Video – From a Major Conference in Montreal to Meeting with the Premier It’s Been A Busy Few Weeks for Cobourg Mayor

In Editor Choice, Local

It’s been a busy few weeks for Cobourg Mayor Lucas Cleveland.

A meeting with the Premier of Ontario in Toronto and conference in Montreal for the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Initiative.

Today’s Northumberland caught up with Cleveland after he stepped off the train arriving back in Cobourg from Montreal on Friday, May 17, 2024.

Cleveland is now the National Co-Chair of Economic Development for the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Initiative.  The other Co-Chair is the Mayor of Montreal.

Cleveland said the Great Lakes St. Lawrence Initiative has a long standing history with the Town of Cobourg.

The organization has been active since 2003, but Mayor Peter Delanty was active in the Initiative in 2008.

MP Philip Lawrence and former Mayor John Henderson spoke to Cleveland of the benefits of the Initiative prior to his trip.

“In the last year, $1.7 billion has been contributed by the Biden administration and matched by our Federal government towards coastline revitalization, developing the blue/green economy and working towards water equity.”

Cleveland said this is all of the things Cobourg wants, and, “it was a great opportunity for Cobourg to connect with various members across the Great Lakes including Mayors of Chicago, Milwaukee, Montreal and Toronto who were all focussed on developing the economy and protecting the environment “

A staggering statistic Cleveland learned at the conference that if the GDP of all the economies surrounding the Great Lakes, they are the third largest GDP in the world next to the United States and China.

“So it’s actually a massive economic group that has a lot of vital interest, not only in environmental protection, but also to developing our seaways and our waterways. At present we only have about 40% capacity on the lakes.”

Cleveland said it’s an amazing opportunity to get traffic off of the roads and have water transport.

“We’re looking at hovercraft development. Within two years hovercraft ferries towards St. Catharines.”

“And most importantly huge opportunities to get funding to get towards Cobourg.”

Cleveland said he had “great news” about funding, but couldn’t share it just yet.

Going to Montreal and Toronto is part of his promise to build teams.

“Because as a lower tier municipality, we need teams to be able to accomplish and do the high-level work that we want to do in this community.”

It’s not fair to keep going to the town’s tax base to fund growth.

Cleveland said what he and council have done is take a different approach to “advocate for a community abroad.”

“And to look for partnerships at various levels of government and with various agencies. It’s through teamwork and collaboration and finding partners that have a vested interest that aligns with the residents of Cobourg to work together on this.”

Bluntly put, Cleveland said he’d rather have more revenue coming in, then to look at cuts to services in the future.

A few weeks ago, Cleveland met with MPP David Piccini and Premier Doug Ford at Queen’s Park to talk about the issues in Cobourg.

Cleveland calls it a “concentrated effort to reach outside the Northumberland envelope to find teammates.”

Whether it be at the Federal or Provincial level.

“It was a real honour and opportunity to get there (Queen’s Park).”

Cleveland gives credit to council and town staff working together for the betterment of the citizens.

Cleveland spoke to the Premier about the safety and security of all residents of Cobourg, along with major projects that are in progress and highlighted the benefits of funding from the Province.

And about solving some of those issues along with economic growth.

“Of course Brookside came up. It is a ever evolving situation. It’s one that both the Province and Cobourg are working collaboratively to solve.”

“And we talked about how to move forward.”

Cleveland reiterated what he has said numerous times that Northumberland County is responsible for social services life affordable housing.

“As the Mayor of Cobourg at this meeting and as the Premier of Ontario – the lower town met with the upper tier to talk about what we as a lower tier can do.”

Today’s Northumberland asked Cleveland if he thought that Northumberland County was doing enough towards the homelessness crisis and social services.

“It’s an awkward question.”

“I think it’s appropriate to say we can always be doing better.”

As Mayor of Cobourg, Cleveland is also sits on the council of Northumberland County.

“I think that we’re always looking for partnerships at the lower-tier municipality with our upper tier.”

“And I do think we need to start looking for solutions at encampment responses and not keep suggesting that there is a one-stop solution.”

“We need to really, really focus on getting our most vulnerable the care they deserve.”

Overall from the conference in Montreal meeting with mayors from large cities to small towns, Cleveland said, “there is a unprecedented number of similar problems. It gives me confidence that it’s not just Cobourg whose trying to think outside the box and solve this problem. There are literally thousands of municipalities who are working and trying to find solutions. I also think it’s important to remember that progress is always happening. Sometimes we don’t see the progress from day-to-day, but we’ll see it over the course over months or a year.”

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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