Strategic Plan Update

For the last two days, Cobourg’s Council have been debating their Strategic Plan – that’s a document that will establish their priorities for their term.  Most of the session was closed but a short summary was provided to the public when they finished.  It didn’t say much – just listed the three highest priorities, defined the relationship between Council and Staff and talked a bit about KPIs (Key performance Indicators).  They also reviewed the list of unfinished business and declared that all except one were either complete or being actioned. Councillors were assisted in their work by Capital Plan Consulting who said that there was still work to be done to complete the plan but it should be ready to present to Council for approval by the end of July.

Highest Priorities

The plan will have three major goals:

  1. A Thriving Town
  2. Service Excellence
  3. Sustainability

A document expanding on these should be available in a week.

Unfinished Business Review

This is included in the Strategic Planning process because new priorities may mean they no longer have to be addressed.  But only one was not either complete or being actioned and it seems to still be a priority.

  1. Social Planning and/or Community Development Advisory Committee – work completed
  2. Municipal Land Inventory e.g. available for affordable housing – work completed
  3. Private Transportation By-Law – about services like Uber.  A bylaw is in preparation and will be presented for approval by 17 July.
  4. Airbnb regulations and enforcement Short-Term Rental Accommodations (STRA) – only item remaining on list
  5. Municipal Accommodation Tax – applicable to Short-Term Rental Accommodations (STRA)
  6. Development Charges Addendum Process – work completed
  7. Energy Star Bench-Marking System – other measurements are being used instead.
  8. Waterfront Residential Waterfront Parking Passes – work completed
  9. Daintry Crescent – Park Development and Surplus Lands – work completed
  10. Recommendation on supporting removal of barriers to Urban Agriculture in the Town of Cobourg (e.g. to allow backyard chickens) – this is part of the about to be approved ICSP (Integrated Community Sustainability Plan)
  11. Issues and Options Study Rehabilitation Treatment Centres and Crisis Centres in the Town of Cobourg – e.g. for facilities such as now at Woodlawn – will be part of comprehensive Zoning By-Law review expected to come to Council in the Fall of 2023.

Staff and Council Roles

The consultant explained the relationship and division of tasks between Council and Staff:

  • Council provides an answer to “What?” – Strategic Goals and Objectives.
  • Staff provides an answer to “How?” – Projects and Measures of Success.

In more detail:

Function Responsibility
Establishing Strategic Priorities/Pillars Council with assistance from Senior Staff
Setting Strategic Objectives/Goals Council with assistance from Senior Staff
Selecting Desired Outcomes and Targets/KPIs Senior Staff with assistance from Council
Developing Action Plans Senior Management Staff
Reporting on Progress Senior Management Staff
Implementing Action Plans Lower Management Staff

Key performance Indicators (KPIs)

The consultant stressed that it’s important to measure performance but they can be labour intensive to setup and run.

Here is what the consultant said about KPIs:

  • A Measure: Every KPI must have a measure. The best ones have more specific or expressive measures.
  • A Target: Every KPI needs to have a target that matches your measure and the time period of your goal. These are generally a numeric value you’re seeking to achieve.
  • A Data Source: Every KPI needs to have a clearly defined data source so there is no gray area in how each is being measured and tracked.
  • Reporting Frequency: Different measures may have different reporting needs, but a good rule to follow is to report on them at least quarterly.
  • Owner: Identify who will be responsible for tracking, reporting, and refining specific KPls.

When the final version of the Strategic Plan comes out in July, we should expect clear goals, action plans and KPIs.  Standard practice at Council meetings for the past several years has been to reference how the agenda item relates to the Strategic plan.  We should also now expect regular reports on how Council and Staff are meeting the KPIs.

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Gigi
7 months ago

Just want to thank Mr. Draper for his consistently well summarized posts on the essential events all citizens should care about and know about how their Town is functioning. Thank you.

Cobourg taxpayer
7 months ago

I can’t wait to read the final version of the strategic plan in particular the sections on KPIs. Since council had to hire another consultant for this surely the KPIs will be clearly written and most importantly measurable. Past strategic plans were neither.

Jones
7 months ago

Just fix the East pier

Jeffy
Reply to  Jones
7 months ago

Please.

cornbread
7 months ago

Cobourg has great planners…What we need is Great Doers!
The India Trip is nothing but a perk. Stay home and do your job.

Bill Thompson
Reply to  cornbread
7 months ago

Does anyone recall any public feedback on China trips by Mayor Delanty & DM Brocanier, Mayor Brocanier and DM Henderson.

Rational
7 months ago

In reading the articles posted in this Blog, along with this latest one, there is a general theme to how Cobourg is run with almost all matters becoming overly complicated, issues not addressed, decisions not made, make work projects not controller. Disjointed or all over everyplace comes to mind.

In my view I question the real necessity of the Mayor taking a trip to India next week to cover the topics up for discussion – such as encouraging environmentally responsible behaviour and ensuring water accessibility and equality – as I am not certain the benefit Cobourg will gain – particularly based on current matters are being handled.

Rather, the Mayor should stay home, deal with priorities; and work on getting the “shop in order”.

Bryan
Reply to  Rational
7 months ago

Rational & Cornbread,

I think that both of you miss the point of Lucas attending the U20 conference.

First, it is a distinct honour for COBOURG to be invited to this event
Second, for Cobourg, the conference topics are secondary. The important task is to meet influential people who can help Cobourg access infrastructure funding, best practices and introductions to other influential people.

One of the mayor’s primary jobs is to sell Cobourg to money providers. He has to go where those people gather. He can’t do it from behind a desk at Vic Hall.

Last edited 7 months ago by Bryan
cornbread
Reply to  Bryan
7 months ago

Are you advocating the town of Cobourg take on more Debt? Our taxes just went up by about 10% all in. Live within our means…we don’t need a 30 million dollar jetty etc etc. Right now we are asking volunteers to clean up our beach that mostly outsiders dirty up.

Bryan
Reply to  cornbread
7 months ago

Cornbread,

This is not about debt. You don’t have to go to India to get debt funding.
This is about GRANTS. Same as the trip to Chicago….$2.4 Billion on the table.

Cobourg has let its infrastructure slide for some years and this has caught up to us. The bills are huge, Harbour $25M, clarifier $13M, water tower $15M, sewage plant $??? and MORE!

Our tax 2023 tax increase was north of 12%. One of the highest in Ontario and likely to get higher without grants from senior levels of government.

You wrote “…. asking volunteers to clean up our beach that mostly outsiders dirty up” The Parks dept. cleans the beach each morning (beach sweeper). When and where are volunteers being asked to clean up the beach?

cornbread
Reply to  Bryan
7 months ago

Northumberland News…Page 2
July 4, 2023 from 10am to 12pm

Bryan
Reply to  cornbread
7 months ago

Cornbread,

A nice one shot feel good event. Not a regular maintenance program
Also, note the time: 10am…..after the Town has already cleaned the beach with the beach sweeper.

cornbread
Reply to  Bryan
7 months ago

Almost 100% of GRANTS come from governments. Governments get their money from TAXES. I don’t recall too many companies giving out grants…but they sure ask for them…Try the 13 Billion future grants to VW for a battery plant.

Bryan
Reply to  cornbread
7 months ago

Cornbread,
I agree. Grants come from governments, particularly the upper levels. I also agree that the source is taxes.

That said, the money is on the table. Do you prefer that Cobourg work hard to get its share or do nothing and let others take the money?

The grant funds are typically managed by agencies (crown corporations) whose management structures are what you would expect: Board of Directors, CEO, President, CFO, etc. These are the people Lucas needs to meet because they control the purse strings.

The alternative is Cobourg can:
do nothing and let our infrastructure continue to rot, or
continue to raise taxes by 15% or more in a effort to make do

Which do you choose?

cornbread
Reply to  Bryan
7 months ago

Go to Ottawa and Toronto, not India

Dave
Reply to  Bryan
7 months ago

Sounds like you say these grants are contingent on “net working”. In other words who you know not selected by a case built through the application process outlining why one should be selected but by recommendation by who you know. Like proposed in employment. Selecting a hire because they were recommended through another employee, relative over selecting someone because their skills are laid out on the resume with employer references.

Well Bryan I guess you can open our eyes to all the unfair selection processes. Not because a grant is justified through application but because you know a guy who knows a guy.

Last edited 7 months ago by Dave
Bryan
Reply to  Dave
7 months ago

Dave,

Welcome to the real world Dave.
Just as jobs are often filled without advertising them, grants become available and are allocated to those who apply early

Dave
Reply to  Bryan
7 months ago

I’ve been in the real world for some time Bryan. I represented Metro Parks Department at the non-amalgamation of Toronto, where bullying by number not fiscal prudence, amalgamation lost in the process. our tax dollars wasted. We now have a non-amalgamated city costing mega bucks. Just as these grants will not be administered as they should be but by insiders according to you.
So why bother with an application process?

Last edited 7 months ago by Dave
Bryan
Reply to  Dave
7 months ago

Dave,
Its not an all or nothing process.
Grants are allocated by application, but it’s often a matter of the “early bird gets the worm”. Business is mostly done on a person to person basis.

What do you prefer Cobourg do?
-apply for grants that you know/learn like good sheeple
-do nothing and let our infrastructure continue to rot
-continue to raise taxes by 15% or more in a effort to make do
-be proactive rather than reactively,
-seek out contacts and opportunities using business sales techniques, conferences etc to identify and contact the “money people”

Last edited 7 months ago by Bryan
Gigi
Reply to  Bryan
7 months ago

Excellent rebuttal!

Gigi
Reply to  Bryan
7 months ago

You’re right on several counts. However, we do have high taxes and as my daughter, a newish resident here, has pointed out, what are we getting for that? The question is a common one and a good one, but as you point out where does a growing community get funding? This is a question for the Upper Tier, Northumberland County, as well as to our MP and MPP don’t you agree?

Dave
Reply to  Gigi
7 months ago

Gigi – A person who specializes in application for grants was hired to assist in securing grants by expertly outlining the need has been hired by the town. Networking is a procedure that has come into vogue that specializes in ensuring it is an insider only process eliminating fair administration for the prize whether it be in employment or for grants blocking out true process and eliminating fair administration. If you go for crooked practises it says a lot about your values. It ensures a system of who you know.
Meanwhile a trip to India will cost tax payer dollars and not guarantee any come back as there will be others there trying to grab into the network who may be more successful in ingratiating themselves.

Last edited 7 months ago by Dave
Bryan
Reply to  Gigi
7 months ago

GIgi,

Straight growth should not be a problem as it should be funded by development fees and “new” property taxes and user fees. Bill 23 has/will reduce development fees and some user fees. The County published an extensive analysis of the bill 23 impact on the County. As yet, very little in this regard from the Town.

The Town needs “big money”, not for growth, but to fix the Town’s infrastructure which has received only band-aid fixes. Cobourgers are now facing multi-million dollar repairs to the East Pier & Harbour ($30M), Monks Cove ($3M), sewer plants ($???), water plant ($13M), a water tower ($12M+) and more.
These repairs have to be funded by property taxes, or grants. Debt is just delayed property taxes. Appeals to our MP and MPP have resulted in token pocket change.

Lucas attended a Great Lakes Cities conference in Chicago recently. The US and Canadian federal governments have put $2.4B on the table for Great Lakes projects. Attending conferences like this to “sell Cobourg” is where the contacts are made to access funding like this. It can’t be done from behind a desk in Vic Hall.

The India trip is similar. Sell Cobourg, Meet the money people. As a bonus, India is paying for the trip.

Dave
Reply to  Bryan
7 months ago

Appeals differ from application processes Bryan. Again why have an application process at all? What about fair administration? How about the other centres that have not been invited?
Surprised India would pay for air travel, accommodation, meals, transportation while there. An all inclusive trip for the insiders only. I am sure you would rail against if if Cobourg was one of those left out and again does not ensure they will be any more successful while at home the helm is left empty.

Last edited 7 months ago by Dave
Sandpiper
Reply to  cornbread
7 months ago

Cobourgs S Taxes are some of the Highest in ONT. if not the —
I just read about a water front / view 1100 sq ft Condo in Tor. by Harbour Castle
2 bed rm 3 baths 2 car underground parking + concierge parking indoor & Outdoor pools, salons, restaurants , dog spa & sitting etc etc Taxes only $7,300.– on a $2 Mil property and the common fees are less than we pay in the Cobourg harbour
for a smaller unit and our Taxes are way higher with None of the amenities .
Whats with that COBOURG ???????

Bryan
Reply to  Sandpiper
7 months ago

Sandpiper,
Toronto is also upper tier, so for a proper comparison you have to compare Toronto’s tax of $7,500 to Cobourg plus the County taxes

Sandpiper
Reply to  Bryan
7 months ago

That may be the problem To Many feeding from the same trough

Wally Keeler
Reply to  Bryan
7 months ago

xxxxx

Last edited 7 months ago by Wally Keeler
Rational
Reply to  Bryan
7 months ago

I didn’t miss the point at all. Your logic in justifying a trip to India is not valid in my view.

Bryan
Reply to  Rational
7 months ago

Rational,

What do you suggest the Mayor should be doing?

ben
Reply to  Bryan
7 months ago

telling us how he intends to renovate/replace the Centennial Pool and get the Transit system working to the benefit of the Citizens.

Moxy
Reply to  ben
7 months ago

I have some questions and concerns about the future of Centennial Pool and the loss of lifeguards on Cobourg west beach. The proposed water park in the area sounds like a great way to ruin Victoria Park and the enjoyment of the west beach for many people.

During a chat this morning some of the young lifeguards at Centennial Pool shared that the mayor was at the pool on Sunday July 2nd. He said the pool is in bad shape and announced his plan to replace it with a larger pool and the water park.

In summer I am a regular user of Centennial Pool. I have observed families playing happily together during open swims in there and other length swimmers like me. It is lovely to swim under an open sky. People of all incomes can afford to swim in the pool. Our young people have good summer jobs there too, as they did on the beach.

Like the young life guards, I am concerned about the loss of lifeguards from the beach, as well as the closure of Centennial pool. Is the town of Cobourg willing to risk a drowning in the lake? We have lots of summer visitors and not everyone can swim, or swim well. They might lack confidence in the water. It seems foolish to take a chance with public safety.

Finally, this proposed water park concerns me. Would there be public consultations on the idea? What about potential environmental impact on the lake and beach, and on the trailer park which brings in money for the town?

And what about noise of such a construction project for downtown residents? We pay substantial property taxes. Surely we are not only entitled to services in the area, but also to live in an area without the noise of a massive construction project?

Centennial Pool could be upgraded during the autumn/spring and be re-opened to the public in the summer of 2024.

I welcome other thoughts on the future of Centennial Pool, the loss of lifeguards on the west beach and the proposed water park.

Bryan
Reply to  Moxy
7 months ago

Moxy,
“…the loss of lifeguards on Cobourg west beach” There have never been lifeguards at Cobourg’s West beach. Yes, at Victoria beach.

There are two issues: 1. Cost…$100K+ per year. 2. Liability. It seems counterintuitive, but the Town’s liability is higher with lifeguards than without. “User at own risk” puts the responsibility where it belongs…..with parents and users.

Do you want basic services like roads, water and sewer fixed and properly maintained? Do you want 15% property tax increases. Cobourg is no longer a “silver spoon” community. We have limited resources and need to live within our means.

Geo
Reply to  Moxy
7 months ago

I walked by the beach yesterday and it was really packed. People were having fun and what I saw nobody seemed to worry about no lifeguards on duty. Lots of provincial parks don’t have lifeguards.

Beachwalker
Reply to  Bryan
7 months ago

Well said! There will always be miserable folk who like to complain about everything!

Gigi
Reply to  Bryan
7 months ago

Exactly! Just think about the incredible validation for our Town, with all its faults with regards to what we want to see achieved, yet we, Cobourg, seem to be sending a positive message about what a lower tier smallish municipality in a very powerful province in a diverse, democratic country, can stand for and work for. I think that’s a very positive image that many would want to find out more about!

ben
7 months ago

So where do the items from the budget, that the Mayor wanted to get rid of – the Centennial Pool and Transit, fit into these vague plans?
Surely with the next budget only six months away we should have some idea what Council wants to do to sustain these items or just tell us now that they are gone!

Mrs. Anonymous
7 months ago

Those goals are absurdly vague and therefore completely useless.

Merle Gingrich
Reply to  Mrs. Anonymous
7 months ago

Is this what’s happening? Also a useless council.