CIP costs to decrease after council vote

By Cecilia Nasmith

Cobourg council's review of this year's CIP recommendations at Monday's committee-of-the-whole meeting should result in a savings over projected costs, as they voted to disallow some of the projects.

The staff report from heritage planner Dave Johnson set out Community Improvement Program projects on 12 properties to be supported by $110,000 in grants and $71,942 in loans (at a cost for the loans of $5,000).

The list included:

  • 1 King St. W. - $37,080 in residential and building-improvement grants

  • 38 Covert St. - $24,000 in residential and building-improvement grants plus $25,000 for a building-improvement loan and a $40,000 residential loan

  • 52 King St. W. - $12,340 in facade-improvement and building-improvement grants

  • 5 King St. W. - $8,655 in facade-improvement and building-improvement grants

  • 23-29 King St. W. - $8,455 in facade-improvement and building-improvement grants

  • 2 King St. W. - $7,540 in a building-improvement and study grant

  • 77 Albert St. - $6,255 in facade-improvement and building-improvement grants

  • 322 George St. - $2,715 for a face-improvement grant and $6,942 for a facade-improvement loan

  • 112 Orange St. - $890 for a facade-improvement grant

  • 275 George St. - $845 for a facade-improvement grant

  • 80 King St. W. - $775 for a building-improvement grant

  • 6 King St. W. - $450 for a facade-improvement grant

Acting chief administrative officer Ian Davey explained that the loans were not a cost, as they would be paid back – but the cost represented in Johnson's calculations is about interest that would be forfeited by not having that money otherwise invested.

Reviewing the list, councillors took exception to a few of the projects.

Adam Bureau said the CIP program had grown out of the downtown-revitalization initiative to rehabilitate derelict buildings and establish residential space on upper floors – but he failed to see where a repaired roof would contribute to improving that area's ambiance. Accordingly, as the project at 2 King St. W. was for a roof repair, he wanted to see it removed from the list.

Deputy Mayor Suzanne Seguin said she had a serious problem with 322 George St., 112 Orange St. and 275 George St., as these were all residences – even if they did fall within the designated program area.

“If I need to improve my house, I pay for it out of my own pocket,” Seguin noted.

She also objected to the downtown project at 80 King St. W. - an address that needs facade improvement but which is getting a grant for work on the back of the building.

“It's basically putting the cart before the horse,” the deputy mayor said.

The thing to remember, Councillor Nicole Beatty said, is that all the projects met the eligibility criteria of the program as it now stands – though their amounts were based on a priority system that favours certain things like establishing a residential presence downtown.

“We may disagree with the criteria,” Mayor John Henderson allowed.

“But if the criteria went out this year in a set pattern for set reasons, what about those who went through the application process, met the criteria, were assessed and evaluated?

“If we feel something should not be there, I think the onus is upon us to change the CIP before it goes out, not after everyone has gone through the whole process.”

Applicants based their applications on the eligibility criteria as defined, Beatty agreed.

“Maybe it's an opportunity to refine the parameters of the CIP in 2020 but, once it's in the public domain, I can't accept contradicting something the public proposal process was based on.”

Director of planning and development Glenn McGlashon pointed out that the properties to which councillors had objected accounted for very little of the $110,000 in grants. As for the property at 2 King St. W., he added, the study grant is the first step in establishing upstairs residential space at that address.

Councillor Brian Darling suggested council might approve that portion of the grant approved at 2 King St. W. that covered the study grant – which was estimated at about $2,500. Revised figures and totals will come to council next week.

Meanwhile, council voted to authorize disbursements on 1 King St. E., 38 Covert St., 52 King St. W., 5 King St. W., 23-29 King St. W., 77 Albert St., 6 King St. W. with a grant for the study portion of the application for 2 King St. W. and the offer of the $6,942 facade-improvement loan only (no grant) for 322 George St.