End of Year Staff Reports – Part 3

At the year’s final Committee of the Whole (CoW) meeting next Monday (26 Sept), Council will be asked to approve an usually large number of items.  Previously posted were highlights plus a report on the Harbour repairs but there are more items.  Staff reported on progress with three reports: The Service Delivery Report; the 2022 Organizational Review and the Strategic Plan.  In addition there are four policy reviews and a report on the Town’s grant applications.  The Agenda also includes a number of other items that need to be made public plus the usual Heritage Permits and other less significant, but still important, matters. (Watch for a report on these in Part 4 – yes, there are a lot of items on this Agenda!) 

But let me summarize the first four Agenda items:

1. AMPS Presentation. Brent Larmer describes the new system to manage By-Law penalties.  It will improve customer Service, efficiency and effectiveness.  It basically replaces the Court system although a court hearing is still a last resort.

2. Service Delivery Report – twelve progress reports (documents) by the CAO and all the directors.  Addresses the question: What is being done to implement the KPMG Services Delivery Report?

Items Completed

  • Review investment in Recreation, Culture & Tourism (see Strategic Review below, item 4.)
  • Redirect funding for business attraction from County to Town
  • Joint Animal Control Board
  • Increase in annual parking revenue by a $1M estimate
  • Increase non-taxation revenue (Stormwater Management)
  • Reconsider provision of transit services (on demand Transit implemented)

Items still in progress:

  • Increase in Marina User Fees
  • Implement Changes to Financial Processes
  • User Fee Study (Consultant hired)
  • Centralized Procurement Function
  • EDRMS – Software system to digitize all the Town’s documents.

See the Agenda (link below) for detailed reports from each Director.

3. Organizational Review Update

Status of Changes recommended by KPMG’s report and approved by Council

  • Create Director position for Legislative Services Jan 1, 2022 – Brent Larmer was promoted.
  • Building Inspector/Plans Examiner – Hired – May.
  • Manager of Long-Range Planning – Recruitment challenges, in process
  • Grant and Policy Writer – Hired May 2022
  • Manager of By-Law Enforcement – Hired April 25
  • Manager of Infrastructure Planning – Recruitment challenges, in process
  • Manager of the Office of the CAO – Deferred to January 1st 2023 – subject to budget approval
  • Mgr Strategic Initiatives & Customer Service – Recruitment challenges, in process
  • Information Technology Analyst – Recruitment in process
  • Human Resources Analyst – Recruitment challenges, in process
  • Manager of Economic Development – Hired May 16 but left July 7. Recruitment challenges, in process
  • Accessibility/EDI Coordinator – Hired April 11
  • Manager of Procurement – Recruitment in process
  • Program Support Financial Analyst – Deferred to July 1st 2023
  • Infrastructure Planning Analyst  – Deferred to July 1st 2023

Tracey also recommends some Governance changes:

  • More Delegation of Authority (some of that now done with site plan approvals)
  • Discontinue the Council Coordinator role of governance for a committee structure. Staff will bring this forward for consideration for the new term of Council.
  • Review Processes because of Organization changes.

Be sure to read Tracey’s report for her description about and rationale for organization changes that go with the extra staff (section 2 starting page 13).  See also my attempt at an organization chart here.

4. Strategic Plan Progress Report

As reported in April/May 2021, Council reviewed their Strategic Plan and made some changes:

New Top Priorities

  • Housing Strategy
  • Align Asset Management with Budget
  • Enhance Shoreline Management. Steward and safeguard the Natural Environment of the West Beach and Headland
  • Repair and Rejuvenate East Pier and Harbour
  • Improve Corporate Governance
  • Improve Corporate Effectiveness
  • Promote Local Economic Development

Lower Priorities (OK to defer)

  • Consider Arts, Culture & Tourism Division
  • Continue Downtown Vitalization

Reports on progress have been produced and are available to be downloaded via links in Resources below.  One is in memo format by the CAO. The other is a glossy report complete with “messages” and seems intended as a report to the Public..

My count of the actions status:

  • Complete – 38 actions
  • In Progress – 37 actions
  • Not yet Started – 15 Actions

It’s clear that many planned actions for this Council term have not been completed although Covid-19 added unexpected obstacles. Details of all actions with their status are provided in the glossy “Strategic Plan Progress Report” – link below.  

Also available in links below is CAO Tracey Vaughan’s report on progress with more detail and background.


Cobourg News Blog Articles

About items on Agenda of Sept 26 CoW meeting

Earlier article on Strategic Plan

Print Article: 


Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
1 year ago

Housing Strategy as a new top priority? As has been made clear, many times, this is not a Cobourg responsibility. The county is responsible for community housing. With new provincial legislation local municipalities will have much less control over development. Building height, heritage classifications, local by-laws, etc can, and most likely will, be ignored by developers. Johnny P. seems to understand this. Recently I was told how the average house size has grown in the last 60-70 years. After doing a quick internet search it was clear to me the average Canadian home is much larger than the global average. Large houses, with a lot, contribute to urban sprawl. New Amherst, as mentioned in the comments below, is a good example. How many of the owners walk to buy food or do errands? My point is that Cobourg, the tax payers, town staff and council, do not have any real control over housing so why is it a top priority?

1 year ago

Looking at the ‘New Top Priorities’ list I wonder: Did Staff set these priorities (see Henderson comment that “Staff set priorities”? and Are the Priorities listed in priority sequence? Certainly hope that both questions are answered with a resounding No.

1 year ago

Seems to me that the “government of Cobourg” is growing by leaps and bounds. How many more do we need for our small town. We will soon need a new town hall to house the whole crew with comfort and room to think

Reply to  cornbread
1 year ago

Sadly, we will not be a small town for much longer

Wally Keeler
Reply to  Leweez
1 year ago

I grew up in Cobourg in the late 40’s 50’s early 60s and it was a small town then. It is not a small town now. It lost that status a long time ago.

In a small town the baker came to the door on Thursday with a tray of baked goods. In a small town the local dairy left a quart of milk and pint of cream in the chute by the back door. In a small town, multi-generational local families had annual reunions in Victoria Park.

Strathy Road and Northumberland Mall are not neighbourhoods, and William Street looks like any city strip full of fast food joints.

I visited relatives near Burnham Street, where I caught butterflies in the vast meadow west of Burnham, before it was paved over for burb after bloated burb full of bloated homes, and Ewing Ave where the garage doors of each home are like pig snouts, especially the double door garages. That is the face those houses present to the street

Small towns have front porches and everyone could meet or greet as they walked by.

Small town Cobourg has a distinctive character, and that character exists south of the tracks, east of Burnham and west of Cottesmore. It does not exist in the burbs or suburban malls where that character is indistinct from any other burb or mall anywhere. It is a blandscape.

Reply to  Wally Keeler
1 year ago

I tend to agree with that assessment, Wally. Curious about your opinion on the new urbanism style that is the New Amherst development, though.

In that vein, and I know we’re off topic. I’d like to know why the town continues to grow in this awful suburban sprawl/big box manner. No one would make a trip to the suburban areas (say Whitby) of Toronto and say they’d like to replicate that. But it’s exactly how Cobourg is growing.

Wally Keeler
Reply to  Ahewson
1 year ago

Unlike Ewing Ave, where garage doors are the face presented to the street and the front doors recessed, New Amhurst homes present front doors to the street, small porches, large homes, well-tended lawns, and one long street with a developing tree canopy.

Small town Cobourg grew organically over a period of a century and half. New Amherst was designed by committees of experts in suburban design. One can see the orderly application of the design. Nothing haphazard, nothing eccentric, no surprises, not quite cookie cutter copies, but enough variation of a sameness to provide an owner with a sense of individuality from the neighbours.

When people go to visit other communities (cities, towns) they don’t walk the suburbs to get a sense of the character of a community. They walk in the organically developed part of the city/town. New Amherst is disconnected from small town Cobourg. Their centre is the architectural splendor of Northumberland Maul and Strathy Road, warm and welcoming and walkable, not.

Reply to  Ahewson
1 year ago

“New Urbanism” greatest crock ever perpetuated by a developer in Cobourg’s history. Supposed to be a ‘walkable’ area that reflects a gentler ‘village’ style of living. What to do we have in New Amhearst – a higher density of homes enabled by back lanes that clog with snow.

After 30 years since its inception where is the village lifestyle? Heck the residents don’t even have a village store within walking distance, let alone a Pub from which they would stagger home from!!

“New Urbanism” a planning device designed to maximise density and profits for the developer.

Wally Keeler
Reply to  ben
1 year ago

let alone a Pub from which they would stagger home from!!”

Exactly Ben. Where is there a local independent coffee shop where neighbours can drop in and chat things up. They can drive to the shiny new corporate restaurants and patios along the multi-lane highway. There is no relaxed ambiance.

There is a beautifully tended park in New Amherst, but I hardly ever see anyone using it except to walk the dog. No children yelling and frolicking around. No lovers on a bench. I wonder if a shinny game ever took place in New Amherst? Is there a New Amherst Home Owners Association that organizes community events, parades, concerts and such? Or is it largely a dormitory that people on the multi-lane highway drive by without ever noticing?

Reply to  Wally Keeler
1 year ago

Lots of widows ss I understand it.

Reply to  ben
1 year ago

Exactly. “New Urbanism” had been sold to some other similar sized communities in Ontario prior and they were already experiencing what has happened in Cobourg. But, as usual Cobourg went down the same rabbit hole. Just once I would like a developer to stand up in Council and say, “ I am doing this to make money”. Instead we get to hear the lies about they are doing this for the Community….BS.
Not forgetting that Council cannot wait to approve it to get the taxes and fees to cover their over spending in the next budget.

Reply to  ben
1 year ago

Wow!! You sure are “down” on New Amherst and by the way, you spelled it wrong. I’ve lived in New Amherst for 13 years, I can walk to a park, I can walk to Tim Horton’s, Can Tire, Metro and I take offence to you thinking we need a “pub to stagger home from”. Yes, we have laneways, which makes our lovely tree lined streets beautiful, except for the few inconsiderate owners who still park on the street because they have too much junk in their garages to fit in a tooth pick. Thank goodness for the new parking Bylaw that hopefully will be adhered to when a complaint is received. Our laneways are plowed better than the streets, we pay a hefty fee for that service and what I would like to see is the 2-7 AM restrictions on parking be for ALL streets in Cobourg, not for just the arterial roads, which would make the job for the snow plow drivers easier, than having to lift their blade to get around parked vehicles which should have been parked in their laneway garages. By the way, you can walk in New Amherst on sidewalks, which seem to be somewhat missing in the older east.

Reply to  Tucker
1 year ago

The point here Tucker is that the concept of NU is to be a self-contained community. When you bought in 13 years ago the amenities that you speak of were minimal and none in the development. The developer failed to build in the amenities and used the space to densify the land, hence the laneways not full roads, compared to conventional sub-divisions.

Reply to  ben
1 year ago

I do believe New Amherst Blvd is supposed to be a mixed-use commercial street. We’ll see whether or not it happens.

The town as a whole is becoming stuck in the suburban mindset. Drive around on wide, busy streets to buy the latest crap at a big box store. The Strathy road area is a complete write off. It could be any trash big box area in Ontario. I feel sorry for people who actually attempt to walk around up there.

And again, it’s a shame Cobourg has fallen victim to this. The town was late to the big box game and sprawl game. Late enough to see the failings of the suburban towns ringing Toronto and not make the same mistakes. The same mistakes are happening and not being questioned.

Reply to  ben
1 year ago

What is NU? Did you mean NA? I didn’t buy here to have those amenities that you speak of and even now I really don’t care that we don’t. We had a park 13 years ago with benches to sit, built by the then current developer and since then two more parks, I know for a fact that Metro, the Mall and likely even Can Tire existed 13 years ago, and the distance to walk there has not changed. So do we need those “promised amenities”, no.

Reply to  Tucker
1 year ago

Ywp you’re right NA not NU – my bad, However whatever your reasons for buying and staying they are nothing to do with the original point that “New Urbanism” as built in Cobourg is a corruption of the concept advanced by Andres Duany.

The first paragraph of the Wikipedia definition: New Urbanism is an urban design movement which promotes environmentally friendly habits by creating walkable neighbourhoods containing a wide range of housing and job types. It arose in the United States in the early 1980s, and has gradually influenced many aspects of real estate developmenturban planning, and municipal land-use strategies. New urbanism attempts to address the ills associated with urban sprawl and post-Second World War suburban development.[1]

When reading the full article one comes across the statement – “New Urbanists support regional planning for open space; context-appropriate architecture and planning; adequate provision of infrastructure such as sporting facilities, libraries and community centres;[5] and the balanced development of jobs and housing.”

My question is Does “New Amherst” reflect any of these objectives while claiming to do so? If not I still stand by my statement that however pretty the area looks it, the design, was a device to increase density and maximise profit.

Last edited 1 year ago by ben
Reply to  Wally Keeler
1 year ago

Wally, I grew up in the 40’s, 50’s, and 60’s NOT in a “small town” but in that oft-times shown disdain by Cobourg “natives”, big city to the east …. namely Toronto.
Even there, the baker, and ice-man came to our house, and the milkman also left the dairy products in the milk chute as well. I and my childhood neighbours hung out regularly on our front verandahs, as well as sharing our homes with multigenerational units, and we also all had massive family reunions. All those afore-mentioned things were common of those decades, and NOT just “small towns”. Furthermore, I caught grasshoppers, butterflies, and frogs right in areas (ravines & streams) close to my home while growing up.
It’s a much different world now EVERYWHERE!
By the way, I’ve lived here in Cobourg, south of the tracks” for many years, and that old “small town” you described is just as “suburban” as anywhere. Folks have become much more insular …. and not just since Covid. IMHO.

Reply to  Wally Keeler
1 year ago

I love your analogy of the garage. In the future, when Archeologists research the remains of this society, it will be concluded that people worshipped vehicles. Division Street just south of the 401 is much worse than William Street with every notable car dealership…

Reply to  cornbread
1 year ago

Room to think or room to scheme how to hire even more staff?