Unfinished Business – October 2022

One good initiative that Brent Larmer brought to Council a while back was a detailed follow-up on unfinished business with a tracking report included in both CoW and regular Council meetings.  That’s the positive.  However, these are rarely discussed at meetings – presumably councillors must read them at some other time.  A review of the 16 items reported in October shows that most are late with some originating early 2019. It’s likely that Staff would blame Covid and under-staffing for the delays but maybe Council could spend time prioritising these items.  Or maybe the fact that items are late indicate that staff are giving them low priority?  In any case, action items should either be actioned promptly or a decision made to re-schedule or not do them.  Something is wrong when many items linger on the list way past their due date.

Summary of report

See Resources below for most recent report available at October 3rd, Council meeting.
Status below is not necessarily as reported by Staff and there may also be unreported actions. Note that many items are optimistically reported to be on track but there is no evidence for that.

Meeting Date & Motion Summary Due date, Action, Status
2019-01-28
Social Planning and/or Community Development Advisory Committee
Look into an advisory committee on affordable housing and other community health priorities June 2019
Working to liaise with County
Late
2019-12-02 
Emergency Shelters Downtown Cobourg
Look into crime associated with Transition House 18 February, 2020
Police report was lost and re-promised for March 15, 2021.
Not done.
2020-11-19
Affordable Housing CIP
Put together an inventory of potential municipal-owned surplus lands, buildings and/or facilities for use of affordable Housing 22 March 2021
A list was produced.  One possible location remains – some of the parking lot of the re-purposed Memorial Arena – see post here
Approved 26 Sept 2022.  Complete
2019-12-02
Private Transportation Regulating By-law
Regulate Uber & Lyft, update Taxi by law, encourage Accessible taxis No deadline
Some update of taxi fares but otherwise no progress due to pandemic.
Late
2021-06-21
Electric Vehicle Charging Stations
Install Electric Vehicle Charging Stations in Cobourg No deadline
On hold pending more information on “public’s uptake on the usage of EV units in the Town”.  Report in Cobourg News Blog
Not known – Report says “On Track”
2021-06-28
AirBnB regulations and enforcement Short-Term Rental Accommodations (STRA)
Look into regulating AirBnB’s including getting public input Nov 15, 2021
Staff reported on 25 Oct 2021.
Report in Cobourg News Blog
Late – Report says “On Track”
2021-11-01
Municipal Accommodation Tax
Look into a Municipal Accommodation Tax Nov 15, 2021
Late – Report says “On Track”
2021-10-12
Accessibility issues on the Northumberland Mall Property
Look into Accessibility issues on the Northumberland Mall Property as described in delegation from Cheryl Blodgett, Cobourg Resident. No deadline
No action. Report says “On Track”
2021-10-12
Volunteer Recognition Policy
Draft a Volunteer Recognition Policy No deadline
No action. Report says “On Track”
2022-01-03
Development Charges Addendum Process
Ensure that the current Development Charge calculation is accurate and complete September 30, 2022
No action. Report says “On Track”
2022-01-24
Rezoning Daintry Crescent to Parkland
Although director said it was not necessary, rezone open land to Parkland May 30, 2022
In Progress
2022-03-14
Energy Star Bench Marking System
Participate in the Energy Star Bench Marking System and report to Council. No deadline
Not Known Report says “On Track”
2022-03-07
Waterfront Residential Waterfront Parking Passes
Survey residents in the Fall on the success of the resident pass process to provide recommendations for any improvements. In time for 2023 budget deliberations
Late. Report says “On Track”
2022-05-16
Daintry Crescent – Park Development and Surplus Lands.
Staff to consult local neighborhood on the design elements of the park by the end of October 2022 In time for 2023 budget deliberations
Late. Report says “On Track”
2022-07-11
Recommendation on supporting removal of barriers to Urban Agriculture
Consider allowing activities such as backyard chickens (Blog report) Referred to new Council
Action deferred
2021-07-26
Issues and Options Study: Rehabilitation Treatment Centres and Crisis Centres
Prepare Zoning by-law to manage rehabilitation centres like that at “Woodlawn”. Include public consultation December 6th, 2021
Late. Report says “On Track”

Maybe the new Council will expedite all the overdue items.

Resources

Previous reports on Unfinished Business

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17 Comments
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Sandpiper
3 November 2022 8:04 am

7 weeks ago the Town started work on 200 ft of road widening at Division & Albert / Queen
Its still not complete . When the town suggest they need to hire out of town Quality experienced
tallent they might be Wright . This is certainly one of those times 7 wks folks it must be one of those Time and Material jobs . I have seen this type of work take place in other Thriving communities in less than 48 hours . It makes one wonder if the Contractor might be related to
someone employed by or inside the town .,

Say What?
Reply to  Sandpiper
3 November 2022 9:53 pm

Sandpiper,
Since you seem to have a problem with the construction schedule, maybe you could enlighten us about the scope of the work.
Was there utilities to be moved?
Were sewers and water main being replaced?
Were there weather delays?
What was the original schedule?
What did you mean by the comment about the contractor being related to someone in town?
Any details you can supply would be appreciated.

Keith Oliver
Reply to  Sandpiper
3 November 2022 10:15 pm

Sandpiper

Your post should be discredited by anyone who reads it because of your two unfounded statements.

“… it must be a time and material job.” Implying there is a loss of cost control, and your implication that there might be some kind of unethical business relationship between the Contractor and someone employed by or inside the town.

You make serious accusations without proof. On one hand I believe that in the past you have praised John for his hard work, while on the other you undermine it with these spurious unfounded accusations.

This kind of destructive innuendo is found in many posts. It is no wonder that while it is not uncommon for several thousand to read a particular blog, almost none of those I know bother to read the associated posts.

PS. A properly contracted and supervised “time-and-material” job is often the source of the efficient use of the clients resources.

Last edited 1 month ago by Keith Oliver
Dave
2 November 2022 1:43 pm

Unfortunately work performance reviews are seldom applied in many workplaces including government. More and more it seems to be up to the individual employee as to how they wish to perform. At one place I asked about one employee who performed at 1/3 the rate of the rest of the department as personal phone calls and applying for other work were their criteria. The supervisor said it was the best that employee could do. Rewards for good work did not exist. I came across this in other employment situations.

In the public sector I have seen a person promoted to the top despite the fact they did not meet the basic criteria – spelling, computer and experience. Sure knew how to kiss up though. Another re-hired in another government employer despite the fact they were absent, absent, absent and liked personal calls all day long. Seen it again and again in both private and public employment places in all employment categories. Not to say there are many good employees but the people that should be shown the door never are,

Dunkirk
2 November 2022 12:24 pm

I agree with all of the comments below. In addition, we could add that ‘working-from-home’ does not mean working from a residence in Cobourg because most of our Town Staff don’t actually live and pay taxes here. Check it. Boaters at the Marina and seasonal tenants at the Trailer Park are more vested.

Aside from the lack of genuine local engagement–when you hire a group of non-residents there are a few stages of their employment reality:
-first–they have higher salary/benefit expectations from the places they really live. Check it. (ie:Durham)
-2nd-they will absolutely ‘need’ to work from home and will agonize over periodic evening Council appearances.
-3rd–they won’t really care if our town starts to resemble the suburban wasteland that is Durham…
-4th–and they’ll all be rallying around the next BIG thing in Municipal employment–the 4 day work week.
Wait for it folks—it’s coming….and we will be told how absolutely necessary it is for us to retain competent staff who choose to live elsewhere and we’ll be told how ‘service levels’ and morale will never be better.
(Do we have a new Council with the common sense to say ‘no’ to this?)

https://www.municipalworld.com/podcasts/joe-lyons/

Ben Burd
Reply to  Dunkirk
2 November 2022 12:52 pm

Another unsubstantiated remark: most of our Town Staff don’t actually live and pay taxes here, please source this or else I will put it down to a Dunkirk rant.

Ken Strauss
Reply to  Ben Burd
2 November 2022 6:04 pm

Ben, since you questioned the assertion, which of our senior staff live and own property in Cobourg?

Last edited 1 month ago by Ken Strauss
Ben Burd
Reply to  Ken Strauss
3 November 2022 5:44 am

Ken as usual you defend the indefensible – a wild assertion and turn it around to the questioner. I have no intention of answering your question.

Dunkirk made the assertion that most of the Town Staff do not live in Cobourg, all he has to do is prove that to maintain his credibility.

Rob
Reply to  Ken Strauss
3 November 2022 8:11 am

Frankly Ken, it literally makes zero difference.

Gerinator
2 November 2022 11:18 am

‘Late’ is not a status, its a timeline. Maybe ‘Late’ is a euphemism for ‘we don’t want to do this’. I’m also struck by the conflicting status Late vs On Track, obviously the schedule isn’t the driver to getting things done. Below Rob correctly states that the CAO owns these issues. Does she intend to hold weekly if not daily meetings/efforts to progress these tasks along?

Rob
2 November 2022 9:55 am

Working from home isn’t the issue – that’s an old school opinion. There are far too many studies that support working from home and the positive impact that it can have on work and workers. I would lay the lack of progress directly at the feet of the CAO. She is charged with the leadership of the business which includes establishing performance expectations (in the office and working from home) and holding people accountable. Nothing happens in that business that leadership doesn’t permit to happen.

If you aren’t happy with progress, let her know. She has had her period of familiarization…it’s time to drive the bus.

Sandpiper
Reply to  Rob
3 November 2022 7:55 am

That must be one of those Govt. studies or by some union body .
It does not serve the public if the employees can not be found or respond
in any kind of a timely fashion The good old days of Public Servant
needs to be revived .

Rob
Reply to  Sandpiper
3 November 2022 8:17 am

Sandpiper as I said the CAO is accountable for ensuring the objectives are completed. The location the work is completed in many cases is irrelevant if people are held responsible. Remote work doesn’t work in all cases and/or in all positions however it does work very well when administered correctly and those results/studies can be found everywhere, and you won’t need to look very hard.

Sandpiper
2 November 2022 9:02 am

How in the world & for how long can we continue allowing Staff to Blame Covid ?
and forget the short staff excuses at this town hall, how would they know when No one ever shows up
These people where receiving pay cheques through out and supposedly WORKING Remotely
or am I wrong . The fact is they are not working from home and there is no one appointed to watch the Hen house . The Private sector Co where my Son worked remotely for a period of time actually can and does monitor his hours and output every day all week . This is done
simply with technology from & by the office manager . Also the manager ensures matters are dealt with in a timely fashion What’s happening Brent ?

Cobourg taxpayer
Reply to  Sandpiper
2 November 2022 9:25 am

Even better “what’s happening CAO Tracey Vaughn?” How much is she being paid for overseeing staff? She’s head hen after all.

Kathleen
Reply to  Sandpiper
2 November 2022 9:44 am

Not to mention staff regularly direct Council to hire Consultants

Cobourg taxpayer
1 November 2022 2:26 pm

Back when I used to attend council meetings and occasionally even make a delegation, I thought that citizens often expert opinions would be considered. Questions were rarely asked by councillors and topics were almost always referred to staff for a report. This list of unfinished business makes me think that council sees an issue, directs staff to report back resulting in it going nowhere. There is no follow through. A certain issue was the “flavour of the day “ until it wasn’t. One would think with town staff working from home with no distractions (haha) plans and reports could have been completed. One would also think with all new staff hired there’ll be an improvement but I am not holding my breath. If this is the way to measure town of Cobourg staff productivity it seems to non existent.