May 31),
-Q3 financial status report not presented to Council.

My experience with delays like this is that they often signal bad news.
Hopefully these reports will be available soon.

Last edited 1 month ago by Bryan
Kathleen
30 November 2022 8:19 pm

Paul Burnham (Burnham Farm) posted a very informative article on Facebook re: Bill 23. Feel free to look it up if you have a Facebook account.

I feel Bill 23 was hastily passed without proper input from environmental experts or municipalities. Bill 23 will only benefit Doug Ford’s builder cronies and will only do detriment to our already fragile environment.

I agree with Nicole Beatty.

Last edited 2 months ago by Kathleen
Dave
Reply to  Kathleen
30 November 2022 10:00 pm

Perhaps we are being naive? As I move through life I seldom have seen people motivated by altruism. Political appointments to the Parole Board due to a person assisting in a volunteer capacity to government, judgeships, hiring after an election campaign to support positions. Remember a friend, “an old time trucker”, began his career in the late 60s, said to me guys who buy the dispatcher a bottle get the best loads. Developers will be looking for profit. Maybe the idea is to get them building, greatly increase the supply of housing and due to supply and demand, the usual economic drivers, the price will come down.

Dave
Reply to  Dave
1 December 2022 1:25 pm

Still wondering about all the infrastructure that has never been upgraded or fixed as far as developments go. Looks like housing will never be built.

Good news for parents today, in addition to the increased child benefit of $500 – $600 a month per child Trudeau has just announced effective today there will be free dental coverage for children.

Last edited 2 months ago by Dave
Dave
Reply to  Dave
2 December 2022 7:57 am

One more comment – Toronto Sun Columnist, Brian Lilley – “Municipalities Driving Up Cost of Housing, Ford Right to Clip Their Wings” Makes for very interesting reading. Development Fees according to study by Municipalities here are highest in North America.
https://torontosun.com/opinion/columnists/lilley-municipalities-driving-up-cost-of-housing-ford-right-to-clip-their-wings

Last edited 2 months ago by Dave
Ben
Reply to  Dave
2 December 2022 12:26 pm

Quote from the Lilley article:
Municipalities have become too reliant on development and other charges, fees that only drive up the cost of housing for those who can least afford it. Bill 23 is an attempt to fix that.”

I would believe this statement if the Development Charges covered 100% of the cost of development – they don’t. The taxpayer subsidises every development with at least 30% of taxpayers’ money.

Dave
Reply to  Ben
2 December 2022 12:57 pm

Not the point Ben 30% to taxpayers, The article states a study was completed – names company doing the survey in the article – say Development Fees are the most expensive in the whole of North America.

One thing I have thought is yes taxes will go up as I viewed the current situations and financial management policies of the Federal Government these passed few years and increased social services costs happening in all municipalities. With generosity comes the Bill, the chickens have come home to roost, time to pay the Piper.

I certainly and no one else does, want tax increases however all things considered that is what I see. The standard of living is less now that what it has been with many overburdened infrastructure needs to be updated which are paid by taxes and apparently very large development fees.

Last edited 2 months ago by Dave
Ben
Reply to  Dave
2 December 2022 1:35 pm

Not the point Ben 30% to taxpayers, The article states a study was completed – names company doing the survey in the article – say Development Fees are the most expensive in the whole of North America.”

Perhaps the study says that the fees are expensive but so is development, the difference between real costs and the fees is a subsidy to the developers and should be paid by them not the taxpayer, even if it is the same taxpayer, as Mike Harris said.

Dave
Reply to  Ben
2 December 2022 1:55 pm

Guess that is why they aren’t building Ben. Perhaps the Federal Government should keep this in mind and look after public needs as its policies have created the need. Have a nice day Ben, glad the situation is being discussed and you are interested, hope many others are to see the housing problem resolved.

Kevin
Reply to  Dave
2 December 2022 8:20 am

Yes, “free” dental coverage for children under 12. But nothing is really free as somebody has to pay for it, which could be Dave’s point.

Housing prices are coming down as interest rates go up. Increasing the housing supply could lower prices but the labour and materials to build the houses is in short supply. Developers are unlikely to greatly increase the housing supply anytime soon. I did hear the rental market is softening. At least the market for houses, not necessarily apartments. I think a big part of the problem is people living longer after retirement. Covid likely made things worse with people deciding to retire. An aging population means proportionally fewer working people taking care of more. Older people need more health care. Now with “free” dental for children and the previous daycare plans more people will be needed to care for the young. It all has to be paid for. Usually that means more taxes. People who still work, and pay taxes, will be under greater pressure to work more and pay more. How do you think that is going to work out?

Dave
Reply to  Kevin
2 December 2022 11:41 am

Kevin my point for that post despite bringing thousands upon thousands to this country, softening immigration permitting walk across refugees. The Federal government invests in anything but housing preparing for the great influx of people. You were on the last subject in reading my prior entries I would not have thought you would need clarification. Today I read of the extremely high development fee charges by municipalities so added another comment.

Zara
30 November 2022 10:38 am

Bur first, *Councillor Adam Bureau.

Rob
Reply to  Zara
30 November 2022 4:34 pm

Zara – what are you going on about here? Are you actually correcting the reporting of the blog operator. He wrote an 800-word post, and you found an error – meanwhile you spelled 20% of the words wrong in your 5-word comment and have an unnecessary period at the end. 😉

Last edited 2 months ago by Rob
cornbread
30 November 2022 8:31 am

Not pre testing the sound shows the real depth and experience of Staff.

Concerned
Reply to  cornbread
30 November 2022 9:01 am

That’s a big assumption that it wasn’t pre-tested. You never had a system work and then not work a minute or two later, it happens they fixed it.

cornbread
Reply to  Concerned
30 November 2022 9:38 am

Not in my 60 years as a musician!

Abby
Reply to  cornbread
30 November 2022 10:02 am

Bill 23 presents some very serious challenges about land use, green space, local autonomy et al. Wouldn’t it be good to consider and discuss these things rather than start out with a complaint about who fixes what when.