“The harbour has been rebuilt, dredged and expanded many times in the past century and a half. It is actually entirely artificial as the bay formed by Midtown Creek was just a swampy inlet, which the Cobourg business people quickly recognized as a great opportunity if it became a major stopping place for trade on route to the Trent and St.Lawrence waterways. The Cobourg Harbour Co. owned the harbour for many years but in 1850 the town bought the harbour back at a huge expense. It accomodated railways, steamships and ferries, was disfigured for years by huge piles of coal and gigantic oil tanks. It was redesigned for small pleasure craft in the early 1980s and to this day undergoes various changes.”
After some forty years of active municipal involvement, the first real study of the area came about in the 70s with the first committee to review harbour development and morphed into a couple of secondary plans and then a waterfront study with three phases and now yet another consultant’s review hopefully we can finish the job.
Enter stage left the Thincdesign team.
Mike Tocher, thinc design
Peter Heyblom, thinc design
Mary Catherine Mehak, Mehak, Kelly & Associates
The BR had the opportunity to meet these folks on Wednesday of this week when they hosted a ‘charrette” – a design session for the residents. Wikipedia has an interesting contribution that sums up our attitude to these affairs. We would say that charrettes are situations where dreamers play with other people’s money and land to produce fantasy projects. But wikipedia puts it much more nicely – “In planning, the charrette has become a technique for consulting with all stakeholders. This type of charrette (sometimes called an enquiry by design) typically involves intense and possibly multi-day meetings, involving municipal officials, developers, and residents. A successful charrette promotes joint ownership of solutions and attempts to defuse typical confrontational attitudes between residents and developers. Charrettes tend to involve small groups, however the residents participating may not represent all the residents nor have the moral authority to represent them. Residents who do participate get early input into the planning process. For developers and municipal officials charrettes achieve community involvement, may satisfy consultation criteria, with the objective of avoiding costly legal battles.”
As I signed in, had a lovely chat with an old aquaintance – Teresa Behan, looked around and noticed about fifteen people in the room, as I left about forty five minutes before the close of the session 102 people had signed in. Spotting a person I thought looked like a consultant – younger man, with a nametag slung around his neck, chatting with others and available. “Hello my name is Ben Burd!” “I’m Mike” no last name. Having trolled various sites, I later learned it was Tocher. Nice guy, very helpful and good listener. Answered most of my questions and deduced he was/is passionate about the topic and project. He told me that the most active of the five tables was the Marina/Trailer Park table. He did tell the BR that the thorny topic of how to weight the responses hasn’t been discussed, but in his experience with other projects weighting responses doesn’t really move items up the priority list.
Moving over to the fellow who was the facilitator at the Marina/Trailer Park table I introduced myself to Peter (Heyblom) he answered all my questions but he appeared to be flagging in interest – five hours of public intereaction would do that to the hardiest of men. But, he did tell me that the Trailer Park and the public’s ideas of what to do with it was a hot topic. All participants had many ideas and expressed them well. Consensus emerged – the trailer park should remain but update it, but how to update it has no consensus. The status quo still prevails but the dreamers, less than 10% of respondents still would like to see a boutique hotel/restaurant. For the latest results of the online survey click here.
All in all a good effort by the consultants and just over a hundred people participated – an even better effort.
Postscript: A data analyst would have a field day with this survey. As at 1000hrs Sunday morning 1,085 people started the survey by telling the surveyors that they either used or did not use the waterfront. By the time the surveyed had reached the end of the survey 303 people failed to finish. We guess minutiae is not for everybody!