Productive First Council Meeting

The Council meeting on Monday night was the first real meeting of the new Mayor and Council.  It started with a technical glitch with the sound that delayed the start for 30 minutes and then went on to discuss the items on the Agenda.  First was a motion to suspend appointments to advisory committees and coordinator roles pending a review of Governance – as described in a previous post, see Resources below. In response to questions from Councillor Miriam Mutton, Brent Larmer explained that there would be staff research and public engagement and the whole process would take until the end of the first quarter (but no external consultants).  Brent noted that a change to standing committees would require a… Read complete articleProductive First Council Meeting

Council Debating Governance

When KPMG issued their Organization review (or was it the Service Delivery Review?), they included a recommendation that the current governance be reviewed – that is, should Cobourg continue with the assignment of coordinator roles to Councillors or should it use a system of “Standing Committees” similar to that currently used by Northumberland County? This would mean there would not be Committee of the Whole meetings – instead a few (3?) councillors would be assigned to responsibilities (e.g. as Coordinators are now) and they would meet in separate meetings. Chaired by one of the Councillors and getting input from relevant staff, they would develop recommendations for action by a regular full Council meeting. The committees would not have citizen members… Read complete articleCouncil Debating Governance

Cobourg Objects to Ontario Bill 23

On November 28, there will be a special Council meeting to decide several key items.  One of them is that Cobourg strongly objects to many parts of the Ontario Government’s Bill 23.  CAO Tracy Vaughan and Director of Planning and Development Anne Taylor Scott are asking Council to object to parts of Bill 23.  There have been multiple demonstrations against the legislation (e.g. outside MPP Piccini’s Port Hope Office), particularly protesting changes to environmental protections, but Cobourg Staff are also concerned that the changes favour developers and will do little to help make housing more affordable while increasing the burden on the taxpayer.  The report by Anne provides a detailed analysis of the problems (see Resources below) but I will… Read complete articleCobourg Objects to Ontario Bill 23

Council Inauguration 2022

Tonight, there were more than 100 people in Victoria Hall to witness the swearing in of the new Council and the new Mayor’s inaugural speech.  Lucas was impressive and his speech was not too long.  The meeting included not only the necessary ceremonial aspects, it also included the first order of Council business which was to appoint the Mayor (Lucas Cleveland) to represent Cobourg on the County Council and the Deputy Mayor (Nicole Beatty) as the alternate.  Before the meeting started, the Concert Band of Cobourg entertained and then the event started with a piper leading the new Council elect into the Hall.  The band then played the National anthem followed by our Town Cryer Mandy Robinson doing her thing. … Read complete articleCouncil Inauguration 2022

Are Master Plans followed?

By my count, dating back to 2011, Cobourg has 8 “Master Plans” detailing how staff and Council should manage key Town attributes and features plus there is also a 2019 – 2022 Strategic plan. Some seem to be consigned to a shelf and others are used to rationalize something that needs to be done. But there is no apparent integration of them – e.g. references to Master Plans in the Strategic Plan. In April 2021, Councillor Emily Chorley said: “there are staffing gaps” and “some plans just don’t get done.” A review of the Strategic plan in April 2021 actually wanted two more plans (IT Strategic Plan and Climate Action Plan).  The Town’s web site helps a bit – there… Read complete articleAre Master Plans followed?

All Committee and Board Members need to re-apply

With the end of the Council Term, it’s not just Councillors who are subject to change but also Advisory Committee and Board members.  There are 2 boards and 9 committees with nominally 64 new members required.  If you read the fine print (actually the by-Law) you will see that re-appointments are possible since Council is empowered to decide and it’s hard to imagine that 64 citizens who have never been on a committee will emerge.  On Thursday, the Town issued a call for applications to all the boards and committees and said all positions were vacant.  But Council ultimately chooses so if incumbents apply, they may well be re-appointed.  But as we have seen in the last 4 years, there… Read complete articleAll Committee and Board Members need to re-apply

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… Read complete articleUnfinished Business – October 2022

Police Budget for 2023

Setting of the Cobourg Police budget is not interrupted by the Council election so their timetable means that their 2023 budget will be ready for approval in November 2022. On Monday, the Police released a draft budget for public feedback – “draft” because it’s not yet approved. I don’t recall this being done in previous years. It’s only the operating budget but in recent years Capital items have been funded from their Business services. The key thing to note is that “Funding from the Town of Cobourg Tax Levy is currently estimated at $6,913,302, a 3.89% increase from the contributions for 2022.” Most of the Police cost is salaries and that has increased because of “contractual requirements”. It’s an easy… Read complete articlePolice Budget for 2023

Transition to All Electric Vehicles

On 12 October 2021, Council approved the formation of an Ad Hoc Committee to look at how the Town could transition to zero emission vehicles.  It would be a sub-committee of the Transportation Advisory Committee. It took until 16 May 2022 for the terms of reference to be approved and then the committee presented their report to Council on 3 October 2022. Chair Randy Curtis presented a summary of the 50 page report including recommendations.  The committee looked at hybrids, hydrogen powered and battery electric vehicles (BEV) and decided on BEVs. The committee’s decision was based on cost and lifetime greenhouse gas emissions. The report also addresses many of the concerns about BEVs such as recycling batteries, resource limitations and impact on the… Read complete articleTransition to All Electric Vehicles

Town has Purchased Surplus School Land

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… Read complete articleTown has Purchased Surplus School Land

News and Decisions coming to Council

As previously reported, the CoW Council meeting on Monday 26 will have a long Agenda.  This is the fourth article (post) on this meeting – see Resources below for a list of earlier articles. Apart from the five items which are already the subject of my reports, I count four more items of interest coming before Council as well as a number of routine items (mostly Heritage Permits but also some new policies).  1) Keith Hearst, recently hired Grant and Policy Writer, provides a report on applications made and approved in 2022; 2) If approved, the development at the corner of Albert and Division will proceed – but it’s controversial;  3) A use has been chosen for the empty Memorial… Read complete articleNews and Decisions coming to Council