This week, Canada Post is delivering a brochure from the Town to all 8664 households in Cobourg. The idea is to educate the public on the merits of the recent waterfront study and of the financial viability of the harbour and marina. This could be called a new level of transparency but it’s also selling the results of the study. Some of the issues described are not particularly contentious (e.g. about the East Pier) while others are likely to be election issues (e.g. harbour expansion). There are in fact two “Guides” available – the four page version that was mailed and the 16 page version available on line. Both have much the same information but the larger one has more detail. Both can be downloaded from the links below.
The key message of the guides is that there was a comprehensive survey of the opinions of Cobourg residents and these survey results are published. The consultants said that the engagement level of the survey was one that they “have yet to see in their careers”. Not everyone agrees with the results but they are nevertheless of interest so a summary of the more controversial ones is provided below.
The introduction by the Mayor on the first page thanks the public for their input and points to the large number of workshops and meetings held and Gil says that “objective scoring criteria” were used. The numbers from the survey are presented as “Fact” and although the results of the survey may be fact, not all would agree that it’s a fact that they represent the opinions of a majority of the residents of Cobourg. But communicating with all the residents by a mailout is more than has been done on any other issue in recent memory. That has to be good.
A lot of details are provided in the guides – the summary below para-phrases the results in the interest of brevity. Please consult the actual guides for additional detail.
Selected Statements from Guides
Both residents and businesses think Tourism is a good idea. A majority wanted the Town to “further develop waterfront-based recreation activities as a source of revenue generation” – this seems to be the basis for the recommendation to expand the marina.
The campground is a profit centre for the Town – over the period 2012 to 2017, it provided a contribution of “$881,096 to the Town’s general revenue to help keep taxes lower.”
For most of the year, the harbour is greatly under utilized. Fees paid by boat owners have been subsidizing other users and taxpayers’ enjoyment of the entire harbour.
The marina consistently operates at a profit and has been subsidizing taxpayers by paying for operating and maintenance costs of the entire harbour. A majority agreed that the Town should invest in the marina if resulting revenues could finance harbour/waterfront improvements. The economic impact [benefit to the Town] of the marina from 2010 to 2016 was estimated to be $12M.
Dredge (full guide only)
The Cobourg Dredge, known as the Marie Dressler, was purchased in 2009 for $616,000 and is used to remove sand deposits at a significantly lower cost than an outside contract. The equipment is also contracted out to generate revenue to further reduce the cost of maintaining Cobourg Harbour. A secondary benefit of the dredging operation has been the deposit of clean sand on to Victoria Park Beach, resulting in a greatly expanded beach area.
Parking (full guide only)
Waterfront parking brings in almost $170,000 annually (gross) from seven parking lots and meters. After expenses, the profits from this business unit are used to offset waterfront costs.
Food & Beverage (full guide only)
While the Town generates approximately $20,000 from the Victoria Park Canteen contract each year, this profit is more than offset by almost $50,000 in annual maintenance costs for the adjacent washrooms. However, there is significant potential for increasing the revenue from food and beverage at our waterfront.
Hopefully everyone has received and read the shorter guide delivered to their homes – if nothing else it provides a clear explanation of how the Town’s Culture and Recreation Division views the Waterfront.
It’s probably best that I remind everyone of two things: 1) that Council’s approval of the study included a requirement that major projects would include further public consultation and 2) that there will be no major projects from this study until after the next election when there will be at least 3 new faces (Gil, Forrest and Debra are not running again).
- Waterfront Guide (4 pages) – Mailed out Guide, converted to be printable on 8.5” x 11” letter size paper.
- Full Waterfront Guide (16 pages)
- Waterfront Study Finally Accepted by Council – Most recent Post on this project – 5 July 2018