At the regular Council meeting on Monday 21 August, a last minute addition to the Agenda was debated. Brent Larmer worked through his vacation to write a By-Law that modified the Parks By-Law (022-2016) to essentially do two things: 1) enhance the clauses about enforcement and 2) delegate primary responsibility for looking after the homeless to the County – specifically, the county will decide if a permit should be issued for camping on Parks (or Town land). (The West Beach encampment is on Town property). Such a permit (just one) will only be issued in an emergency – that is, because there is no suitable place for campers to go. So the Town will now enforce their Bylaws and the people affected will be cared for by the County.
What we learned
- In the debate, it was said that up until now, the Town had not made any decisions.
- Miriam Mutton was not happy with the short notice – the By-law was first available at 3:29 pm on Monday – the meeting started at 4:18 pm.
- Brian Darling was concerned about numbers – how many would be accommodated? Mayor Lucas said that this decision would be up to the County.
- This change effectively means that the County would be the permit holder and responsible for all costs.
- The County is looking into bringing forward hiring two additional staff for this.
- The Town would be consulted on which park (or land) would be used (if required because of an emergency) but specifics on the process have not yet been worked out.
- Although the County knows this is happening, County Council have not yet approved their end of it.
- Town by-Law officers will now be empowered to enforce Town By-Laws and the Province’s Trespass to Property Act
- Penalties for failing to comply are a minimum of $200 per day and up to $10,000 per day.
So in summary, as urged by MPP David Piccini, the Town will now be enforcing all By-Laws and the County will be looking after the people affected and will cover all costs. (It’s not clear when this action will start but all necessary By-Laws have been passed).
See below to download the relevant documents.
- Parks Bylaw – 022-2016 – hosted on Cobourg Internet
- Town By-law information – Includes By-Law Guide, By-Laws most referenced, all By-Laws 2018 – 2023
- Bylaw to amend Parks By-Law – 070-2023 – before approval, this was amended to change the reference to “Park” to “municipal Land” so that it applies to all municipal properties and not just Parks.
- Staff Report by Brent Larmer
Update – Town of Cobourg Notice 24 August
West Headland Closed
A notice on the Town’s News page:
The Town of Cobourg would like to advise residents that the Waterfront Nature Park is closed for maintenance. Signage will be posted this morning and residents are advised to please refrain from visiting this area while crews clean the park. The park will remain closed until further notice.
This is the area where there has been a homeless encampment. The “Waterfront Nature Park” is the West Headland and the area on the west Beach close to it.
Update 1 September – #1
The West Beach area has now been cleaned up and re-opened to the Public. The campers have moved to County property behind 600 William Street.
Update 1 September – #2
A report by Pete Fisher is worth a read. Citizens were threatened including a councillor. Go to Pete’s report here.