First idea from Waterfront Study

The long awaited report from thinc design on the Waterfront Study will be released in the next month or two but one idea from it is being released at the next Council Committee of the Whole (C.O.W.) meeting on January 29.  The report by Parks Manager Teresa Behan says that “the preliminary findings and recommendations from the consultants, thinc design, focus on enhancing access to the waterfront and recreational opportunities for people of all ages and abilities. They also promote new revenue generating opportunities for the Town.”  The specific idea discussed is a “floating playground” that would be located east of the East pier.  This type of facility is becoming popular worldwide including some locations in Canada and Teresa reports that “two groups that have submitted proposals are eagerly awaiting to bid on this business opportunity to establish a water-park in Cobourg for the spring/summer of 2018.”

Floating Playground Location
Floating Playground Location

The idea was approved by the Parks and Recreation Advisory Committee and the next step would be a Request for Proposals (RFP). 

The experience of other Canadian Municipalities was sought:  Montreal, QC, Point-Calumet, QC, Sylan Lake, Alberta, Pentiction, BC, Peachland, BC and Barrie, Ontario. None raised any concerns or expressed any major problems.  All have the following rules in place:

  • Lifejackets (supplied by company) must be worn at all times
  • No children under 5 are allowed
  • Children between 5-9 are allowed with a parent
  • Children under 3’6” are not allowed
  • Operating hours are usually 10:00 am to 6:00 pm

The YMCA, which provides life-guarding services to the Town, did not raise any major concerns but stated that they would need to coordinate with the staff and lifeguards associated with the floating playground.

The photos below show what a floating playground would look like.

This facility would be open to both residents and visitors but it would obviously make Cobourg’s Beach more attractive so the crowds would be bigger.



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27 January 2018 5:28 pm

We have the privilege of living on the shores of one of the greatest natural wonders, one of the largest fresh water lakes in the world. Can we just enjoy it without having our view of it obstructed by this proposed gaudy, expensive excrescence? For decades children have passed many happy hours of imaginative play at the lake. Let’s respect our children and the lake enough to leave them alone! I think it’s time our politicians had a good look around. They might better spend their time and our money coming up with ideas to attract businesses to the area to improve the lives of and bring jobs to the citizens of Cobourg — the people who live here 365 days a year — instead of wasting their time and our money on this kind of ludicrous, unnecessary junk in an attempt to attract day-trippers to Cobourg who spend virtually nothing in this town. The only person who stands to benefit is the contractor. At a time when other more progressive communities are moving forward and finding ingenious ways to revive their downtown areas, Cobourg is in serious decline. King Street is a disgrace. I’m fed up with looking at pawnshops and empty shops. Our children need a store downtown where they can buy a piece of fresh fruit instead of some garish floating plastic they can bounce around on like monkeys for, at the most, three months of the year. We have real problems in this town. Our mall is practically non-existent, we have a hospital that is failing to the extent that nurses are laid off, wards are closed and they can’t even provide the most elementary procedures like fitting someone for a cast, our young people need jobs and many of them will be priced out of… Read more »

Reply to  Tim
28 January 2018 5:20 am

Many of the problems you list are completely out of the hands of council. Retail for instance is dying across North America, the town has its hands completely tied up. They’ve actually been quite progressive on attempts to fix the downtown but this is where they can’t win. Some people think they aren’t doing enough and some people think they are doing too much. They can’t magically make a grocery store appear downtown.

Beyond that the employment situation has vastly improved in Cobourg lately and once again that is simply an Ontario trend. We have Cobourgs largest manufacturing building on the verge of being filled up.

A declining town by definition would not be struggling with real estate prices going up but rather down. Supply and demand fundamentals tell us people want to move here, the opposite would be true. Again council has little control over this anyways.

It’s not town councils job to run a hospital. What could you possibly expect them to do?

They can control what the can control. Very little time was spent on the playground proposal. Many kids will have their eyes light up when they see that playground and they will have fond memories of fun and joy in Cobourg for the rest of their lives. Our waterfront should appeal to all, your opinion of it being gaudy is just your opinion, head on over to the west beach if you want to enjoy natural surroundings. There is room for us all. BTW many many years ago there was a waterslide at the beach.

25 January 2018 6:09 pm

Pardon me for asking, but has anyone considered the unprotected nature of the proposed location of this “Floating Playground”? This is the same spot where Cobourg residents currently gather in their vehicles to observe raging waves break over the east pier with 30′ – 40′ high spray cascading around them. Obviously, for safety, liability and insurance reasons the “Floating Playground” would be closed during bad weather. Cobourg residents can look forward to watching (and enjoying free car washes as) while Mother Nature harasses the Town’s expensive dream to the point of destruction. It is not be feasible to locate the “Floating Playground” within the harbour as it would obstruct the safe navigation by all watercraft, and specifically the Coast Guard Vessel. The photos offered in support of these “Floating Playgrounds” currently in existence are cropped in a manner that make it impossible to compare it with open Lake Ontario conditions faced by the Town of Cobourg.

25 January 2018 9:33 am

Why don’t we look at communities of our own size and see what was successful and survived the test of time
Gravenhurst has a marvelous waterfront Marina area as dose Huntsville Attractive ,Green ,with shops & eateries ,wine bars etc they incorporate some of ‘Walter’s ideas of quiet seating / viewing areas , Peaceful & Tranquil come to mind all aimed at attracting customers
that’s Customers to their towns that have $$$ to spend in the rather high priced shops and eateries they carry unique products as well as promote the local and regional Artisans of all types rather than house hold and day to day essentials like shoes that we could acquire their our communities probably for less.
Lets face it the Beach is a affordable place to take the Kids and family and always has been .

Reply to  perplexed
25 January 2018 10:11 am

Not to steal Walter’s thunder however I proposed the idea of a prohibition on cars, boardwalk, green space, benches, swings, exercise equipment and trees on the pier..that’s ok we’ll share in the credit once its done 🙂

Reply to  perplexed
30 January 2018 9:20 am

I agree with Perplexed’s ideas. Perhaps the town would consider a trial period from May to Thanksgiving and rent one of the many empty stores on King st to provide space where our many talented artists and artisans could display/sell their works. (The Art Gallery shop had wonderful jewelry the last time I visited – but it’s so tucked away, most visitors miss it.) Picton has such a store, manned by the artists on a rotational basis. Originally, I suspect it had municipal support – but it’s become well known to tourists & is likely a self-supporting, profitable venture for the artists now. Walking along King st on a summer weekday, it’s apparent Cobourg is a popular destination for day trippers to “do lunch” and some “unique shopping”, as perplexed said.

24 January 2018 6:56 pm

One of the brightest, freshest ideas coming out of the waterfront study. A fuller use of the East pier, as an asset, seems appropriate. I also would be interested in the business case/model. I also wonder whether the playground business model will, if it is a go, enables the ‘boat lifters’ an opportunity to push their agenda.

24 January 2018 10:20 am

Seems to me that the “Tourist Businesses” are attempting to take over the running of Cobourg. Our town is more than a weekend tourist town. Our focus should be on manufacturing opportunities…jobs for our children in the future…that is the challenge for town council and all the departments that report to it.

Reply to  cornbread
24 January 2018 10:44 am

Cornbread – you’re right. Look at towns like Belleville and the Quinte area…a great example of a communities that know how to attract manufacturing. We have space, we have a skilled work force, we have a large catchment area to drawn upon, we have ease of access to 401 and rail and we are a great place to live and do business. As much as tourism is critical it can’t be the life blood of the community – I think it should be viewed as a complimentary business to an otherwise thriving town. We need more investment in manufacturing and our representatives should be aggressively pursuing it.

Reply to  Ewok
24 January 2018 11:39 am

FV Pharma anyone? Hundreds of jobs

Reply to  Waterboy
24 January 2018 12:07 pm

You’re right Waterboy; however just because we have the potential for hundreds of job in FV Pharma (which is terrific) we should not sit still and pat each other on the back. Now, more than ever, we should be aggressively looking to attract business investment to secure a future for our kids in Northumberland. Council felt pretty good when Kraft, FP Electronics and others were in business and they watched them relocate and/or close while Quinte West, Trenton and Belleville closed deals with Vantage Foods, Green Terra Homes, Hain Celestial, the casino, Kruger and KcKesson … these employers created hundreds of careers.

Walter Luedtke
24 January 2018 9:59 am
Reply to  Walter Luedtke
24 January 2018 10:05 am

This is along the lines of what I’m thinking Walter…perhaps a little more green stuff….love it. Our pier can become a place where people can gather (without cars) to read, exercise, listen to the waves, people watch, etc… we could improve and expand the path to the light house as well.

Walter Luedtke
Reply to  Ewok
24 January 2018 10:19 am

Yes, Ewok.
Get the ecology folks involved with this!

Reply to  Walter Luedtke
24 January 2018 11:22 am

Very Nice!

This is totally consistent with the suggestions made by numerous people at the Waterfront meetings

Walter, you should send this link to Dir Hustwick and Mike at ThinC Design

Miriam Mutton
Reply to  Walter Luedtke
24 January 2018 1:57 pm

hi Walter,

Good catch on a possible design idea and I agree with you, too. I wrote to both Director Hustwick and Mike of THINC DESIGN, the consultants preparing Cobourg’s Waterfront Master Plan, about this award winning idea last September. And in the same round of awards, THINC DESIGN were also recognized with an Award of Excellence for their work on the Kingston Waterfront Master Plan. To say, I would like to see the waterfront master plan before approving a piece of it. At least, hear from the experts how it all would work together. In addition, Ewok’s suggestion for a short term contract would be a good way to test the playground idea.

The water playground will be fun. I agree with others here who suggest a business plan and more details should be available before a final decision to proceed is made. For example where are the land based features to support the water playground … a ticket booth, shade for the lifeguards, etc. And, who makes the call to shut the place down if the lake gets too rough? And, will diving off the same pier at almost the same location now become legal?

Walter Luedtke
Reply to  Miriam Mutton
24 January 2018 10:01 pm

Hi Miriam!
Good to see that you were already aware of this design last September.
Let’s push to make it or something similar a reality.

Reply to  Walter Luedtke
25 January 2018 8:18 am

That would eliminate other opportunities to use the pier such as the amusement area for Canada Day.

Reply to  Marilyn
25 January 2018 10:00 am

You’re right Marilyn – the amusement area during Water Front Festival is a great attraction for the weekend. I’ve been there many times myself. I think however it would create many more opportunities in the spring, summer and fall for resident and tourists alike. That said, I agree that we would need to look at alternatives for the July long weekend.

Miriam Mutton
Reply to  Marilyn
25 January 2018 10:48 am

The east pier could be organized to accommodate a variety of uses and activities, including the Canada Day amusement area … a truly unique and showy aspect of that weekend. The pier needs programming.

Keep the pier paved, allow for vehicular access (cars and bicycles) at certain times of the day and year … a great place with a view for a coffee break, a pop-up vintage car show … and always have an emergency vehicle lane that doubles as a wide walkway when the place is busy; incorporate green including movable furniture and planter boxes (similar to Walter’s video link), some permanent trees in small groups … maybe closer to shoreline, and along with shaded seating and food carts … how about an occasional performance area, or art (sculpture) exhibit space. And, the pier walls will need to able to provide docking for larger lake vessels when needed. The pier is part of a harbour after all.

The east pier provides a utilitarian platform, but also a very exposed place in stormy weather so programming needs to be flexible. A stormy lake is a spectacle in itself and the pier provides a front row seat. As a public place, citizens should expect regular opportunity for unstructured activity, like walking to the lighthouse or sitting on a bench to enjoy the view, as well as a place with interesting things to see and do.

Boaty McBoatface
Reply to  Miriam Mutton
28 January 2018 6:14 am

It’s so plainly obvious the virtues of this to just about everyone but we very little action on the pier. Why is that?

24 January 2018 9:48 am

We need to beautify that ugly beach area and attract more people, especially on the weekends.

24 January 2018 9:25 am

In an effort to direct/encourage locals to utilize our beautiful beach, promote a healthy life-style and patronize our downtown it would also be my suggestion that Cobourg residents receive a downtown parking pass for the months of May – September. Residents would need to be register the pass to a particular car(s) and it could be enforced by our town by-law officers…would probably require additional controls but those are easy enough to put into place.

Reply to  Ewok
24 January 2018 10:03 am

Great idea! It is silly that as a resident i can’t enjoy a movie and lunch without movimg my car!

Reply to  Mags
24 January 2018 10:07 am

Thanks Mags – join my Mayoral campaign movement in 2018 😉

24 January 2018 8:48 am

Cobourg needs to find more parking first with out further disruption to the residence and the Destruction of what little Green space we have left the report clearly indicate increased traffic & Visitors

Then we have to Really consider the fact once again that we are Not one of these other communities
neither in size or location Folks we are on Lake Ont, not some inland water course protected
from the type of storms and wave action we experience here on this Lake .

Again if you want to attract people to Down town year round then build a proper parking lot
on the land at 2nd and Albert st Its close enough to the beach to relieve some of the Existing Tourist parking issues and brings people closer to the Core The town buying that property would be one of the smartest things it could do in the long run and it would reduce the amount that the town is presently paying out to rent parking space like the lot next to the Frink . it could also provide some sort of year round activity space if it was really needed

No matter what don’t close down the Covert st parking lot a year while the town attempts to build a 2 tier facility as has been suggested , the loss of that although limited space with Pot holes for a year would truly be the demise of the remaining business on King

Reply to  perplexed
24 January 2018 12:49 pm

“No matter what don’t close down the Covert st parking lot a year while the town attempts to build a 2 tier facility as has been suggested , the loss of that although limited space with Pot holes for a year would truly be the demise of the remaining business on King”

That was the argument made forty years ago when the original parking study came out and looked at a parking garage in Covert St. See the damage that argument created?

A parking structure can be built but in two parts – one part at a time. Takes longer but possible and very necessary.

Old Sailor
24 January 2018 8:44 am

I agree that the taxpayers are bearing the brunt of the clean up of the beach – which is free to all the GTA folk who come here in droves every weekend. Hard to imagine people coming to Cobourg in their bathing suits spending any money on King Street. What is the net benefit of this project????

The biggest problem the waterfront users face now is no parking. Those beat up boaters who pay $2,000 to $4,000 for a summer slip get a parking pass which is useless when the lot is full of beach goers. Perhaps turn the trailer park into a parking lot and this new venture might not put further parking stress in the area.

Reply to  Old Sailor
24 January 2018 9:25 am

I have often wondered about what ‘Old Sailor’ has suggested and that is getting rid of the trailer park and making it into a parking lot? Would the revenue from this type of venue be more than what the town appreciates from the trailer park? Further to this, I agree with ‘Ewok’ and I always will …and that is to ban vehicles from the East pier, sod it some how, plant trees, install a proper boardwalk system, etc. Folks could then park in a central area and have access to the beach, the east pier, a possible ‘floating’ play centre, etc. and also walk into town to shop! ‘Parking stress’ would be alleviated! Makes sense to me?

Reply to  Ken
24 January 2018 9:28 am

Thanks Ken – I’ll need a campaign manager in the summer/fall……

24 January 2018 8:20 am

GREAT! More garbage on our beach. I am disgusted at what visitors leave behind. I pay for my garbage to be picked up, visitors just leave it on the beach. Some even burying their dirty diapers in the sand. With the exception of parking meters, I have rarely seen visitors to the beach generating income for the town. They bring all their own food (often including illegal bbq’s).

The residents who pay taxes already stay away from the beach on the weekend due to the crowds. I fail to see anything good about this plan for the people that live here.

Reply to  mags
24 January 2018 9:06 am

How do you know they weren’t local residents? This smacks of xenophobia once again

Reply to  Waterboy
24 January 2018 9:45 am

How do you know they weren’t local residents?

Comparing language spoken to Cobourg’s census profile ( provides an excellent clue regarding whether they are locals.

Reply to  Dubious
24 January 2018 11:42 am

So what you are saying is white locals don’t litter. This sounds sort of racist to me…

Reply to  Waterboy
24 January 2018 12:32 pm

Comparing the ethnicity of the miscreant to Cobourg’s demographics provides an excellent clue to whether they are local or not. I never visit the beach so have no personal knowledge of who litters.

Reply to  Dubious
24 January 2018 12:39 pm

Maybe so but Cobourg is not 100% white either so I’m not sure where this discussions is going. You guys are going down a very slippery slope.

Reply to  Waterboy
24 January 2018 1:08 pm

I didn’t mentioning colour; you did. According to the site linked earlier, out of 18960 residents only 310 speak other than English at home. That means that 98.5% speak English at home.

Wally Keeler
Reply to  Dubious
29 January 2018 8:20 am

The PRESUMPTION, of course, is that the miscreants who leave their garbage and diapers on the beach are “visitors” and not locals. It’s so ludicrously binary and cartoony. The garbage left behind comes from both visitors and locals. Demographic charts prove nothing insofar as identifying the miscreants in this instance.

Reply to  Waterboy
28 January 2018 8:40 pm

Do you really have to suggest that there is racism here? My goodness, it seems that in many cases, people cannot provide an opinion these days without fear of having the “racism” accusation thrown at them. I’m not saying that there aren’t racists out there, but come on, in a lot of cases, people are too quick to make those accusations. Just my opinion.

Deborah OConnor
Reply to  Susie-Q
29 January 2018 2:38 pm

There is nothing so terrifying as the fear us Old Stock Canadians have to endure, wondering if our coded declarations of sincere speculation will mark us as racist. Compared to our own fear of having the racist slur directed at us, the actual ongoing real racism most people of colour face every day, pales in comparison.

So please, say a prayer for all the Old Stock Canadians facing this terrible fear as we are forced to fret silently about the bags of buried diapers found daily on the beach, afraid to speak up. Oh, the horror!

Reply to  mags
24 January 2018 1:01 pm

” Some even burying their dirty diapers in the sand.”

The old ‘dirty diaper’ myth surfaces again. Prove it – we want pictures!!

Greg H
Reply to  ben
29 January 2018 6:06 pm

Yes, it is just an urban myth, designed to slur visitors to the beach. I think there is little or no evidence.

The other catch phrase has been “lamb-eating” visitors. I like lamb, but I think the people who used this phrase are trying to imply muslims.

There are two lessons to be learned from these slurs:

Firstly: Cobourg should get used to the idea that Canada has citizens who are not white, and this is OK.
Secondly: We do have a considerable capacity problem on the beach in the summer, yet the town continues to advertise it. These continuing advertisements for more tourists serve to make an existing problem worse. So why advertise? especially when another continuing gripe is that tourists don’t spend enough money here.

Wally Keeler
Reply to  mags
28 January 2018 10:01 pm

The Famous Diaper was last seen this spring when high waters lifted it out of the sand and it drifted off towards Rochester. Forensics for Fun and Frolic, determined that the diaper was part of bundle TMV6843GH8765 sold Wednesday, June 18, 2014 at No Frills, Division Street.

Everyone, visitors and locals, leave garbage behind in the park and on the beach. Contrary to your assertion I have often seen visitors spending lots of their money in Cobourg. In my life I have often visited parks all over Ontario, and more often than not, I bring my own food, but if there is a burger or chip joint nearby, I’ll indulge.

From June 1 to Labour Day, there are 92 summer days or 14 weekends to enjoy the beach. Three weekends consist of Canada Day, Civic Weekend and Labour Day weekend, 9 days. That leaves 11 weekends and a total of 83 days when the beach is not crowded.

24 January 2018 8:17 am

This seems like a good idea. However, I too was wondering about the cold water temperatures of Lake Ontario.

24 January 2018 8:15 am

Interesting idea. I’d like to see the business model around this, outlining costs, projected revenues, anticipated volumes, liabilities, etc. Looks to be a significant investment so I’m sure there’s the necessary background work going on prior to any RFPs.

Reply to  Rhonda
24 January 2018 11:14 am

Teresa reports that “two groups that have submitted proposals are eagerly awaiting to bid on this business opportunity to establish a water-park in Cobourg for the spring/summer of 2018.
Is a private sector business to operate this and pay the Town a fee, similar to the beach canteen? Or is the Town planning to BUY the equipment and hope to make some money from it?

Too bad that no estimate was provided on how much net revenue the Town might get from this.

As Rhonda notes, it will be interesting to see the business case for this

Reply to  Bryan
24 January 2018 11:29 am

I hope this isn’t already approved for implementation – it feels a bit like a scatter gun approach “hey let’s try this thing…” I think more information need to be shared before a decision to move forward is approved. I suppose this could be a 1 yr. trial RFP with potential to renew based on a few performance indicators – certainly wouldn’t want to get tied into this long term.

23 January 2018 3:40 pm

Full credit – this is a good idea. It actually goes quite well with my idea to ban cars from the pier, sod or artificial turf the entire space, build a boardwalk around it, plant trees, add benches, outdoor exercise equipment and swings and make it a multipurpose park like space….

Reply to  Ewok
24 January 2018 3:02 pm

I like it, but… we’ll have to leave access (paved?) for emergency vehicles to get to the end of the pier in case of boat fires, drownings or any mishaps requiring emergency services.

Reply to  Frenchy
24 January 2018 3:06 pm

Frenchy – I think you raise a good point but I just don’t think its accurate…I don’t believe that emergency vehicles need to be able to drive to the end of the pier however I could be wrong.

Reply to  Ewok
24 January 2018 3:15 pm

That is one heck of a distance to walk for the emergency responders with their respective equipment. Add that to not knowing what equipment is needed at the scene and then having to walk back to the paramedic unit to retrieve it. Then we have added a patient and the need to carry all the equipment and roll the stretcher back to the paramedic vehicle all the while trying to treat the patient. IMO opinion as a retired paramedic time is of the essence and the closer they can get to their patient and equipment with their ambulance the better for all concerned

Reply to  Gerald
24 January 2018 3:34 pm

Absolutely I hear what your saying – long walk, time sensitive, etc.. and I couldn’t agree more. I suppose there would need to be a contingency plan for such a thing but I still think it possible.

Wally Keeler
23 January 2018 1:05 pm

The suggested location appears to interfere with route that many wind surfers’ utilize. But then again, no profit can be made from those surfers, so it is easy to move them somewhere else. Why not place the waterplayground on the west side of the pier where the water is more placid than it is outside the protection of the harbour? Also provide seating on the pier for people watching, and hotdog stands.

Watch the fun

23 January 2018 11:41 am

Great idea however Lake Ontario is extremely cold for half the summer so not exactly sure how that will go over. Kids don’t seem to be as bothered by cold water as much but still