Cobourg Council News

Cobourg Council Chambers.jpg

by Cecilia Nasmith


Cobourg council hears plans to honour a pioneer

Cobourg council heard plans at its July meeting to honour a pioneering female hero of the Second World War with her own statue.

No money is being asked, though council heard a request for approval in principle, a location and an in-kind donation of site preparation for a life-sized statue of Fern Blodgett.

This is the centennial of her birth in Regina, though her family moved to Cobourg when she was a baby. Local proponent Leona Woods described how she attended Cobourg Collegiate Institute and often wandered down to watch the ships from the Lake Ontario shoreline.

She left Cobourg to train for a career in stenography, but the advent of war changed all that – wireless radio operators (often called Sparks) were in short supply, and not enough men were around to meet the demand.

Blodgett was turned down by two training schools in Toronto, but persisted in her goal to earn a professional wireless radio operator's certificate. She would be the first Canadian woman to do so.

Britain and Canada would not allow women to run the radios on their ships, but Norway would. Capt. Gerner Sunde (whom she later married) hired her to work on the merchant ship Mosdale.
The Battle of the Atlantic was on, during which 3,500 Allied vessels (and 40,000 lives) were lost. Even a merchant ship ran the risk of U-boat attacks, strafing by enemy aircraft, hitting floating mines and perilous climate conditions.

All five of the Mosdale's sister ships were lost, but the Mosdale made 98 Atlantic crossings. Blodgett was there for 78 of them.

The war-time contributions of Blodgett and her husband were recognized with the Norwegian War Medal in 1943, presented by King Haakon.

Another in a long line of Cobourg women of distinction, Woods declared, and they are hoping to recognize her with a statue by Tyler Fauville of Creative Casts Ltd.

A professional sculptor who lives and works in Lively, Ont., Fauville has a body of work that includes a dozen memorial statues. He especially likes creating pieces that memorialize the contributions of historical figures who are at risk of being forgotten.

“Fern Blodgett is another example of a story overlooked by history,” he told council.

“She deserves to be celebrated, and will inspire youth – especially young women.”

The unveiling (a free public event they hope will take place in 2020) has the potential to be a news event that will bring attention to Cobourg, and her story has the potential to attract visitors to the statue for reflection and inspiration.

The site they hope the town will allow is at the east end of the waterfront close to the walking path. The beautiful background will no doubt inspire many selfies that will spread the word about what Cobourg has to offer.

Fauvette estimates the cost of the statue at about $155,000. He will be applying for a Federal grant for half the amount during the current World Wars Official Commemoration period, with the Cobourg Museum Foundation acting as his local liaison for the project. From there, fundraising would be undertaken to cover the remainder of the cost.

Woods displayed a maquette of the statue he hopes to create, a young woman in a uniform, arms akimbo, with waves breaking around her. The waves will make a good place to sit and reflect, Fauvette said, and he expects many a young woman will climb on to the base to link arms with Blodgett.

“The waves symbolize the danger of life at sea and a time of social turbulence, and the power of making waves as an agent of change,” he said.

Mayor Gil Brocanier asked Fauvette how sure he was of the price tag – at one time, the town was looking at a $250,000 proposal for a James Cockburn statue.

That seems high, Fauvette said.

In any event, he will sign the proposal listing the price and will be bound by his signature.

“That will be that, whether I make money or not,” he said.

Councillor Suzanne Seguin said she'd prefer to have a few more weeks to digest the proposal, and asked for a staff report to be prepared on the project for the August council meeting.


Council learns of a new doctor in the community

The West Northumberland Physicial Recruitment and Retention Committee announces a new doctor arriving in the community.

The news came to Cobourg council's July meeting in a press release from recruitment co-ordinator Tracy West.

“Dr. Trisha Rys has been recruited to our community and has already started practicing,” the announcement said.

“She will also attend to her patients admitted to NHH and will further support the community hospital by working in the emergency department.”

A doctor for four years, Rys has practiced in Northern Ontario and British Columbia. She attended the Northern Ontario School of Medicine and completed her residency through Queen's University (Oshawa Bowmanville Lakeridge Health site).

“It was during this time that she became familiar with our wonderful community,” the press release said. She moved to the area last month, along with her husband and two daughters.

Committee chair Gerald Blackstock said they are pleased to welcome Dr. Rys and her family to the community.

"Her recruitment is another example of the recruitment efforts by the WNPRRC as they strive to recruit new family physicians in order to keep pace with the future needs of our residents," Blackstock said in the bulletin.

It also carried a welcome from Dr. Mark Essak, whose practice Dr. Rys will be joining to take over the entire patient roster of Dr. Kemi Oluyole.

“When I first talked to Trisha, she said that she and Paul wanted to find a good place to raise their family. Right away I knew they would be coming here,” Dr. Essak recalled.

Dr. Rys will not be accepting new patients immediately though, when the time is right, she will begin working with Health Care Connect to access their list of residents who are looking for a

family physician. The committee advises anyone seeking a family phsyican to contact Health Care Connect at 1-800-445-1822.

The recruitment committee relies on funding from West Northumberland municipalities for its work of attracting family physicians to the community.

Deputy Mayor John Henderson, who has sat through many presentations to council by commitee members, was delighted with the news.

“You can see it's another reason why the physician-recruitment committee does such a significant job,” Henderson said.

“It's always great news when we welcome a new physician to our community, and to bring her family to the community.”

“Good work by the physician-recruitment committee,” Mayor Gil Brocanier agreed.


Cobourg finalizes compliance audit committee for 2018 election

One of the pieces needed for the 2018 municipal elections has fallen into place for Cobourg, with the approval of its compliance audit committee for the 2018 ballot at the July council meeting.

Five members were approved to create a joint committee for the Town of Cobourg and Northumberland County partner municipalities.

The Municipal Elections Act 1998 requires all municipalities to appoint a compliance audit committee, according to the report from municipal clerk Brent Larmer.

“A qualified elector who believes on reasonable grounds that a candidate has contravened a provision of the MEA relating to election campaign finances may apply to the compliance audit connittee for a compliance audit of the candidate's finances,” it said.

“In both the 2010 and 2014 elections, the municipalities within Northumberland County worked collaboratively to form a joint election compliance audit committee,” he added. This not only provides a larger pool of qualified applicants but also offers the potential for efficiencies for the committee.

Members chosen are solicitor James Hunt, certified financial risk manager Bill Graham, financial-services worker Lynn Patry, solicitor Tom Tardoff and retired municipal clerk Lorraine Brace.

“I believe three of those members are coming back in essence for a second term, and two were new candidates who were duly accepted on the basis of their past skills and abilities,” Deputy Mayor John Henderson pointed out.


Cobourg Forestry Master Plan previewed

Cobourg councillors heard a presentation on the final draft of the Urban Forestry Master Plan at its July meeting.

Presented by Cynthia Levesque of Kilgour and Associates Ltd., its aim is to establish a healthy and sustainable urban forest that contributes to the economic, environmental and social vitality of the town.

A process of review and consultation has gone into recommending strategies strategies for such things as tree care, inventory, inspections, risk management and partnership opportunities.

“There was a lot of well-thought, true input that helped us to develop and refine what you see before you,” Levesque said.

More than 6,000 trees were inventoried during the process that ascertained that the tree canopy covers about 27% of the community (with a goal to raise it to 35%, she said). About 38% of these trees are maple, but there are 111 different species. She estimates 80% of them are in good condition.

A healthy urban forest contriutes to a community's sustainability, Levesque said.

“Studies show people will enjoy and visit more often, and the whole quality of life for residents within the town is enhanced.”

She estimates perhaps $70-million worth of benefits accrue to the town from its tree canopy, not only in things like air quality and storm-water management but also wildlife habitat, biodiversity, increased property values and the way trees encourage outdoor activity.

In offering a 2037 vision, she listed several supporting principles, including a lush, diverse, healthy and resilient urban forest, as well as community involvement in its sustainability.

To meet these principles, she set out nine work-plan programs, including a tree planting program, town heritage tree program and community stewardship program.

Levesque and town arbourist Rory Quigley also referred to the right tree in the right place. This kind of forethought cuts down on what director of public works Laurie Wills described as the eyesore of healthy tree foliage cut into a notch shape to accommodate power wires.

“This document should stand Cobourg in good stead for the next 40 years,” Mayor Gil Brocanier predicted.


Cobourg Fire Department welcomes parking-lot work

Visitors to Cobourg's fire hall will have an easier go of the parking lot, with work approved at council's July meeting.

The report from director of public works Laurie Wills regarding road work and parking-lot repair recommended the contract go to Norway Asphalt Limited, at a cost of $211,861.27 to her department and $83,197.96 to the fire department. This is to be funded under the 2018 capital budget, with up to $30,000 to be made available from the Northam Industrial Reserve as needed.

“The fire hall parking lot has drainage issues that will be covered by removing asphalt, regrading and recreating drainage swales to direct water to an appropriate outlet,” Wills's report said.

“Parking has also been under capacity at the fire hall as the training and boardrooms are heavily utilized by staff and community organization. The scope of work for this contract will add additional parking to the lot.”

“I appreciate the support of the fire department and Chief Vilneff,” Deputy Mayor John Henderson said.

“We have put this off almost eight years, and I thank him for his due diligence, which allowed me to get something done.

“If anybody's been to the fire department lately, you know you bring your rubber boots.”

“I get to look like the fairy godmother, because it's being done while I am co-ordinator of protection services,” Councillor Debra McCarthy said.

“The team is very happy.”


Still room for Masters of Disaster

For sheer excitement, Councillor Debra McCarthy believes it would be hard to beat the Masters of Disasters Camp for young people aged 8 to 13.

And there's still room for a few more, she told councillors at the July meeting.

So many agencies and businesses have gotten behind the event, soon to take place at the Cobourg Community Centre, McCarthy said,

“For the cost of registration, you will walk away with a goodie bag with amazing things,” she said, including a flashlight from Cameco and a solar blanket from Enbridge.

Natural disasters is the theme of the first day, and it includes a barbecue lunch at the firehall.

Power outages is the theme the following day – which should be of great concern to young people who love their electronic devices. Lakefront Utilities Services Inc. has put a presentation together, and the health unit will discuss food safety (because this is a concern as well, when refrigerators fail).

Flooding is the focus on the third day, with help from the Ganaraska Region Conservation Authority. In the afternoon, the Cobourg Police will talk about a new app called I Am Safe.

Programming turns to health the fourth day, with the health unit demonstrating an interesting device that shows just how clean your hands are not after you wash them. Via Rail has its own safety presentation in the afternoon.

A Zombie Apocalypse Race on the final day allows the young people to use what they have learned. The Salvation Army will help out with a barbecue at lunch time, and St. John Amulance therapy dogs will pay a visit.

“This kind of camp has been done in Markham, and it's cutting-edge,” McCarthy said.

“We know what we are supposed to do in case of an emergency, and the idea is – get them young.

“And the children might influence the family to be ready for an emergency.”


Police auxiliary offers safety audits

Councillor Debra McCarthy shared news of a new Cobourg Police auxiliary program at the July council meeting.

It's called Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design, McCarthy said, and the auxiliary members are taking it public by offering safety audits for homes and businesses.

Just go to the police website, scroll down to CPTED, fill out the form and set up an appointment.

McCarthy shared a few basic tips that would be good for any home or business.

Lock outside doors and windows.

Use quality materials for door and window construction.

Keep garage doors closed and locked.

Do not leave ladders around the exterior of your house

Have adequate lighting.

Trim trees and shrubs so they offer no cover to intruders.

Never leave house keys in a hiding place outside.

Keep a detailed inventory of your valuable possessions.

Consider the use of a residential or commercial alarm system.

You can learn more by taking advantage of this new program, McCarthy said.

“Have a visit, have an audit,” she urged.


Noise bylaw exemption allowed for 401 work

Work on Highway 401 can proceed day and night, thanks to the noise-bylaw exemption Cobourg council voted at its July meeting.

The stretch of work will take place between the County Road 28 exit in Port Hope and the Burnham Street exit in Cobourg, Councillor Debra McCarthy and the exemption will allow night work.

This includes resurfacing and maintenance of shoulders and ramps, as well as rehabilitation of 14 culverts.

The work will take place between September and fall of 2019.