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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Despite an increased need because of increased density, there will be less parkland.
- 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.
Previous Blog Posts
- Council debating Governance – 26 November 2022
- Cobourg Objects to Ontario Bill 23 – 24 November 2022