Ah, the Tannery lands and its Master Plan have emerged from the bowels of the bureaucracy to be finally placed on the shelf in a couple of weeks. Years ago the Town, trying to make a silk purse from a sow’s ear, commissioned a Master Plan to transform an old contaminated industrial site into an urban oasis.
The Site once was a flourishing Tannery curing leather and fish hides. This use had been established on the site of the Crossen Car Works – a very distinguished Company with a fine record. Read the History of the lands and its occupants here in a panel produced by the Sifton-Cook Heritage Centre. However by May 25th 1986 the last door was shuttered and a battle ensued between the last owner – a Mr Richard Beasley and the Town over its unpaid taxes. The Town eventually assumed ownership and the liabilities for the contamination and a search for redevelopment came about.
In a report from the Northumberland News, June 2009, a story about another step forward by the Town. “Cobourg is applying for funds to pay for a community-driven design charette to explore ideas that could trigger a rebirth of the Tannery property.At the June 22 planning and development committee meeting, committee members told staff to prepare and submit an application to the Northumberland Community Futures Development Corporation (NCFDC) Local Initiatives Program for funding to hire Brook McIlroy Inc. to run a design charette for the Tannery District. The cost of running the charette (including advertising) is an estimated $9,300. During a June 2 planning advisory committee meeting, a Citizens for a Sustainable Cobourg (CSC) presentation noted up to $10,000 may be available through the NCFDC to implement local sustainable design initiatives.
In 2015 the then CAO, Stephen Peacock, wrote a memo for Council recommending that a Master Plan be initiated for the Tannery Lands read it here – the history of the Town’s involvement is in the memo. So a Master Plan was initiated and the Citizens were asked for input. With a website and a couple of public meetings; Tannery Master Plan Public Meeting – 30 March 2018 and again Tannery District Public Meeting November 2021 – 30 November 2021 after which the Master Plan was shuffled off the the Planning Department for final polishing. Another public meeting was held Tannery District Public Meeting November 2021 – 30 November 2021.
Now at its next CoW Council is ready to convert the Master Plan, read the document here – all 144 pages, into a Secondary Plan amendment to the Official Plan of Cobourg (OP). This officially be the end of the project that started in 2009. A thirteen year project! Like a Zombie this project appears from the dead periodically and then dies. In our opinion this move – a Secondary Plan amendment makes the project officially dead, as it will sit as an appendix in the OP waiting for developers to miraculously appear and say “I want to build”.
One ray of hope about redevelopment is the desire of some community activists to use the land to accommodate the need for ‘affordable housing’. But with the Cobourg Council led by its outspoken Mayor there is little hope of Cobourg ever being involved in such a project – “That’s the County’s job not ours” they chant. However with the County up to its armpits in the swamp with the “Elgin Project” and its mounting costs, they do not exactly cover themselves with glory. So the dilemma persists.
Hopefully this long awaited Plan will spur on community groups to do something! After all there are some who have been around from the start and will never give up.