When the two high Schools in Cobourg amalgamated, the land for a playing field in the West End of Town was no longer being used. (See below for more detail on location). It was therefore likely that the School Board would eventually sell the land but there is a process that they must follow that means that 15 or more entities – including the Town of Cobourg – must be notified first. They did that in 2021 (see the Timeline below) although prior to that they formalized the right-of-way provided for the Boardwalk. Negotiations between the Town (Council) and School board were held in closed session to ensure confidential negotiations. On September 20, 2022, the School board accepted the Town’s offer of $2M and Staff then notified the public of their purchase at tonight’s Committee of the Whole (CoW) meeting.
The land has an official address of 117 Durham street since that is the access point. It’s immediately West of Legion Village and stretches from the Lake north for 833 feet.
At right is a sketch of the land in question based on a Google map – click to enlarge!
- Before 2018, Town had an undocumented agreement with the School Board for permission to operate and maintain a boardwalk crossing the lower half of the School Board property and its use by the Public to travel along.
- In 2018, the KPRDSB (Kawartha Pine Ridge District School Board) declared the property surplus to their needs and required the Town to agree to a legal registered easement of the Boardwalk through an easement agreement that was registered on title. Included was the right to cancel with 6 months notice.
- November 9, 2021 – Town was notified that the school board declared the land surplus and will be sold.
- November 12, 2021 – Staff sent school board an initial expression of interest in purchasing.
- December 13, 2021, an appraisal was received with a value of $2M. A valuation is needed since the Province mandates that any sale must be at fair market value.
- January 24, 2022 – staff provided Council with an updated report on next steps.
- April 27, 2022, Town submitted an official expression of interest.
- Given the uncertainty, the Town’s $900K project to upgrade the boardwalk was put on hold. It’s now expected to go ahead in 2023. An early next step will be a public meeting.
- School Board informed the Town that they were the only one that provided interest in the property.
- August 25, 2022, the Town submitted its formal offer of $2M to the School Board for the purchase.
- September 20, 2022, the Town received notice that the board was in acceptance of the Town’s offer and they would like to proceed with the signing of the Agreement.
- Staff reported to Council at the CoW on 26 September. Given the Lame Duck period limitations, the CAO had been previously authorized to agree to the deal although due diligence is still in progress and the deal has not yet closed.
The staff report says that:
While the shoreline, beach area and hazards lands will remain in public ownership and form part of the Town’s open space system, the balance of the lands have significant development potential.
The entire parcel is approximately 5 acres however there appears to be +/- 3.4 acres that could be developable.
Development could include housing and since the Town owns the land it could specify that some of the units would be “affordable”.
One of the conditions of sale is that if the Town re-sells the land, the School board would receive an equal share of any profit.
Staff are recommending that:
Council direct staff to bring forward a report to the new Council in the first quarter of 2023 to provide a strategy for the use and potential disposition of the +/- 3.4 acre development parcel. The strategy will include a public engagement component and will also identify opportunities to partner with other levels of government and/or organizations that have an interest in providing housing for all in the Town of Cobourg.
In summary, the Town has purchased the land from the School board so that the west beach board walk will be on Town property. But along with the “open space”, the remaining land could be re-sold and used for purposes that the Town could specify. Staff will make recommendations on this for presentation at a public meeting.
The motion to proceed passed unanimously although Councillors must have been previously informed in closed sessions that this was happening.