West Harbour – Candidates give their positions

On August 31, all candidates in the upcoming Municipal election were asked seven leading questions on hot topics – this is the first in a series of posts giving their answers (see link below for other questions and more about the candidates).  Candidates were asked to keep their responses short; if they did not, their submitted text has been abbreviated. The first question on the list asked about the West Harbour. The recent Waterfront study made recommendations about the harbour including expansion of the Marina into the West Harbour.  The issue has been the subject of a lot of discussion in the Town (as judged by comments on this blog) and by Councillors.  The position of those running for election varies from “no expansion” to “let’s have a referendum”.

Dragon Boat Festival
Dragon Boat Festival

It so happened that today (September 22, 2018) was also the date for the annual Dragon Boat Festival in Cobourg’s West Harbour.  The event occupies the West Harbour and brings visitors to Town although most competitors are local.   The Festival features competitive races with the final race making a long circuit around the whole harbour.  Cobourg participants (including the Survivor Thrivers) can often be seen practicing at other times.

The photo at right was taken in 2002 when the event was blessed with more sunshine (click to enlarge or close).


John Henderson (acclaimed) I stated in 2014 that the West Harbor must address the concerns of all stakeholders including the Walking Clubs, Survivor Thrivors, Cobourg Dragon Boat and Canoe Club, Willow Beach Naturalist and the Cobourg Yacht Club. This defined area also supports the United Way Campaign-Challenge the Dragon and other related community events such as the Cobourg Waterfront Festival. It needs to be equitable in terms of how the west harbor and lands are used. I would not support harbor expansion based on my above comments.

Deputy Mayor

Randy Curtis It is possible to increase revenue without changing the footprint of the west harbor (no new boat slips west of the centre pier). An innovative focus on fiscal management will enable the town to maximize usage (revenue) without the use of tax dollars.
Suzanne Séguin

Using the Waterfront User Needs Assessment and Detailed Design Plan, we will look at evidence-based and smart decisions for making the existing marina sustainable without adding more slips to the west harbour and without a taxpayer funded boat lift. 

Early in the new term of Council, I will put forward a motion to prevent any expansion of the west harbour for the next four years.


Nicole Beatty I promise to steward the Cobourg Waterfront by nurturing its natural assets.  I do not support the commercial development or expansion of the West Beach; however, as Councillor, I am committed to assuring that vibrant tourism, cultural, recreational and economic opportunities continue to thrive and contribute to our progressive future as a waterfront community.
Aaron Burchat I do not support expansion of slips into the west harbour. I would like to investigate other options for reconfiguring the east harbour to potentially add more slips there, as well as converting some of the transient slips to seasonal. I believe we need to consider such changes, and possibly increase rates, in order to maintain profitability for the marina going forward, without having to sacrifice the natural west harbour.
Adam Bureau I am not willing to expand the marina if it effects the user groups or other businesses that use the west harbour. I would like to see it stay natural and protect the Eco system.
Emily Chorley

I would protect the West Harbour by opposing Marina expansion west of the Centre Pier. The people of Cobourg clearly expressed their opposition to marina expansion in 2015 and again in June this year.

Brian Darling I feel this question is a red herring for the next Council.  The Waterfront Master Plan recommendations suggest this topic be dealt with in year seven of the plan.  The current condition and possible repairs to the east pier, some dock replacement and even centre pier repairs may push this topic further into the future.  It may not even be dealt with in the next two terms of Council.  People tend to be polarized on this issue.  Therefore I would ask for a referendum on the next election ballot in 2022 so all citizens of Cobourg will make the decision.
Karl Vom Dorff Sustainability and preservation of the West Harbour – no expansion. Yes to: Cobourg’s Dragonboat & Kayak Club, the Yacht Club & Marina, environmental sustainability, tourism – a symbiotic yes to all, without expansion or increasing property taxes. The East pier’s disintegration should be prioritized.
Travis Hoover My understanding is there is no rush to make a decision on this for the next term of council. Put it to a referendum vote in the 2020 municipal election. Obviously, the protection and preservation of the west Bay Area is essential for recreational use. I would not support an expansion that takes away from the natural recreational water area and would adversely affect many community groups and users
Miriam Mutton I support protection of our harbour as a multi-use harbour and important waterfront asset belonging to all citizens of Cobourg. I do not support expansion which requires additional restrictions on public use or limits opportunities for flexible programming.  I do support optimization and good design.
Johnny Percolides My position on the marina expansion into the west harbour has been very clear, the people of Cobourg have repeatedly said they don’t want it and it’s time to listen to the people. If Council does not agree that this is the case, they should consider putting this issue to a referendum and have the public once and for all settle this matter.

Note: Candidates listed in last name alphabetical order.

The next question to be answered is “Are Tourists good for Cobourg? Look for new posts with Candidates answering questions every day at around 7:00 pm for 7 days. Or if you can wait, the next morning by email at 8:00am. Posts on other subjects will continue.


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24 September 2018 4:05 pm

Anyone wanting to defer this question to 2020, 2022 is being disingenuous. What they are hoping for is a hale-Mary from somewhere, so that they can change their tune. Don’t mind a referendum but have it in the here and now – say 2019. Only one candidate above says No to the boat lift – I agree. Get rid of this budgeted expenditure and place on needed infrastructure improvements.

Bill Thompson
Reply to  gerinator
24 September 2018 4:47 pm

Totally agree a referendum NOW (2019) not in 2022 as I replied to councillor Brian Darling in response to his statement at prior first election campaign “good conscience” opposition originally but non committal now upon re-election change of heart.
Is a “conscience change” a declaration of “no conscience” admission in itself ?

Dan Stanford
24 September 2018 10:01 am

The study certainly referred to the passion of the opposition groups to any change in the marina and alluded to the fact that the constituents may not be in such opposition. Mr. Darling’s suggestion of a referendum seems a sensible way to determine these things.

Bill Thompson
Reply to  Dan Stanford
24 September 2018 11:23 am

If I remember correctly ,a referendum was considered too expensive in the past while overlooking the many thousands of dollars wasted on consultants to try to sell it to the public.
This has been going on since 2014 with failure each time and yet it keeps reappearing by direction of a yet undisclosed town/council official… Possibly the answer will be revealed in due course by a new council.
With fresh faces perhaps they will actually listen to their constituents and produce the much promised but opaque transparency exhibited up to the present.
We can live in hope and make it happen if townspeople will get more involved ….way long overdue .

Wally Keeler
Reply to  Bill Thompson
24 September 2018 11:52 am

“it keeps reappearing by direction of a yet undisclosed town/council official…

The Hidden Hand https://youtu.be/kYu-pAhy9cY

Rusty Brown
Reply to  Bill Thompson
26 September 2018 12:23 pm

“,,,opaque transparency”. I can’t quite picture it.

Bill Thompson
Reply to  Rusty Brown
27 September 2018 4:22 pm

Exactly ! A contradiction as intended by my statement and unfortunately demonstrated by the town.

24 September 2018 9:12 am

I simply cannot believe that the “harbour, marina, etc” is on the minds of the majority of citizens of Cobourg. I bet folks would rather see lower taxes, a reduction in municipal staff (means lower taxes), mandated affordable housing and rental units (through planning and building permits), cessation of tax dollars to downtown merchants (let building owners do their own repairs), increase marketing of CCC to attract more shows, events (as promised in original run-up). And how about a really big increase in funding for books, media and programs at our library. Most people I talk to could care less about the harbour, slips, expansion, boat lift, you name it.

Bill Thompson
Reply to  Eastender
24 September 2018 1:37 pm


“Most people I talk to could care less about the harbour,slips,expansion,boat lift, you name it”

Conversely most people I talk to are very much concerned about what happens to our heritage harbour as they have gradually become aware that the town is set in its determination and ignoring the past few years public reaction to it, and the thousands of tax dollars wasted on this same issue.

The chances so far of the lower taxes,reduction of staff etc wishes you speak of are /have not been even mentioned nor considered by the town.
Possibly is it because nobody seems concerned enough to do anything about it and get involved the way concerned citizens are in speaking out about the harbour.?
Is it public apathy and you can’t fight city hall mentality ?

I believe the CTA (non political) has tried to vocalize some public concerns but are discounted by some (including the town) as just trouble makers etc.

Possibly your concerns may be considered also in due course after the election in addition to settling this constant waterfront conundrum but it takes a public voice .
Are you and the people you talk to up for discussing it with the town other than just amongst yourselves ?

23 September 2018 4:26 pm

Looks like Dean has his work cut out for him.

Reply to  Frenchy
24 September 2018 8:20 am

Encouraging Dean to concentrate on searching for a new employer would be better.

Walter L. Luedtke
Reply to  Dubious
24 September 2018 9:56 am

Just look at the upvotes from the CTA folks salivating at the prospect of purging town Staff.
We even got the name of one, Dean Hustwick, who had the nerve to oversee the Cultural Master Plan, as he was requested to do by Council.
“Arts, culture and heritage were recognized by Council as pillars in the
development of the Town of Cobourg’s Strategic Plan. To facilitate the
implementation of the Strategic Plan, Council supported the creation of the
Recreation and Culture Division. One component of this new division’s
mandate was to develop and implement a Cultural Master Plan for the Town of

Reply to  Walter L. Luedtke
24 September 2018 4:55 pm

I hope that the Cultural Masterplan captures the resident’s wishes better than Dean’s Waterfront Masterplan.

Walter L. Luedtke
23 September 2018 3:41 pm

What a spectacle!
Almost all of the candidates stampeding to the same side of the municipal pasture.
Wonder what spooked them.
And a salute to Brian Darling – the only one who kept his head.

Bill Thompson
Reply to  Walter L. Luedtke
23 September 2018 8:42 pm

What “spooked”them ?
Possibly the realization (for the third time !) that the town is determined to keep on regardless of public opinion to change the harbour into a marina …full stop.
It isn’t wanted obviously doesn’t sit well with those who are content with the status quo that’s been the same for years.
One present candidate (for re-election) is the only one who “kept his head” ….Really?
You’re saying that the acclaimed mayor has lost his head as well as the other candidates by their mandates re this issue ?
I suppose councillor Darling “lost his head” when running for election in 2014 for the first time and now for re-election he finally saw the light where none of the others have?
Give your head a shake .
Most of the people really aren’t that naive and it’s so refreshing to see some willing to enter the fray and vocalize their opinions for a change from the same old same old !
I believe statements made by some posters that change is necessary and inevitable but not accepting the fact that change for change sake is not necessarily beneficial speaks volumes.
I believe this occasion fits that category.
October election results will show how the people feel re the candidates ,so let’s see what happens shall we ?

Walter L. Luedtke
Reply to  Bill Thompson
24 September 2018 7:54 am

Hope the candidates come up with some differences on the other issues in their platforms.
So far it looks like an election in China – lots of candidates, same platforms.
So let’s see what surprises ‘tourism’ will bring.
Perhaps a paraphrase of the late William Lyon Mackenzie King immortal phrase – ‘tourism if necessary, but not necessarily tourism’.

Wally Keeler
Reply to  Walter L. Luedtke
23 September 2018 10:25 pm

“I personally cannot in good conscience vote to allow expansion of boat slips west of the centre pier. The west basin should remain as close to its current condition as is possible.”
Brian Darling, 2014 election. Quote taken from Save Our Heritage Harbour

Old Sailor
23 September 2018 11:48 am

With a town owned marina and ~ 15,000 eligible voters/marina stakeholders, any decision on the harbour will be entirely politically motivated. Which may not be the best business decision. Privately owned marinas and yacht clubs that manage their own water facilities make the best business decisions.

Not much has changed in the Cobourg Harbour in the last 20 years. Not much will change in the next 20.

23 September 2018 9:36 am

I think one of the most important issues in this municipal election is the issue of affordable housing. We have a crisis currently–not enough rental housing, and what is available is often not affordable. This is both a social and an economic problem. This question should be asked of municipal candidates–What will you do to address the current rental housing crisis?

Reply to  Richard
23 September 2018 11:34 am

And if they tell the truth, not much. “We don’t have the money, mandate or the doggedness to stick to fixing it.” If it can be done it would have been done already!

Mrs. Anonymous
22 September 2018 9:37 pm

I would just like to offer up a big thank-you to John for providing this information and I look forward to reading future posts.

Cobourg resident
Reply to  Mrs. Anonymous
23 September 2018 8:19 am

Hear hear… In the absence of print media and limited All Candidates forums, we need resources and efforts like John’s to help us make informed choices. Much appreciated John.

manfred s
22 September 2018 8:39 pm

so much for creative and courageous thought.
How disappointing. Where are the visionaries, the ones who dare to reach beyond a politically safe refuge of the status quo, the ones who dare to take risks to achieve great things, to produce what no one seems to see until it sits before them in the flesh? Not one ‘alternative’ concept offered up by any candidate. If indeed it comes to be that a referendum is held at some time in the future, I hope we see more than a yes or no to one solitary, limited, divisive, unimaginative option.

Reply to  manfred s
23 September 2018 10:15 am

Pretty simple question and thankfully clear, precise and simple answers from the candidates.

manfred s
Reply to  Frenchy
23 September 2018 11:49 am

so then Frenchy, do you believe that those elected should hold fast to these positions for their term of office and be unwilling to keep an open mind on the issue? If so, you better be aware of all their positions on all known issues that will come up for their votes during this term. It almost negates the need for debates and open discussions and suggests they just need to read the legal stuff into the record and then vote their predetermined position. Wow, that’s quite a leap for a democratic institution. Now, if you don’t believe that, then they would be open to revisiting the issues and if any of them change their ‘positions’ as presented in their answers to these questions, what good are their answers today, before they know all the pertinent facts of each issue? I’d say these answers actually provide nothing concrete in the way of telling us what they will actually do once faced with a decision.

Reply to  manfred s
24 September 2018 1:01 pm

Don’t be silly Manfred, of course we all want our politicians to keep an open mind about any issue put before them. Knowing what their position is on any of these questions now (or others asked individually or through public meetings like the “Speed Campaigning” show put on by the Chamber O’ Commerce), help us form an opinion of these candidates as to their character and preferences and which way they might lean on any future issues. Sheds a little light as to which candidates best align with my opinions on these topics.
If any of “my choices” changes their mind during the next four years, I’d listen to their argument why and if it is strong enough to make them change their mind, it just might convince me to change mine too. If I don’t agree with them and that particular issue is a deal breaker for me, then I don’t vote for them in 2022.
Easy, peasy. And tell your pal Walter that that is how democracy works.

Reply to  manfred s
24 September 2018 10:49 am

We have a great sized Marina right now. Let’s learn how to run it efficiently and learn how to be happy with it.

Walter L. Luedtke
22 September 2018 7:47 pm

Well, there it is!
Leaves those of us who want a democratic choice about the West Harbour with only Brian Darling as a clear option.
Wonder how many of us there are in Cobourg?
We shall never know.

Bill Thompson
Reply to  Walter L. Luedtke
22 September 2018 8:17 pm

This quote was made by one of the candidates for council election in 2014 . Do you recall which successful candidate it was ?
” I think we all realize there is a need for improvements such as a handicap accessible dock and future infrastructure repairs just to name two. I am sure a plan can be brought forward that will allow for these improvements along with others.
I am all for making the necessary changes and improvements but I personally cannot in good conscience vote to allow expansion of boat slips west of the centre pier.
The west basin should remain as close to its current condition as is possible”

Walter L. Luedtke
Reply to  Bill Thompson
22 September 2018 10:11 pm

Yes Bill! I remember.
And I respect your position with regard to the West Harbour.
You have espoused it all along.
We have had our disagreements, but that’s what we are here for.
But maybe, the fat lady has not sung yet.

Wally Keeler
Reply to  Bill Thompson
23 September 2018 4:33 am

These were the quotes of 2014 https://youtu.be/iJkGwq021Oc

Reply to  Walter L. Luedtke
23 September 2018 10:20 am

You should have (and will be able to in 2022) run for council and give Cobourgers that chance for democracy to flourish.

Walter L. Luedtke
Reply to  Frenchy
23 September 2018 3:46 pm

Ladies first!

Bill Thompson
Reply to  Walter L. Luedtke
24 September 2018 9:05 am

It looks like you missed the opportunity to step away from the keyboard for once and walk the walk instead of just talk the talk.
I’m sure the voters would appreciate another more thought out “option” of another who didn’t lose his head to offset the stampede of so many to the same municipal pasture.
Perhaps there still is time if you hurry to apply for candidacy and save the day .