Cobourg Mayor Lucas Cleveland said purchasing a former retirement home located at 310 Division Street for $2.3 million dollars was a good decision.
But it’s usage and purpose isn’t carved in stone and asks residents to be patient and offer input.
Cleveland spoke to Today’s Northumberland on December 8, 2023 concerning the purchase along with other questions.
During discussions at County Council, Cleveland made remarks about encampments costing Cobourg residents approximately $500,000 – so far.
Cleveland said he was using the $500,000 as a “round mark.”
“I spoke by the additional financial strains faced by the Town of Cobourg based on the geographic proximity based on the essential services.”
The town has been dealing with encampments long before the one at the former Brookside Youth Centre at 390 King Street East.
“We’re always dealing with issues because of the different social services provided and that has a financial impact on our tax levy.”
Cleveland said, he’s, “incredibly proud of the work the County has done to acquire the property.”
County Council has tasked staff to look for solutions to problems regarding social services adding in no way is he criticizing staff.
“My criticism was directed to the councillors at the County around who’s picking up the tab ($500,000)?”
“While all these programs are being administered in Cobourg, all of the effects of these programs, is all just being borne by Cobourg residents.”
In October, the town did a detailed cost regarding the encampments.
“Just based around fire (services), administrative work, by-law, clerks, CAO’s time, my time, we’re closing in on the $40-$45,000.”
Adding a minimum of $5,000 for policing and multiplying it be 10 months the Town has been dealing with encampments it comes to $500,000.
Today’s Northumberland also raised the issue of communication and how the Town is telling media to go to Infrastructure Ontario for answers.
“We are in a very precarious situation when dealing with IO.”
Infrastructure Ontario is part of the Provincial Government and Cobourg as a lower-tier, “are essentially in existence due to the legalities they created.”
“When we are dealing with systems as massive, as complex, as interwoven as governments, and multi-layered governments, as someone in the system I can speak to that frustration.”
“Everyone in this situation is frustrated and I think that speaks to there is no silver bullet that’s going to fix these problems.”
A number of people have come forward and there is even a petition circulating to stop the purchase of 310 Division Street.
Cleveland said when you’re dealing with a upper-tier level like Northumberland County that has the responsibility to provide social services, “there are always tools in their envelope wtih which to get that done.”
“It often becomes very difficult for a lower-tier like Cobourg to get in the way of a upper-tier government in providing a service or a mandated requirement at that level.”
Cleveland flatly said, “my initial investigation is no,” Cobourg Council cannot do anything about the Counties purchase of 310 Division Street.
“What happens next is up for discussion.”
There will be public meetings regarding how it will be used.
“Up until now we haven’t had any solutions being presented.”
“Up until now we’ve had a bunch of the community complain about various areas and various services being provided.”
The County stepped up, and bought the former retirement residence hoping it would/will solve some of the problems.
“Just because you’re creating a solution doesn’t mean you’re not going to have problems associated with that solution.”
“It’s about moving the needle in the right direction – progress over perfection and always looking for ways we can do better, without expecting all of our problems to be solved overnight.”