CIP Public Meeting

Launched at a public meeting on December 5, 2019, the Affordable and Rental Housing Community Improvement Plan provides a legal basis for the Town to subsidize housing.  On Monday September 28, another Public meeting (chaired by Nicole Beatty) explained to Council and the public what was being proposed and asked for public feedback.  The “in-person” audience was about a dozen but more would have watched proceedings via You-Tube streaming. Public meetings allow for citizens to support or oppose the idea but in this case, I counted seven presenters, all in favour.  Nobody objected although as Keith Oliver pointed out, this is only a framework or pathway.  Council has yet to approve it and allocate budget.  Although subsidized housing is a County responsibility, the county expressed support of the idea in a letter to Council although their letter has not yet been made public.

Nicole Beatty - file photo
Nicole Beatty – file photo

During the summer (and still continuing), draft proposals were online at Engage Cobourg and public input was requested.   But there is a statutory requirement for a public meeting and that’s what the Monday meeting was.

The meeting started with a presentation by the consultants – Dana Anderson and Kelly Martel, MHBC Planning – see links below for a copy of their presentation (the same as what’s online at Engage Cobourg).

Primary Focus

Because of input from the public, the primary focus of support will be for “Purpose Built rental housing” and “second units” – that’s apartments added to existing houses.  Here are the programs proposed for those.

Priority Areas Programs
Purpose Built Rental Housing – Rental Housing Planning and Building Fee Waiver Program
– Rental Housing Development Charge Grant Program
– Rental Housing Property Tax Grant Program
– Rental Housing Cash-in-Lieu of Parking Reduction Program
Second Units – Second Unit Planning and Building Fee Reduction Program
– Second Unit Renovation and Construction Grant Program

See the full presentation (link below) for more on lower priority areas.

Councillor Questions (highlights)

Councillor Emily Chorley asked “how much budget is required to meet the goal of 38 affordable units per year?”  Director Glenn McGlashon replied that the 2020 budget was $125K and about $200K – $250K per year would be required.

Deputy Mayor Suzanne Séguin asked “where would be the best place to put funds?” The response was that second units would provide a “quick fix” but direct funding of rental  units would be good too.

Suzanne also asked if taxes would increase on properties improved for second units.  Ian Davey said that they would but the tax classification would remain residential (and not multi-units) so it would only be in proportion to the increased MPAC valuation.  This takes account of project valuation as indicated on the building permit.

Councillor Beatty asked “How do we know that the applicant is using the unit for affordable Housing and not as an Airbnb unit?”  The program would require an agreement with the town – e.g. for 10 years – and the program does include extensive monitoring.  If the agreement is broken, the support money would have to be returned.

Public Input

The County of Northumberland wrote a supportive letter that will be included in the public record of the meeting once it’s published.

Adam White made a presentation on Zoom but there was no sound on the streamed version so I have no report on this. A transcript will be included in the public record of the meeting once it’s published.

Meaghan Macdonald, Executive Director of Habitat for Humanity Northumberland and co-chair of Northumberland Affordable Housing Committee, was strongly supportive.  She commented that the program was not just for affordable housing but also attainable and rental housing,  She said there was a need across the housing continuum.  Speaking for Habitat, she said that “we are really excited to see some creative housing solutions … including secondary suite development..”

Gigi Ludorf-Weaver was pleased with the program – particularly that it included sustainability as a goal even though that’s quite different to affordability.  She praised the Town for its “culture of sustainability”.

Ben Burd made a number of points and made a suggestion.  He asked “when will the grants pay for themselves?” and commented that relying on the private sector was risky.  He asked “what happens when the building is sold?  Is there a covenant on the deed?”

Noting that the CIP allows the town to provide surplus land (e.g. at Northam Park or Tannery land) and that Northam Park provides a healthy dividend, he suggested that the Town take on building affordable housing itself.  He said that it has the land and the money “all it needs is the political will”.  Ben commented that he doesn’t think the County is working hard at it or being efficient.  However, he suggested that once the Town builds affordable units, they could be handed over to the County to administer.

Lew (I couldn’t catch his last name) said that he had just heard about the program but it would be great helping him with his plans to add a second unit to his house.

Keith Oliver said that the CIP is important and good but is only a framework or pathway.  He asked “What’s next?”.  He pointed out significant housing problems at a National level with a large number of questions.  He suggested that Cobourg Council “take up a leadership role, and along with others, establish a Roundtable on Affordable Housing for All”.  If Council doesn’t do this, who will?

No-one spoke in opposition.

Next Steps

The final version of the CIP will be presented at a Council Committee of the Whole meeting (no date yet), then at a Regular meeting for final approval.  During the 2021 budget approval process, Council will approve (or not) funds for the program and, if funds are approved, individual projects would be approved during 2021.  There was no comment from any Councilor on Ben’s or Keith’s suggestions.


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3 years ago

Is there, or has there been, an attempt to seek reliable benchmarks for this type of expansion in the responsibilities of a municipality our size? We are moving into the jurisdiction of the county; we are moving away from the original concept of CIP i.e. funding small(ish) improvements to the downtown; we are moving toward scope changes from small(ish) downtown improvements to affordable housing to attainable and rental housing; we are moving from approx 50K$ budget to 250K$+. All of these adjustments require thoughtful analysis and political will; even the County appears to be cheering us on – why?

Reply to  Gerinator
3 years ago

It’s called creeping socialism…taxes are high enough in Cobourg without taking on additional responsibilities of the county and the province.

Reply to  cornbread
3 years ago

Actually Taxes are Very high in Cobourg
Dare to Compare you will be surprised
My waterfront Home in Haldimand in yr. 2000 was sold at $600 K Taxes $3800.-
Taxes today $5400.- with full services & 170ft of private usable water front
Purchase in Cobourg 2000 Water view $550 K taxes then $4500 . now $9800.-
no garbage or snow removal Common element so plus fees for that .
and its noisy

Reply to  Sandpiper
3 years ago

Sandpiper would you list your Cobourg water view property today proportionately higher, if you were selling? I thought property taxes were tied to MPAC assessed property value?

Reply to  MiriamM
3 years ago

Actually No
The private water front Quiet setting has increased at a much higher rate than the intown property we became friends with the people that bought our water front property who are from Cobourg originally and in 10 yrs it has surpassed the values of our town property by at least 40 % conservatively a similar home right next door just sold in May at $2.1 Mil where 3 of my neighbours in town have sold this yr all around the $1.1 Mil and under all by different local realtors this seems to be the way

Reply to  MiriamM
3 years ago

They are based on Property Value but…..Not on the ability to pay.

Reply to  Sandpiper
3 years ago

In Year 2000 The Esplanade units were sold at $$500K. Now sell for $1,000,000.
Property Taxes rise with House Prices unless the Mill rate goes down. Mill rates reduce with decreases or stabilization of Town expenditures. In 2000 no Cobourg Community Centre existed and now costs apparently over $1,300,000 annually. There is part of your problem.

3 years ago

I have attended several of these meetings in the past and believe that council has lost its way
with this program . There is No defined category or identified needs of the various stages of life & age when it comes to the BUZZ word Affordable Housing that’s just a campaigning platform its best to have an idea of the market requirements at the out set . Other wise its an unpleasant housing situation . I think Ben Burd hit the nail on the head
A single senior has completely different needs to a single mom with children , or a young family with a couple of children looking for their 1 st home . Its nice to think a mix of life styles might work but thats seldom the case Seniors need accessibility issues addressed , transportation , maintenance free ,safe dignified quiet surroundings ,—– Where young families need a place for children to run , play, school, 2 or 3 bed rms , indestructible housing less traffic safe surroundings. A ShotGun approach seldon works and so far Nothing has been accomplished in a Affordable fashion just talk

3 years ago

I am happy to see that folks are starting to understand
local housing is a local issue. I appreciate Mr. Burds’
comments, except his comments about “handed over to County to administer”. Let’s keep it local thanks.
Would love to see town owned lands like Tannery used
for Purpose Built Rental Housing.

Reply to  Eastender
3 years ago

Yes average to wealthy working Commuter development walking distance to the train
thats what Metro Links is insisting on in the Clairington region and they control and over ride Planning and the OP with in 1000 Mtrs of the new Go stations

Deborah OConnor
3 years ago

How about a few words on the topic Mr. Draper wrote about; affordable housing? I was lucky enough to live for 8 years in one of the duplex buildings on Elgin Street East in Cobourg, starting when my kids were 14 and 12. What a happy outcome for them, saved them from spending their teenage years living over a bank downtown.

Our subsidized, rent geared to income housing worked well, just as intended by the Province when they built these all over Ontario. With locally appointed board members managing the projects, I was our board’s first tenant member. As my kids grew up and I began working in earnest, my rent quadrupled, again just as intended. My son started paying rent too when he finished school and started working. Some of my former neighbours have become friends; all of us moved on many years ago.

Now I understand the 18 units will become 40 and private backyards will be lost. I just hope the 4′ tall lilac tree my son transplanted into the yard, now towering 25′ high, won’t be lost. Heaven knows we need more affordable housing, lots more.

Keith Oliver
Reply to  Deborah OConnor
3 years ago

Your children were lucky to have a mother like you and you were lucky to have gotten off the waiting list and into a decent dwelling located in a decent neighbourhood, easy access to public transit etc, not to mention sufficient government support when you needed it.
But what about the others, those who are waiting and waiting and waiting.
It pains me to imagine what it must be like to raise a family without suitable, dependable and affordable housing. It’s difficult enough to deal with an ever changing job market, the difficulties that often arise in a marriage, the challenge of ensuring that your kids remain level headed, be capable of independent thinking and take advantage of every opportunity to create a life that is best for themselves.
The need to ensure a sufficient supply of housing that is suitable and affordable to all (which now includes many in the middle income group) has become a moral issue. Food and Housing is a Human Right according to Chapter 25 of the 1947 United Nations Charter (written by a Canadian working with Elenore Roosevelt).
In our capitalist free-enterprize economy when there is demand there’s almost always an increase in supply. Why is this not happening? Government subsidies, as insufficient as they are, are too expensive, divert funds needed elsewhere and simply cannot last. If anything they exacerbate the problem. The problem is supply, supply, supply!
Without doubt the housing market with its ever increasing prices is broken!
Who will fix it and what will it take?

Reply to  Deborah OConnor
3 years ago

Deb you are correct in knowing that 18 units will become 40 units. BUT the kicker is that the 40 will be mixed – market rental and Rent Geared to Income RGI. If the ratio of market rental to RGI (people who came off the wait list) is 50:50 then we will have only gained 4 extra RGI units, in four years time. A criminal shame when the there are over a thousand on that wait list. The County will have spent millions on demolishing 18 units that probably have another fifty years of life to build 40 units at a cost of many more millions.

This project should be severely looked at!

Reply to  ben
3 years ago

Just a reply to myself, I couldn’t edit the original post above. Documents on the County website state that 18 units of perfectly good housing will be demolished to build a neighbourhood of forty units. 28 of the 40 new units will be subsidised. So the question is – how much will we spend on this neighbourhood project (Park) as opposed to just building an additional 10 subsidised units and 12 market rental that the private sector could have built.?

Reply to  ben
3 years ago

Far too sensible a proposal to ever be given serious consideration. My humble opinion.

3 years ago

Unrelated topic, but BIG news nonetheless:
Dean Hustwick is leaving Cobourg for CAO job in Brock.

Reply to  John Draper
3 years ago

We’re all ears, I mean eyes, John.

Reply to  Frenchy
3 years ago

I guess that saves the Deputy Mayor from hosting a public hanging!

Last edited 3 years ago by ben