The Candidates Respond: TOWN PLANNING

All candidates for Cobourg Council were invited to present responses to important environmental and sustainability questions issued to them by Sustainable Cobourg. Their responses have been received and published below.

Question
Recent amendments to the Cobourg Official Plan require the development of an Integrated Community Sustainability Plan (ICSP) for the Town of Cobourg, addressing water and energy conservation, air quality protection, waste reduction, environmental monitoring and targeting, and taking various environmental initiatives.

If elected to Cobourg Council, what deadline will you propose for completing this plan?

Gil Brocanier
Federal Gas Tax revenues will be dependent on having a Sustainability Plan several years in the future, so it is imperative we have a plan. However, our OP has not yet been officially approved or our zoning, therefore we cannot start a Sustainability Plan immediately. Since it is a lengthy and costly process we should start budgeting in 2011 with the intent of starting in 2013 and completion in 2014.

Stan Frost
The plan will build on existing initiatives such as The Climate Action Plan discussed in question #1 and will be designed with specific, achievable actions which reflect the Town’s financial constraints.

Development of the ICSP is dependent on a number of things including approval by the Province of the amendments to the official plan, the development and approval of attendant zoning changes, and not the least, about $100,000 needed to actually develop the plan. It is impossible to give a precise timeline at this point because of the requirement for provincial approval of the amendments. Optimistically, we may be able to bring it in late in 2012, or early 2013.

Dave Glover
Not being familiar enough with the Integrated Community Sustainability Plan I’d first need to understand exactly what deadlines have been put into place and determine the information already accessible to the general public.

John Henderson
I believe The Integrated Community Sustainability Plan (ICSP), an integral part of Cobourg’s Official Plan, could be developed by 2013-2014. Implementing this plan would be an on-going process with the ultimate goal of creating our own Sustainability Charter for The Town of Cobourg.

Bill MacDonald
A target date for the completion of the Integrated Community Strategic Plan has not yet been established. I believe that a process using staff, the Environmental Advisory Committee, and if necessary outside consultants will produce a viable, affordable plan for Cobourg. There will be a phase of data collection and analysis and of course for a project of this nature public consultation will be required. Cobourg, both the town and the general public, have already produced savings and improvements in the areas of energy and water use and water quality. An integrated plan will bring a more cohesive and comprehensive approach to this process.

Miriam Mutton
The four pillars of an Integrated Community Sustainability Plan (ICSP) are economic, environmental, social and cultural. All four must be addressed in an ICSP and all are interconnected. Our recently revised Official Plan is awaiting approval from the provincial ministry and shortly, an update to our zoning by-laws to reflect the new OP are expected to commence. The preparation of an ICSP can run concurrently. I would aim to have the ICSP completed by the spring before the end of the Council term in 2014. If Council will recognize the following benefits to the ICSP (described in the federal government report from 2005) the community will be served better by acting sooner rather than later. These benefits include:
• Cost savings
• Enhanced capacity to meet community needs
• A strong and creative community
• Managing change more efficiently
• More effective policy development
• Greater community cohesion
• Stronger regional links
• Staying relevant

Martin Partridge
I do not see any reason why the development of an ICSP should not be a top priority item during the first year of the new Council. Perhaps I’m naïve, but can we afford to delay the first draft beyond the end of 2011? (Of course, the issues go beyond any artificial deadline. They are complex and require constant consideration. It’s really a matter of successive deadlines, hopefully with annual reporting.)

Forrest Rowden
The integrated community sustainability plan for the town of Cobourg is very important & I would like to work with Council and the planning department to complete as soon as possible after the election if elected. I would like to use the expert advise that is available to make a decision on all environmental issues such as waste water, storm water run off, hydro reduction, and a LEED plan for all new buildings in the future. Money spent wisely on the projects today will make a better future for the next generation. I would like to have enough public meetings with public input as it should take to make an intelligent decision. We need to get this right so Cobourg can remain the leader in reducing green gas pollution.
 


Manfred Schumann
The sheer scope of the mandate strongly suggests that it will take some time to accomplish. It may well be that a deadline is proposed during this term of Council. If not, it will require some review before a new Council can set a reasonable target for completion and I would be foolish to propose one without a full understanding of the matter.

Equally significant will be the costs involved. Only by establishing what those costs will be can we begin to quantify the resources available for satisfying these requirements.

The “plan” has to be developed with the full cooperation and involvement of the community. Without that personal investment, any plan developed in isolation will be rejected for several reasons, including workability and cost. The public’s approval in principle as well as the majority of the details is mandatory. There are established methods to involve the public but environmental issues call for innovative approaches where feasible. Devising such methods will require research of its own but I think will pay off in the end result. I’ll leave any specific comments for some time after the election.

Larry Sherwin
I would like to see a deadline of 2012.

Donna Todd
See answer above.

What resources will you propose for completing this plan?

Gil Brocanier
We will have to use the services of a consultant that specializes in the area of sustainability. Projected costs are a minimum of $100K and that is why we must start budgeting in 2011.

Stan Frost
We will no doubt utilize the services of a qualified consultant. I believe this effort to develop an ICSP qualifies for assistance under the federal gas tax program so hopefully, funding might not constitute a significant barrier. The Town is committed to involving other agencies such as the GRCA, Lakefront Utilities services Inc, and the County of Northumberland.

We are also very fortunate to have capable and dedicated staff on our planning team to ensure a quality product at the end of the day.

Dave Glover
We need to ensure that we are all on board with this plan in order that we might have achievable targets.

John Henderson
The plan is all-encompassing as it incorporates energy conservation, air quality protection, waste reduction and environmental initiatives and has a direct relationship to our socio-cultural and economic development. It involves working with stakeholders from the DBIA, commercial/industrial sector, town advisory boards, environmental agencies, Ganaraska Conservation Authority, HoldCo, Northumberland County and Ontario Provincial Government agencies.

Bill MacDonald
See answer above.

Miriam Mutton
I would recommend that budget funds be set aside over 2 -3 years in order to carry out this study unless a funding source can be tapped into through provincial and/or federal funding sooner. Perhaps, gas tax monies Cobourg receives can be ear-marked for this purpose and funds from utility company dividends.

Martin Partridge
I have no idea how much money, if any, has been budgeted for 2011 but you can count on me to vote to allocate financial resources for this purpose. The triple bottom line means that investment can be justified. I will advocate for it. One important approach is to engage Town employees in the process; they are hugely important stakeholders in any successful sustainability initiative. They can be incented to find efficiencies, perhaps by being involved in award programs.

Forrest Rowden
See answer above.

Manfred Schumann
See answer above.

Larry Sherwin
We should push the county to implement their composting and help reduce our wet garbage. We should look into better de-icing techniques to stop the use and harmful salt runoff into our sewers and creeks during the winter months. Europe is years ahead of us with the energy from garbage concept; we should look into this area. The people of Cobourg and the county must join in this and until they do the few that do want this are just running in circles with no hope of getting to the finish line.

Donna Todd
See answer above.

How will you involve the community in the development of this plan?

Gil Brocanier
We would use the RFP process for the selection of a consultant and the RFP would detail the required involvement of all the town departments, local health agencies and the public. I would also recommend the inclusion of a hands-on workshop similar to the one held on the Tannery property so the public can give active input to the end product. There are many components to a sustainability plan that address air, water, energy quality and conservation along with promoting active transportation, we would include representatives from these groups also.

Stan Frost
In our draft Official Plan an ICSP is defined as “a long term plan, developed in consultation with community members, that provides direction for the community to realize sustainability objectives it has for environmental, cultural, social and economic dimensions of its identity. We recognize the importance of having a wide range of public input and experience to this planning process.

I expect that this involvement would take the form of specialized focus groups and workshops made up of Cobourg residents and business owners to address the separate dimensions of the ICSP as well as the open public meeting process.

Dave Glover
All members of the public must see the buy-in so that this plan will be truly sustainable now and into the future. I would encourage developers and citizens alike to utilize the most cost & energy efficient methods for consumption, distribution and retention of water and hydro. While ensuring air quality is monitored and maintained at acceptable levels.

John Henderson
A strategic sustainability plan (with short, medium and long term goals, resources/timelines listed with measureable target dates) should be developed with community input throughout the entire process.
Also, see answer above.

Bill MacDonald
See answer above.

Miriam Mutton
The development of an ICSP requires a significant component of public participation/visioning and town practices assessment, and, therefore we need to designate funds and staff time for this purpose.

Martin Partridge
To involve the community in the discussion, I would encourage the creation of a cross-Council special committee with Councilors encouraged to speak frankly and publicly about their ideas. This is not the sort of project that can be farmed out to consultants with a packaged “solution” coming out the back end. Engagement of the public serves multiple purposes; it heightens public awareness leading to not just better feedback, but also improved personal habits; it enriches the debate with new and refined ideas; it creates higher public confidence in the process; it keeps Council accountable; and ultimately it results in better plans and programs.

Forrest Rowden
See answer above.

Manfred Schumann
See answer above.

Larry Sherwin
See answer above.

Donna Todd
See answer above.

About Sustainable Cobourg

Sustainable Cobourg is a citizens group in Cobourg, Ontario who advocate for more sustainable ways of living by organizing local environmental projects, educating and increasing the public's understanding of the environment and its importance.
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