Waterfront reflections

click to enlargeThe waterfront, the supposed jewel of Cobourg, the logo on the logo and the place for dreamers to play!


click to enlargeThe pic on the right came from ourontario.ca with the caption that reads:

“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.
Consulting 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!

10 comments for “Waterfront reflections

  1. Deb OConnor
    June 4, 2017 at 1:28 pm

    First, a quick comment about “design charettes”. This is a new bandwagon for Cobourg Council that made its appearance just a few years ago. I’ve never attended because it seems to be entertainment for the chattering classes and even the title causes me apprehension, never mind actually showing up. Maybe after many years of being consulted I’m just fatigued, but I wonder if other residents are put off by the perception of snobbery too.

    Next, an observation about the survey itself. I’m no quitter so I stuck with it right to the end. It took almost an hour as I took the time to think about my responses before making them official. One thing that stuck out for me was the difference in the description of the trailer park and then the marina. The blurb about the marina included this: “Tourism benefits from short or long stays by visitors who take advantage of proximity to the downtown core and its services”. No kind of similar statement is made about visitors to the trailer park. Does that tiny omission reveal a bias in favour of the marina? Surely people who set up camp in the trailer park have to either eat at local restaurants or buy groceries to cook at their campsite. How is that any different from the activities of marina users? Is money generated by marina users better than money from trailer park users? I have to wonder about that.

    Finally I want to congratulate Ben for his dry-eyed look at the whole process. He’s no cheerleader for the Town or its airy fairy plans. We need more of that kind of commentary.

    • Bruce
      June 4, 2017 at 5:27 pm

      The main factor is the trailer park generates $175000 of profit every year where the marina only makes a $40000 profit which is in turn put back into a fund for the marina for the next. So in essence the marina makes no money for the people of Cobourg. If the trailer park is taken property taxes will rise to make up for the $175000 per year lost because the trailer park is gone. I met a lady who said she had a confrontation with the mayors wife and the mayors wife told her to kiss the park goodbye.

      • Wally Keeler
        June 5, 2017 at 10:14 am

        “I met a lady who said she had a confrontation with the mayors wife and the mayors wife told her to kiss the park goodbye.”

        Oh gossipy news. I heard from person A who said that person B said this and that. Oh, but Person B is identified as the mayor’s wife. There is only one mayor’s wife in Cobourg. Quite specific. Of course this is hearsay, and for a very good reason, such crap is excluded from testimony; it has no merit nor weight whatsoever as testimony. But it is included in Bruce’s commentary for some pathetic reason.

        The so-called ‘lady’ is making a serious accusation, a smear against the Mayor’s wife. This smear is being aided and abetted by “Bruce’, and Bruce is providing protection to this slandering ‘lady’.

      • Wally Keeler
        June 5, 2017 at 9:40 pm

        Bruce, I suggest you meet a better quality ‘lady’, one that has integrity. And while you’re at it, learn about developing a stronger sense of integrity for yourself instead of spreading malicious rumours.

  2. Frank
    June 4, 2017 at 2:01 pm

    Good work Ben. The weighting issue of the incoming ideas is the question council will chew on. I agree with Deb that in discussing the economic benefits of the marina it would be helpful to hear the impacts of the trailer park in the same kind of language. As far as charretts go, I remember Max LeMarchant promoting New Urbanism and the New Amherst development several years ago. This was the first time I had heard of this design term.

  3. Wally Keeler
    June 4, 2017 at 2:17 pm

    Ben, “All participants had many ideas and expressed them well.”

    You spoke with Teresa Behan and various ThincDesign staff, but no indication that you had spoken with any participants, those Cobourg residents who came to contribute their ideas to enhance the lakefront. Why not?

    You say “all participants had many ideas.” Did you spend the entire day there to ensure that you could describe it as ALL participants? I spend a bit over an hour there and could not make the claim about ALL participants. I could say ‘many, participants, or ‘several’ participants, or ‘most’ participants, but ALL?

    Your article above failed to describe even ONE of those “many ideas” that were expressed well. Why?

    The whole idea of the design charette as I understand it was to elicit ideas from the public. I’m one of the public, so I submitted an idea. Matter of fact I submitted a slew of ideas to enhance the waterfront experience. And to top it off, those ideas were original, highly creative, and largely inexpensive to realize. I don’t expect them to be carried out, because Cobourg seems to have an inordinately high percentage of bland glands who come up with any kind of petty excuse to cover over the fact that they are bereft of creativity and haven’t a single imaginative idea to enhance Cobourg’s waterfront experience.

    And I’m no snob. I grew up as an inner town kid, whose father offed himself and I was brought up by a loving single mother. I’m not the spawn of shiny suburbs. I certainly know what snobbery is in this Town, from the Towns art community, the school, the police, etc. I got more than my fill. And still, I took the high road, the positive thinking road, and submitted several ideas to the design charette. I don’t cop out when there is an opportunity that comes on rare occasions.

    • ben
      June 4, 2017 at 2:26 pm

      Wally, don’t get sensitive now because I did not highlight your ideas, if you recall I complimented you on them when you previewed them with me last week. I didn’t have to speak to participants simply because those participants that cared to express themselves publily did so with little yellow stickies – I read those.

      Ok I will give you your syntactical criticism and and admit that I should have used a less inclusive word than ‘all’ – you win!

      • Wally Keeler
        June 4, 2017 at 3:20 pm

        It’s not about my ideas Ben, it’s the fact that you declined to present anyone’s ideas. ZERO. I can take care of my ideas without you or anyone else, always have.

        It’s as if new, fresh, imaginative, creative ideas to enhance the waterfront experience was lost on you, as it is on too many others. Instead you dwelt on the petty politics of the matter, politics, politics.

        Still you declined to post a single idea from any of those stickies, and to think about it, how can one express an idea well on a sticky? Anyway, “many ideas” on stickies you claim, but none worthy of presenting as an example in your article. I didn’t put mine on a sticky. Would it be too much to ask if you could post a couple of well-expressed stickies as examples of what you think were well expressed. Of course, when you have the eloquence of a sticky then there’s no need to talk to the lumpen proletariet.

        What range of ideas did you see?

        It’s fake information when you use the word “all”. It’s not syntax, it’s about accuracy in reporting. There’s enough fake news on-line without you adding to it locally.

  4. Wally Keeler
    June 5, 2017 at 9:53 am

    I am grateful for Ben posting his comments on the Waterfront survey. The same for John Draper’s blog. Without them, residents of Cobourg would not have a clue about what is going on re their valuable waterfront. Northumberland News and Northumberland Today have published virtually nothing, and absolutely nothing about the recent design charrette. It appears as if they couldn’t care less. Compare the column inches of original local copy to the column inches by Canadian Press, Post media, etc. Their editorial page is overwhelmingly devoted to news feed opinions from non-Northumberland residents rather than from locally-based columnists. Northumberland Today is anemic with local news. Northumberbland Today would be a more appropoetic moniker. And to think they charge an arm and a leg for their bland gland debris.

  5. Wally Keeler
    June 10, 2017 at 11:12 am

    A 2017 video of the Float Your Fanny Down the Ganny
    ( https://www.facebook.com/floatyourfanny/videos/1240110102703366/ )
    Total views almost 200,000 in one month;
    Total number of ‘shares’ 2,530.

    This is what Cobourg Tourism has achieved:
    1. Cobourg’s heritage, 2010, ( https://youtu.be/dTZN6xQHJJM,) 484 views, 3 min.
    2. Sandcastle Festival, 2010, ( https://youtu.be/S-dfhMZR5us,) 5,877 views, 41 seconds
    3. The Waterfront, 2010, ( https://youtu.be/S-dfhMZR5us ) 393 views, 33 seconds
    4. Love Locks, 2013, ( https://youtu.be/r8JfxlfyoJY,) 2,920 views, 55 seconds.
    5. Sand Castle Trailer, 2014, ( https://youtu.be/6ltTnmpl5Oo ) 2,316 views, no shares, 1 min.
    6. Welcome To Cobourg, 2014, ( https://youtu.be/0_p1u8balGw ) 2,021 views, no shares. 1 min.
    7. Aerial View of Waterfront, 2015, ( https://youtu.be/0_p1u8balGw ) 884 views, no shares, 1 min.
    8. Feel Good Town, 2015, ( https://youtu.be/X1Lle21pHFE ) 5,053 views, no shares, 1 min
    9. Family Adventures, 2015, ( https://youtu.be/xnCplg8GofA ) 1,035 views, no shares, 1 min.
    10. Romantic Getaways, 2015, ( https://youtu.be/3tCEM00jqSo ) 1664 views, no shares, 1 min.
    11. Patio Time, 2016, ( https://youtu.be/ini2FvQh6Ak ) 260 views, 27 seconds
    12. Adventures In Cobourg, March 2017, ( https://youtu.be/ZLvdiT4rbP8 ) 12 views, 26 seconds
    13. Family Fun, March 2017, ( https://youtu.be/Ojp8dgIg27c ) 14 views, 30 seconds
    14. Summer in Cobourg, March 2017, ( https://youtu.be/JcquVet_UV0 ) 20 views, 29 seconds.
    Total views; almost 23,000,
    (1/10th the number of views of the Ganny Fanny video)
    Total number of ‘shares’: ZERO!

    Imagine that Port Hope council decided to have the url of the Ganny Fanny video sent in an email to all its employees, suggesting they post it on their social media, or forward the url in a tweet or two. Send the url to the DBIA to send to their members suggesting they post it on their social media. Linkages. Community linkages.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *