The Staff is still in control

The backstory to the recent brouhahhah over the Marina expansion was the desire by some members of the public and at least one councillor to tame, what they saw as, the overzealous and ambitious staff of Cobourg, specifically the Director of Public Works and to some extent the CAO.

The Marina project, as we all know, until it hit the Council machine last week, was revved up and ready to go to spend $3.5million on more facilities at the harbour. The resulting outrage from some of the public was inevitable but when all of the groups using the harbour failed to support the plan the obstinate Staff should have seen the light, but didn’t, and the Council had to put the boots to the plan.

But in the period just finished a new committee has been set up to oversee the activities of the Waterfront. It has long been known that legislatively the jurisdiction is a mess. Two Masterplans – the Parks and Rec and Waterfront – are in place as is the Official Plan and all three overlap and the coordination of all three is non-existent. It is hoped that the new committee can sort all of this out.

Having looked at the mandate of the new committee we think that this will not happen and it appears that the Staff, who drew up the mandate, have still maintained control of the agenda.

WACmandate

Look carefully at all of the three instructions in the mandate and you will see that the committee is only allowed to discuss items referred to them, and more disturbing is the middle mandate. If you recall the Marina expansion is dead and buried. So who is the “Project Steeering Committee” and what is the project?

The big question for us at the BR is this: will the committee ever have the cajones to be independent and if they do which of the big dogs, Deputy Mayor or the Staff, will be first to point out that from time to time they may be straying from the task at hand – which is to discuss topics directed to them by Council.

A very current item from our guest – Dan Christie

 

pic_12822608807854-300x236As I write I’m rolling a caramel-flavoured marijuana ‘candy’ around in my mouth. Last night, just before lights out, I smoked a little more that half a joint.
If our ‘outraged’ federal Health Minister, Rona Ambrose had her way, my activities regarding the dreaded hemp would be confined to ingesting the stuff through my lungs -which would be fine with me -despite having never touched a cigarette in my life. But friends insist I try the cookie/candy/brownie route. And so I shall.

I came within a hair’s breadth of getting a medical marijuana certificate when, at the last moment, my oncologist backed away from the idea since, as I understand it, the hospital saw liability issues looming. It seems the federal government doesn’t know what constitutes a ‘dose’. Oh, I can be prescribed all the Hydromorphone, Abstral and just about any other opiate that might be helpful. But not marijuana. At least not by the hospital where I’m being treated.

And I don’t blame the hospital or my oncologist one little bit.

I blame Rona Ambrose and our Ozzie & Harriet federal government.

Not a single editorial I have read since Rona Ambrose expressed her outrage at The Supreme Court Of Canada’s decision -a decision that stated flat out that forcing people who use medically prescribed marijuana, including pre-kindergarten children, to smoke the stuff- is unconstitutional, not a single editorial has shared Rona Ambrose’ outrage. Not one.

Rona Ambrose is undoubtedly a very busy woman. Too busy, I assume to have seen CNN’s Dr. Sanjay Gupta’s 3-parter on marijuana. Dr. Gupta started out opposed to any relaxation of marijuana laws -legal or otherwise. By the end of the series he was convinced of marijuana’s beneficial effects, especially on children and young adults suffering epilepsy or other debilitating seizures. Much of Dr. Gupta’s exploration was heartbreaking -especially the story of Charlotte -a child of 5-years old who suffered 90 or more seizures a day. Then her parents travelled to Colorado for help. There they got the oil extract that reduced Charlotte’s seizures to less than five a day. They eventually had to leave everything behind in their home states of New Jersey because of the hard line approach to medical marijuana legalization that state’s governor, Chris Christie, clings to.

Then there was the two-page Globe&Mail article by steadfast Conservative Margaret Wente on her personal experience with legal marijuana in Colorado. The line in that article that jumped out at me was when Margaret Wente, of all people, said one of the effects she felt after trying marijuana was that it “made me feel like a nicer person”.

Would marijuana make Rona Ambrose feel like a nicer person? Would it calm her outrage? Somehow I doubt it. But I certainly don’t think it would make her a meaner person either. Nor do I think it would unlock any ability she has to see the other side of an argument.

As for myself the caramel is almost done. So far I feel no urge to ‘gateway’ to anything stronger than a cold beer.

Let’s start again

TheParkOutside1200With the news that the Park Theatre as previously proposed is dead we are now in the position to start over. The Architectural Conservancy of Ontario Cobourg Branch (ACO) has decided not to support the project because the Engineering Report has indicated that the cost to rebuild would be significantly higher than first thought.

The actual price of the rebuild will not be released because it could impact the resale value to the seller (Pope’s words paraphrased). It is now obvious that the site is only valued for the land. It is now incumbent on the Town to re-offer and the price would be only for the price of the land – something far less than the $369K that was bandied around as the most recent real offer.

In a criticism of the ACO this organisation appears to only want to bet on sure things, that don’t cost very much. We understand the idea of not throwing good money after bad but true rehabilitation of Heritage properties always cost much more than a new build. If we are to keep and restore what we have it costs money and the cost should be a real cost of restoration, if it is to be restored spend the money. But this local ACO doesn’t have that philosophy! A few years back they were the pushers of a scheme to rebuild the “Certo” building on Ontario St. Not having heard anything recently about this proposal we assume, and listen to a rumour, that the ACO has dropped this idea.

But back to the Park, Cobourg is not afraid of challenges – Victoria Hall for one, the Group to enlarge Victoria Park, and more recently the “Barracks” now the Sifton-Cook Heritage Centre. All these projects had something that the Park group will have to become – enthusiastic stick-to-it workers and indefatigable in their belief that they will succeed. It can be done and we hope that the Group will now become more vocal and visible in their efforts to rebuild the Park and self-finance the project, but the project will depend on another offer from the Town – after all now that the Town has destroyed the real estate prospects for the Park we should be able to pick it up for pennies on the dollar.

A new way of doing the same-old!

First of all apologies to the faithful readers who appear here everyday looking for pithy comment and sage wisdom [cut out the puffery – ed] the publisher has been very busy the past two weeks in his ‘retirement job’ – “jeez I may as well have not stopped for all the time it is taking to do a part time job”. But thanks to Dave Glover on 89.7 FM radio the BurdReport has been heard.

click to hearThis week he did something different and in order to broaden his approach Dave has started to record his hours for posterity. So armed with the MP3 the topics not covered in print this week are on audio.

Click on the image to hear the show.

Show topics:

  • Intro to show – wonderful track by the Stones – “You can’t always get what you want!” The theme of the commentary this week is compromise.
  • We discuss the Marina Problems again and the news that Citizens have been asked to volunteer to be members of a new advisory committee.
  • 22:35 min. “The Town has to build another stage for Canada Day, because the Town cannot use the Bandshell”
  • 26:00 min. “Does the Mayor of Cramahe Twp have a conflict of interest?”
  • 28:00 min. “Port Hope politics – yet again!”
  • 32:30 min. “Downtown vacancies and the efficacy of revitalisation”
  • 46:00 min. “The Engineering Report for the park Theatre is in. Will the Council bail on the project?”

A Grand Idea

TheParkOutside1200This could be the way it will be! Last year local cinephile Ken Prue produced this image of the future, the way he saw it. A renovated Park Theatre – a cultural centre that would anchor the East end of King St. In this report on the “CobourgNews” website Ken was speaking as a member of the group that wanted to renovate the site. Many reasons are given and everyone of them is valid today.

In a move that was expected Cobourg Council, on Monday night, voted to recommend to the full Council that the Town purchase the facility for $500K, lend the organising group (yet to be named officially) and set aside $25K for closing costs. An expenditure of $600K to be funded from the Northam Industrial reserve. A fantastic move and one that we heartily endorse.

Of course there are critics – local curmudgeons, taxfighters and Councillor MacCarthy. She says that without more information she cannot support the proposal. Perhaps she will expand her views on Monday when she has to vote again but it appears that her concerns are valid but do not stand up in the light. This proposal will not cost taxpayers tax money (the Northam Reserve has never been used to offset tax bills) so it sits there to be used for purposes like this. Just remember that Cobourg contributed millions to the hospital, over the years, using similar funding arrangements from the LUSI dividend. The one thing that critics are forgetting is that the purchase price is probably the land value so even if the Town just sits on the land it is ahead of the game. Knowing the passion of the proponents and the organisational zeal that some will provide raising money should not be a problem. We know that we do not want Carol Farren chasing us every year for money – so get on the funding wagon folks.

Using this proposal as an example it behooves us to point out – yet again, what a resource the “playmoney” funds can be to Cobourgers. We have $1.25million a year in revenue from the Town’s assets – LUSI and Northam. We should be taking some of that money and establishing an endowment fund – a “CommunityChest” to fund ideas like this. Not only would we than have a mechanism to fund community groups but funding them from this source would reduce taxes.

Stay tuned

Just a quick note to follow up on the odor of nepotism and cronyism that pervades Port Hope Council. The BR finally received answers to the questions posed to Councillor Polutnik. Of course he didn’t answer them the big cheese did. In a classic display of weasel words Ms Bernardi produced the following email.

click to enlarge

Mr Polutnik did not reply but the Staff did

For all Port Hopers – please draw your own conclusions: a bit of history, I asked Mr Polutnik some specific questions, as he is the Chair of the Economic Development Committee about the recent changes in the EconDev and Tourism depts.. The questions are contained in the email and are below the ED’s reply to me.

Let’s cut the stinky cheese

porthopeAll of Council has to wear this one. As reported earlier the Council of Port Hope has reorganised its Economic Development and Tourism Departments, firing seven employees some of whom have been there more than ten years. It has been noted that these people were held in a high enough regard that a “pink slip” party was held last night. Predictably even though some staff and ex-colleagues showed present members of Council did not.

The politics of Fear

fearWhen normal political arguments fail because minds will not be changed by clear and open policies compared to each other by opposing political parties then one side or other will resort to scare tactics.

Finally the figures from the Municipal Election

Finally we now have the ins and outs of the election finances of the candidates in the last Municipal Election held in Cobourg last October. In the Mayor’s race incumbent Mr Brocaniers’ opponents were Miriam Mutton and Don Kirkup. We are publishing in detail the donations for the Mayor’s race. The complete list for everybody in all Council positions, in an Excel file can be found here. Link to a directory where all of the candidates reports (in pdf) is held here

We think we are back to normal

images

A message from the Publisher:

Without admitting paranoia all we can say is “I agree” with a comment received yesterday to the announcement that the site had been taken down. “I think being hacked means you are doing something significant on this website…otherwise why bother!!!”

Hacked and Gone

The site will be operating on a bare bones layout and not the layout you have been accustomed to. When we clicked  into it this morning there was just the “white wall of death”.

 

Thanks to John Draper and his hosting service we are back somewhat but some content files are not there and links will not work. We are trying to resucitate but it might be time for a new look at things – so bear with us and we will prevail.

 

ben burd publisher

Nobody will get what they really want

marinaBack to the subject of the Marina expansion! Various people (stakeholders) have published their stands on this contentious project and with the release of the Cobourg Yacht Club’s (CYC) position the whole project should take a pretty turn. This statement is revealing (read it here – wait a while it is a big one) because it goes against public assumptions, that is that they would be in favour of expansion because they have boats.

Give it up willya!

897prayerI don’t know if the pic distortion was an editorial comment on the content, when it appeared on the 89.7 website, but at the BR we do not appreciate the contortions that Deputy Mayor Henderson is going to place the Town in.