Sustainability Committee Chair wants East Village Improvements

When the expansion of East Village was discussed in Council on 24 June, it was just about the need for a minor change to the Official Plan and a minor re-zoning change.  Despite this, Councillor Emily Chorley wanted advisory committees to be consulted about sustainability and accessibility despite the comment by Director Glenn McGlashon that there are few specifics so this would be premature.  As a result, the Sustainability and Climate Change Advisory Committee is holding a special meeting on Wednesday July 17, 2019 at 12:30 pm in the Committee Room, Victoria Hall, to consider a motion requiring very significant sustainability “improvements” to Stalwood’s plans.  Since the development is not even at site plan stage, there are no building plans and if Council ends up adopting the requirements, the development may stop in its tracks and not happen.

The proposed motion by the chair of the committee is quite long, 2 ½ pages (see the link below) but here is a summary. [Note that the name of the chair was not given – an earlier version of this post incorrectly identified the chair].

Motion Summary

  • Preamble that the world is in a state of climate crisis and that buildings are major contributors to CO2 emissions
  • It’s more economical to incorporate sustainable features at the sub-division development stage than install through retrofit later; and that energy use reduction should also save the home dweller on operating costs;
  • Achieve ‘passive house low-energy designation’ (not passive house certification) for all buildings;
  • All buildings be made ‘photovoltaic solar ready’ for solar installation in the future. That is, buildings should be oriented and laid out to optimize installation of solar panels with structural strength to support panels and their electrical systems ready to accept solar.
  • Wherever possible build ‘green streets’ – a stormwater management approach that incorporates vegetation.
  • Maximize the number of new trees on the site while ensuring no shading of future solar.
  • Design the park including the location of trees to enable a community garden … to facilitate greater reliance on local food rather than food requiring energy to produce and transport.
  • Recognizing the difficulty of enforcing, the Town should research “how the City of Guelph is able to enforce a zero energy subdivision development”.
  • Should there be no means to encourage the applicant to make the suggested improvements, Cobourg Council (should) not approve the application.
  • Cobourg Council (should) be prepared for this matter to be taken to the Ontario Municipal Board (sic – now disbanded and replaced with Local Planning Appeal Tribunal), with the Town of Cobourg defending their stance.
  • Cobourg Council (should) ask Staff to prepare a by-law to amend the Official Plan to address the need for new developments to be sustainable.

The agenda for the committee meeting includes a response from A&J Energy Consultants on behalf of Stalwood.  They say that Stalwood’s planned homes have a 50% better energy performance than is required by the Ontario Building code and that they are in the top 5% of tested homes.  They also say that “A Net Zero house may add approximately $90,000 to $100,000 to the cost of a single unit which, given the current state of the building industry, may be an unsustainable model.”

Despite this, since all members of the Sustainability and Climate Change Advisory Committee are committed to sustainability, the motion is likely to be passed by the committee – although perhaps with changes – and will then be presented to Council at either the July 22 meeting or the August 12 meeting.

The Accessibility Advisory committee meets in the Victoria Hall Conference room at 10:00 am on the same day (July 17) and has this development on the agenda but without any motion proposed in advance.

Members of all advisory Committees are listed here.


Update – Committee of the Whole meeting – 22 July 2019

At the Council meeting where the above was considered, a modified version of the motion was presented – Download it from the Town’s Portal here.  That is, the Sustainability and Climate Change Advisory Committee modified the motion offered by their chair.

Significant Modifications

  • A paragraph was added about the Federation of Canadian Municipalities requiring a 30% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions below 2005 levels by 2030.
  • The reference to the OMB was removed
  • The reference to Guelph was removed
  • The request to not approving the development was removed
  • The “ask” was that “Staff recommend the tasks not only to the East Village Phase 5 Development but for all Developers in Cobourg.”

The motion passed without debate – perhaps because it was only a recommendation and Staff can decide what to do with it.



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4 years ago

Well, my two cents minus HST follows….merely an opinion, so don’t cast stones!

I am fortunate enough to be building a home for my family. This has taken 10 years of saving like mad, while at the same time my wife and I have been blessed with two children. At the end of all of this, we still need significant help from our parents (thank god they are able to help) and we will in essence be house poor for an average dwelling. The house is neither zero emission nor is it an energy guzzler….it meets code, because that is what we can afford.

So from that perspective, I am against anything that makes an already unaffordable housing market even more so….but…and there is always a but isn’t there….

I also support efforts and policies which look after our climate. In this vein I applaud the special committee and I am not against objectives which may be out of touch and ideological…..while we may never meet them, any progress towards becoming more environmentally friendly can only help us and our future generations.

With that in mind, I don’t look at it as it can be one or the other, but rather a continuum. And we do our best to work towards the right, but measured by affordability which may keep us near the middle…..

Anyway, long 2 cents. Happy Saturday all.


Miriam Mutton
Reply to  Illo
4 years ago

Good word … progress. Advancements can lead to affordability, in an optimist view. Today, consider the optimistic view. Today, the 50th anniversary of humans arriving on the moon. Consider the team work, trials & failures and technology that helped get them there and back. And, how that compares to the information and capability many of us carry around in our mobile devices today. For progress it really starts at home, and all people have a fundamental human right to have a safe place to call home. How to get there … closed loop style processes to minimize or eliminate waste, energy and servicing efficiencies, reuse and recycling, among other things. Seeing Earth from the Moon, for most of us this planet really is our only home.

Walter Luedtke
4 years ago

comment image
Things are happening out there, folks!
As Canada ramps up regulations on greenhouse gas emissions, the challenges to the construction industry will grow.
So far, the construction industry has been hanging back in facing sustainability issues.
Yet tangible, measurable opportunities await builders who are willing to make sustainability a core tenet of their business. Demand is exploding for environmentally friendly construction work, both in terms of design and implementation.
While the public is driving demand for social responsibility, the corporate world is responding. More and more organizations are requiring office buildings to be cleaner, greener, and more efficient, knowing such actions will lower costs, increase employee satisfaction, and bring positive recognition.
A new generation of construction professionals knows more than anyone what is possible for the industry.
While they want to work for companies with clean environmental health and safety records, they also want to work for companies utilizing the latest green technology on their constructions sites and projects.
Source: Price Waterhouse CooperCanada

Canuck Patriot
4 years ago

Unfortunately, this is an example of what happens when Council creates an Advisory Committee that is comprised of special interests with an agenda. The Committee’s motion certainly does not reflect the view of the average Canadian. It is unrealistic and represents solely the “green dream” of its membership. AOC south of the border would be proud.

People support clean air and water. However, eco-extremism ignores common sense and the financial challenges that so many people, particularly our youth, face in today’s workforce and overpriced housing market.

If this is what Cobourg can expect from the Committee on an ongoing basis, it would be best to disband it.

manfred s
Reply to  Canuck Patriot
4 years ago

Canuck Patriot, maybe you’re missing the whole point of having advisory committees. What better way to get ‘specialized’ or ‘uncommonly focused’ perspectives into the realm of Council’s information pool for consideration than such ‘special interest’ committees? It doesn’t mean that Council has to act on such specialized advice, just that such opinions do exist within the public body as a whole, the same public that Council is responsible to in its decisions. From what you seem to be saying, all advisory committees should present only ‘main stream thinking’, and what’s the point in that when Council, by virtue of being elected by majority popular vote, is already populated with main stream thinkers? I suggest that such ‘special interest’ committees are doing exactly what they are expected, by Council, to do.

4 years ago

There appears to be some confusion regarding the Chair of the Sustainability committee. According to the minutes of their June 5, 2019 meeting Terry Stopps is Chair and Gigi Ludorf-Weaver is Vice-Chair.

John Draper
Reply to  Dubious
4 years ago

I originally identified Terry as the Chair but in a letter dated June 6, Terry resigned from the committee – no reason given. The name of the new chair has not been made public.

4 years ago

Cobourg’s residents and Councillors say that they are concerned about affordable housing. Which recommendation in this report reduces the cost of housing in East Village?

Miriam Mutton
Reply to  Dubious
4 years ago

Excellent point Dubious. Some years ago a builder told me that if the cost to operate a home was reduced, more people could afford to own. He had a valid observation even though this was before the total cost to buy rose so dramatically to today’s prices. Bringing together and addressing many factors including convenient location/connection to daily amenities, accessibility, ease and efficiency of operating, good building and neighbourhood design, cost of construction and servicing including minimizing waste (including ease of repair and durability of materials), supplemental district energy vs. creating all energy on individual lots (imagine how many urban canopy trees important to reduce heat island effect of urban areas could be lost to claims of right to sunshine for solar panels … but then, individual nuclear energy power plants are being developed too), cost to insure, among other things. And why leave out intensification projects within existing built boundaries.

4 years ago

I recently moved here from the west and one of the glaring differences between the two regions is the astounding level of energy illiteracy here.

Council should put this report in the bin where it belongs. To be recycled of course!

Reply to  Jeffy
4 years ago

Do you have some examples?

4 years ago

Much of the stuff would be too costly to pass on to would be purchasers but much of it has merit also. Trees, gardens, vegetation, and controlling runoff are quite easily accomplished and not that costly. Controlling runoff benefits the town as less water is going through the storm drains.

One thing that I would love to see, but will never happen, is a ban on front grass lawns. Make developers plant native vegetation instead of a monoculture of grass. No need to get the mower every week, benefits wildlife and pollinators, cleans and controls runoff. Grass does these things to a certain extent but very poorly. In some cases, with people who fertilizer, water and have no weeds, their lawns are a detriment to everything and everyone around them.

Reply to  Durka
4 years ago

Being a graduate of U of G in Horticulture, I would say you need to study up on the benefits of turfgrass! You might be surprised by what you learn! Turfgrass has a part to play just like other plants!

Reply to  Bozy
4 years ago

It does have benefits, as I mentioned, but far less than native plants, especially when it is weeded. Yards of just grass are worse than a mixture of things, period. You should know that better than anyone.

Old Sailor
4 years ago

In today’s world there are so many special interest groups, with no money in the game so to speak, that want their way or else. Council should listen to their presentations but make their decisions based on what is best for the community as a hole. No matter what the subject. If a council member is a part of that special interest group they should recuse themselves from the discussion and the vote on that item.

Do we really want all of the “Stalwood” builders in Northumberland to move their projects to communities managed for the benefit of all the stakeholders?

Miriam Mutton
4 years ago

On June 24 Council sent this matter, East Village Phase 5, back to the SACCAC but did not do the same with another matter on the same meeting agenda which was also on the topic of sustainability and adaptation to climate change. Council invited a presentation from United Shoreline to present their views and opinions on Plan 2014. Perplexing … why Council did not also send Plan 2014 including related presentations and citizen concerns to the SACCAC for review and recommendations.

Reply to  Miriam Mutton
4 years ago

Really glad we have a sustainability cmtee discussing best sustainable urban development for us.
Friend from Vancouver talked about left hand not knowing what right hand doing. She said cyclists won cycling path and 300 year old trees were felled to make this happen in North Van.
I worry about this for east village and solar panels. One needs to look at value of canopy of trees and best mix with solar panels, in beginning with trees.

4 years ago

This motion summary leaves me breathless, another fine example of what happens when common sense and reality takes a leave of absence, maybe everyone on this committee should lead by example update their property ( at their own expense ) test it for the next 10 years then report back. , oh wait the world is going to end in 12 years , I know I’m rambling but like I stated at the beginning I’m breathless

Reply to  Lyle
4 years ago

I agree with Lyle , has our Council got the gutes to turn it down or let the tail wag the dog.

Reply to  Merle
4 years ago

What kind of mentality is this? Developers must be held accountable. Lord only knows what they would build if there weren’t buildings codes, by-laws, etc.

If there are feasible changes that can be made than they should be. As they stated it is much easier to do these things at the design stage than after.