Review of Selected Major Projects

At a recent Council meeting, Director of Planning Anne Taylor Scott issued her second annual report on activity in her department – it’s called “2023 Growth Trends Report – Planning & Building Departments”. Anne notes that a full complement of planning staff would be 6 people but there are currently 3 vacancies – that includes Rob Franklin who is on a 12 month leave of absence. Her report makes it clear that her department has been very busy in 2023 with 138 new applications and 141 approvals. They ranged from Heritage Permit applications to Official plan amendments. One big change is the public availability of the Development Dashboard based on the Town’s GIS data – this allows the public to get an ongoing look at what’s being worked on in Planning.

Anne is also responsible for the Building Department which issued nearly 400 approvals; there were about the same number of unit starts. This compares to just over 100 starts in 2022.

Anne’s full report is available for download in Resources.

But let’s look at some “major” projects.

Selected Major Projects
This selection is of projects that I find interesting. See the Development Dashboard for a complete list. See also other links in Resources for information on some of the long running projects.

22 and 36 Queen Street

Queensview
Queensview

In 2018, the Town made a deal with a developer to sell the parking lot on the corner of McGill and Queen – opposite the Post Office. The developer would build a high-end Condo with 65 units with 155 underground and ground level parking spaces. 64 of these parking spaces would be available to the public for a fee. The old adjacent curling rink would be demolished and its land would be part of the project. One feature would be a roof-top garden. The developer was the same one who is selling the Cedar Shores Building lots.

The project died when Covid happened but has now been re-activated with 67 dwelling units and a total of 144 parking spaces. The developer is now called Queensview Garden Inc although the application was submitted by Glenn McGlashon with a detailed description on 18 January 2024. The application was deemed complete 31 January 2024. It looks impressive. See Resources.

Legion Village
This is a retirement village at the bottom end of Hibernia Street. Currently it has a capacity of 204 units and they want to increase that to 400. To do that, they want to demolish a single storey building on the West side facing Durham Street and replace it with a 4 to 5 storey building. To do this, they need a “minor variance” administered by the Committee of Adjustment. They will hold a public meeting on Tuesday, February 20, 2024. Invitations to nearby residents have been sent out. If approved, the next step will be getting a building permit. Correction: If the Minor Variance is approved, the development would then be subject to Site Plan Control which involves an additional technical review prior to building permit issuance. And there are quite a number of Planning & Engineering conditions to be fulfilled prior to Building Permit issuance.  See this memo from the Planning Department.

1125 Elgin Street
In the summer of 2014, Council gave initial approval to a Vandyk development expansion west of Canadian Tire for 62 Townhomes and 10 semi-detached homes. However, after a lot of objections from nearby residents and even though there were good sales, Vandyk “left Town” and the project was closed. Now, the same site plan is going ahead with a developer called Castlegrove Homes. They call the development Victoria Meadows. Once again, it’s not moving quickly – the application was “complete” 1 January 2022 but the only drawing on file is a site plan with a date of September 2023. See the links below – including the Development Dashboard.

Beachwalk Flats (Albert and Division)
This development consists of two three-storey buildings. On the ground floors, there will be seven commercial units (stores) facing Division and 3 “live/work” units facing Albert.

The Division Street building will have 14 residential units on the second and third floors and the Albert Street building will have six.

There was considerable public concern that not enough parking would be available so the plan was reworked – I count 29 spots now.  With 20 residential units and 10 stores, is that enough?  The developer pointed to the availability of on-street parking, nearby parking lots and the nearby Transit terminus. In any case, it has been approved and construction has now started.

Holiday Inn Hotel
An application was first made to planning for a new hotel behind Home Depot on De Palma drive in September 2019. It would be a four storey hotel with a total of 82 guest rooms, an indoor pool, a fitness facility, and meeting rooms. The location was chosen to be near the 401.  At first the applicant (a numbered company) thought they would start work within a year – the application was deemed complete on 1 Jan 2020. However, there have been numerous delays. Planning has blamed sewage and stormwater capacity but these remain unresolved. Meanwhile the applicant has agreed to pay for an extension of DePalma drive to access the hotel. Maybe the project will now move quickly – but don’t hold your breath.

320 White Street
Steve Polsinelli made an application for re-zoning to permit a four storey Condominium with 161 residential dwelling units and 242 parking spaces. There will be a public meeting with Council on Wednesday, February 21, 2024, at 5:00 pm in the Council Chambers. Some of the concerns are environmental but an Environmental Impact Study has already been done. The application was deemed complete on 10 January 2024. (There are no links to this project in Resources!)

CDCI West Playing field at 117 Durham Street
This is not on the Planning Departments list of Projects – at least not officially – but the last official word from Council on 12 April 2023 was that they wanted “a balanced mix of parkland, market and affordable residential units”. There has been no word on this since then – an RFP may be issued shortly. We should at least have a public meeting on this – the land is owned by the Town.

Other projects
I believe the Tannery project work is now deemed complete. All we need now is for a developer to be interested in buying the vacant Town-owned land complete with planning restrictions and low level soil contamination.

There is also a large development by Tribute Homes at the top end of Brook Road plus several mid-sized developments in Town. Judging by the number of homes being built (or should I say “planned”), Cobourg is growing fast.

Resources

Planning Department

Cobourg Blog Reports

1125 Elgin Street

Beachwalk Flats

22 and 36 Queen Street

Holiday Inn

Tannery Project

117 Durham Street

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Sandpiper
2 months ago

The Director of Planning has not made mention of the Apartment Building projects that had been proposed previously located on Elgin st by the YMCA or the Age in place Barrier free Apts on George st between Covert & Buck or the First and Albert st project by the rink . about 150 + units
Have these been pushed off to Never Never Land by the Planning Dept again like the Vandyke once affordable homes of 10 yrs ago Have the Cost the builders have been requested to pay in this town exceeded reality only to be realized / recovered from High end Condos ???

We need affordable and age in place Apartments Don’t we ??

Sandpiper
3 months ago

Queensview
I Hope the Town realizes that the Covered parking they are about to stick us with Needs to have Ceiling heights high enough to accomodate the type of vehicles most of the folks drive around here Pick ups . Suburbans , Jeeps an few delivery and Handy Cap Vans
Not everyone drives a Mini — and seeing the Former Director of planning is handling this project
I will bet you all the parking spaces will be narrow & for Sub Compacts to get the density up

Glenn McGlashon, MCIP, RPP
Reply to  Sandpiper
2 months ago

Thank you for showing an interest in the Queensview Gardens mixed-use condominium project, Sandpiper. I would like to clarify the two points identified in your comment.

Firstly, the Ontario Building Code (OBC) governs the construction of underground/structured parking facilities province-wide, encompassing factors such as ceiling heights. Qualified architects and engineers have designed the proposed underground/structured parking facility for Queensview Gardens to not only meet but exceed OBC requirements. It’s accurate to note that not all vehicles can be accommodated by these facilities, and usually, signage at the entrance indicates the maximum height for safe entry. If vehicles do not meet this requirement, they’ll have to locate surface parking nearby, a practice widely observed throughout Ontario.

Secondly, the parking spaces within the underground/structured parking facility have been designed to comply with the size regulations outlined within the Town of Cobourg Zoning By-law, 2003. In addition, the total number of parking spaces proposed in the Queensview Gardens development surpasses the minimum requirements set by the Zoning By-law. Consequently, there are no issues regarding parking size or availability and density.

Mark
3 months ago

Does anyone know if Boyer is bring a new car dealership to Elgin street by the fire hall or moving the Ram dealer to the new location

Mark
3 months ago

the town needs more co-op apartments
The old West High School field and the Tannery would be good location

Rob
Reply to  Mark
3 months ago

Mark – I agree that the County needs more affordable housing however that piece of the West High School property you’re referring to is far too valuable for affordable housing…makes no sense IMHO – The Tannery is the same….you don’t put affordable housing there. The Tannery could be Cobourg’s distillery district…

Bryan
Reply to  Rob
3 months ago

Rob,

I think the Tannery is one of the Town’s white elephants. Very costly and the brownfield costs are not yet known. Without the Tannery brownfield cleaned up, few (no) developers are going to risk it. Keep in mind that several of the adjacent industrial sites are also brownfield. Remediation costs and liability concerns will keep the Tannery area undeveloped for years, perhaps decades.

Mark
Reply to  Rob
3 months ago

Only 1%ers are allowed to live close to the lake ? 🙄
Here is a link to co-op in downtown Toronto , prime area 😁, and how it was financed
https://www.windwardcoop.ca/about/our-history-from-1987-2007/

Kevin
Reply to  Mark
3 months ago

Co-op apartments can be very successful from what I have been told. However, they are governed by a board of directors, like a condominium corporation, and have to follow similar rules. The management of a co-op or condominium is often done by a private company that is primarily interested in their own best interest. Town council, condo boards, co-op housing boards all can be very good or terrible at overseeing the town staff or management company.

Where does the money come from to build the co-op apartments?

Mark
Reply to  Kevin
3 months ago

Major corporations get all kinds of government grant , why not housing

https://www.windwardcoop.ca/about/our-history-from-1987-2007/
Windward Co-operative Homes Inc. was developed under the National Housing Act of 1973 and amended in 1978 which provided direct Federal funding and loan guarantees though Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation. At first CMHC guaranteed a mortgage loan from a bank, but presently CMHC holds the Windward mortgage and supplies grants. One stipulation is that units at Windward be available for people with disabilities and another is that Federal funds be applied as subsidies to low income families. The mortgage renewal formula is such that the amount of Federal money for subsidy diminishes as the mortgage is paid down and a new proposed formula will also mean less Federal money. To meet the funding shortfall, residents contribute to an internal subsidy pool. When finances permit, a family’s subsidy stops. Most households pay market rent which is based on budgetary 

Bryan
Reply to  John Draper
3 months ago

John,

I respect your desire to keep comments on topic: “planning department and major projects”. In this regard, I think that what isn’t planned is as relevant as the projects on the books. An important urgent need is not being addressed.

Nonetheless, your rules.

Please don’t delete this thread because of my comment. Good valuable information would be lost.

Last edited 3 months ago by Bryan
Dave
3 months ago

When the Queensview is complted I’ll say “It’s a Miracle!! So long in the building – so many debates and hold ups.
There is a property at Ontario and Elgin Street – a large open, level lot, perfect for rental housing as Cobourg, like everywhere else is in such short supply of rental housing with rents guaranteed to make poor any desparate renters having to pay well beyond their means. Supply and Demand. Frankly whether it is the County, Town or an act of God more rental housing couldn’t be more needed. Newer buildings would naturally create lower rents in the older as the supply grew.

Mark
Reply to  Dave
3 months ago

At one time there was talk of an office building going in that corner

Old Sailor
3 months ago

Re the CDCI West Playing field, how about not using this Cobourg land treasure for market and affordable residential units. Why not keep it as parkland. We have given away Victoria Park and Beach to out of towners. Keep something for the Cobourg residents to enjoy.
Request proposals for imaginative uses of the property, with no parking. I am sure our Ecology Garden Members and local Naturalists would assist the Town with recommendations. 

Rational
3 months ago

The reference “Affordable” has shown up in 3 of the first 4 postings under this topic. Yesterday there was a news clip of each the Provincial and Federal Governments pitching the need for “Affordable Housing/Rentals and all they are doing to solve this.

Does anyone know what is meant by “Affordable”. Is it $1,200 monthly rent or $2,500? Or a house for $400K or $950K. Builders need enough income/profit to make it worthwhile given rising costs of services and materials. Who is the target “affordable” market baed on income/debt loads. Everyone is different.

Seems to me “Affordable” terminology has no definitive meaning behind it.

Bryan
Reply to  Rational
3 months ago

Rational,
Good point about the term “affordable”.

The following may help (or not).

Note that “affordable” housing is not “geared to income” (subsidized) housing.

For rental, as outlined below, 30% of gross family income (60th percentile ??) seems to be the bench mark.

$1,200 rent (no utilities) is $14,400 per year, which is 30% of $48,000.

$25/hr for 37.5hr/wk is almost $49K.

A single senior getting minimal CPP, full OAS/GIS, GAINS and OTB gets upwards of $2,000 per month. $24,000/yr

https://ero.ontario.ca/notice/019-7669

Ontario Bill 134, the Affordable Homes and Good Jobs Act, 2023, received Third Reading on November 29, 2023. The Act amends the definition of “affordable residential units” in the Development Charges Act to lower the cost of building, purchasing, and renting these units.

Once in effect, an affordable residential unit would be defined as:

For rental housing, a unit where the rent is no greater than the lesser of,

the income-based affordable rent for the residential unit set out in the Affordable Residential Units bulletin, as identified by the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing, and
the average market rent identified for the residential unit set out in the Affordable Residential Units bulletin.

In identifying the income-based affordable rent applicable to a residential unit, the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing shall,

a. determine the income of a household that, in the Minister’s opinion, is at the 60th percentile of gross annual incomes for renter households in the applicable local municipality; and
b. identify the rent that, in the Minister’s opinion, is equal to 30 per cent of the income of the household referred to in clause (a).

Last edited 3 months ago by Bryan
Optimistic
3 months ago

I really believe we need more rental building. High rise low rise. Also maybe the town should buy some vacant building and have them converted into rental…AFFORDABLE rentals..

Bryan
Reply to  Optimistic
3 months ago

Optimistic,

Interesting idea for the County perhaps, as they are responsible for housing.
Not a good undertaking for Cobourg.
Do you really want the masters of parking and storm-water looking after housing.

What do you believe are “AFFORDABLE” rents?
As noted by Rational and others, the term is bandied about without any apparent definition

Last edited 3 months ago by Bryan
Ken Strauss
Reply to  Bryan
3 months ago

“Affordable” seems to mean that I can’t afford it so someone — developer, town, province, federal — should subsidize what I want.

Last edited 3 months ago by Ken Strauss
cornbread
Reply to  Ken Strauss
3 months ago

You forgot… “Other Taxpayers”.

Mike
Reply to  cornbread
3 months ago

Agree

Last edited 3 months ago by Mike
Dave
Reply to  Ken Strauss
3 months ago

Affordable means ratio to income. Until recently rents were affordable without subsidizing by anyone to the majority of the population. As were owned homes. Now owned homes are a dream which more and more will not realize. For those renting I see more and more old clunky vehicles that are the only transportation affordable as most of their income is going to pay rents that have doubled and more.
The government forgot in its haste to increase the population to ensure they increased so many of the essentials – health care, infrastructure, housing. Instead they are now setting out to provide free dental care, child care benefits, low cost day care all formerly not needed as the expenses of housing and many other costs can no longer be covered as the income is eaten up by paying for a place to live. So Ken you either build the services needed or lose your money to tax payer funded programs. Take your choice.

Ken Strauss
Reply to  Dave
3 months ago

Dave, Google “TANSTAAFL” to understand why subsidies make us poorer. Free or subsidies in all forms are a bad idea!

Last edited 3 months ago by Ken Strauss
Dave
Reply to  Ken Strauss
3 months ago

You are not facing the reality of life today in Canada Ken. Write to the PM! I simply stated the facts.

Ken Strauss
Reply to  Dave
3 months ago

Dave, you’re the one not facing the facts. Forcing taxpayers or developers to build “affordable” housing means that resources are misdirected. There is no free lunch. You’re merely taking from one group to purchase the votes of another group.

Dave
Reply to  Ken Strauss
3 months ago

Lastly Ken I never suggested I approved subsidizing housing I simply stated the facts of what is happening due to the Federal governments’ policies. You seem out of touch with reality.

Dave
Reply to  Ken Strauss
3 months ago

It amazes me Ken that you put words in my mouth stating I am suggesting subsided housing should be built. If you read my actual words I stated more housing needs to be built without any mention of subsidized. What I did point out without the SUPPLY the government is busy subsidizing as their policies of mass immigration of all kinds has outstripped supply and infrastructure which they say is not any concern of theirs – that is until recently when Poilivere asked them in Parliament when they were going to supply these needs for a greater population. So in their wisdom they added to the burden subsidizing and subsidizing – child care benefits, housing, day care – I am sure I have missed a few – so in future please read what I have written before you accuse me of a statement I did not make.

Dave
Reply to  Ken Strauss
3 months ago

Additionally Ken my suggestion was to ensure more housing of all kinds is built as the need is there. Supply and Demand. But I know you are also against growth as well which is here. Your only recourse is to write to the PM as I stated in the prior reply.

Ken Strauss
Reply to  Dave
3 months ago

Dave, does that mean that you oppose subsidies such as the removal of development charges, below market loans, relaxing of zoning restrictions and requiring developers to include affordable units? If so, we agree.

Dave
Reply to  Ken Strauss
3 months ago

Ken I am for a tremendous building boom. One that will meet the demand. You can’t bring hundreds of thousands of people to this country and not prepare for them.
I am for housing that is in good supply, one with the abundance of supply that will then rent for an approrpriate rent or home purchase price. The commercial market is lopsided with so few available in either category.
Can you provide to me your answer to create and inspiring this building boom which is very necessary? You can’t just stick your head in the sand and pretend you don’t see it. Or is that the case, you;ld prefer to pretend it isn;t happening and so nothing?

Sandpiper
Reply to  Ken Strauss
3 months ago

and increase CPP OAS Etc for the seniors to keep a pace with the Cost of Living and Real inflation and Property Taxation wouldn’t hurt — Trudeau has some how forgotten the purpose of those plans we were all forced to pay into
I have never before in my life time heard of Seniors having to Mortgage
( Reverse Mtg ) their homes in retirement I ran a retirement home for many years this was never seen before Thus leaving little for the next generation
This Govt wants it all .

Sandpiper
3 months ago

I see nothing That New
in fact most of these projects have been on the Towns books for a very long time
in fact I have noticed a few more projects have fallen by the wayside and are no longer being discussed . Does that mean more developers are walking away from Cobourg in frustration.
White st –3 developers and 15 – 20 yrs latter same old E C issues
DePalma 10 yrs plus ,
Tannery District 20 yrs still contaminated
Queens view 2 developers and 8 yrs
Vandyke Affordable home site 12 yrs and 2 developers latter

So May be the town can tell us how anyone can build anything affordably when you have to carry a project / property for such a LONG period of time . Time is money !
Paying Taxes, Interest and carrying costs on the invested $$ , Professional fees
application after application fee , dozens of studies etc etc

The only new project is that Legion Village is Expanding to meet demands of Senior and assisted Senior Living The same should be built on the old West High School Sport s field
not more expensive low density homes .

Cathy
3 months ago

Development maybe, but not homes/apartment units that we need like missing middle, affordable, RGI units. disappointing to say the least.

Mike
3 months ago

Great to see positive news about our wonderful town. Especially the condo development facing Victoria Park. New residents in the core will help support existing and new businesses.