Customer Service Gets New Emphasis

One of the goals in Cobourg Council’s current Strategic Plan is “Service Excellence” and it’s planned to implement this by building on the Customer Service Strategy as outlined in the report by consultant CSPN in May of 2023. Part of this includes a “Service Desk” in the lobby of Victoria Hall. The idea being that questions from the public in person, by phone or email would all be first directed to a Customer Service Representative. But there’s more to the Strategy than that – Staff have reviewed the consultant’s report and at their next regular meeting, Council will be asked to approve a Customer Service and Implementation Plan. Details are below but one major item is the implementation of KPIs… Read complete articleCustomer Service Gets New Emphasis

Stormwater Rate Review

One of the items to be considered at the very busy Council meeting on June 26 is a review of Stormwater fees.  There are several issues in contention: 1) it’s a tax not a fee; 2) it’s not appropriate for large rural properties (e.g. farm land and cemeteries) that don’t use any of the Town’s Infrastructure; 3) it’s excessive for residences on acreages (such as is common in the west end of Cobourg); 4) properties on town owned land like Northam Industrial park are exempt and 5) there is no incentive to mitigate run-off.  When asked to review the issue, Director Laurie Wills elected to hire the original consultant to do the work.  Their report is on the agenda at… Read complete articleStormwater Rate Review

Cobourg Staff to get salary Increase

It’s no secret that the Town is having a problem hiring staff – particularly in the Planning department.  Last I looked, as well as the Director position being vacant, there were 7 vacancies in planning plus 2 other vacancies.  One of the reasons given for the problem (and it is a problem) is that salaries are too low.   So late last year, the Town hired a consultant to review all 40 “non-union” salaries and they delivered their findings at a special Council meeting on June 19.  Like many employers, the Town uses a grade structure with levels inside grades – see below.  The current grades attempt to set salaries at the 50th percentile of the amounts paid by comparable Towns… Read complete articleCobourg Staff to get salary Increase

Town and County have 310 Division agreement ready for approval

An announcement by the County on Tuesday, June 18, provides details of a proposed agreement between the Town and the County on how the new Transition House at 310 Division should be managed.  There are some significant changes (outlined below) but the Town does not appear to be backing down on the requirements set out in their by-law on the issue.  Also announced was an update on renovations at the facility. However, some will be disappointed that Transition House WILL be relocating to 310 Division and that there is no explicit recognition of community concerns that although there is general sympathy for the homeless, the potential residents of Transition House include drug addicts and others who do not get community… Read complete articleTown and County have 310 Division agreement ready for approval

Statement by Warden Brian Ostrander about recent online commentary

In the interest of reporting all sides of a news story, I am reporting on a statement issued by the Warden of Northumberland County about the encampment. It’s good to get an update from the County – the following text is provided unedited from Warden Ostrander’s statement issued at 1:18 pm on June 14. Northumberland continues to face the significant challenge of rising homelessness. Today, like communities across the province, we are witnessing the convergence of multiple crises – an opioid addiction crisis, a housing affordability crisis, and the residual effects of a global pandemic, including a dramatic rise in the overall cost of living. These issues have been building for years, and people have been hard hit. This reality… Read complete articleStatement by Warden Brian Ostrander about recent online commentary

Update from Holdco – 2024

On June 13, a special Council meeting was called to hear the annual report by Holdco.  This is the organization that manages Cobourg’s Electricity and Water. I find it complicated but let me try to explain:  Holdco has two subsidiaries: Lakefront Utilities Inc. (LUI) which manages electricity and Lakefront Utility Services Inc. (LUSI) which manages water and some fibre Optics used for the Town’s Internet.  LUI owns the electric infrastructure but LUSI hires and manages all employees so the public deals with LUSI. So when Holdco reported on their year, there were actually four reports (more below). HOLDCO is owned by the Town so officially reports to Council but like the Police, they have a board with a Town representative: Mayor Lucas Cleveland…. Read complete articleUpdate from Holdco – 2024

County Report on Homelessness

The annual “Housing and Homelessness report” was presented today (June 5) at the Social Services Committee meeting. The report provides details on the number of people looking for affordable housing plus what the County is doing about that.  The report states that “the waitlist for social housing continues to be 10 years in some communities and has grown more than 300% in the last 10 years, with over 1,100 households on the waitlist. In 2023, the average vacancy rate in Northumberland was 1.3%. This vacancy rate is close to the 2023 provincial average of 1.7%.”  The report lists the new housing being built and lists buying 310 Division as an accomplishment but does not mention the encampment.  It’s as if… Read complete articleCounty Report on Homelessness

New Schedule for Zoning By-Law Review

For more than 10 years, the Town has been working on a review of the Zoning by-law 85-2003. This was originally passed in 2003 and would be expected to be reviewed once the 2010 Official plan was approved – this was late and finally happened in 2017. The review is being done by consultant Meridian Planning but they need the Town’s planning department and Council to review and agree to changes. According to a presentation by Meridian President Nick McDonald at last night’s Council meeting, there have been nine versions created so far.  Recently, delays have been caused by staff problems in the planning department (Rob Franklin away because of illness and Director Anne Taylor-Scott left the job suddenly) but… Read complete articleNew Schedule for Zoning By-Law Review