Short Council Meeting

The longest debate at Monday’s Council meeting was on the deployment of Porta-Potties! There were no surprises: the ban on demolition at 93 Albert was confirmed with a 4-3 vote, some correspondence was received without comment and Adam Bureau withdrew his notice of motion to use Brookside for homeless people since MPP David Piccini intends to address Council on 31 January.   There are two issues with Porta-Potties: 1) providing washrooms to replace those closed because of Covid-19 and 2) replacing  those at the Transit shelter because of security problems there plus the need to use the Transit shelter to accommodate Town Staff.  Initially, staff recommended operating hours of  8:00 am to 4:00 pm but after debate, Council decided to extend that to 8:00 pm.

See the link below for the report about Porta-Potties from Emergency Planner, Shannon Murphy.

Transit Shelter Problems

In an interview, Police Chief Paul Vandergraaf said that there have been problems at the Transit Shelter:

  • It’s used for unintended purposes
  • People have been “hanging out” there all day
  • There has been equipment damage
  • There have been occasional cases of people using drugs
  • There is some graffiti

Since the rink opened, Police have increased patrols and Town staff have been monitoring compliance with Covid-19 rules.

Porta-Pottie Motion

Council passed the following motion moved by Councillor Aaron Burchat and seconded by Adam Bureau:

THAT Council direct staff to place six(6) accessible porta potties, two(2) outside Victoria Hall until the building reopens to the public, two(2) at the Marina and two(2) located near Lion Pavilion at the east side of Victoria Park. This would accommodate the needs of the public partaking in outdoor recreation until the spring when the seasonal facilities reopen to the public; and

FURTHER THAT the Port-a-Potties be open from 8:00 am to 8:00 pm

The cost would be funded through the COVID-19 Safe Restart Government Funding. Presumably it’s effective immediately.

Other business

Other than deciding on deployment of Porta-Potties and ratifying the decision to refuse a demolition permit for 93 Albert, there were a number of items on the Agenda – here are some highlights:

  • Approval for Interim tax billing.  Although the 2022 budget has been approved (and is online here), an interim tax bill will be issued as in previous years at one-third of the 2021 bill (to residences) since the final County and School Board amounts have not yet been provided to the Town.
  • There were 5 items of correspondence – notably letters from Keith Oliver and Donald MacIntosh (ACO Chair) as discussed in a previous Post (for the full list see the Agenda here)
  • Coordinators’ reports.  At regular Council meetings, each Councillor reports on items of interest in their coordinator mandate. Here are some highlights (sorry if I omit other items – “highlights” is subjective):
    • The New Year’s Mayor’s Levee was cancelled but a Virtual one is planned – stay tuned. Once announced, there will be notification in the News Update box.
    • Fire Chief Mike Vilneff retires on February 4
    • Ann Taylor Scott will be the new Director of Planning and Development.  She starts 24 January (Announcement here). She comes from a Planning position in Clarington.
    • Approved budgets are now online
    • There is now an updated Tree and Bench Recognition Program – Details are now online here.

The next Council meeting is a Committee of the Whole (CoW) meeting on 24 January.  Meanwhile, there will be reports here if anything significant happens in Cobourg; you can follow Covid-19 news here or you can follow other local news sources – list here.

Cobourg News Blog posts are issued when anything of significance happens (that’s a subjective call) – often that’s 2 days apart – but it’s sometimes longer and occasionally shorter.  More on what Cobourg News Blog covers here.


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14 January 2022 6:43 pm

Is anyone addressing the James st garbage collector s problem, the participants have now been caught breaking into condo buildings, does the town need to be victimized by these people
Could our councilors approach our judges and prosecutors to stop the catch and release system

Reply to  Jones
14 January 2022 10:11 pm


Have you taken your concern to the police chief. He, and his police officers are paid big bucks to deal with these problems. If the chief fails to deal with the problem, escalate to the Cobourg Police Services Board (CPSB). The police act makes them responsible for Cobourg’s police, not Council.

Further, the prosecutors and judges are not accountable to Council or influenced by it. Your concerns in this regard should be addresses to our MPP David Piccini, Attorney General Doug Downey and Ontario Premier Doug Ford.

Reply to  Bryan
15 January 2022 7:56 am

The Cobourg Police Chief and Officers do a tremendously wonderful job. As Jones mentioned, it is the “catch and release” system that is the problem, and the solution might hopefully be changed by following your closing suggestion.

13 January 2022 12:42 pm

Correct me if I am wrong. My understanding of the matter is that staff did indeed make an operational decision, then members of the public found the decision problematic in that the solution did not adequately address the need; then the public asked at least one member of Council to advocate on their behalf and we all know that a member of Council is not permitted to influence operations therefore the matter ended up in front of the entire Council for official direction. A sort of policy tweak, a pandemic response change nonetheless. There also appears to be significant amount of cost involved and perhaps it was not clear where the money to pay for costs would come from – was there funding in the budget or could money come from another source?
Old Sailor seems to have hit a point with the public though. 70 up votes at this time.

Reply to  MiriamM
13 January 2022 1:34 pm

It is still not a policy issue. The “public” should have taken their concern to the director or CAO for resolution. The Council member should have referred the “public” to the appropriate staff.
If you have a complaint (concern) with Walmart/Staples/Metro/CT….you take your concern to local management, then senior/executive management. You don’t go to the board of directors.

Reply to  Bryan
13 January 2022 6:58 pm

I do not have all the details of this situation but generally, if normal avenues have been tried and for whatever reason the issue remains unresolved then it is indeed the right thing to do to seek assistance from your elected representatives.

Reply to  MiriamM
13 January 2022 7:38 pm

I agree, as a last resort. Many issues come to Council as a first step rather than the last. I also agree that the details of this situation are not generally known, so assumptions are expected.

Williams Street Beer Company took the correct approach. They took their issue to Waterworks’ (LUSI’s) customer service, management, Town CAO and finally Council.

Reply to  MiriamM
13 January 2022 8:44 pm

I think that this discussion exposes the hypocrisy of some posters. They want to have direct representation by having councillors being responsive and accountable to them and when they act as as advocates for their constituents they cry out – “Go through proper channels!”

I’ m sorry but if I have a problem that Council needs to know about I will be talking to the organ-grinder not the monkey.

Reply to  MiriamM
13 January 2022 9:26 pm

Weak defense of council, but an interesting observation about the likability of Old Sailor’s comment. Rocketed to over 100 thumbs-up in less than a day. Is that a record?
We know they all read this blog, so if councilors are so easily swayed by public opinion, maybe they should take their cues from the 👍 👎 here instead of the handful of emails they receive from the usual suspects.

Last edited 1 year ago by Frenchy
13 January 2022 9:04 am

Why are they not enforcing the no hockey sticks/pucks rule that is on all 3 of the new signs posted?

Reply to  JoAnne
13 January 2022 4:34 pm

On even days for skating…..odd days for hockey……just a thought?

Reply to  Ken
13 January 2022 7:27 pm

My concern was more to do with how late the hockey players use the rink. We regularly hear them playing past midnight when the rink should be closed,

Old Sailor
12 January 2022 7:43 pm

I am afraid to ask the question, but here goes. Why does Council have to get involved with the deployment of Porta-Potties? Is the talent so thin among our full time staff, that they need Council to make the final decisions on the location of Porta-Potties?

Reply to  Old Sailor
13 January 2022 12:00 pm

Old Sailor:
Totally agree with you.
The deployment of porta-potties is an operational decision and responsibility and should not have come to Council. The works director should have made whatever decisions were needed. At worst, the matter could have been decided by the CAO.
I believe the reliance on Council to make these trivial micro-management decisions is a cultural/historical thing….we have always done it this way….
It is also an accountability/responsibility avoidance mechanism: didn’t make the decision, therefore can’t be held accountable.

Council does not have the resources/expertise/time to be micro-managing operations. That is staff’s responsibility. Council needs to let go and allow staff make the operational decisions that are rightfully theirs. That’s the only way to learn this skill….by doing. There will be mistakes made, but that is part of the learning process. Start small….baby steps….porta-potties.
Experience and growth will come with practice.

Reply to  Old Sailor
13 January 2022 1:04 pm

Same reason as always a few members of this council want their say on everything operational or not. A few members on this council get one phone call and it becomes, it is what the town wants. Since when is it the towns responsibility to provide you so many places to pee when you are out on a walk or run? Plan accordingly then it won’t be an issue.

Beach walker
Reply to  Concerned
13 January 2022 2:31 pm

Wow, only a man would say that. Think about it.

Reply to  Beach walker
13 January 2022 2:47 pm

Plan ahead means if you know you have a weak bladder or other issues or are pregnant and this doesn’t allow you to go on long walks, plan your walk/exercise around facilities that are available. It’s not strictly a man or woman issue it is about knowing what you can or can’t do and so you plan accordingly. Only a woman would think men can’t have bladder problems.

Beach walker
Reply to  Concerned
13 January 2022 9:14 pm

Men dont menstruate

Reply to  Concerned
15 January 2022 10:15 am

During the past two years, where were the washrooms that the general public could use? During the COVID-19 era, most WCs were closed.

Reply to  Old Sailor
13 January 2022 4:11 pm

Wow!!! Cannabis and port -a-potties on every corner, what more can we want!!!

New contributor
Reply to  Old Sailor
13 January 2022 4:31 pm

80% of what goes to council could have easily been a staff decision but council wants to be involved in everything. Watch other municipalities council meetings and you’ll see how inefficient and sustainable our current council set up is.

Reply to  Old Sailor
14 January 2022 3:43 pm

I’m sure staff had a decision but council determined awhile ago that any unforecasted spending related to service levels must be approved by them. Most municipalities do not do this as they trust staff.