Cobourg Council News

By Cecilia Nasmith


Unique mailing offers Cobourg Waterfront information

Cobourg has never undertaken such a project before, but director of recreation and culture Dean Hustwick pointed out that there's never been such an issue before.

An oversize colour pamphlet offering facts and figures on the Cobourg Waterfront has been printed and, by Wednesday, should have arrived at all 8,654 Cobourg households. Extra copies can also be picked up at such public places as the Victoria Hall foyer and the Cobourg Community Centre.

The front of the pamphlet carries a personal thank-you message from Mayor Gil Brocanier for a community that participated in the multi-hear waterfront-planning process in unprecedented numbers. The level of engagement was unprecedented not only in Cobourg, but also in the consultants' previous experience in other communities.

It also states that the purpose of the publication is to share key finding of the Waterfront User Needs Assessment and Detailed Design Plan, information that aims to help the reader understand the Waterfront Operations Department.

Inside, facts and figures are offered in four key areas – tourism, campground, harbour and marina.

On the back, a pictograph offers a graphic look at key findings, and a chart sets out annualized financial information on the marina and the campground.

For all the information contained in the pamphlet, Hustwick said, it's only a smaller version of a more comprehensive version that can be found on the town's website.


Cobourg votes support for statue project

Cobourg council endorsed a waterfront location for the Ferne Blodgett Sunde statue at its August meeting.

Council also endosed this project by authorizing a letter of support that the committee behind it can use to bolster grant applications, as well as $5,000 worth of in-kind support for the statue's base.

The project was explained last month by its proponents, who are raising the money for the tribute to a former Cobourg resident who was a pioneering female war-time naval communications worker in the Atlantic theatre of operations during the Second World War.

“I totally support this, based on what we see in front of us,” Councillor Suzanne Seguin said of the staff report.

“A good job – it covers all the bases.”

“The other piece of this project that I think council should consider – it's only creating a base, but we will then own this,” Councillor Debra McCarthy pointed out.

“We need to have a policy on each of our public-art pieces – I think there are 14 – and their maintenance and all that. I hope the Cultural Master Plan recognizes that when they look at the public-art policy,” McCarthy said.

“I have no problem with this at all, but there's a cost to maintaining these.”


Cobourg council okays five Community Improvement projects

Now in its third year, the Community Improvement Program keeps getting better, Cobourg director of planning Glenn McGlashon said at the August council meeting.

The program provides such incentives as grants and loans for project studies and improvements to facades, structure, residences. For 2018, McGlashon said, $150,000 was budgeted for this.

Of the seven applications received, six were approved.

The seventh was for work on the capitals of the columns at 323 George St. Though the work was considered worthwhile, he said, there are still outstanding orders on the property that the committee felt would disqualify it. In case this is remedied, he continued, $13,000 remains in the fund that could conceivably be accessed for this purpose. As it's a $20,000 project and the proponent can only apply for up to 50% of the cost, that amount would be sufficient.

McGlashon listed the six approved projects.

Applicants will receive assistance for work at 2 King St. W. and 239-243 Division St. - a $2,500 study grant, a $8,100 facade-improvement grant and a $8,658 building-improvement grant.

A $4,000 building-improvement grant was approved for 40 King St. W.

A $2,750 building-improvement grant was approved for 42-44 King St, W.

A $2,500 study grant was approved for 89 King St. W.

The property at 39 King St. E. will benefit from a $18,750 facade-improvement grant and a $12,500 building-improvement grant.

At 35-37 King St. W., there is help in the form of a $2,500 study grant, a $6,250 rear-facade-improvement grant, a $12,500 building-improvement grant, a $49,714 residential grant, a $7,500 rear-facade-improvement loan, a $25,000 building-improvment loan and a $66,286 residential loan.

The total value of this work is $940,000, McGlashon reported.

Mayor Gil Brocanier stated that he has received very positive feedback at the prospect of work that will bring more residential units to the downtown.


Monk's Cove project wins applause

Cobourg council voted this week to reallocate up to $30,000 from the parks reserve for work on the Monk's Cove retaining wall and the park restoration.

This is a response to devastating flooding that the town experienced in 2017. The town hired a company to perform repairs last month for about $50,000. Now restoration of the park is underway.

However, during repairs, several spots were noted where armour stone had been dislodged and erosion was taking place, director of public works Laurie Wills said in her report.

Though this was not part of the original work the company hired on for, staff directed the contractor to fill in the voids anyway. As a result, the project went $27,331.70 over budget.

Meanwhile, as staff restore the park by installing topsoil for erosion control, $2,669 worth of materials are required.

Deputy Mayor John Henderson reports that the work done is receiving plaudits. As he walks his dog in that area almost daily, he has had at least 20 people stop him to remark how professionally the work has been done.

“I just want you to know many complimentary comments have been given to that – pretty much everybody living in that particular quadrant says, 'Excellent results,'” Henderson said.

Councillor Forrest Rowden said he also hears a lot of positive comments.

“Looking at it, I understand where it's coming from, as long as we don't get any more real, real bad storms like we did last year,” Rowden said.
“These are 100-year storms, but they seem to be coming every few years now.”

Councillor Brian Darling said the park-restoration work includes adding topsoil and leveling out tire ruts.

“We should have grass growing there before the snow flies,” Darling predicted.


Cobourg Heritage Advisory Committee offers update

The Cobourg Heritage Advisory Committee appeared at the August meeting of Cobourg council to offer an update on what they've been up to for the past year and a half.

Chairman George Kamphorst also participated in the presentation of the committee's four heritage awards, spotlighting individuals for significant contributions to the downtown and to the preservation work on the cupola of Victoria College.

Kamphorst works with vice-chair Graham Andrews and members Bryon McMillan, Catherine Richards, Felicity Pope and Ken Bagshaw. Everyone on that roster, he said, has some involvement with such significant heritage-related organization, such as the Cobourg and District Historical Society, the Architectural Conservancy of Ontario and the Sifton-Cook Heritage Centre. Pope and McMillan, he added, have previously won Town of Cobourg Civic Awards.

The committee's mandate is to advise council and staff on the conservation and enhancement of cultural heritage resources, review and make recommendations to council on heritage-permit applications, and assist in the application of the town's Heritage Master Plan.

Kamphorst is proud of how they process heritage-permit applications. Town staff offer presentations on each one, and there's a collaborative and respectful dialogue with the applicants. Guidance is offered, adjustments are made, and the version of the proposal that comes before council often differs from the original one they saw.

They struggled to think of any applications they have ultimately refused, he added, and could only think of one.

Between the committee and staff, he said, 48 permit applications were processed in 2017. To date in 2018, 56 have been processed.

Outstanding accomplishments of the period in question include a seminar last November that 75 people attended and a renewed downtown-signage tool kit.

Looking ahead, a November follow-up to last year's seminar will be called Armistice and Cultural Heritage, a Heritage Day program in February on James Cockburn and consideration of an expanded heritage district.


Monroe Street residents ask for help

Over the past five years, traffic on Monroe Street has grown perceptibly, according to those in a position to know – Monroe Street residents.

A petition they signed was delivered to council by Joan Gamble in time for the August meeting, along with a letter explaining the problem.

Many of these residents are seniors, and some live at the Ryerson Commons retirement complex on the south side of the street. On the north side, there are a number of families with small children.

As traffic has increased, Gamble said, so has a deliberate disregard for the posted 50-km. speed limit.

“A multi-unit, affordable housing development is under construction on the north side of Monroe Street about half-way between Division Street and Walton Street,” she wrote.

“Like us, the future residents of this development, are entitled to a safe and pedestrian-friendly residential environment.”

Gamble has observed that much of the vehicular traffic on Monroe is using the street as a shortcut between Division and D'Arcy streets.

“We would like to see a more balanced distribution of this traffic onto the surrounding arterial roads, as well as suitable and effective traffic-reduction and speed-calming measures,” she proposed.

“We understand and appreciate that the needs of all road users must be considered in a fair and equitable manner. Hence our stated request that you conduct a systematic and rigourous assessment of the vehicular traffic on Monroe Street, between Division Street and Walton Street.

“It is our expectation that the results of such a study will confirm our assessment that suitable and effective traffic-reduction and speed-calming measures are warranted on Monroe Street.”

Deputy Mayor John Henderson's motion to refer the petition to the director of public works was passed by council.


Council supports guide-dog walk

Cobourg council has approved a new event for Sept. 29 – the Walk For Guide Dogs.

Though new to town, it's an event Lions Clubs hold in many communities in support of their Oakville facility that trains guide dogs and special-needs dogs.

The letter brought forward at the August council meeting from local Lions member Ron Wiebe said it would be a 2.5-km. walk that will begin and end at the Lions Pavilion in Victoria Park. No road closures are required, as participants can easily use the sidewalks.

Wiebe said that all promotional materials will be supplied by corporate sponsor Pet Valu. Each participant will receive a bag to clean up any mess their dogs make.

“As there are several Lions-trained dogs helping citizens of Cobourg lead a better life, we are sure this will be a well-received event,” the letter said.


Cobourg loses two of its great citizens

Deputy Mayor John Henderson took a moment at the August council meeting to eulogize two of Cobourg's citizens who have recently died, and to remember what they meant to the town.

Jeremy Nicholls was a long-time member of the town's committee of adjustments, Henderson said, as well as a member of other town committees - “a very dedicated volunteer in the field of planning and heritage and architecture.”

Henderson also paid tribute to Bert MacMillan, the widow of beloved town crier Tom MacMillan.

It takes only a glance at the monument in front of Victoria Hall to get an idea of what a part of everyday Cobourg life was the retired OPP officer who became the town crier.

From civic events and the ringing announcement of prom arrivals to personal appearances (and personalized cries) at birthdays and weddings, he enhanced every occasion, And when anyone offered to pay him for an appearance, he would suggest they make a donation to Northumberland Hills Hospital instead.

And his wife Bert was always part of it. She also gets the credit for finding the massive clanging bell he rung that was originally an old school bell.

“They worked as a dynamic duo for so many years, and served our community for so many functions. Behind Tom, there was always Bert,” Henderson said.

“We keep losing wonderful members of our community, but I know there will be others who will step up.”


Pitch to the Chief wows Cobourg councillor

Cobourg Councillor Debra McCarthy told council at its August meeting that one of the first big events of the new Venture 13 centre blew her away.

The Pitch To The Chief competition took place last week, and McCarthy said all the pitches were really winners.

“The project merges Venture 13 and everything it does with start-ups and technology, and leveraging that, saying, 'How can we improve police? What aspect of these technological studies can improve policing?'” she explained.

“It involves language I barely understand.”

Of the pitches made to Cobourg Police Chief Kai Liu, the runner-up was a bicycle attachment that could display all the appropriate police emergency lighting and sirens. Members of the police service were interested in potential applications for their Segways, McCarthy said.

A psychographic profiling program was the winner, offering analysis of social-media postings to ascertain who might be an actual threat.

McCarthy was also impressed with the violent-activity recognition app that works with the closed-circuit security cameras that seem so omnipresent these days.

“They are developing an algorithm that in real time, because of the movement going on, the camera can send out a message saying, 'There's an incident here.'”

She also liked the block-chain link-up device that connects those socially and financially at risk for bartering purposes – offering a house-cleaning in exchange for transportation, for instance.

“It's astonishing that this opportuity exists in this hub,” she said.

“The chief did say, 'I've got to pick a winner, but every one of you keep in touch. We are very interested in helping you move your product ahead.'”