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The owner of the large house at 394 College Street (on the corner of University) wants to convert it to a 5 unit apartment complex.  There would be no external changes so the Heritage value would seem to be unaffected but local residents are objecting – mostly because these kinds of buildings have a history of not being well-maintained plus concerns about traffic. The owner is Kristy MacDonald. Local resident (and objector) Emily Chorley says that Kristy is the niece of Mayor Gil Brocanier and this would mean he would not be able to vote on the matter.  The Heritage Advisory committee and the Planning department are recommending approval of the necessary zoning change, but due process requires a public meeting.  This is scheduled for 6:30pm, Monday night, August 21, in Council Chambers.

394 College394 College StreetAccording to Rob Franklin of the planning department, a 5 unit apartment complex would fit Provincial and County requirements as well as the Official Plan. The implication is that a denial would risk an appeal to the OMB.

However, local residents Emily Chorley and Lester Northeast have submitted letters objecting to the proposal and Emily has distributed flyers locally asking for support.

Emily’s flyer includes the following text:

The new owner of 394 College Street (the niece of Mayor Gil Brocanier) has applied for a change of zoning to convert the historic building to multiple rental units.

The owner has proposed R4 zoning and the creation of five 1-bedroom rental units. This zoning category allows multiple units or use as a rooming house; at this stage the Town is only considering the five-unit proposal.

The property is currently zoned R3, which allows two residential units, use for a home occupation, or use as a bed & breakfast.

The owner has already rented out some of the property and started demolition.

She lists the concerns:

Heritage Conservation

  • Converting this historic building to multiple rental units will not foster its long-term conservation.
  • Most of Cobourg's historic homes that have been converted into multiple rental units are visibly unkept and in a poor state of repair due to a lack of exterior maintenance over time.

Neighbourhood Impact

  • The proposed five rental units could impact the neighbourhood's quiet, residential character with increased noise, traffic, parking congestion, and the potential for transient tenants (AirBnB rentals, sublets or short-term rentals).
  • The Town has not conducted a traffic study or considered the wider impact of this proposed development. Increased traffic could impact school children, older residents, and local pedestrians - particularly at the intersection of College and University.
  • If R4 zoning is granted, it could set the precedent for other local heritage homes to be converted into multiple rental units.

The objection by Lester Northeast seems mostly concerned about traffic and the precedent which would be a “slippery slope of change for the street, maybe even other streets”.

It should be a lively meeting.

If the Council agrees with the planning department, they will authorize proceeding with the change in Zoning at the regular Council meeting later the same night.


A full report on the Public Meeting and follow up Council meeting discussion required a complete new post.  Go here.


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