Northumberland County Pilot Bus Service

After a lot of lobbying and much political wrangling, a bus service taking Northumberland County residents to other Towns and to the Go Train in Oshawa is now in service for a one year trial. Called “Commuter Connect” you first must register then you must buy tickets online or by phone.  The service operates two routes (lines) connecting at Northumberland Mall and there are four return trips per day – Monday to Friday.  Tickets start at $3.00 one way within a community (but there’s only one stop in each community – so huh?); $9 for Multi Zone one way (Travel to other Northumberland communities) and $13 one way for the Durham line which connects to the Go Train in Oshawa… Read complete articleNorthumberland County Pilot Bus Service

County Debates Affordable Housing

Cobourg Council recently seemed to catch on that homelessness and affordable housing are a County responsibility.  One action that came out of the recent Special Council Meeting on homelessness was that two councillors (Nicole Beatty and Aaron Burchat) would make a presentation to the relevant County Committee and then to the full County Council.  This happened at the County Council meeting on July 20.  The County does not record their meetings and I did not watch it live, however, you can see the Agenda item (see resources below). Also, 93.3 News reported that in response to a suggestion to use existing buildings, “Deputy Warden Mandy Martin pointed out that the buildings were abandoned for good reason – often because making… Read complete articleCounty Debates Affordable Housing

GO Bus Coming to Cobourg

For almost two decades, Cobourg and Port Hope residents have been asking for GO Transit to extend their service to Cobourg.  Up until recently, Metrolinx has said that there is not a business case even though they only want 20% of costs covered since Transit is generally subsidized.  The biggest potential number of riders would be by workers commuting to Toronto – these have often gone by VIA but currently VIA has no trains at times suitable for commuting (see Resources below).  But today, MPP David Piccini announced that starting in July, 2022, there will be an on-demand GO bus service connecting all of Northumberland.  The Bus will be “On-Demand” and not a fixed route and will connect to the… Read complete articleGO Bus Coming to Cobourg

Sunshine List – Local Highlights

A few days ago, the Ontario Government published the annual “Sunshine List” – that’s where they name every person employed by a Government agency who made $100,000 salary or more in 2021.  It’s justified as being information that should be available to taxpayers who ultimately fund these salaries. They are after all,  “Public Servants”.  There are 244,390 names on the list and it’s easy for interesting facts to get lost.  I have extracted the people who are working for municipalities in Northumberland County and this reduces the list to a manageable 167.  Below are some things we can learn from that list – but note that I focus on job title and not names.  The full list is public so… Read complete articleSunshine List – Local Highlights

County Agrees to Hospital Tax

Part of the County’s tax revenue for 2022 will go to County Hospitals – Northumberland Hills Hospital (NHH) and Campbellford Memorial Hospital (CMH).  As reported earlier (see Links below), the two Hospitals’ fund-raising Foundations originally asked for $1M per year for 10 years and after pushback, lowered that to 1% of the County Levy.  As well as regular Council Meetings, the County held two special meetings to consider the request with the latest one being at 9:30 am this morning (Thursday November 4). Each Councillor made their position known and their reasoning and it was soon clear that although a majority favoured some kind of support, it was not to the level requested.  In the end a recorded vote was… Read complete articleCounty Agrees to Hospital Tax

County Council Considering Large Grants to Hospitals

On June 7, 2021 the two County Hospitals – Northumberland Hills Hospital (NHH) and Campbellford Memorial Hospital (CMH) – asked County Council to grant them $1M annually for 10 years.  It would be divided 75% to NHH and 25% to CMH.  A special meeting was convened on September 29 to discuss the request but County Council asked for more information.  The next step was that the Hospitals made a revised proposal on October 7 which changed the request to 1% of the County levy annually over an 8 year period.  This is estimated to be a minimum of $5.9M.  The money would be used for capital equipment and not for operations or interest.  There is no mandate from the Province… Read complete articleCounty Council Considering Large Grants to Hospitals

County to Recycle Housing Material from Demolition

The County has announced several Affordable Housing projects recently but one that got a lot of attention was the demolition of eight units at 265 -327 Elgin Street East to build 20 new ones.  Some people commented on this blog and others participated in a County survey with the message – why can’t these units be salvaged?  Well it turns out they can – at least partially.  The County has now announced that “Key items such as doors, cabinets and plumbing fixtures that are in good condition and able to be reused will be donated to ReStore – Habitat for Humanity’s non-profit home improvement centre. The materials will be sold at a discounted price to generate revenue in support of… Read complete articleCounty to Recycle Housing Material from Demolition

County wants Input for 2022 Budget

The County has already started developing their budget for 2022 and they are now ready to seek citizen input with their online survey (see links below).  This year they are providing an online interactive tool where you can see what happens if you increase or decrease spending or revenue in all the categories.  The tool only allows an increase or decrease and not which aspect of specific services should be affected.  For example, if you want less spending on tourism but just in Cobourg, you have to put that into a comment – although that’s easy to do. One thing that had to be explained to me (thanks Jennifer) was that Capital Projects are included in the relevant department.  So… Read complete articleCounty wants Input for 2022 Budget

County Annual Report – 2020

Northumberland County has just released their annual report (for 2020) and they show expenditures of $107M and revenues of $119M of which taxes are $58.8M.  For all this money, few residents would be able to list what it’s spent on so a report is good.  Cobourg Councillors are directly elected by taxpayers which means that there is a strong democratic connection.  But County Councillors consist of the Mayors of each of the constituent municipalities – in the case of Cobourg, that’s Mayor John Henderson – so it’s an indirect representation.  There are no separate County elections.  Most will probably know the County looks after garbage and some major roads and recently there’s been a focus on affordable housing – but… Read complete articleCounty Annual Report – 2020

Many Old Municipal Documents No Longer Available Online

At the beginning of this year (January 1), legislation passed in 2005 required new standards for accessibility for web sites provided by Ontario municipalities (amongst others). This means that online documents must meet standards that were not previously mandatory.  But Northumberland County and probably the Town of Cobourg have thousands of documents that don’t meet those standards.  Since this is a significant amount of work, the county has taken these documents off-line as has the Town although for a different stated reason.   That means that the public can only access most bylaws or earlier agendas and minutes by emailed request (details below).  The County is asking the Province to change the legislation and the Town is saying that the issue… Read complete articleMany Old Municipal Documents No Longer Available Online

County Safety and Well Being Survey

Northumberland County has a mandate for community services such as Affordable Housing, Paramedics, the Golden Plough and income support (welfare) as well as county roads, garbage and economic development. To better understand what residents see as priorities for a range of such services, a survey was conducted from 25 June to 31 July.  Public surveys usually get few participants and this was no exception with only 143 responses received. Of these, 61 were Cobourg residents. Of the 143, 46 were over 59 years of age, 60 were 39 to 58 and 29 were 18 to 38. The results are interesting and will guide the County’s “Community Safety and Well-being Plan”. Major categories were “Personal Safety”, “Feelings about Crime”, and “Environment and Culture” – details… Read complete articleCounty Safety and Well Being Survey