By Cecilia Nasmith
The final budget deliberations for the Downtown Cobourg Vitalization Community Improvement Plan will take place later this week, but Councillor Emily Chorley called for some adjustments to the nuts-and-bolts of how the program will be implemented for 2019.
The CIP has for several years offered a variety grants and loans to qualifying owners of downtown properties who want to repair or upgrade, all in the service of a more vital downtown. Applications and submissions are adjudicated by a committee, which makes its recommendations to council.
The changes Chorley suggested were in the make-up of the committee and the timing of council deliberation.
The committee consists of the town's chief administrative officer, director of finance, director of planning and development, heritage planner, economic-development officer, Downtown Coalition Advisory Committee head, Northumberland Central Chamber of Commerce president and chief executive officer, Cobourg Heritage Advisory Committee representative and the chief building official.
Chorley pointed out that two of those positions (the economic development officer and the head of the downtown advisory committee) are currently vacant. At any rate, she said, “it would be nice to see a little more citizen input,”
As for the timing matter, recommendations are slated for consideration Aug. 12, which is the summer meeting at which a committee-of-the-whole session is followed immediately by a regular session.
“That's just one day to finalize that decision,” she pointed out.
“Council should have a little more time to reflect on those very important decisions. I would suggest two council meetings on two separate days. I suggest staff could just rejig that schedule for a little more public input.”
That timeline was based on the 2018 schedule, director of planning and development Glenn McGlashon said.
“From a staff level, it does compress it quite a bit through the summer months, when there's difficulty scheduling members over summer vacation time.
“We feel we can accommodate some additional time to make it easier for staff and for the public and ensure applicants have enough time to get construction quotes – which can also be a challenge in the summer months.”
The motion council passed incorporated Chorley's two suggestions, asking that staff review the committee's composition and report back to council by May 31.