The view from seat #8

Prep work for the May 29th COW.

A meeting with contrasts and choices to be made:

Safety vs NIMBY. Abbott Blvd could be described by some, especially by the residents, as bucolic (def = ” relating to or typical of rural life”). A little slice of countryside in the City, part of the local charm. For many years it was also the area that the affluent made their homes – hence the air of ‘upper-crust’.The Town wants to follow through with its commitment to a safer community by installing sidewalks in the Town. For some reason, we don’t know, why as we have not seen the priority list, Abbott Blvd has been chosen for one of this years projects. This has some of the residents in an uproar and three spokespeople (read their presentation here) are going to Council on Monday night to tell Council that they do not want sidewalks. Clutching a petition that contains 112 names, Council will be told that because there has never been an accident involving pedestrians the roadway is safe to walk on and the street doesn’t need a sidewalk.The Town has a position, (read it here) and it is based entirely on traffic patterns and safety as well as fulfilling the mandate to complete Official Plan aspirations.

abbotpic

So here’s the political problem; will Council do the right thing or try to please the objectors? We at the BR are on the side of the sidewalks. The report mentions a family with a stroller walking in the road. It’s bad enough that anybody should walk in the road but a person pushing a stroller, having to depend on the goodwill and skill of a driver is really bad. It will not be easy to fit a sidewalk into the space available. There is a line of hydro poles five feet from the curb, but it can be done and at least the pedestrians are off the road.

Sports vs The Arts. This never ending debate do we support the Arts or Sports is back again. Monday’s agenda has three items asking for money, or support from two youth organisations and the Northumberland Players. One is the “Student Debating Federation” asking for the waiving of the fees for the use of the ‘Old Bailey’ for a four day debating session (read the request/report here). This session will bring 75 students from all of Canada to Cobourg. The waiving of the fees would cost the Town $200 per day – $800. This request has been recommended to be denied. However the writer of the report did offer the suggestion that Council may want to give the Student Federation cash instead. Hmmm cash to pay themselves??? The other artsy request comes from the Northumberland Players who need the money and municipal endorsement to compete in a competition for players and casts, in Ottawa. They asked for a $1,000 (read their request/report here) and the recommendation was to deny the request because others who have travelled in the past to represent the Town in Provincial and National competitions have done it on their own dime. This request if granted would set a precedent! In the same agenda there¬† is a request from the Cobourg Minor Softball Association seeking funds for the 2017 Canadian U16 Boys Fast Pitch Championships tournament. This gets a more favourable nod (read the memo to Council here).¬† Actually the request is a big one: waive the facilities fees and provide Legion Fields free to the tournament (a $4,000 value), give them $6,000 in a sponsorship fee and provide a $4,000 guarantee in case of an operating deficit. OR a combination of all or any of the requests. It is interesting that these options are in a Staff report given to Council and doesn’t recommend any specific option just tosses the whole package back to Council and says “you choose”. Could be an interesting debate! But back to the original point the choice between the Arts – Debates, or Sports – softball. Howcum the arty thing is denied and the sporty thing isn’t?

In another vein:Tax refunds.Tax refunds are a normal part of the financial administration of the Town and are brought before Council routinely during the year. They are caused by business decisions, fires and vacancies to name a few reasons but this year the amount of the reductions prompted eagle eyes to look aghast – $2,092,137.78. hdtaxLooking closely in the report we find that one local business has been very successful in its efforts to reduce taxes, gaining a refund for all of the years since 2009. As the business is Home Depot we can assume that the facility had been incorrectly assessed since its opening. A grand total of $263K, another big winner in these refund stakes is LinMac Inc gaining just over a $million back. For the full list read here. Our question is – “if the Town is dependent on MPAC setting the rates for assessment why is the Town paying out and not MPAC?”

Now for a piece of nostalgia

jetburdMany years ago, the 80s to be exact a debate broke out at Cobourg Council about an item that is going to be discussed on Monday evening – use of watersports and equipment on Victoria Beach. I cannot remember the exact debate or why it came about but it must have been topical as the best cartoonist this side of Montreal – Barry King, of Grafton fame, produced this cartoon of yours truly. I am sure that because I was an easy draw I received a lot of attention but this one was spectacular and I have kept it since. Having the chance to print it again, I am sure I am violating BK’s copyright but I am also sure he doesn’t mind another showcase for his prodigous talents.

Any way the discussion Monday will also bring to mind another blast from the past – who can forget the time the brave Councillor Spooner confronted a couple of people on jetskis, who had the temerity to beach them on Victoria Beach? Cllr Spooner immediately, upon seeing this infraction determined it was a breach of beach safety and waded in fully clothed to talk to the miscreants. Another mighty piece of local lore!

 

4 comments for “The view from seat #8

  1. mike wladyka
    June 2, 2017 at 11:08 am

    Enjoyed the report on Cobourg political shenanigans and tax refund programs
    for chain stores, but especially the historical reference to the Quixotic wader,
    Bob Spooner. Splish splash Cobourg is still taking a bath.
    (Nice caricature of you Ben…reminds me of the wonderful work of
    “Richard” in the old Evening Guide.)

  2. June 2, 2017 at 2:13 pm

    Our cemeteries and hospital beds are full of pedestrians who depended on the skill and attentiveness of Cobourg drivers if what I see every day is an indication. When can Booth Street expect a way of avoiding the boy racers?

  3. Deb OConnor
    June 2, 2017 at 2:31 pm

    I returned to Abbott Boulevard for about a year after my mother left us, and her house there, for my brother and me to do with as we chose. It didn’t take long for me and my partner to conclude that we weren’t Abbott Boulevard kind of people. For one thing, we stayed up past 9 pm, the time at which all the lights up and down the street were turned off for the night.

    There was this tall, thin scarecrow of an old man, dressed always in dark clothing, who went for his daily walk around that time. We quickly learned to keep an eye out for him so we didn’t run him over in the dark. He chose to walk in the same direction as traffic and not against it as we all teach our children to do. He presented a real threat to anyone driving at night and we began to wonder if the man was trying to commit suicide by car. It was a standing joke with us for the year that we lived there.

    This long story may seem pointless, but it is to say, loudly, that YES, Abbot Boulevard needs a sidewalk. (Whether this guy would use it or continue to walk on the road is uncertain, but at least he and all the other pedestrians would have that option). Sometimes safety trumps tradition and this is one of them.

    • mike wladyka
      June 2, 2017 at 6:04 pm

      Our streets should be well lit and negotiable by everyone.
      It costs money but should it burden the residents of those
      streets with obligations (shoveling) they physically
      can’t meet ? Better lighting is an easier problem to
      solve than sidewalks.

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