Cobalt council approves community engagement initiative

Cobalt council has agreed to start a community engagement initiative and the first proposed activity is a get-together over coffee.

The initiative was discussed at Cobalt's November 21 council meeting.

Mayor Angela Adshead assured that municipal funds will not be used for the initiative. While there is currently no money in the recreation account, there is a donation of $250 pending, she said, but the plan must first be accepted by council.

"It all comes back to getting the community involved," Adshead told council.

She said that any change in town "is going to have to come from everybody who lives in Cobalt, not just the seven of us sitting around the table."

The coffee event is the first idea of several, she said.

She explained that a coffee gathering would provide an opportunity for people to "just get together and start a positive conversation."

She expressed the view that "since COVID we've all isolated ourselves. The key is going to be to learn how to be a community again, which is something that is going to take some effort."

She is also approaching St. Patrick School to see if she can initiate a program that will involve the children of Cobalt. She expressed the hope that her proposal could encourage the children "to get more involved in the community. Our youth are our future. One day those kids, when they get to be adults, will be sitting around this table making these decisions. It's very important to see if we can get some interest going in them when they're at the stage when it can be developed."

Councillor Jim Starchuk asked if any ideas had come from the community. Adshead responded that she has issued a challenge to residents to submit thoughts to her about what they love about Cobalt. She has received three so far.

Councillor Gary Hughes noted that is a low number and questioned whether the community engagement initiative might be a waste of time, but Adshead said it will not cost the town any money or resources.

Councillor Angela Hunter agreed that change could "start with a trickle."

Adshead later read the three submissions which included: the small-town feeling that still exists; when there is a crisis, people pull together to help; "pure, refreshing, drinkable water"; the Cobalt Classic Theatre where both local and non-local talent performs; the daily transit bus connecting Cobalt to Temiskaming Shores; the Heritage Silver Trail; the headframes; the mining memorabilia; the rock art; the historic plaques; the picnic table in downtown Cobalt; the benches in downtown Cobalt and the park; the friendliness of people; the shops and services; the town's "unique character”; the history that some of the older buildings still show; the mine sites that are loaded with history; and the Cobalt park with the walking trail, Canada geese, ducks, swans and loons.

The council has given their approval to the community engagement initiative.

Darlene Wroe, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Temiskaming Speaker