Month: May 2018

Persistence pays off

click to enlarge

Dave Tredree is a Cobourger from way back. A well respected hockey coach, in his time, and an all round good guy – and obviously a person in for the long haul.

Dave is probably the last known Radio Shack franchisee in the business. Years ago when RS decided to eliminate its franchises Dave took them on, as his was taken away. In the courts for years he finally prevailed thus showing obstinence, a clear sense of principle and obviously tenacity.

On the side he has dabbled in real estate development and picked up a piece of land, many years ago, just over the border, on Hwy 45, when nobody else wanted it; a piece of junk land covered in brush. But obviously an adherent of the Bob Hope school of millionaires, who famously quoted, “Anybody can make money in real estate – just buy the land on the outskirts of Town and wait!”

Well Dave’s ship has come in and his tenacity has paid off. On Monday evening at the CoW meeting there is an agreement between the Twp of Hamilton and Cobourg coming up for approval. This was discussed in the last post “Now for a bit of history” but we didn’t say that the report is looking to extend services to three areas (the new Hospice on Ontario St is the third one). But back to “The Tredree Lands” (as they are described in the report), this development is going to be a “an area of 9.32 acres, on a 22.30 acre lot, and the proposed development includes a food court. fuel/convenience facility, service repair facility and hotel”. The parking lot will have parking for 51 trucks and the hotel will be 14,500 sf. Quite the complex!

So the question is – what price will Hamilton Twp and the developer have to pay for the privilege of benefiting from Cobourg’s services. How much has the value of the vacant 9.32 acres increased by the addition of these services. If the value has increased how much will the developer pay to Cobourg for this value? Don’t forget the value would have never increased without these services!

What we do know is that the report from the CAO reveals that the cost of the services to cross the border will be at the developer’s expense – they will build the pipes. The cost of the services is based on the usual LUSI formula. But the costs are the same as being in Town, with the exception of an increased monthly charge for the water/sewage. LUSI will measure the consumption for water and the sewage charge will be based on the quantity of water delivered. The tricky question of selling Cobourg’s future sewage capacity is addressed as “Development Charge capacity loss compensation” which really means that if a developer was building this structure inside the border he would have had to pay a development charge, which has been established by consultants last year. If a developer is building outside the borders this compensation amount will be charged and based on the annual consumption. The question is HOW much should this compensation be? Just how much money will Cobourg make out of this development considering that all of the taxes generated will flow to Hamilton Twp. Surely a developer inside the border will pay a development charge but the structure built will generate taxes and benefits for the Town, can we say the same for a facility in Hamilton Twp? The Tredree facility has not had the amount determined yet but the Pentecostal Camp will pay a onetime fee of $70,884.60. We will wait for that breakdown and justification – it seems to minimal at first glance!

The final thing the BR will say in this report, they have an interview scheduled with the Town later in the week to check our facts and listen to the Town’s justifications, is that the size of the sewage pipe is the wrinkle in this debate. The proposed developments are not on the border but some distance away from it. That means there is developable land between the border and the new facilities. That means that unless the size of the pipe is geared to the facilities in question only, there will be excess capacity available to others that have frontage. These properties will be able to command to be hooked up. So the ‘giveaway’ really is bigger than at first glance.

Just wonder how many of these questions have been asked in the secret meetings that have taken place already in the back rooms?

Congratulations to Jorge DeSousa – whoever you are?

To This
Click on image to enlarge

From This

Finally the biggest eyesore on King St is being renovated. On Monday evening 4th June the CoW will be asked to approve a planning application for 20 King St West – read it here.

This building has been massacred over the ages and left to rot by its present owner. In the 60s the building was used by Cobourg’s first woman lawyer – Daisy McCullogh and she ripped out the original store window and fixed it with 60s ‘modernism’ never a good fit and that became obvious as soon as the Heritage Movement came to Town. Then it became a Radio Shack, then a series of restaurants. Now it is unused and vacant.

Enter stage left and a Mr Jorge DeSousa. He has authorised Andrew Smith Design to renovate the front and replace the windows. Congratulations to Mr DeSousa for showing faith in downtown and doing this. A very good investment, as downtown real estate is dirt cheap and the potential to add a fine storefront – we don’t know what is going to go in but we would guess another restaurant (the double bifold doors would be a clue), and dwellings up top is there.

Just goes to show that one of the ways to get people to invest in downtown is to push the fact that downtown property prices are dirt cheap compared to other places.

We are experiencing email notification problems

Please renew you subscription to get your email notifications for new posts. The “Feedburner” code was not working so we repaired it and previous subscriptions were lost. Use the “Sign-up for New Posts” box on the left of this page.

The attacks begin

Bob Rae was an idiot say the Cons

Out of all the quotes you will see and hear about the problems of the 1990 NDP government you should read this snippet from Tim Armstrong.

This weekend will see the NDP fight the trolls. One such troll might have inserted a Nazi Meme into a candidate’s facebook page. The candidate denies ever putting it there so that’s that then?

The BR received this email from the Ford campaign minutes after the release of the latest poll on Thursday:

"publisher, we knew this would happen. 
The media, the pollsters, they don’t  want us to win. 
So they’re making up numbers to write stories about NDP momentum.
Forum released a poll saying the NDP is at 47%, with us at 33%.
Their own data shows this is a lie.
Buried on page 11 of their report it says the raw numbers are this:
PC: 40%
NDP: 36%
They “weighted” the NDP up 11 points.
The pollsters and the media are ganging up to try to keep us down.
They are scared of what happens when the people get a voice.
Because it doesn’t fit their narrative.
But publisher, don’t worry.
We’re going to win this election.
And we’ll get this province back on track.

Now for a bit of history

A friendly agreement or a colossal giveaway?

WCP2 – Normar Rd

In the 80s a series of discussions took place between the Town of Cobourg and the Municipality of Hamilton Township. The subject was amalgamation of the two entities. Needless to say it never happened, for a variety of reasons. One of the results of the failure to agree was the policy from both Cobourg and Hamilton Twp not to extend municipal services across the border. Call it spiteful, mean or just retribution it has stood for over thirty years.

Now, very soon, an agreement will be made between the municipalities to break that policy. In Cobourg sharp eyed observers will have sniffed something about this a couple of months ago when an agenda item, for a closed session, was noticed and also when an application was made by the Pentecostal Camp to extend water services. 

Now in a news story in CobourgNow an online publication; read it here, it was revealed that an agreement has been reached. WHY haven’t we in Cobourg been notified of this. WHY is it that we have overturned longstanding policy in secret. WHY cannot Cobourg citizens be trusted with this discussion in the open. WHEN are we going to be told about this.

Why is this so important to Cobourgers? Another bit of history – the farm field between Workman Road South and the Pentecostal Camp has been for sale for many, many years. Now there is a SOLD sign on it. Was this land purchased using inside information about the water/sewer extension? Because if it was then the cost of extending the water/sewage lines just became more valuable and Cobourg should cash in but will they? In Hamilton Township this is being touted as a no cost item as the developer will pay all the costs. But the cost to Cobourg is more than services. After all just how many houses will be built on this land? And remember the taxes will flow to Hamilton Township.

In 1985, after the election of a new Council the first order of business was to deal with the atrocious situation that residents in the Brook Rd and Coverdale subdivisions were faced with – overloaded septic systems. That cost millions to fix. It is not inconceivable to imagine that with rural building standards the same thing couldn’t happen again in the new planned areas.

But will taxpayers in Cobourg ever get to discuss this giveaway and impediment to further amalgamation, if wanted. Cobourg, unless it charges a premium for the water/sewage, will never gain from this deal – why are we doing it? Why are we using precious sewer capacity to service outsiders. Is Hamilton Township going to pay a fee for this capacity? How will Cobourg profit from this?

The bottom line is that Hamilton Twp is laughing all the way to the Bank and Cobourg, given the lack of public information to date is looking like a benevolent Uncle being taken to the cleaners by Slick Willy.

weekend jottings

Why does facebook waste its time:

Opened up FB to check on all the usual ‘stuff’ ad a video of Duggie came up. Labelled a political ad by facebook I clicked on ‘why this ad’ and saw this pic – snipped it for your education. Hmm facebook definitely has its algorithms wrong if they think I have been looking ad the PC’s stuff and even more wrong if they think I would want to see it.



A surge for the NDP:

Sunday poll results are in and the third party  is now the ‘nearly first’ party. Hmm will it last, or collapse as the fear mongers, dredging up the spectre of Bob Rae (the person that only old people remember) try to scare the voters into the arms of Rob Ford!



Walmart to dump self checkout tills  After the hoo-hah about Walmart using self-checkouts it seems that the great experiment is over – in the USA at least. Maybe Canada will follow suit. We certainly hope so. The “Guardian” newspaper published this great story about the problems with the tills and customers – Nation of shoplifters. 

Alternative Voices Needed

We live in a white bread world here in the hills and valleys of Upper Canada, safely distant from the colourful and diverse city up the road. Here we still cling to the old school values of staunch British resolve, and we expect our neighbours to be the same.

Nowhere is this more evident than in our local media, especially when those sources are taken over by huge corporations. It’s all apple pie and motherhood around here, nothing remotely new or controversial to be found anywhere. Cobourg’s taxpayers association might be newly formed, but their right wing approach to taxation is certainly nothing new. Instead it’s just a slight adaptation because most of them seem to be Toronto escapees bent on preventing citified diversity from creeping into their upscale suburban paradise. They want gold plated services from the Town as long as they are the beneficiaries, otherwise they want taxes trimmed to provide only the basics of services for everyone else.

The CTA cause is mostly showcased in the Cobourg Blog, that online news source that covers so many municipal matters around town so thoroughly. John Draper seems most impressed with these people who seem to worship at the feet of Business, a common oddity among many these days. When did this happen, this notion that Business and business people are our modern super heroes? That they alone have all the answers?

This is why I am personally thrilled to see my old co-conspirator, Ben Burd, back at his computer speaking out. As a former Town Councillor, President of the Northumberland Labour Council, and a founder of the Help Centre and Northumberland Legal Centre, his viewpoints are considerably different than the usual same-old traditional sentiments that we mostly see around here. 

We need him and others like him very badly. We need to hear our alternative voices loud and clear if we ever hope to see new solutions that work for all of us, not just the affluent elites who think it’s their job to run everything. 

More light needed on this one!

In a swift move the Art Gallery of Northumberland (AGN) will be getting $160K from the Town of Cobourg. This stunnning move by Council has had less than a week of public notice and was not debated at the Committee of the Whole, last week. 

It is no secret that the AGN has been in turmoil for the last few years. Last year the President appeared before Council begging for more money to stabilise the institution and said the money would fund the next year. Well obviously that move didn’t work, even after a highly successful and acclaimed WW1 exhibition. So now the Council has decided to give the AGN another $50K and toss in an additional $65K for good measure. One good question is – “where is this money coming from?” Cllr Seguin has answered this – see below, but as she explains The Town’s operating budget is only hit for $30K. The rest comes from Council’s ‘play-money’ – the HoldCo fund; and free rent in Vic Hall.

Another good question would be to whom are we giving the money? The present Board is in a state of flux and may not be up to full complement. The Northumberland connection is severely hurt after the AGN severed its ties with “The Gallery” in Port Hope and now the AGN is what appears to be a Cobourg organisation! How can it call itself the AGN if outreach to the County is severely limited?

But of more concern to the BR and we suppose the CTA too, is the haste in which this matter is being dealt with by the Cobourg Council. Surely the memo, from the Community Services Councillor, was ready last week and could have been discussed informally at the CoW meeting. The Memo was signed by the AGN President on May 9th four days before the CoW and could have been placed on the Agenda as an addition. Then the public would have had ample notice of this “hail mary giveaway”. But by receiving the memo in the first part of a regular meeting and then voting on it in the middle part of the meeting the scantest of public notice has been given to those interested in such a large handout.

These questions were sent to Cllr. Seguin, and she rapidly answered (within seven hours on a holiday weekend):

1. Why is this memo being introduced and signed at the same meeting, this is very little, if no, public notice. The MoU was signed by the President of the AGN four days before the CoW where it could have have been discussed in public?

The MOU was written by Dean Hustwick, Director of Culture and Recreation with input from the AGN. It was approved at our May 9 board meeting and signed by AGN President, Mary Donaldson. The town received it the next day so I do not know why there was a delay in presenting it at the May 14 COW meeting. We asked for the MOU to be included in the Council agenda for May 22 in order for it to be approved by Council in time for it to be presented at the Annual General Meeting of the Art Gallery scheduled for May 29 at 5pm in the Art Gallery. I do apologise for the limited time for public engagement.

2. Where is the $165K coming from and is it in the budget?

The funding was approved in the Town of Cobourg 2018 budget. The art gallery is a key part of our cultural assets
and we asked for it to be included in the budget. The breakdown from the budget is as follows:
Grant 		$160,000  (operational and $45,000 rent)
From Holdco	-$85,000
Subtotal	$75,000
Less Art
Gallery Rent	-$45,000
Cost to Town	$30,000

3. Who will evaluate the progress of the AGN in meeting its goals, necessary for quarterly funding?

Council will be provided quarterly reports from the AGN on specific dates as outlined in the MOU. By November 30, 2018 the
 AGN must provide a draft business plan to the Town showing that it has met its goals for 2018 funding and to build
 a business case for 2019 funding.

So now we have answers to some of the questions but the issue still remains – why little or no public notice? After all the CTA would probably have questioned this amount of money!

A sad admission of political cowardice!

A clear admission of political cowardice. Just got around to watching some of the proceedings of Cobourg Council on Youtube watch here. At the 41 minute mark Paul Pagnuello of the Cobourg Taxpayers’ Association appeared as a delegation. He spoke about the need to pay a functioning Council a proper rate, “at the moment Councillors are working for less than minimum wage!”

However at the end of the presentaions, and with the first question, Cllr Rowden blurted out the feelings of most of the Cllrs present; but from a different angle. “I would not want to knock on doors with is proposal, if we approved this.” So there you have it – political cowardice and absolute pandering to the basest emotions of the perceived voter.

To his credit Mr. Pagnuello defended his argument and one he will make to the voters by countering that if you want to attract more diversity on Council then you have to pay them. He also pointed out that the annual cost of doing this would be an additional yearly cost of $15.58 for each household.

In the voting part of the meeting, 1 hour 11 minute point, members of Council spoke. Debra McCarthy, after revealing that she is not running would make the case at the door that her work as a Councillor is worth a raise, “it is not charity it is doing your best and giving the time to do the job”. Cllr Darling also spoke, “I am having a tough time with this”. He made a motion not to eliminate the 1/3 tax deduction, “because if this goes through the raise will be a deduction”. Cllr Seguin again wimped out and said “I am not happy, but will support the motion”. This was after her remarks that basically supported the raise movement had been made. Another motion was made as an amendment – to look at the CTA proposal if the 1/3 deduction is removed. This amendment was defeated.

The Deputy Mayor punted off the discussion, “my whole intent is to make the next Council deal with this”.

Hmmm stay tuned on this one!

The end of week 1 and a fifteen minute jaunt around the Internet

Two All Candidates’ Meetings (ACM) and one breakfast schmooze, missed by Lou Rinaldi, and do we have any indicators yet? The CBC PollTracker is here and changes daily as Eric Grenier updates it on a constant basis. So what do the pundits say this morning? Do not write off the NDP that’s what. We know we have been through this before – watch an aggressive NDP jump forward only to stumble at the finish line. But is it too early to say that Andrea Horwath has momentum? Eric Grenier seems to think so read it here. The Toronto Star thinks there is an “Anybody but Ford” movement percolating. This article also gives a good synopsis and bios of the Leaders, an interesting read. The folks at the Election Prediction Project are unsure of the results – 45 Ridings too close to call. For the ‘wonks’ among us take a look at this page from StrategyCorp (poll page here) and its Poll Tracker Page, this sheet updates every five minutes and lists all the Polls taken in the Province.

Whizzing around the the interweb thingy we can keep up with the local campaign without even leaving the computer. In a facebook share we found this clip – the NDP candidate answering a question about health-care, but the unintended consequence was the attitude and behaviour of the incumbent – Lou Rinaldi. With the other candidates paying attention to the statement Lou appeared to listen for about twenty seconds then boredom took over. We entitled the clip It only took 20 seconds to induce Lou’s boredom.

Locally speaking we will have the three Major Party Campaign rooms open today. The Cons and Libs opened up in Cobourg earlier this week and the NDP’s opening is today at 1pm. Track on down to King St West and see the Candidate.