New Schedule for Zoning By-Law Review

For more than 10 years, the Town has been working on a review of the Zoning by-law 85-2003. This was originally passed in 2003 and would be expected to be reviewed once the 2010 Official plan was approved – this was late and finally happened in 2017. The review is being done by consultant Meridian Planning but they need the Town’s planning department and Council to review and agree to changes. According to a presentation by Meridian President Nick McDonald at last night’s Council meeting, there have been nine versions created so far.  Recently, delays have been caused by staff problems in the planning department (Rob Franklin away because of illness and Director Anne Taylor-Scott left the job suddenly) but Nick presented a new schedule forecasting completion by the end of this year.

Nick outlined activity since 2011:

  • Many meetings on the background report with staff and the Planning Advisory Committee were held in 2012 and 2013 – In addition, a draft by-law was prepared and an open house and public meeting were held in June 2013
  • The Official Plan was finally approved by the then Ontario Municipal Board
  • The County prepared its first Official Plan in 2014 and many changes were also being made to Provincial Policy in the form of updated Growth Plan policies in 2012 and 2013 and a new Provincial Policy Statement in 2014.
  • Given all of the above, it was decided in late 2013 to put the project on hold.
  • Many discussions were held with staff between 2013 and 2020 about re-starting the project – however, this did not occur
  • In July 2020, Meridian Planning was contacted to re-start the project with a particular focus on permissions and standards for institutional uses
  • By mid-2021 we completed our review of institutional uses and prepared a further draft of the ZBL (Zoning By-Law) (V7)
  • Due to staff changes at the Town, work on the by-law did not occur in 2022 and it was in late 2022 that we were contacted again to re-start project – and we completed an updated version of the By-law for staff review in early 2023 (V8)
  • In January 2024, extensive comments on the draft by-law were provided to Meridian Planning by staff and in response, V9 of by-law was prepared in mid-Feb 2024 – and we were set to have a number of meetings with staff to review the by-law – however, this did not occur because of staff changes at the Town  (See note above re Rob and Anne)

I note that there are currently 6 vacancies in the Planning department – not good.

Nick provided a schedule of “next steps”:

  • Three meetings with staff to review the proposed by-law (June 2024);
  • Preparation of updated draft by-law (July/August 2024);
  • Presentation of draft by-law to Council (September 2024);
  • Preparation of updated by-law based on comments provided (October 2024);
  • Two open houses and public meeting (October/November 2024); and
  • Council adoption (December 2024).

The new by-law is not just an update, it’s “brand-new”. Based on comments at Council meetings over the last several years, it should address issues like:

  • Include the zoning modifications made over the years
  • Short Term Rental zoning (e.g. Airbnb)
  • Define where Rehabilitation treatment centres and Crisis Centres can go (think the facility at Woodlawn) – and maybe Transition House?
  • Include re-zoning of the Daintry Cres Park
  • Define what if any land should be zoned for affordable housing
  • Generally revise zones to reflect the latest official Plan (OP)

Let’s hope this work gets done on schedule – and let’s hope we get a new Planning Director soon.

Resources

Download Meridian Planning Presentation on Zoning By-Law Review.

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Sandpiper
20 days ago

Mean while Hundreds of Long term Jobs are being lost to other areas as this Town stagnates due to poor leadership , reasoning and Lack of Planning The Department failed to plan for the future after the loss of decades of Industrial Jobs left the area along with our Youth and younger families .
Millions of dollars in Construction jobs and materials are going else where .
One example of this would be the Long term Care facility and Holiday Inn that have been seeking approval at the west end of DePalma Drive now for more than 5 or 6 yrs Both are for profit operations and would there fore pay Taxes . We know the County run Golden Plough and Legion Village have up to 7 yr wait times Both Not for Profit — Do they fear competition . In some way
will these other operators offer higher wages or better care shorter wait times .
Mean while Havelock and Campbellford have managed to orchestrate the approvals
of such facilities in less than 3 yrs with construction well underway .

Andre
Reply to  Sandpiper
20 days ago

Yup. Took 22 years for Rondeau Lands to get the green light.

Sandpiper
Reply to  Andre
19 days ago

That sort of Planning and Governance Sure keeps the Town Employee
wages coming in , and helps to drive up the Cost of Housing
That must be why homes are more expensive in Cobourg than they are
to the east or west of us .

ben
Reply to  Andre
18 days ago

And whose fault was that? The developers changed a couple of times and they perhaps did not have the money to develop

Sandpiper
Reply to  ben
18 days ago

Perhaps you should call a few of them and ask why they left Cobourg
and Gave Up
You may not Like the Language even one of our own local East end Developer / Builders has some not so pleasant things to say .
Besides we don’t even have a functioning Planning department and the Names and positions as suggested in the Towns voice mail refers to people and positions that left 6 or 8 months ago There is NO BUDY HOME now or in the near functioning future .

Cobourg taxpayer
Reply to  Sandpiper
19 days ago

To be very clear the ball is in the court of the developer of the Holiday Inn on Depalma Drive. The planning department requested landscape details which have not been submitted.

Sandpiper
Reply to  Cobourg taxpayer
18 days ago

Really !! that’s the best excuse they could give you as to why a Multi Million dollar project
has been held up for 5 yrs —–And you Believed them B S
What colour are the Roses to be . ??
The same group are now Building in Trenton in under 2 years
from Start to Breaking Ground .
Does this Town want Business , Taxes and Jobs or Not .
Landscaping Come on .

Cobourg taxpayer
Reply to  Sandpiper
17 days ago

When the application was submitted years ago there was an opportunity for public comment which I submitted and my concern was landscaping. If I remember correctly the proposal was to build almost to property line and as an urban planner I felt there were issues. The planning department must have felt the same and the developer did not address those issues. The application has not progressed as a result.

ben
Reply to  Sandpiper
18 days ago

How many times do you have to be told that delays in planning, of years, are the faults of the applicants not the planning department. Fill out the forms with all the information requested and you will get your approvals. Stop whining about the Planning Department and check in with your developer friends.

Sandpiper
Reply to  ben
18 days ago

Again Call a few Developers and find out about Cobourg,s
LONG and Winding Never Ending Road to Approvals .

Rob
23 days ago

Not sure if this is misdirected however I would like to see something in our Municipal zoning, bylaws or somewhere else, to curtail/suspend/prohibit any future approvals for any additional fast food restaurants, drive thru windowed food outlets, gas stations with (or without) a convenience store, and cannabis shops. Division Street north and Elgin Street west are deplorable, disgusting disasters from a planning perspective – the lack of forethought has cheapen our community, does not promote a healthy lifestyle or walkability and are contrary to the proclaimed climate crisis.

Russ
Reply to  Rob
23 days ago

All this and my taxes go up $57 a month !!!!!!!!!!!!

Ahewson
Reply to  Rob
22 days ago

Its too late. Cobourg is the same as the sprawlburgs ringing Toronto. Big box, drive thrus, giant unwalkable busy roads. Most of all.. ugly. Another good example is the Esso gas station/convenience King East. The convenience store has its back turned to King St! All you can is a blank wall and utility pipes. That area couldve been turned into a nice little village square to serve the new community and existing to the south. And actually that little block is getting a, you guessed it, another Drive-Thru.. Taco Bell. And this is bloody King St we’re talking. If the town is going to let drive-thru car based retail here, it’s going to happen anywhere.

Jade
Reply to  Rob
22 days ago

Well at least they chose Cobourg to open and I wish them well. Can you not be a bit civil and wish them success? You don’t have to be their customer

Rob
Reply to  Jade
19 days ago

Jade – I appreciate what you’re saying however my comment is about the less than discerning practice of the Town which seems to approve anyone who wants to open a business here. Just because a business wants a Cobourg location doesn’t mean it must be accepted or that they must be clustered. I believe Port Hope declined Walmart. There are approx. 25 food outlets including multiple drive-thrus in the block that is Burnham/Elgin/Strathy/Depalma and 4 more drive-thrus just 30 seconds away and there are 8 on Division Street between the 401 and Elgin Street (50% are drive-thrus).

Makes me wonder, what is the vision for the Town? How do these unhealthy strip mall, food outlets align with the vision? How do the drive-thru outlets align with the vision and the declared climate crisis? Curious about the future of and vision for the Mall and how it aligns with the approved new developments?

Ken Strauss
Reply to  Rob
19 days ago

Rob, so you think that Cobourg should ban vendors of what you consider to be unhealthy food? Also, it is hard to align anything with an imaginary crisis!

Rob
Reply to  Ken Strauss
19 days ago

Yes I do Ken. I think Cobourg should have a vision, guardrails, policy, mission statement, bylaws or whatever is required to ensure we are building the type of community people want and can be proud of for many years to come. This should include what type of businesses are permitted, where they will be established, a hard cap on the number of drive-thru outlets, limiting strip mall franchise fast-food outlets, limiting cannabis shops, gas bars, dollar stores and thrift shops. A thriving community should have these things but they do not all need to be clustered within 1 square km of each other – 3 burrito, 5 pizza, 2 cannabis and 3 sub sandwich shops basically across the street from one another. We are not building a walkable community…and this type of desperate development doesn’t help.

We are in agreement regarding the declared climate crisis being pushed and adopted by Council…we are being fed nonsense with a paper spork.

Rational
Reply to  Rob
19 days ago

For what its worth I totally agree.

IMO, two key attributes of Cobourg form its foundation – the Beach/Victoria Park and the historical downtown/core and its buildings. People want to move away from the over crowding suburbs and dime a dozen stores. Older Towns like Cobourg fill that need.

These two attributes that have brought/bring new residents to Cobourg. It is around these attributes that future planning and should be mandated, with a clean up of what has happened to the downtown in the past 20 months.

To me, Leadership and the Planning Department do not appear to understand the above. They all over the map, focusing on personal agendas. And by the way, to the Co Chair of the Great Lakes Project, – having hovercraft development within two years with ferries towards St. Catharines (see Pete Fisher article dated May 17th) does nothing for me.

John at resident
Reply to  Rob
12 days ago

I agree with the above excluding thrift stores. Believe it or no a lot of visitors come here for our thrift stores, I overhear people all the time saying they came from out of town for them.

They serve an important function of raising funds for many charities and divert waste from landfills.

ben
Reply to  Rob
18 days ago

“….Town which seems to approve anyone who wants to open a business here.”

And so they should would you want to pay legal fees when the Town prohibits legal businesses for planning reasons which would be defeated by the Charter of Rights?

Rob
Reply to  ben
18 days ago

I don’t think the Charter would be applicable in cases of a Municipality, through bylaw, zoning and other relevant regulation, exercising its responsibility through controlling approvals and permitting specifics types of businesses in specific areas, limiting specific types of enterprises or denying permits all together.

It is already done in one manner or another…For example, if you apply to open a “gentlemen’s club” in the Town of Cobourg, it will be denied.

VeeTee
Reply to  Rob
21 days ago

Reply to Rob

I am not sure if my comment is misdirected also, but whose bright idea (and I use the term lightly), was it to paint the majority of the stores on the south side of King Street black? Even the three stores they are trying to lease have been painted black, how thoughtful! It is depressing enough to drive through town and count the druggies and deadbeats laying around. No bright stores to relieve the boredom. Drive through Port Hope and see all the cheerful coloured stores, it is tempting to stop and check them out! Hopefully the supply of black paint will run out soon.
.

Frenchy
Reply to  VeeTee
21 days ago

It’s all about that “heritage pallet”.
Except for the pink and black Bra Boutique. Refreshing to see.

Last edited 21 days ago by Frenchy
Leslie
Reply to  Frenchy
21 days ago

A breast of fresh air.

Steven G
Reply to  VeeTee
12 days ago

Don’t forget the yellow facade at Tuggs Furniture .. that is lively and refreshing …

Rob
Reply to  Steven G
11 days ago

I watched our Town Council debate for 1 hour (literally) whether the Cat and Fiddle could have a sandwich board on King Street. The end result was positive for the Fiddle, but its a wonder how anything important ever gets done? Also learned the Signage Policy hasn’t been reviewed and updated in 15 years?! That’s disappointing…

Last edited 11 days ago by Rob
Cobourg taxpayer
23 days ago

What did/does the planning department cost the Cobourg taxpayer every year? And here we are. Seven years for the Official Plan to be reviewed. The county also has a planning department to provide services for towns without their own departments, could this service be any less efficient then current planning and also save money for Cobourg? Could it be any worse? So many examples of government inefficiencies at every level with zero results. Where is the CAO in all this, how is her performance evaluation going?

ben
Reply to  Cobourg taxpayer
23 days ago

Where is the CAO in all this, how is her performance evaluation going?”

For all you know this process may have been accelerated by the CAO, after all she has only been in the job two of the seven years in the process!!

Pete M
Reply to  Cobourg taxpayer
23 days ago

Much like the County study for one police service, The Town will not surrender planning to the County- efficiencies and timely approvals be damned .

I’m more concerned about why the problem finding staff for the planning dept. Why arent people wanting to work for or stay with Planning Dept? Why the sudden departure of Ms Taylor-Scott?

Is this related to Pete Fishers editorial?

https://todaysnorthumberland.ca/2024/05/29/editorial-transparency-is-whats-need-in-cobourg/

I dont care to.pry into peoples personal lives. We do need to that we have a safe well staffed planning dept.One that is capable of meeting the demands of the housing crisis, so that Cobourg isnt short changed on available govt funding when targets are met.

Andre
Reply to  Cobourg taxpayer
23 days ago

Planning departments, once entrenched and growing, tend toward a god complex and create costly self-justifying work and hierarchy. It’s the nature of the beast.

John
Reply to  Andre
7 days ago

Think big Cobourg stop nit picking. Real planning departments and business development should be looking at having one of the big AI computer hubs built here,we have the Lake Ontario water to keep it cool and a chance with heat exchangers to warm a lot of houses. Or build a hydrogen manufacturing plant for heavy Trucking refuelling . The Feds just gave a BC Company enough cash to develop a chain of plants and they are looking for sites . Rezoning a small Park is as big as we can get. Wake up all-of you and think of Cobourg 2025 . Go trains into town ,Golden Plough a useful centre . A new College for youngsters to drop the old age syndrome creeping into Town.youth is needed here. So Picinni thinks the Brookside site all 30 acres is sold so whats the plan to move the encampment NOW?
Are the taxpayers going to foot the bill for a permanent camp?
Stagnation is killing this Town