Victoria Beach courtyard will support Summer Social 4 Shelter

By Cecilia Nasmith

Using the courtyard at the Victoria Park beach as a dining-and-entertainment venue has been a hit for the past couple of summers.

Now, Cobourg council has okayed a two-weekend event in support of Cornerstone Family Violence Prevention Centre called Summer Social 4 Shelter, taking place July 26-27 and Aug. 9-10. Lindsey Edwards of Royal LePage realty has joined forces with El Camino, George and Orange, and The Market & Smor to transform the courtyard into a licensed beach canteen with food, drink and music overlooking the beach.

Edwards told council that the proceeds will support a Royal LePage fundraiser – 120 of its agents will be taking a 100-km. trek across the Sahara Desert for its charitable Shelter Foundation. One of them (herself) is from Northumberland.

She shared some details in her letter of request.

“For five straight days, my colleagues from Royal LePage offices across Canada and I will be hiking up to seven hours a day across difficult terrain in the hot and dry desert climate, with temperatures dropping considerably at night,” she wrote.

“We will be sleeping in large group tents, using camping-style bathroom facilities and going without electricity, cell service and the other comforts of home.”

She is required to raise at least $5,000, but is hoping to reach the $25,000 mark. Whatever she comes up with, 80% goes to Cornerstone and the remainder to the Shelter Foundation for national programs for violence prevention.

“I am so excited to bring this to Cobourg,” Edwards told council.

“I enjoyed the beach bar last year, along with hundreds of people – if I can bring that back and support Cornerstone, that is a wonderful combination.”

Working towards a sustainable Northumberland

By Olivia Waldriff

Over the past three years Green Wood Coalition has been working towards creating stronger, more inclusive communities in Northumberland.

Green Wood will host their ‘Mobilizing the Neighbourhood’ workshop in Port Hope, to teach people how to best utilize their skills and strengths towards building a healthier, more vibrant and livable community.

The event will be led by Jonathan Massimi, a leader in the grassroots community development and an “expert witness” of the Asset Based Community Development philosophy, according to Green Wood Coalition’s community director, David Sheffield.

“A healthier community must be sustainable in every way… a healthy community begins by recognizing that each person has gifts to share and in that sharing and connecting we’ll find solutions to the larger challenges,” said Sheffield.

The workshop will look at communities where significant change is underway and begin to develop a toolkit for the first steps in a stronger community in Port Hope.

The event will take place at Grace Church from 7 to 9 p.m., on July 22.

Grafton Community Centre renovations mean big news for families

By Cecilia Nasmith

Construction now underway at the Grafton Community Centre will result in new child-care and early-learning spaces.

The announcement came in a press release from Northumberland County, which is directing a capital investment of more than $500,000 from the Ontario Ministry of Education to renovations at the facility that will create a child-care centre with 15 new spaces (as well as an EarlyON Child and Family Centre).

Acting warden Bob Sanderson extended thanks to the province for this investment, which will increase access to quality licensed child care and early-learning opportunities.

“With these renovations, we are taking an important step forward in addressing the growing local demand for child care and creating an environment for early learning that will support the healthy development and well-being of our children and families.”

This facility will mark the first EarlyON Child and Family Centre in Alnwick-Haldimand Township. It will be located in a former two-room schoolhouse that was closed (along with a number of one-room schoolhouses) when nearby Grafton Public School opened in 1967. Extensive renovations in the late 1990s modernized and updated the facility as a community centre and new, roomier home for the Grafton library (since renamed the Bette LeBarr branch of the Alnwick-Haldimand Public Library in memory of a beloved long-time librarian).

With these new investments, the facility will now house the first “family age group” licensed child-care program in Northumberland County, where infants, toddlers and youth will be cared for in the same space, allowing siblings to remain together.

Work being done to accommodate these new operations includes new flooring, paint, cabinetry and lighting, as well as updated kitchen facilities, installation of a universal washroom, creation of a secure outdoor play area, and expansion of the existing parking lot.

Acting Alnwick-Haldimand Township Mayor Gail Latchford said that the new child-care and early-learning facility sharing space with the library is a good fit.

“This facility will be an important resource for our families with young children,” Latchford said.

“We look forward to celebrating the grand opening this fall.”

Cobourg council hears good summer news

By Cecilia Nasmith

Cobourg council expressed unanimous agreement that the Waterfront Festival had been outstanding this year.

“I want to congratulate the Town of Cobourg and all first responders, the Lions Club and the Rotary for putting on a magnificent Waterfront Festival,” Mayor John Henderson said this week.

“From all I have learned, with the exception of one person who was speeding excessively and was caught, it was a great Canada Day weekend for all concerned, and also a great opportunity to present our new poet laureate,” he added, mentioning Jessica Outram, who made her debut a week earlier at a special council meeting.

“The town crier, the Concert Band of Cobourg the spectacular fireworks – it was a perfect night in the Town of Cobourg.”

“Congratulations to everyone involved in an exceptional Waterfront Festival, one of the best ever,” Deputy Mayor Suzanne Seguin agreed.

“It was a very successful and well-organized event, and it was especially touching to our new Canadians to see Canada Day celebrated,” Councillor Emily Chorley added.

Chorley had some other news to share about the upcoming summer season, such as congratulations to town staff for managing the high water levels at the beach – where two new lifeguard stations should soon replace the remaining two old ones.

The splash pad has a new feature replacing the old yellow dome, Chorley added, and summer day-camp enrollment is up 23% over last year, with 2,100 young participants enrolled over nine weeks of programming.

Don't report street-light issues to Lakefront

By Cecilia Nasmith

If there's a street-light issue in Cobourg, Councillor Brian Darling reminds everyone, Lakefront Utility Services is not the one to call.

At this week's council meeting, Darling noted that Lakefront is no longer the town's street-light maintenance contractor.

If there's an issue, he said, visit the town's website to report any problems. A GIS has been set up to track outages and problems.

If you can't go on-line, Darling added, report street-light issues to the town's public-works department at 905-372-9971.

Contentious crosswalk improvements should be ready by fall

By Cecilia Nasmith

Students returning to Cobourg Collegiate Institute and C.R. Gummow Public School in September should notice a difference at the troublesome crosswalk across King Street at Abbott Boulevard, Cobourg council heard this week.

Director of public works Laurie Wills confirmed that the work in a motion put before council is expected to be done by the end of August.

The motion referred to work recommended by Wills in her staff report – enhanced pavement markings and installation of permanent flashing yellow warning lights within the community safety zone (resulting in reduced speeds and increased speeding fines).

The motion includes a direction to staff to monitor the situation and report back to council in October if further improvements are recommended – costs of which are to be considered in the 2020 budget deliberations.

Council sets timetable for east pier and campground consultations

By Cecilia Nasmith

Cobourg council this week set a timetable for the start of public engagement on the town's east pier and Victoria Park campground.

Both have serious issues associated with aging infrastructure, and the east pier was in fact closed to all vehicular and pedestrian traffic,

Councillor Emily Chorley made a motion to hold a public open house in early September at the Cobourg Community Centre that will offer an opportunity to discuss the options and conceptual drawings in the Waterfront User Needs Assessment and the Shoreplan East Pier Engineering Assessment.

Chorley's motion sees this as a good use of the new Bang The Table public-engagement software, which she hopes can begin next month and be used for this purpose for at least six weeks.

Then, the motion continued, council can take all input into account for a report to council by Oct. 15, which will include a request for council authorization to begin the procurement of engineering or other services to develop drawings, costs and tender documents for preferred options in preparation for a further public meeting – with additional estimated engineering and construction costs to be submitted through the 2020 budget process.

The original motion (which Chorley amended) called for the report to come back to council by Nov. 4, and director of community services Dean Hustwick noted that there's a lot of detail to be reviewed by members of the public if the exercise is to result in what he termed a meaningful and credible engagement process – different lighting options, various types of paths and gateways, possibly even a round-about at the bottom of Division Street.

Hustwick stated that the timeline for public engagement is about half of what he would normally recommend.

In his report to council, Hustwick reiterated the four options Shoreplan put forward in its December plan for the east pier.

Option 1 closes the pier to traffic and naturalizes it as park space, with the only permitted use being pedestrian traffic (no ability to use the space to remove or launch boats or to operate a midway).

Option 2 would replace the top fill material and then repave the surface. This would allow foot traffic and some small vehicles traveling at low speeds, but no midway and no boat launching or lifting.

Option 3 would add a stable concrete deck with a steel piled foundation, 10 metres in width. This would strengthen the structure so that there would be no restriction on how it is used.

Option 4 is a combination of Options 1 and 2, which would include park space with a paved pedestrian walkway, and light vehicle use on the west area.

As for the campground, Hustwick's report contemplates a reconfiguration of the boardwalk to provide more of a buffer between campers and the other beach and waterfront users. Furthermore, he added, the Canadian Coast Guard is in the process of redesigning its beachfront facility to align with the Waterfront Plan.

It's an area of keen importance to the community, Mayor John Henderson said.

“It's important to get this right and not unduly delay the process, because we all know how much the east pier and the campground and the Coast Guard mean to Cobourg.”

Councillor Aaron Burchat requested a recorded vote on the motion as amended by Chorley. He joined Councillors Nicole Beatty and Brian Darling in opposing it, but the remainder of the council carried it in a four-to-three vote.

Possible breach of Closed Session info will be debated

By Cecilia Nasmith

A possible breach of confidence is the subject of a notice of motion brought to Cobourg council this week by Mayor John Henderson.

Deputy Mayor Suzanne Seguin said she would not be comfortable making the motion to refer it to an upcoming meeting, but Councillor Brian Darling agreed to do so.

Henderson said he is unable to share any details at this time, but the notice of motion did state that Cobourg's mayor, council and chief administrative officer Stephen Peacock “have reason to believe that confidential Closed Session information, directions to staff and in-camera discussions are being shared outside of Closed Session.”

Such an action would breach the town's Council Code of Conduct as well as Procedural Bylaw 009-2019 for council members and administration, not to mention negatively affecting the integrity of the democratic process and potentially putting members of council and staff at risk.

“This type of activity could have the potential to affect any council member's decision on relevant matters,” the notice of motion said, calling for a thorough investigation on the June 3, 2019, Closed Session by the town's Integrity Commissioner “to determine the source or sources of the breach of trust and the disclosed Closed Session information.”

The agenda for council's June 3 committee-of-the-whole meeting had one item of in-camera business. Meeting in Closed Session in accordance with Section 239 of the Municipal Act 2001, they were to discuss personal matters about an identifiable individual (including municipal or local-board employees) in relation to a personnel contract matter.

Under the terms of the notice of motion, the findings, as well as recommendations for any penalties warranted, will be shared with council as well as the public.

Darling's motion referred the matter to the July 22 committee-of-the-whole meeting. However, Councillor Nicole Beatty asked to have the motion amended to bring the matter to the Aug. 12 meeting, as she will be away July 22 in the Bahamas to volunteer on a United Nations project on food security and waste management.

“My amendment is to refer to the Aug. 12 meeting – selfishly, that's just so I can be in attendance and participate in the conversation,” Beatty said.

Her amended motion was passed.