Cobourg Man’s Online Petition and Letter Raise Concerns Regarding Northumberland Counties Purchase of Former Retirement Home

In Local

A Cobourg man has sent a letter to members of Northumberland County Council concerning the recent purchase of a former retirement home in Cobourg.

Cobourg resident David Battersby send the letter to Today’s Northumberland along with members of County Council, MP Philip Lawrence and MPP David Piccini pointing out in details concerns about the purchase of 310 Division Street in Cobourg.

Battersby is also the originator of a online petition started less than a week ago that has garnered nearly 700 signatures.

The petition along with the letter speak about better options for the property rather than using it for a shelter, drop-in centre and warming facility.

The letter in its entirety is below:

Dear Honorable Members of Northumberland County Council,

I trust this letter finds you well. My purpose in addressing you today is to articulate and substantiate significant concerns, both mine and those of numerous residents in the form of an online petition regarding the proposed development of 310 Division Street into a large nearly 12,000 sq.ft shelter facility.

In less than a week, our petition against the development of a larger shelter in the downtown core has garnered over 650 signatures, with the majority hailing from local residents of Cobourg. This resounding response from concerned constituents underscores the urgency and depth of the community’s apprehensions. As the petition continues to gain momentum, it becomes increasingly evident that the voices of those directly impacted by these decisions are emerging strongly, and we anticipate this groundswell will persist, demanding the attention and consideration of the County Council. We have the numbers, and they will only continue to rise as more constituents join the conversation and advocate for a more transparent and community-oriented decision-making process.
Key Points of Concern:

Lack of Transparency: I wish to bring to your attention the pervasive sentiment among Cobourg residents regarding the perceived lack of transparency surrounding the acquisition of 310 Division Street by the County and Transition House. Despite the substantial impact this decision may have on the community, the details of this acquisition were not publicly disclosed, and there has been a conspicuous absence of meaningful public consultation. This raises concerns about the adherence to principles of transparent governance, a cornerstone of a robust democratic process.

Vacancies in Current Shelter: My concerns are further amplified by the existing capacity of the shelter, accommodating 22 individuals. The recent emergence of the Brookside encampment has underscored the issue of vacancies within the current shelter, as individuals exhibit a reluctance to reside within the established shelter system. This prompts a critical inquiry into the strategic measures in place to address this unused capacity and how it may contribute to a potential influx of individuals from other communities.

Lack of Local Democratic Input: A recurring concern among Cobourg residents is the apparent lack of democratic engagement in the decision-making process. The participation of mayors from neighboring towns, serving as county councilors in deciding what is optimal for Cobourg, without direct accountability to our local constituents, raises considerable concerns about the integrity of representation. Residents feel that decisions of such magnitude should be made with the direct involvement and input of those most affected – the residents of Cobourg. The reports cite ‘Access to Services’ but it’s not clear which services they are referring to, nor the addresses of these ‘services’.

Ineffective Approach: Over the past four years, our community has borne witness to the challenges associated with the current approach, where individuals precariously housed are intermingled with those struggling with addiction and mental health issues. This approach has led to an observable rise in crime rates and violence in our community, impacting the safety of our citizens and the vitality of our local businesses. There is a palpable reluctance among citizens to frequent the downtown core, indicating the need for a comprehensive reevaluation of our current strategies.

Limited Scope of Transition House & No Funding for ‘Services’: Transition House, as an entity, is mandated with providing shelter. It does not encompass the provision of comprehensive mental health services, therapeutic interventions, or employment consultations. The absence of discourse regarding funding for additional resources, such as police presence, paramedics, firefighters, mental health services, rubbish cleanup, and enhanced security measures in the vicinity of the proposed shelter is a significant oversight. These elements are integral to fostering a safe and supportive environment.

In light of these concerns, I respectfully request that the County Council not only acknowledge receipt of the ongoing petition results but also commit to an exhaustive and transparent review of the sentiments expressed by the community. The citizens of Cobourg deserve a decision-making process that is rooted in transparency, inclusivity, and a genuine understanding of the unique dynamics of our community.

Furthermore, it is imperative for the County to broaden its scope and explore alternative uses for the property, addressing critical needs such as affordable housing, income-based rentals, and facilities tailored to support our senior population. This process should be underpinned by comprehensive consultations with both business and home owners within our community, ensuring that the decisions made contribute positively to the revitalization of Cobourg’s downtown core, a community already grappling with the challenges posed by the existing 22-bed shelter. A collaborative and consultative approach will foster solutions that resonate with the diverse needs and aspirations of our residents.

I express my appreciation for your attention to this matter and anticipate a response that reflects a commitment to transparent governance and community engagement and that this letter with the petition results are cited in future discussions and delegations as my voice and the voice of others were excluded from the Council Meeting December 6th, 2023 even having met the outlined time to submit our letters.

Attached is the excel file with the dates, place of residence and the names of those people who have taken the time to sign the petition and offer their feedback. Here is the link to the live petition.

David Battersby

A online petition has raised 664 signatures asking residents to sign and stop, “the massive 310 shelter.”

Pete Fisher
Author: Pete Fisher

Has been a photojournalist for over 30-years and have been honoured to win numerous awards for photography and writing over the years. Best selling author for the book Highway of Heroes - True Patriot Love

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