Cobourg Planning Department Changes

At the Committee of the Whole Council meeting on 27 November, the planning department asked that they be delegated to make some key decisions – this will help speed up planning activity and make it more efficient. The idea of delegation was suggested in KPMG’s Service Delivery Report from November 2020 plus the organizational review in October 2021 but at this time, only 5 tasks are being requested to be delegated. At the same meeting, they unveiled a new tool that is now in place and will provide the public with information on current planning department activity. The “dashboard” lists 35 current applications dating back to October 2019 – to get details, click on an icon in the map provided (and also below), you can then download all available relevant documents.

Application Approvals to be delegated

Generally this means not submitted to Council for approval and no long reports.

  1. Authorization of Mayor and Clerk to enter into agreements to satisfy any conditions of approval for any applications under the Planning Act
  2. Deeming applications complete or incomplete
  3. Approve applications for Part Lot Control Exemption
  4. Approve applications for Removal of Holding Provision
  5. Approve an extension of a Draft Plan of Subdivision or Draft Plan of Condominium.

Approvals would be by the Director of Planning and Development (Anne Taylor-Scott) or Manager of Development Review (Vanessa Reusser). In all cases, controversial applications – such as denial of approval – will still come to Council. It’s not that Council has no visibility of projects – just that there will be fewer times that Council has to approve aspects of them. It will also mean that there is less chance of exceeding the 30 day time limits for approvals mandated by the Province.

Development Dashboard

The dashboard is an online tool that lists all available information. There’s a list of open applications (currently 35), a pie-chart showing types, a box with Date/Time of Public Meetings & Open Houses and a map showing the location of the projects. If you click an icon at a project location, a box opens that lists all available information including available pdfs of reports. There is a more detailed description in the staff presentation pdf/powerpoint available in Resources.

It’s clear from the dashboard that there is a significant backlog of planning projects so the current recruitment/replacement of staff seems appropriate although the delegation proposal should help with workload. Delegation would also help staff meet response times which are mandated for some aspects of applications. The dashboard perhaps helps with productivity and certainly helps transparency. Previously, this information was provided in a less user friendly fashion on a regular web page – the Province mandates that it be provided.  Councillor Miriam Mutton expressed concern that some content should be kept confidential but Director Taylor-Scott said it was all mandated.

Resources

Request to Delegate certain Planning Functions to Staff

Dashboard

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Jones
4 months ago

So. What’s the status of the East pier repair ????

Sandpiper
4 months ago

Getting back on Track the Dash Board is just a Tool that will be available
so that staff will no longer have to converse with the Public .
I agree whole heartedly with DUNKIRK that more power and responsibility should be NOT given to staff that do not have the same care for Cobourg Residents as do Elected Council that live here This is their town too not just a job and a pay cheque.and it comes with Responsibility, Accountability and Openness to the Voters Not so with Staff .

If we use the example of a Mr Marling who appeared as a delegation in the last meeting on a small Planning item , you might see and understand why . the need for public to be able to reach out to our Council for the application of Common sense and Community . .
This Planning and the Engineering Depts are no longer Service Centers
to the Public and the Town .
This is a Profit Center————— where work is created and jobs are justified .
But when you examine the Marling situation and a Planning department can justify $10 , 20 . or up to $30,000.- in fees studies and application Cost to recreate / convert to a additional apartment thats crazy . Somebody has to much authority .
Not only that but with simple math anyone can see it will drive the Cost of rent through the roof . SO How many situations like this are really taking place out there??
If these costs and fees say were only $12,000.– it will add $333,– a month to any market rent if one was to recover or depreciate the cost of those fees over the next 36 months or 3 year period .

I thought The Country , Province , County and the Town were all crying out for the Creation of more apartments just like Mr Marlings ????????????

cornbread
4 months ago

The Dashboard does not list what the excavation is being done for behind building 18, just to the south and east of the CCC. Looks “major” to me.

Bryan
Reply to  cornbread
4 months ago

Cornbread,
This is for the new water tower. The one that costs significantly more than the original proposal and that is not needed. Booster pumps alone could do the job and cost significantly less. However this option was not investigated and considered.

Examine the 2024 water/sewer rates proposal recently submitted to Council. The capital budget shows the water tower cost and funding sources, one of them being development charges. There is no indication as to the reduction in DCs due to Bill 23 and the resulting shortfall that will have to be paid by Cobourg residents.

Ahewson
Reply to  Bryan
4 months ago

The booster pump option was prone to failure, not good during natural disaster/emergency situations, and lacked redundancies. I for one don’t believe our water supply is a good place to be cheaping out and penny pinching.

cornbread
Reply to  Ahewson
4 months ago

Perhaps the “New Builds'” should shoulder the full cost of the new water tower. I’ve already paid and am paying for the 1st water tower

Bryan
Reply to  Ahewson
4 months ago

Ahewson,

Many cities and towns in Ontario and elsewhere do not have a water tower(s) and they manage just fine. Some have decommissioned old towers and replaced them with booster pumps and in some cases, at grade/below storage. The reason is primarily cost and the advances in pump technology.

Given that Watson/LUSI/Town have not provided information on this alternative and the impact of Bill 23 on the DCs that are expected to fund a significant portion of the WT cost, shouldn’t this be outlined and explained to Cobourg residents before commitments are made?

If DCs are reduced, Cobourg residents will have to cover the short-fall. How many millions do you suggest Cobourg residents should pay?

Ahewson
Reply to  Bryan
4 months ago

There is a study on Engage Cobourg where one of the options presented was no new water tower and increased booster capacity. It did not mean town objectives. Perhaps you know this already and aren’t satisfied with how the study was done?

cornbread
Reply to  Ahewson
4 months ago

The trouble with Cobourg is…City Hall wants a Cadillac when all we can afford is a used Chevy.

Dam_213
Reply to  Bryan
4 months ago

Again water towers are not only for storage of water but they help maintain pressure in the system via head pressure. At the recent Eastern Water conference in Belleville I spoke with LUSI staff regarding the new tower. It is needed for the growth of Cobourg and to maintain pressure in different pressure zones. As far as I remember Cobourg has three zones. Port Hope has two and will also be installing a second water tower as the Dorset St standpipe is no longer fit for purpose. Port hope has one pumping station. Some maintenance at the plant cannot be done as there is not enough storage and head pressure to take the plant off-line to get certain jobs done. A second tower will allow the town to float of the towers and allow certain tasks to be completed. Another booster station would not allow for the plant to be off line. Cobourg is not building a tower because it is fun, it is going to be built because engineers (CIMA) run water modelling tests to figure out the best approach for the system. All aspects are taken into consideration. Nothing is done in the water industry without that.

Bryan
Reply to  Dam_213
4 months ago

Dam_213,

If water towers are such an important part of the water distribution system why do so many towns/cities not have them and manage just fine.

Pump technology has improved significantly, especially with the use of variable speed (variable voltage controlled) pumps. Efficiency has improved and operating cost decreased. A water Tower is no longer needed for pressure regulation.

At grade storage is considerably less expensive to construct compared to a WT of the same capacity.

The proposed WT is funded mostly by development charges. The CEMA report is out of date in two regards: cost and the DC funding decreases mandated by Bill 23. Cobourg residents will be forced to pay millions to cover the funding short-fall. LUSI and Town staff have not made public what the short-fall will be.
Why?
Can Cobourg residents afford to not know?
Can Cobourg residents afford the significant (millions) extra cost and receive no/little benefit?

Dam_213
Reply to  Bryan
4 months ago

I’m starting to think you have a side business selling pumps. What other towns do has nothing to do with what Cobourg does. You cannot compare systems like for like. Port Hope is a completely different system than Cobourg although population is similar due to its elevation changes. So what one does has no baring on another. I would bet you are not an engineer and therefore have not looked at water modelling requirements for future growth of Cobourg. I would also add you have no idea how much systems are constantly striving to maintain demand. Adding a pump is not the answer and would simply not meet future demand of maintaining fire fighting requirements as well as consumption needs.

Ken Strauss
Reply to  Dam_213
4 months ago

You mentioned growth a number of times, Dam_213. Why should current residents pay millions of dollars to enable unwanted future growth?

Dam_213
Reply to  Ken Strauss
4 months ago

First who says it is unwanted? I don’t believe it is unwanted. No matter if you like it or not it is happening. As for who pays for it that had nothing to do with my point of what is needed for growth.

Dave
Reply to  Ken Strauss
4 months ago

Unwanted future growth Ken?? With so many reaching retirement age, selling and locating to other attractive locales what could possibly make you think growth is not occurring here?

Older people sometimes have trouble facing change Ken but Cobourg if you haven’t noticed has been growing and with the continuing builds that are already working toward completetion, the encouragement by the County of new workers I am surprised for an intelligent man such as yourself that you are not wanting nor expecting nor seeing it. Best to prepare for future and present growing needs not ignore them.

Ken Strauss
Reply to  Dave
4 months ago

Dave, could you please explain how limited growth is a bad thing for current residents? How do current residents benefit from more traffic and higher taxes to fund additional infrastructure?

Dave
Reply to  Ken Strauss
4 months ago

Limited growth is not predicted for Cobourg Ken – have you not followed the population predictions? Cobourg has been predicted to grow considerably in the foreseeable future. If I knew you were going to ask me this question Ken I would have written down the predicted number but it many thousand more are expected. Do you propose waiting until they are all here to begin updating infrastructure? If I recall current infrastructure is badly in need of expansion and repair. As you so adamanately are against these changes and growth Ken I did make a suggestion to you below. Also don’t believe the population signs – they have not been updated in over 10 years. You may wish to consider finding a town that is stagnant. Although I have been told if such is the case it is a very unhealthy sign.

Ken Strauss
Reply to  Dave
4 months ago

Thank you, Dave, for a non-answer to my question. I ask again: How will growth benefit current Cobourg residents?

Dave
Reply to  Ken Strauss
4 months ago

Ken – Growth is happening period. Whether it benefits current citizens or not is not a question I can answer. Considerable growth is predicted I think I read 50,000 in the not too distance future while I am still alive.
You’re the one on the taxpayers association Ken. Will further population benefit current residents – spread the tax pain? I never made the statement of benefit or not – just that it is happening.

However I used to love my own home town, Toronto. Certainly not the place I once knew now – I liked it better before. Safe streets, employment opportunity and plenty to do but as I said before time stops for no man and the Federal government is determined Canada should grow with their immigration policies. Many in larger centres are moving to smaller locales – we are one of them.

Dave
Reply to  Dave
4 months ago

Also Ken a place that does not grow such as the one I mentioned on Hwy 57 – Lost Highway it is called is in trouble, stagnating. Previously I read when I moved here now over 10 years ago that Cobourg was losing young people and working age people at a great rate to other centres, tax payers in droves leaving the coop! Cobourg became predominantly by population a seniors town.

Ken Strauss
Reply to  Dave
4 months ago

Dave, you have confirmed my point: Growth does not benefit the current residents of Cobourg. Cobourg will grow since it is a nice town and due to our grossly misguided immigration policies. However, why should we increase our tax burden to expedite growth? Why hire to expedite planning? Why expand our water works to enable growth?

Dave
Reply to  Ken Strauss
4 months ago

If you want a town without growth may I suggest moving to Hwy 57 off No. 7 – you will find Gibbs Gas there, maybe. Otherwise no growth, everything moved – nice and quiet!

Dunkirk
4 months ago

Nobody will dispute that developing a ‘Thriving Community’ and striving for ‘Service Excellence’ are noble goals.
What is being proposed here is that our elected officials, that by definition, live here, reside here, work here and also are ratepayers, abdicate some of their decision-making in this regard to staff members who do not.
This writer does not believe that hired staff who live and pay taxes elsewhere have the same level of interest and concern for the community that our elected official should. (If they did, maybe we could hold them to account with meaningful KPI’s?)

I would not delegate the choice of school my children attend to someone from KPMG in Ottawa…
I would not delegate a decision about what car I should drive to my lawyer in Toronto…
My neighbor is not deciding what TV show I watch…

Maintain the local responsibility you campaigned and were elected for, Council….

Sandpiper
4 months ago

Note— many of the Projects on the Dashboard very, very old , and once again Cobourg is
is updating to something that’s already 4 years Old — can we ever catch up .??
Covid can not be an excuse for ever .

The other point that several of Council asked of Ms Scott , and did not receive direct answers to
Was in regards to an official Timing as to when the sites would be posted and removed
from the Dashboard . I believe that Council eventually got an answer as to when a project might be removed from the site but— No clear answer was ever provided as to when or at what stage a
New project / proposal or when work started started on a property .
I noted that several properties being worked on were not shown They must be Special Projects !
that different rules apply to . How about a Level Playing Field for ALL .