End of Year Staff Reports – Part 3

At the year’s final Committee of the Whole (CoW) meeting next Monday (26 Sept), Council will be asked to approve an usually large number of items.  Previously posted were highlights plus a report on the Harbour repairs but there are more items.  Staff reported on progress with three reports: The Service Delivery Report; the 2022 Organizational Review and the Strategic Plan.  In addition there are four policy reviews and a report on the Town’s grant applications.  The Agenda also includes a number of other items that need to be made public plus the usual Heritage Permits and other less significant, but still important, matters. (Watch for a report on these in Part 4 – yes, there are a lot of… Read complete articleEnd of Year Staff Reports – Part 3

Harbour Repair Cost Problem

As we heard over the last couple of years, Cobourg’s Harbour is in urgent need of repair – that is, the harbour walls and the breakwaters need a whole lot of work.  A consultant has done the design work and the estimated cost for Phase one of the work was put in the 2022 budget and tenders issued.  Specifically, Phase one was to rehabilitate the walls on the north and east side of the marina basin as well as the fuel dock. However, all 6 bids responding to the tender were well over the amount in the budget – the budget is $5M and the lowest bid was $7M so Staff are recommending that the tender be cancelled and that… Read complete articleHarbour Repair Cost Problem

End of Year Staff Reports

At the Committee of the Whole (CoW) meeting on 26 September, three major reports on Staff actions will be presented as well as five reports on Policies and other actions.  Reports on these by Cobourg News blog will follow in the coming days but advance notice on some key items seems called for.  The reports are listed below and it must be said that it’s good that Staff, led by CAO Tracey Vaughan, are providing these updates to Council and the public. Some things that are happening and highlighted by these reports (notably the Service Delivery Report) are:  Reduced spending on Tourism, $1M per year increase in Parking Revenue, the new Asset Management plan and review which will point to… Read complete articleEnd of Year Staff Reports

Community Improvement Plan – Awards from 2021 Budget

It seems that Council believes that affordable housing requires that the Town provide subsidies by way of grants, loans and waiving fees.  The way to do this is to create a “Community Improvement Plan” directed at affordable housing.  After a consultant’s study and public meetings, such a plan was approved in November 2020 (see Resources below).  The process to implement it was then approved in June of 2021 and inputs were requested from developers to obtain the 2021 budget of $250,000.  An ad hoc committee was created to review the applications and at the CoW on 6 September, 2022 one recipient was finally approved:  Balder Corporation was awarded $248K in grants and loans.  This was ratified at the Regular Council… Read complete articleCommunity Improvement Plan – Awards from 2021 Budget

Bryan Lambert – Delegation to Council

Many citizens of Cobourg criticize Councillors but few actually make a delegation to Council and let them know what – in their opinion – they are doing wrong. At Monday’s regular Council meeting, Bryan Lambert made a delegation to Council saying that for multiple reasons, hiring yet another consultant was the wrong thing to do.  The consultant in this case would review all the user fees paid to the Town to see if they could be increased and to provide a formula for an annual review.  Bryan also pointed to the unusual adjustment of the contract price to keep it below the limit imposed by the fact that the Council was now in a Lame Duck period.  This award was the… Read complete articleBryan Lambert – Delegation to Council

Consultant for User Fee Study Approved

At the Committee of the Whole (CoW) meeting on August 15, Council voted to award a contract to Watson & Associates for a Comprehensive User Fee Study for a total cost of $91,288.90.  This despite it being more than the budget allocation of $35,000 and that a second bid closer to the budget was also received.  Cobourg News Blog reported on this under the heading “Does Cobourg Use Too Many Consultants” (see Resources below).  But because Council is now in a “Lame Duck period”, the additional amount of over $50K is not allowed so the matter came back to Council.  The contract was re-negotiated to a lesser amount ($83,500) by assigning some of the work to Staff so the amount… Read complete articleConsultant for User Fee Study Approved

Improving Efficiency for Cobourg’s Planning

In November 2020, the KPMG Service Delivery Review Report recommended (amongst other things) that Site Plan Approvals be delegated to Staff instead of coming to Council every time. This would speed up development and improve operational efficiency.  At the Committee of the Whole (CoW) meeting on 6 September, Council will be asked to approve this change.  The move is also prompted by Provincial bill the More Homes for Everyone Act, Bill 109 which requires this change!  Development agreements would still come to Council so it’s not a bypass of Council approval of developments, it’s just a delegation of technical planning issues which Councillors are generally not experts in. Another change being requested is that Site Plan applicants should be required… Read complete articleImproving Efficiency for Cobourg’s Planning

By-Law Statistics

One of the new managers hired this year is Kevin Feagan – he is Manager By-Law Enforcement and Licensing.  On Monday, he provided a list of complaints to Councillor Aaron Burchat which Aaron read out at the Regular Council meeting as part of his Coordinator report. Aaron and other Councillors are taking literally that this part of the Council meeting should be about their Coordinator role but Mayor Henderson seems to have forgotten this and uses the time to mostly talk about what he has been doing – for the record, his Coordinator role is Economic Development (see Resources below for more on this).  But Kevin’s numbers are interesting – although it’s strange that Aaron omitted reading out the item… Read complete articleBy-Law Statistics

Some Surprises in Council Nominations

Nominations closed Friday at 2:00 pm and there were some surprises.  Councillor Emily Chorley will not be running again; Nicole Beatty and Suzanne Séguin will be competing for the Deputy Mayor position so one of them will not be on Council; and there will be competition for the Mayor’s position so he won’t be acclaimed this time. There are ten candidates competing for five spots on Council – including current councillors Adam Bureau, Aaron Burchat and Brian Darling. So far, only Mayor Henderson and Michael Sprayson have published any campaign material but then there are 56 days until the first day you can vote – October 14.  The official voting date is October 24 but advance voting is possible earlier…. Read complete articleSome Surprises in Council Nominations

Accessible Washroom in Victoria Hall

At Monday’s Committee of the Whole (CoW) meeting, the Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) Committee recommended that the Accessible Washroom in Victoria Hall be left open.  Currently, it is locked but a key is available upon request.  It seems the EDI committee felt that it was asking a lot of potential users to go ask for the key.  Brent Larmer explained that it was locked to minimize an abuse of it – there have been cases where someone would lock themselves in and stay for an excessive amount of time thereby denying access to others.  Since it has been locked, usage has actually increased. However, despite this, Councillor Beatty moved that the EDI Committee’s recommendation be followed and that the… Read complete articleAccessible Washroom in Victoria Hall

Does Cobourg Use Too Many Consultants?

In 2020 Council hired a consultant to review “Service Delivery” and shortly after (in 2021) also used a consultant to review the Town’s organization. But at Monday’s Committee of the Whole (CoW) meeting, the Agenda included approval of a consultant (Watson and Associates) for $91K to review user fees as recommended in the Service Delivery review. Deputy Mayor Suzanne Séguin thought that this knowledge was available from Staff and that the cost was excessive so she moved that the work be done by Staff instead. The rationale for the consultant was that there were not enough Staff resources or expertise and that the report would provide a justification for charges. In addition “it is also expected that the methodology developed… Read complete articleDoes Cobourg Use Too Many Consultants?