Sometimes people tell me to get a life

posted by the Publisher:

Have you ever had projects you have started that assume lives of their own? This one of mine has. Six and a half years ago, in the depths of the 2008 recession, I started to track the Statscan pages for local employment numbers. From time to time I have I have referred to the numbers, usually to point out that despite puff pieces from the local MP and other bigwigs, and to look realistically at local social conditions. Now the project has so much data it would a shame not to check every month for differences – hey things should be better after six and a half years shouldn’t they? But apparently not.

So what do we see when we look at the stats? The full figures can be seen here, and a summary in the table below. The basic conclusion is bad After seventy-eight months of economic activity the economic area of the Muskoka Kawarthas, of which Northumberland County is part has nine hundred more people in the active workforce, twelve hundred more people working and three hundred more unemployed people than six and a half years ago.

If we are to measure economic success by the number of unemployed we have failed miserably. If you take into account that this economic region has grown by about twelve thousand people and that labour force participation figures show a decline then obviously we have grown into a ‘leisure state’ with all of the attendant service industry growth.

Just another indication that young people and jobs have no place in this modern part of Northumberland!

 

Six and a half years of watching the numbers

June 2008June 2014
people who have jobs186,600187,500............ + 900
people in workforce199,400200,600............ + 1200
number of unemployed12,80013,100.............. + 300

This plan needs a makeover

Now that the dust has settled from last week’s discussion of the need to expand the boating services provided by the Town, and it has become apparent that the Consultants involved have little interest in providing any thing other than a Marina expansion it is time for the good Burghers of this Town to step in and get involved in a big way.

What brings this opinion into focus is the way that the public is being asked to comment on the proposal. Firstly despite hiring and developing a Communications Officer and funding the operation the communications for this outreach is still mired in the 20th Century. There is no online presence or interactivity for the online answers to be handled. Respondents are asked to download the questionnaire, complete it (with a pen) and then either rescan it and email it back or fax/dropin to the Town Hall. Just what kind of modern communications department asks the public to jump through these hoops when a simple form can be designed and put on the website for all of us to complete online? We just hope that the candidates running in the upcoming municipal election don’t mouth platitudes about being ‘web-savvy’.

click to enlargeBut back to the point of the post. the image to the left shows the preamble to the handout given last Wednesday at the public meeting, a meeting so large that that the fire regulations may have been violated in the room set aside for the meeting. The first point about the preamble is that the consultants really only want to talk about the expansion of the Marina – after all they are only Marina designers not environmentalists, so their remarks only talk about meeting boating needs for the needs of the public. So where do the rest of the public, those that do not boat, fit into this plan? Reading between the lines we think that the next move will be an announcement from the consultants thatclick to enlarge the project has suffered “scope-creep” and therefore they budget has to be expanded. An easy way out – blame the opposition for creating extra costs – and walk – perhaps. The second point is more pointed because it brings the consultant’s credibility into question. They, ShorePlan, say “there is no plan developed or endorsed. If that is the case why is this image – a conceptual plan of the Cobourg Harbour on ShorePlan’s website? If there has been a plan and the consultants say there isn’t what else are they holding back?

Judging from all accounts of the meeting it would appear that ShorePlan has a problem on its hands but the Town Council has an even bigger one. After two Council meetings, where it has been demonstrated that the Councillors at the meetings have shown little control of the issue it is time for them to take charge. It is obvious that when the consultants, and Mr Watson the Engineer decide to bring back the results of the “consultations” (little as it has been) the people who do not like the present plans will demand a greater say in the plan than they have had so far. So the Council must establish a timetable for the consultation process and hold more and comprehensive meetings to hear all sides.

In the meantime, if you have the time and patience download the questionnaire here follow the instructions given by the town, and return the completed form by July 24th 2014.

A bit of an anti-climax but the message is still the same – be patient

newmarina

This is the concept from the Parks and Rec Master Plan. Click to enlarge

Yesterday’s Committee Meeting, where the Cobourg Council listened to local resident and Willow Beach Field Naturalists (WBFN) representative Richard Pope ask a couple of relevant questions did not spark the expected fireworks. Armed with one easy question – Why hasn’t the WBFN been contacted by Marina Marina Manager, Paul Gautier, about concerns they have about the Marina expansion, Council had no answers, only soothing promises. Asked about the rushed and minimalistic consultation process Council had no answers and preferred to listen to the Director of Engineering “Whipper” Bill Watson explain, for the first time a consultation and implementation process which sounded as though it have been invented just that very afternoon.

In his analysis of the announced consultation process, consisting of one meeting of invited “stakeholder” groups and one public meeting in the evening of the same day Mr Pope exposed the idiocy of the idea. “We are expected to explain our position, in a meeting where other groups are fighting to have their say too.” Apparently very few people knew about the afternoon meeting and that led Cllr. Mutton to ask the Mayor why she hadn’t, as a member of Council, been told about it. Mr Pope’s interjection summed up the whole administrative attitude when he simply said, “That’s because you were not invited.”

One of Mr Pope’s complaints was that due to the inadequate notice the WBFN had not had time to prepare. “And if I had known that there was going to be more than one meeting on the same subject I would have prepared two presentations.” Another problem for the WBFN was that the flow of information needed to form opinions was poor “Although myself and Margaret (a member of the WBFN executive) have been talking to Mr Peacock, the CAO, we have never really had answers to our requests for information, it appeared we did not know what questions to ask to get the right information. There has been a disconnect of Information”

Mr Pope revealed that the memo from the Marina Manager that exposed a request from Mr Gautier to ShorePlan, the consultants, that they limit the public meetings to just one was obtained by means of a Freedom of Information request, a disgraceful way of handling public information but kudos to the WBFN for its persistence. But Council led by the Mayor continued to attempt  assuage ruffled feathers. “This is not a finished deal” and “There is still lots of time”, and the ones from DM Frost – “Don’t worry this is still a blank slate” “You will be involved”, and “We will get this right at the end” appeared to be the mantras Oooming from the Council side.

But the last word was said by Mr Pope, who remained to be convinced, “You keep saying this is a blank slate – it is not; you have a well developed plan and all we want is to try to influence it – have our say.” When asked earlier in the presentation “What does the WBFN want?” his answer had been, “We want a large meeting so that everybody has their say before we formulate the final plan.” Not such a bad idea and if followed through would live up to the fine ideals of the new “Accountability and Transparency Plan for Governance” policy that Council adopted in the same meeting yesterday.

A fine piece of Irony

In the same meeting, on Monday 7th of July at 4pm, that Cobourg Council is adopting a policy that tells them, and the world, how to govern transparently, read report here a member of the public has written a letter to them, and will appear as a delegation to complain about the process being used to by the Town to solicit public participation around the Marina expansion plans.

Yes it is true, Miriam Mutton wants to be Mayor

Mutton_sHaving heard on the twitterverse that a big announcement would be made on Friday on the Drive-in show hosted by Dave Glover, we went to their facebook page and discovered that the big announcement was a big one. Councillor Miriam Mutton had announced that she had just filed papers to contest the race for Mayor – she wants to be Mayor!

A quick and dirty analysis

eologoLast Thursday vote was a bit of a humdrum affair – no excitement and most appeared to approach the duty as just that a duty. Just looking at the statistics and pondering awhile doesn’t do much except reinforce stereotypes.

As we all know Lou Rinaldi was elected and Rob Milligan lost his seat and the NDP and Greens fielded candidates. Was this an unexpected result? Probably yes if asked at the beginning of the campaign but not at the end of the campaign.

Well we’re glad that’s over

electioin2The Provincial election that is. Only in Canada and the UK and Australia the USA, can 68% of the electorate be told to rub salt and that their political aspirations don’t count. Until we adopt proportional representation look for minorities to rule the majority. For a party that will call itself Progressive – the Liberals, we will now see just how progressive they will really be.

We don’t need no stinking zoning

Because the Official Plan says that a developer may have six storeys that is what he could have had! So saith the OMB. The official representative of the Board, that’s what Mary-Ann Sills called herself all day, ruled that despite a height restriction of the zoning bylaw of a maximum of three storeys, in the area in dispute six could have been built. Never mind that the six storey limit allowed by the OP was qualified by certain conditions that opponents say the applicant never met, the zoning bylaw was ruled redundant by this ruling.

One last chance

FordJerry Ford, a Cobourg resident, has been an accessible transit advocate for twenty years and now he has to appear before Cobourg Council again tonight. He appeared last week to talk about the awarding of a contract to an unknown out of town company – BTS  website here.

Mike Harris 2.0

hudak2This fellow is surprising many people with his electioneering this time, but we hope the majority of voters are not fooled by glitz and simplistic slogans. Fuelled by the best brains that the Republican Party can buy his campaign is off to a great start. His “million Jobs Plan” is a masterpiece of flimflam and dreams.

It’s Us agin Them; again!

gavelThe little guys – the people, the Citizens, the malcontents and of course the “usual suspects” against the Town, the developer and perhaps the OMB Chair. Now that the Town has brought its secret deal out of the back room we can see what it it really is. We have commented enough on the lack of merit with this solution but we knew that the “gang of four” would always come through for the developer.

We are sounding like a broken record

But not quite as busted as the Cobourg Council will be after tonight (Monday 12th). We at the BR have had a couple of days to cool down after receiving the blockbuster news that the majority on Council have cut a deal to allow a five-storey building to be built next to the line of the Heritage District. Something that will fail, despite how much lipstick you put on it, to blend in with the neighbourhood as the Heritage Guidelines demand and mandate.

The Council spoke

floorLast night Cobourg Council voted unanimously to retain the crest, that is sitting as a centrepiece in the foyer of the Victoria Hall Floor. It was an unexpected decision as we at the BR fully expected the Mayor to be able to influence his Council to follow through with his earlier decision to support the removal. But faced with strong opposition to the idea from his Deputy, he acquiesced, didn’t fight very hard and did not have to vote as he sat in the Chair and watched his colleagues vote against his wish.

We haven’t had a good word for PMSH lately

Harper And we still don’t!

His latest move to draw criticism from us, at the BR, is the politicisation of next Friday’s “Day of Remembrance”. This day of this year has been set aside for the Nation to remember the sacrifices of those magnificent, brave and indomitable warriors in our Armed Services, who wasted their time, efforts and the Nation’s money in trying to defend the Afghans from themselves

Election Thoughts

electionLook at these three candidates and just make a choice based on whatever – looks, voice, dress, reputation because we at the BR think that choosing any one of the Parties these three leaders come from on policy is just not going to happen.