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Cobourg’s planning department and their consultant have been working on a Master Heritage plan since early 2015.  There was a meeting March 25th at the Cobourg Public Library to get public input.  There was another June 4th in the Columbus Centre with a third Wednesday Dec 2nd at Victoria Hall - about 40 people showed up. The good news is that the consultants seem to be listening to the public although there are still interested citizens who have questions that sound more like a campaign unrelated to Heritage.  Like one person on Wednesday who wanted to know what the plan was doing to help energy conservation!  But the plan is shaping up well and should help define how Cobourg manages Heritage in the future.

The plan is divided into six themes or categories of heritage issues and each has a collection of actions.

heritage vic hall foyerThe themes are:

  1. Significant cultural heritage resources are to be protected and conserved over the long term (9 actions)
  2. The small-town character of Cobourg (typified by the commercial core, low rise development, comfortable streetscapes, and mix of land uses) is important to maintain and enhance. (4 actions)
  3. Having downtown as the economic and cultural hub of the Town of Cobourg is important to the survival of the small-town character. (8 actions)
  4. The waterfront is a significant defining feature of the community, a critical link to the downtown, and an important recreational area. (3 actions)
  5. While individual buildings and properties are important to be conserved, the broader character of the streetscape and neighbourhoods are equally important to retain. (3 actions)
  6. Investment and new development should be encouraged and facilitated where it is compatible with the character of the surrounding area. (4 actions)

Some of the actions are no brainers  - few are truly original:

heritage vic hall Action Summary (31 condensed to 10)

  1. Continue to sell the benefit of Heritage to building owners
  2. Review and perhaps enhance existing incentives
  3. Develop new incentives with the help of the Community Improvement Plan [which makes incentives legal].
  4. Consider expanding existing Heritage Districts.
  5. Work with the Downtown Master Plan
  6. Work with the Parks Master Plan as it relates to Downtown (both the Downtown and Parks plans are complementary – there should be no priority of one over the other)
  7. Develop a Landscape plan to preserve and guide streetscapes
  8. Promote Downtown as a Heritage Tourist attraction. Help this with suitable wayfinding signs.
  9. Encourage businesses and government agencies to adopt a ‘heritage first’ policy when seeking additional office and institutional space within the Town - especially near downtown.  (E.g. use CDCI West for offices).
  10. Use Heritage District Conservation plans to guide what can be done or changed in each of the four Districts.  These will be finalized in the next few weeks, posted on the Town’s web site then reviewed at the final Public meeting in March 2016.

The plan will be a guide but will not have any real teeth to force change.  Implementation comes from managing approvals of heritage permits which are required when any changes are wanted in any Heritage District.

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