Responses provided by the Nicole Beatty Campaign
1. The Community Improvement Program (CIP) has been attributed with encouraging investment in the upkeep and improvement of downtown properties.
Would you decrease the funding? Keep the funding at the same level? Increase the funding? Why?
I am in favour of municipal planning and financial tools that support revitalization goals in the downtown core. I strongly believe that an annual review of the CIP, its metrics and achieved impact is required to ensure taxpayer dollars are being maximized. At this time I would like to see funding maintained at its current level.
- Cobourg’s By-Law to Establish a Purchasing Policy for the Procurement of Goods and Services (By-Law #016-2012) was passed over 6 years ago.
Would you support a review of this Policy including the Ethics and Restrictions components, and process of enforcement?
I strongly support the review of all by-laws on a regular basis and of course Cobourg’s By-Law to Establish a Purchasing Policy for the Procurement of Good and Services should be among them.
- In 2017/18, Cobourg’s Tourism Department underwent significant changes in staffing, location and management.
Do you feel that the changes were beneficial or detrimental to local businesses? Should Cobourg have full-time, year-round, town-staffed Visitor Information Centre?
If yes, where should it be located: Dressler House? Cobourg Community Centre? Market Building? Victoria Hall? Other? Why?
Tourism is integral to our local economy, which involves healthy and productive partnerships between Town staff, the DBIA and the Chamber. Whenever there are significant shifts and/or changes within any level of government or department an in-depth review is important to ensure efficiencies. I do think there is opportunity to increase the level of collaboration between the Town and local businesses. With respect to the Experience Ambassador program, I’m in favour of it operating year-round because Cobourg offers all-season experiences, events and activities. I would like to see Experience Kiosks active and operating out of Victoria Hall and the Beach Canteen during peak tourism seasons as they’re prime locations that visitors and residents intuitively go to for information, direction and referrals.
- As of October 17, 2018, the Ontario Cannabis Store website will be the only legal option for purchasing recreational cannabis. The provincial government will also introduce legislation that, if passed, would open up a tightly regulated private retail model for cannabis that would launch by April 1, 2019.
Ontario municipalities will be granted a one-time opportunity to opt out of having those physical shops within their boundaries. Would you support private Cannabis stores in Cobourg, or would you vote to prohibit them?
There are strong examples in surrounding jurisdictions that demonstrate that a private retail model for cannabis does indeed work. However, I feel it is important to reserve my decision on this topic until the actual legislation, regulation and requirements are made. Consultation with our local law enforcements, public health officials and user groups will also be essential to informing my decision to ensure that cannabis products are kept out of the hands of the underage population. As a Councillor, it will be my responsibility to strike a balance between economic growth and community health.
- Cobourg’s Economic Development Department is integral in the attraction and retention of businesses.
What is your vision for the future of Cobourg’s Economic Development Department?
Do you envision any significant changes to the department, its role or mandate?
I believe in a community economic development model that successfully engages both the private and public sector. My vision for the future of economic development in Cobourg is one that supports social entrepreneurship investment, mentorship for young professionals and youth entrepreneurs, start-up and small business services, business expansion services, investment attraction, tourism development and destination marketing services, skilled labour force development, and downtown revitalization. Most importantly, as a Councillor, I would like to see a department that is guided by a 5 to 10 year with clearly stated goals and a commitment to reviewing this plan and its performance on an annual basis.
- Homelessness, drug addiction and mental health issues have become increasingly prevalent in Cobourg.
Recognizing the lack of available local support for those individuals, what groups, organizations and/or government bodies would you seek to partner with, and what course of action would you propose to address this growing concern?
Month over month we are seeing an increasing number of transient individuals and local residents on the streets. Homelessness is not a hidden issue – it does unfortunately exist in our community.
As Councillor, it will be an immediate priority of mine to initiate a framework and terms of reference for a Social Planning/Community Development Advisory Council to ensure issues such as affordable housing, homelessness, mental health, drug addiction and food security are included in Cobourg’s Strategic Plan. This includes identifying and coordinating planning, partnerships, and direct service delivery that care for our most vulnerable citizens and promotes a safe community.
I believe it is Council’s responsibility to work hand-in-hand with Northumberland County Community and Social Services to mobilize action to develop a realistic response to support people experiencing mental health, addiction and housing issues. We, as a municipality, need to promote and support service providers, community services and volunteer groups who work tirelessly around the clock to help those in need. We need to play an active role in connecting our police officers with local social and health services. We need to have a system in place for transporting people in crisis to the appropriate place of care – anytime, anywhere.
This means facilitating funding for street-level community outreach with an emphasis on the downtown core, investing in system navigation and 24/7 emergency transportation, infrastructure and space, and exploring other municipal models where either a social policy officer or community outreach coordinator is on its staff roster. It means a municipal-wide approach where access to coordinated wrap-around health and social care is readily available for those at-risk of being without shelter or basic needs.
Homelessness, mental health and addiction is not a 9 to 5 issue, which is why better provision for people in crisis on a 24/7 basis needs to be at the forefront of all that we do to ensure the social well being and safety of people living in our community.
A vibrant downtown is important to our community, and there are a number of incentives that encourage vitalization of the historic business district.
Recognizing that all businesses are important to the local economy and not every business is suited to a downtown location, would you consider offering those incentives to businesses located outside the downtown core, or creating a separate suite of incentives to put those outlying businesses on an even footing? Why or why not?
Every prosperous community has a vibrant and competitive core and we need to continue to realize the vitalization efforts that are ongoing in Downtown Cobourg. This must remain a business development priority for our community. With that said, and based on my professional background in resource development, I believe that Council can play a more active role in supporting outlying businesses by leveraging economic development funding available through federal and provincial government programs and partnerships.
The mortgage on the Northam Industrial Park has been paid off and the town will be realizing significant revenue from that holding.
Assuming that money will be reinvested for the betterment of the town, how would you prioritize these projects:
□ Build Reserves
□ Community Waterfront District
□ Infrastructure (maintenance & upgrades)
□ Multi-Level Parking on Covert Street
□ Tannery District
□ Victoria Square
□ Other (Please Specify)
There is significant opportunity for the Town to have revenue to reinvest into the betterment of the town, which must be inclusive of its social, cultural, environmental and economical fabric. I don’t think it is fair to prioritize the above list because they are all linked to real-time needs and concerns of our residents, which is why, as Councillor, I would want to engage the public in this discussion. With that said, in my day-to-day interactions with local residents from diverse backgrounds I’m hearing a continuous complaint of high taxes within the Town of Cobourg. I would be interested in exploring the possibility of allocating some of this revenue to reduce the tax burden on the people of Cobourg while also funding the various projects that the taxpayers themselves feel are most important.
- Christmas Magic in Cobourg has been a tradition for nearly 20 years, and in that time has attracted tens of thousands of visitors to Victoria Park and more recently the harbour and Rotary Waterfront Park.
Recognizing the focus on downtown vitalization and the importance of supporting businesses in the core, do you think it would be viable to move Christmas Magic onto King Street, and thereby bring those visitors into the business district and facilitate a more direct link between the seasonal attraction and local shopping and entertainment?
I strongly encourage opportunities that enhance linkages between the downtown core and its neighbouring districts, including the waterfront. I feel there is an opportunity to keep Christmas Magic in Rotary Park while increasing traffic to King Street through creative way finding signage pop-up activities that guide Christmas Magic patrons from the park to the main street, and holiday celebrations that involve food, drink and extended retail experiences. I see untapped potential to create a reciprocal relationship between the two locations rather than pitting one against the other.
It’s been reported that five out of the seven municipal councils in Northumberland County have a question period.
Should Cobourg? Why or why not?
I believe we need to encourage healthy and positive engagement between the public and all levels of Town Hall, including Council. I feel that it is important for Council to explore interactive opportunities or pilot platforms that enhance and promote civic engagement with an emphasis on transparent communication. As Councillor, my offering to engage with the public is through a commitment of maintaining an active Councillor blog, e-newsletter and presence on social media. I will also promote an open door policy by maintaining weekly public office hours where residents can come meet with me to bring forward any ideas, issues or insight.