Another Amendment to Strategic Plan?

Cobourg’s Strategic Plan has had an unusual amount of input from the public and has had significant changes after it was supposedly complete.  At the Committee of the Whole Council meeting on April 23, a number of changes were made, notably to kill the idea that there might be boat slips added into the West Harbour.  This idea is of course part of the Waterfront master plan which has a number of other ideas for the Waterfront.  At Monday’s regular Council meeting (April 29), when the strategic plan (with amendments) came up for final approval, Councillor Brian Darling moved an amendment wanting to loosen the restriction on use of the West Harbour.  There was a good discussion before there was a vote on the proposed amendment.

Contentious wording

Brian Darling
Brian Darling – Adam and Nicole in background

The Strategic Plan – as amended – Action 7 under Places reads (see Amendment #11 below):

No expansion of boat-slips at the Cobourg Marina will be considered during this term of Council and the environment of the West Harbour will be safeguarded and protected.

Brian’s amendment would add the words

“…as much as possible while also allowing for a shared use of the West Harbour for recreational purposes.”

Brian’s statement (summarized):

“The open-ended statement does not allow us to look at the Waterfront Master Plan and all its recommendations – e.g. an accessible dock. … I’m all for protecting the environment but we need to find a balance….  We need to be fair to everyone.  If the public feels that we should have an area for public use, we should allow the public to decide on that”.

Statement by Councillor Emily Chorley (summarized):

“The way it was originally worded does not preclude an accessibility dock from going into that area… “The phrase as much as possible included in the amendment would undermine the current wording … it becomes a matter of interpretation… I would call it a weasel phrase.”

Statement by Adam Bureau (summarized):

“…we are preserving the west Harbour for Recreational use …  I agree with Councillor Chorley”.

The vote was taken with Councillors Nicole Beatty and Aaron Burchat supporting Brian’s amendment but the amendment was defeated.

The Strategic plan was then finally approved with amendments but without Brian Darling’s additional amendment.  The final Strategic Plan is not yet online but the draft is available on the Town’s Web site here. Also, here are the amendments approved at the C.O.W.

  1. Councillor Darling – Pillar – Places pg 3. Remove Strategic Action #3 ‘Review the expansion of boat slips into the west harbour recommendation contained in the waterfront master plan.’
  2. Councillor Beatty – Pillar/Objective – Prosperity pg 2. be amended to read ‘The Town plans for, markets and develop assets for economic resiliency and financial security.’
  3. Councillor Beatty – Pillar – People pg.3 Strategic Action #3 be amended to read ‘Encourage healthy lifestyles across all age groups by promoting and raising awareness about public health and active transportation.’
  4. Councillor Beatty – Pillar – Places pg.3 Desired Outcome be amended to add the following ‘A community that prioritizes biking, walking and public transportation as a means to mitigate the effects of climate change.’
  5. Councillor Beatty – Pillar – Programs pg. 4 Strategic Action #4 be amended to read ‘Explore the feasibility of enhanced sidewalk snow clearing, including the clearing of arterial bike lanes and multi-use paths.’
  6. Councillor Beatty – Pillar – Programs pg. 4 Desired Outcome be amended to add the following ‘Public Trust and Confidence in the Town’s processes and procedures will be enhanced.’
  7. Councillor Beatty – Pillar – Partnerships pg. 4 Strategic Action #4 be amended to add the following ‘Work with transit authorities in the area to integrate transit services, including accessible and active transit services.’
  8. Councillor Beatty – Pillar – Partnerships pg 4 Strategic Action Add #5 ‘Facilitate meaningful collaboration with Cobourg Citizens’.
  9. Councillor Chorley – Pillar – People pg 3 Strategic Action Add #5 ‘Invest in programs, services, and infrastructure to make Cobourg more Accessible’ and the Desired Outcome be amended to add the following ‘A barrier-free Cobourg that is accessible to citizens of all abilities, including those with disabilities.’
  10. Councillor Chorley – Pillar – Places pg 3 Strategic Action add #6 ‘Repair and rejuvenate the East Pier’
  11. Councillor Chorley – Pillar – Places pg 3. Strategic Action add #7 ‘That no expansion of boat slips at the Cobourg Marina, west of the Centre Pier, be considered during this term of Council and that the natural environment of the West Harbour be safeguarded and protected.’

These were briefly mentioned in the Post on 23 April – see link below where I said “too numerous to list. In reality, my note taking could not keep up!”


Council Responds to input on Strategic Plan – 23 April 2019

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Deborah OConnor
5 years ago

What a shame Councillor Darling wasn’t honest with voters before the last election. I feel like he is collecting his newly increased paycheque under somewhat shady pretenses, to put it mildly. He had to know voters would never support that amendment, surely…

manfred s
Reply to  Deborah OConnor
5 years ago

as we know, Deb, there are positions on all sides of the harbor debate and they all have a right to be heard at council. While there has been much made of a majority that demands no expansion, the opposing views must have their voices included in the debate, that’s democracy too. It takes a certain amount of courage to bring that to the table, as Councillor Darling has done. At the end of the day a vote by Council will determine what happens and that vote will have more integrity because all voices were heard.

Walter Luedtke
Reply to  Deborah OConnor
5 years ago

This is unfair to Councillor Darling.
Here is his election statement on the West Harbour:
“I feel this question is a red herring for the next Council. The Waterfront Master Plan recommendations suggest this topic be dealt with in year seven of the plan. The current condition and possible repairs to the east pier, some dock replacement and even centre pier repairs may push this topic further into the future. It may not even be dealt with in the next two terms of Council. People tend to be polarized on this issue. Therefore I would ask for a referendum on the next election ballot in 2022 so all citizens of Cobourg will make the decision.”
Seems to be a prudent stand, in contrast to other Councillors who wish to tie down a decision on the matter ‘for all eternity’.
And there is nothing shady or weasly about it.

Illo Neri
5 years ago

I echo Councillor Chorley’s view on the proposed amendment. It was lawyer and political speak to allow a multitude of interpretations to be valid.

One aspect of Cobourg’s Council that I admire is the straightforward language being used, and that bureaucratic language is avoided. Very refreshing when we look at the lack of clear language coming from the federal level of government, and even more refreshing that our council is listening to all of us, as opposed to the Provincial Government (of Toronto :(. )