Esplanade Traffic and Parking

In August 2017 and again in October 2017, residents living in the Condos on the Esplanade asked that Council look at  traffic and parking issues on the Esplanade in summer but they remained on the unfinished business list for well over a year.  At their first meeting in 2019, Council reviewed the list and called for reports on each of them.  Further, Councillor Emily Chorley successfully made a motion that called for the reports to be made in no more than three months.  No doubt because of that, Director of Public Works, Laurie Wills, will present the first report at the next Committee of the Whole meeting on April 1st.  Two items are addressed: 1) a concern about traffic congestion in the Division Street and Esplanade area and 2) a concern about traffic and pedestrian volumes in the Division/ Esplanade/ Albert Street area.

Esplanade and Division
Esplanade and Division

The main area of concern is around the corner of Division and the Esplanade as shown in the photo above right.

The reason given for not responding more quickly was that staff should wait to see what the now completed Waterfront Study had to say about this area since it is definitely at the waterfront.

Concern about danger to pedestrians

A new pedestrian crossing would not give pedestrians any additional right-of-way – for that, they would need to be at a controlled intersection and these are already available on Albert (at Third and at Division).  New crossings are not required if there is one available within 200 metres and according to Laurie’s report, this would mean a controlled mid-block pedestrian crossing on Albert Street is not required.  It’s not clear why she referred to Albert Street when the concern was the Esplanade.

Speed was measured on Division and it was found that “99.86% of vehicles are driving below the speed limit” of 50 km/hr.  On the Esplanade, there was no suitable pole to mount the speed tracker on so the report says “however, it may be safe to assume that if vehicles are traveling below the speed limit on Division Street they are likely to be travelling at the same speed or less across the Esplanade where the posted speed is 20 Km/hr”.

Concern about Exiting the Drive-ways from the Condos onto Division

Although Laurie seemed to feel that it was already safe enough, “an improvement that can be made to the entrance to 165 Division Street is for the first parking space to be moved to the north by 2m which will correct the length of the second space. The motorcycle parking is proposed to be reverted back to a regular space once the line painting has been corrected.”

Traffic Congestion

Residents objected to the idea of a traffic circle at the bottom of Division Street because of the tiny space available but Laurie’s report said “Staff will review this option and its potential traffic/parking impact in greater detail when the recommended implementation date approaches.” (See full report below for more on this).

Esplanade parking
Proposed Esplanade parking

However, Laurie did agree that people using the parking lot on the Esplanade at Division would have a problem with congestion in busy periods.


  1. As illustrated in Figure 3 (see image), open up an exit only onto Division Street and allow a one way entrance into the parking lot off of the Esplanade.
  2. Implement a one way only arrangement on the Esplanade from east to west on a 3 month trial basis beginning May 1, 2019.
  3. Open up an exit only onto Third Street from the parking lot at Third Street/ Esplanade. This will remove one on street parking space and involve relocating a tree. Staff recommends implementing this a minimum of one year after Recommendation #1 so that any operational improvements have been sufficiently realized before investing in Recommendation #3. Staff will report back to Council before implementing Recommendation #3.

It’s not clear where the idea of making the Esplanade one-way came from nor how it helps anything. I suspect users of the parking lot at the West end of the Esplanade would object.  Did anyone ask any users or residents?


After the above was published, a response was added to the Council Agenda.

Response from Residents #1

Once this subject was raised on the Agenda of the Council meeting, it was open to a response by the local residents – and that’s what the board of NCC #50 have done.  (Click here for a copy of their four page letter).  But here is a summary:

  • Although moving the existing parking space 2m north is a good move, with commercial activity increasing on Division Street, parking spaces in front of what was previously Marca’s should be removed or at least converted to “stopping or drop-off status”.
  • Traffic speeds were not measured on the Esplanade and in fact although many drive slowly, others are driven well over the 20km/hr speed limit.  The esplanade is also used by a number of trucks.
  • A pedestrian crossing over the Esplanade would be good for people travelling through Rotary Park to the beach.
  • The trial of one way traffic is welcomed.
  • Other ideas would be to add Stop signs or speed bumps
  • The parking lots on the Esplanade are a mistake and no more should be added.  Also, no more green space should be paved over such as seems likely if a traffic circle were added at the bottom of Division.
  • The improvements in entry and exit to the existing lots are a good idea.

In conclusion, the letter says:

An alternative solution to the anticipated increased demand in summer seasonal parking, which does not negatively impact our Waterfront, must be explored.


Update March 31 – Response from Residents #2

While the focus has been on residents of the Condos at the east end of the Esplanade, others at the west end have now also expressed an opinion. They are more supportive of the recommendations of Staff. In a letter to Council (download here), they said that their board of directors met and….

We decided by majority vote to support the recommendations #1 and #2 listed in the report, namely 1.) to open up a one-way exit from the parking lot onto Division Street at the Esplanade and allow a one-way only entrance to that lot from the Esplanade. 2.) on a three-month trial basis, to implement a one-way traffic arrangement on the Esplanade going east to west between Division and Third Streets. We also agree with the report’s analysis that a controlled pedestrian crossing at Second Street and Albert is not required, and that speed-bumps on the Esplanade are not necessary. We remain skeptical about the proposal for a future traffic circle at this location and would not support the removal of additional grass from the Esplanade median to allow additional parking.

One thing that is apparent (and good) is that although Works department staff seemed to not consult residents, Town Clerk Brent Larmer is letting people know about issues that might concern them before they are considered by Council.

Update April 1st – Council Decision

After a short discussion at the Committee of the Whole, Council approved staff recommendations with two changes: 1) That the trial period for the one way traffic be 4 months – May to August and 2) that Staff report results of the trial to Council on October 15.

Update April 8

At the regular Council meeting on April 8, Council passed a motion implementing the COW decision.

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Walter L. Luedtke
1 April 2019 9:28 am

Interesting that it was Councillor Chorley who moved a speedy report on the Condo owners issues.
Cobourg has a serious problem with rental and low income accomodation.
Why do the minor concerns of traffic on the Esplanade get on the front burner?

Merry Mary
Reply to  Walter L. Luedtke
1 April 2019 11:29 am

The speeding report is a major concern at both the east and the west ends of the Esplanade.

manfred s
Reply to  Merry Mary
1 April 2019 12:27 pm

one would think localized speeding is an enforcement issue for the police, but, if it’s a systemic problem, then Council would need to address it municipality-wide, not one instance at a time, as in this case. Even if just because of the ‘optics’, which bugs the hell out of me whenever ‘optics’ is referenced, this part of the general waterfront discussion leads to the perception, at least, of preferential concerns on the part of policy makers.

manfred s
Reply to  Walter L. Luedtke
1 April 2019 12:32 pm

maybeee…it’s perceived as a quick’n’easy fix, and a possible feather in the cap for a new council? …and, maybe not…

manfred s
31 March 2019 12:39 pm

start with a ‘blank’ page… no need for public vehicular traffic on the east pier, make it a pedestrian zone, period. The esplanade gets renamed to an applicable ‘street’ name and is treated like any other 2-way residential street, just like University, Elgin, William, King, etc., etc., (where’s the justification in making it a “private thoroughfare”, treat the 2 little parking lots as ‘public’ 24/7. This area should be treated like any other public space as opposed to a semi-private enclave, regardless of the “sell-sheet”. No fancy measures required. What other areas in town get or, more to the point, expect such ‘tailored treatment’?

Reply to  manfred s
31 March 2019 4:03 pm

Thank you nothing I would like more I hate the Town lawn mores out here at 6 am on Sat and every 2nd day
the ATVs running garbage from the Park & beach from 6 am to 8 pm every day

You have no idea how much the Town is spending to attract tourist dollars at the expense of the locals

Wally Keeler
Reply to  sandpiper
31 March 2019 5:01 pm

Perhaps you should consider moving to a much more suitable neighbourhood.

Reply to  Wally Keeler
31 March 2019 5:13 pm

The 150+ families on the waiting list for affordable housing feel his pain.

Deborah OConnor
Reply to  Albert
31 March 2019 7:47 pm

The County Wait List for subsidised housing has over 700 families on it.

Reply to  Deborah OConnor
1 April 2019 8:58 am

Tell your MP and your MPP and see what kind of response you get
I have been in the retirement Home business for yrs and have watched the continuous decline of people and families being able to afford to stay there
Again there has not been a proper cost of Living increase to CPP or OAS or ODSP for decades .

manfred s
Reply to  Wally Keeler
31 March 2019 5:15 pm

ohhh…but that view! Where else can we have that view? Now, back to those other issues, I mean, it’s just not fair, is it…😞

Wally Keeler
Reply to  manfred s
31 March 2019 5:22 pm
Walter L. Luedtke
31 March 2019 12:25 pm

comment image?aki_policy=xx_large
Not all owners of exclusive, luxury waterfront condos dislike the traffic, noise, garbage, etc that tourists bring to their turf.
“Wake up to sounds of Lake Ontario from your private balcony as you enjoy your morning coffee overlooking the boats of Cobourg Harbour in this exclusive luxury 2 bedroom fully equipped executive condo. Located on one of Canada’s most spectacular sandy beaches in the historical town of Cobourg, just 60 minutes east of Toronto and destined to become your go to place to get away from it all.”
And the guests like to look at BOATS!
All this could be yours to experience too for only $295.00 per night.

Reply to  Walter L. Luedtke
31 March 2019 12:42 pm

I guess thats why thes 2 aren’t sold and have only been rented on and off for short term
over the last 10 yrs or the the restaurant person that folded up Marca’s and left
check the facts folks

manfred s
Reply to  sandpiper
31 March 2019 1:03 pm

is there a stipulation in the condo rules that precludes any units from being short-term (aka vacation rentals) properties? Seems that concept is perfect for these places, given the “issues” we keep hearing about from some of the current residents? If so indeed, it might be time for the condo board to revisit their original desires and expectations. After all, everything, including a “luxury property”, comes at a price greater than originally expected.

Reply to  manfred s
31 March 2019 3:57 pm

is there any Bylaw enforcement in that area not likely
Yes with civil change most was not contemplated until the Air B & B stuff started and the legal council at the time these / most condos were formed did not contemplate it .

But if it become a municille st will that mean that we get garbage pick up and taxed at the same rate as other home s in cobourg of equal value ???

manfred s
Reply to  sandpiper
31 March 2019 5:06 pm

well, “value” is very subjective and MPAC has it’s own ideas on that. They actually ADD a 10% surcharge on properties along Lakeshore Dr that are not lakefront BUT have the BENEFIT of SOME or partial VIEW of (not access to) the water!!! So you can see what that might do to their valuation of those harbour-view properties. I wouldn’t be expecting much change in that regard. As for garbage pickup, that’s a bit of a dog’s breakfast too, considering the criteria used by the county I’m guessing, (ie apartments, etc.). As for grass, that’s likely to be there, no matter, and parks and the like are the town’s responsibility to maintain, so living near any sort of parkland probably comes with similar concerns. Is it fair to assume that the street there gets ploughed and swept like any other street? I’m going to go out on a limb here and I don’t want to be unsympathetic but I don’t imagine there’s too much sympathy, regards these issues, coming from the other taxpayers of the town.

Wally Keeler
Reply to  sandpiper
31 March 2019 5:08 pm

Why don;t the condo boards forbid B&B in their units?

Merry Mary
Reply to  Wally Keeler
1 April 2019 11:36 am

The Boards of Directors do forbid.

Wally Keeler
Reply to  Merry Mary
1 April 2019 12:22 pm

OK, so why is it happening?

Mrs. anonymous
Reply to  Wally Keeler
1 April 2019 5:59 pm

If it’s like a lot of other places, enforcement can be difficult and time consuming. Many hosts have been known to ask their guests not mention they are with Airbnb if asked and claim they are just friends or family.

Wally Keeler
Reply to  Mrs. anonymous
1 April 2019 6:13 pm

The condo managers don’t appear to care enough to do anything about it and the condo owners don’t appear to care enough to help the managers. So neighbours don’t know neighbours within those condos to be able to inform management of suspicions. The young woman who threw chairs from the balcony of a condo in Toronto a few months back was an air b&b.

Ryan Francis
Reply to  Wally Keeler
4 April 2019 2:22 pm

The girl throwing a chair is relevant how? I’ve stayed at an Air BnB, so does that make me a criminal?

Wally Keeler
Reply to  Ryan Francis
4 April 2019 2:38 pm

I’ve stayed at an Air BnB also. I didn’t commit any criminal acts on someone else’s property. No deceit was involved by the property owner. The concierge knew who and when. So the social equation of staying at an Air BnB is a criminal act in and of itself, naaaa, what a ludicrous suggestion!

31 March 2019 11:40 am

How about this?
Pedestrians and drivers look both ways before crossing or exiting from a stop sign.

30 March 2019 4:18 pm

In the meantime, let’s keep promoting our waterfront without mentioning the parking issues (and perhaps the lack of available toilets)!!! Don’t forget all the free parking east of Church/College Streets…a veritable gold mine of potential income for the town!! Who cares about the fact that those of us who live down here (the elites?) do pay for that privilege!

Doug Weldon
30 March 2019 2:37 pm

FOUR WAY STOPS/TRAFFIC CIRCLES Kind of a heads up here. Traffic circles are very hazardous for pedestrians and bicycles. Just think of how we all drive through the ones on D’Arcy St. See explanation below. It is difficult to look around the whole traffic circle and to see the opposite side while continuing to drive right through. It is easy to assume that all traffic continues north or south but the odd time a driver continues right around and you have to hit the brake in order to yield.. We are all given a yield so no one actually has to stop. The pedestrian is placed at high risk trying to cross at these locations when no one stops. Gardens in the middle also reduce visibility. In highway traffic circles like HWY 28 past Bewdley bicycles are very vulnerable to transport trucks that going a little fast swing their trailer out as the cab climbs over the cobble stone center of the circle. Bikers have been killed as these trailers smack them on the side. Traffic circles are a no stop solution for traffic congestion but are only safe for cars. They are highly hazardous for both pedestrians and bicycles. If you watch the students walking up D’Arcy back and forth from the schools you’ll see they mostly cross in the middle of the street and NOT at the traffic circle. They are smart enough to realize that in the middle of the street you only have to look two ways and that is far safer than crossing where you have to look a full 360 degrees. Solution: 4 WAY STOPS: Everybody stops, takes a turn (Where else when driving do we share like that?) And if a pedestrian appears they are almost always waved on by the drivers. Neighbourly… Read more »

Walter L. Luedtke
Reply to  Doug Weldon
30 March 2019 3:25 pm

comment image
In the US, studies have shown that roundabouts are safer than traditional stop sign or signal-controlled intersections.
Roundabouts reduced injury crashes by 75 percent at intersections where stop signs or signals were previously used for traffic control, according to a study by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). Studies by the IIHS and Federal Highway Administration have shown that roundabouts typically achieve:
A 37 percent reduction in overall collisions
A 75 percent reduction in injury collisions
A 90 percent reduction in fatality collisions
A 40 percent reduction in pedestrian collisions.

Doug Weldon
Reply to  Walter L. Luedtke
31 March 2019 2:02 am

Roundabouts compared to what? and located where?

Miriam Mutton
30 March 2019 1:47 pm

An idea …
Using above photo as basis for this idea
a. Use the existing parking lot as the ‘pseudo-traffic circle’, one way in and new one way out as shown by red arrows. Ultimately, may need to treat area south of Albert St. as a parking lot during busy times. No parking spaces left? Not an area resident with private parking? No vehicular access when full.
b. At location of photo label ‘one way entrance to parking lot’, install seasonal concrete planters (see front of Victoria Hall for sample) or a functional gate (better option to allow for EMS access) across the main road (esplanade). Install planters in a row down to the waterside railing. Similar feature also at west end of road. Mid portion of the waterfront roadway would be closed to cars during busy summer weekends/events and possibly other times to be determined. Bicycles (on road/path) and pedestrians would be able to travel freely. In addition, sunrise and sunset should include vehicular access to prime viewing points.

Reply to  Miriam Mutton
31 March 2019 9:35 am

and the purpose of this is ??? bring tourists for 2- 3 months to help economically revitalize King st
Buy the old Quigley Hard ware site on north Albert and have a Proper paved parking
facility its closes enough to service everything from the Town hall, King st and the Water front
and it will certainly be less expensive and less disruption in the long run than all these planter and employees to place then maintain & water , building roundabouts etc etc plus preserve the waterfront green space

30 March 2019 11:16 am

People should also remember that since the pier is closed to car traffic the amount of vehicles in the area has decreased!!

30 March 2019 10:59 am

More complaints from Cobourg’s elite!
First it was complaints about the Town staging popular entertainment and competing with the upscale art ‘films’ at the Loft.
Now we have the upper snack bracket Esplanade condo owners whining about the loss of ‘serenity’ in a high traffic waterfront location.
Should have thought about that before buying that dream condo.

Reply to  Albert
30 March 2019 2:34 pm

This name calling needs to stop.

Reply to  Albert
31 March 2019 9:23 am

sorry you have not achieved your dreams when we purchased here we were advised by the town of a 1 wk disruption for the water front festival not a summer at the boxed in / fenced in Cobourg
??? —- camp grounds and floating trailer park yes you heard it some boat owners rent their boats out on Air B & B and never leave the docks

Reply to  perplexed
31 March 2019 10:13 am

AIRBNB visitor report from a family that stayed on that 40′ boat.
“We stayed on Jim’s boat for 2 nights. There were two adults and 2 kids (12 and 9). The kids were beyond excited when they figured out we were staying on a boat. Jim met us when we arrived for an orientation of the boat, which was really helpful. The boat was spotless and very comfortable. The best part was we could walk everywhere, which was super convenient. We walked for ice-cream, breakfast, lcbo and coffee. Don’t over pack as space is limited. The kids want to come back every year, and if the boat is available, this may just become a new family tradition.”
AIRBNB lists accommodations in 296 homes in Cobourg and area.
And what exactly is wrong with that?

Reply to  Hillary
31 March 2019 12:36 pm

Then we should be collecting Commercial Tax rate s on those rental properties
not personal use dock space ???

Mrs. Anonymous
Reply to  Hillary
31 March 2019 6:57 pm

Most people don’t have an issue with the original concept of Airbnb…shared space, extra bedroom, maybe letting your place for a couple of weeks while you travel. The problem is that now whole home/ apartment Airbnb style accommodations have become prevalent and causing all kinds of problems inlcluding exacerbating the lack of housing situations.

One need only look to places throughout the world like New York, San Fran, Vancouver , Toronto, Berlin, Barcelona etc. And even smaller townships throughout North America who have attempted regulations and those who are struggling to find fair and enforceable rules. A quick google of “Airbnb problemsl”. immediately indicates the scale of the problem.

Merry Mary
Reply to  Albert
1 April 2019 11:42 am

This is stereotyping people who make mortgage and rental payments like everyone else and, contrary to the myth, they also pay property taxes.

Concerned Citizen
30 March 2019 10:59 am

Perhaps the citizens and taxpayers of Cobourg should view the broader picture and not get hung up on some of the smaller details. The concern being raised is certainly not a NIMBY issue. A waterfront study was done in 2013 entitled the “Master Parks Plan” This was done at considerable cost to the taxpayers. It was received and then shelved. That Plan envisioned the retention of, and development of an environmentally/people friendly waterfront stretching from Cobourg Creek in the West to Lucas Point in the East. The latest study addresses the same basic areas and has broken down the report into “areas” to be addressed including parking and traffic management. What is not addressed is that ‘heavy parking demand’ refers to a period of generally 2 months — July and August with 8 weekends in total — but since Waterfront Festival occupies the entire first weekend of July, the total summer weekend usage is 7 weeks. Being generous, one could add one or two weekends to each month for a total of 9 to 11 weekends of high demand. Also, there does not seem to be a cost/benefit study done on the cost of by-law enforcement/garbage clean up, etc. to this high demand. Tourists to the waterfront area bring their own food, beverages and equipment and therefore do not contribute to the overall economy of the town. And yet, if current rumours circulating are to be believed, Town Staff feel the answer to Cobourg’s problems are to pave over the last remaining small green spaces along the waterfront. This is completely contradictory to the parking needs of tourists over peak summer months but more importantly to the Great Lakes Watershed study which states that increased traffic and asphalt/concrete close to a great lakes shoreline is detrimental to the lake but… Read more »

Reply to  Concerned Citizen
31 March 2019 9:11 am

Guess again the festival actually closes down the water front and Esplanade for 2 wks
from start to finish thus disrupting everyone’s lives down here .

30 March 2019 9:33 am

After having reviewed the response from area residence and businesses around the Esplanade
who should know what they are talking about as they live it 24 x 7 — 365 Tell me again why the Town SOLD out the parking lot by the Post office and Victoria Park is that not only adding to and creating the future problem May be it should only be a 1 way loop south of Albert / Queen on Division across the Esplanade to Third that will inevitably bring traffic / people back around to King st for that all valuable and Elusive Tourist shopper $$$ Whats wrong with using some of the north 1/2 of victoria Park for parking its seldom used .
with easy access and egress from all directions .

Reply to  sandpiper
30 March 2019 1:40 pm

Sandpiper, it’s been posted on this Blog many times in the past that the parking spaces in the lot by the Post Office are to be built-in to the new development and remain accessible to the public, in addition to the private parking spaces.

Reply to  Stewey
31 March 2019 8:53 am

So what do we do for the 3 yrs it will takes to complete the Project and the Parking becomes usable again if it becomes a parking lot again ?? there were no substantive assurances

Reply to  sandpiper
31 March 2019 9:06 am

So what part of this discussion is it that we don’t like
– the fact that the Towns continuous push and marketing of the Beach as a way to bring people / tourists to King st to shop that is causing traffic issues and a need for parking down here
– the fact that the parking lot by the Post office just may be out of circulation for 3 yrs while under construction & , will not be able to handle the same type of vehicles ie trucks , small camper vans and the nearest vacant land is — north 1/2 of Victoria Pk.

Wally Keeler
Reply to  sandpiper
31 March 2019 2:57 pm

North half of Victoria Park? Way back, there were a few, very few, fools who advocated the tearing down of Victoria Hall for, wait for it; a parking lot. Thank goodness, no one listened to them.

30 March 2019 8:25 am

there has been a right of way along the harbour MANY years before the condoes.
just like some city slicker moves to the country, builds a house next to a pig farmer that has been in business for decades & wants him shut down!

Condo owner
Reply to  George
30 March 2019 8:46 am

George… are an ignorant man

Reply to  Condo owner
30 March 2019 10:48 am

Read the rules for this blog: don’t slander other posters.

Reply to  Hillary
1 April 2019 8:25 am

how is it possible to slander a truth?

Reply to  Condo owner
1 April 2019 8:23 am

i guess the truth hurts?

Reply to  George
30 March 2019 8:59 am

I like that thought George — Right of Way Lets go back to the Days of a foot horse & bicycle paths and maintain our peaceful enjoyment and responsibility to our waterfront and environment.. I can’t see how increasing traffic flow can do that
Enough of the Traffic, Idling cars at 5 – 6 AM and hot rods with smoking Burn outs after 10 pm
You know what I mean Is this all about the Tourists or the Residents of Cobourg
even the pig farmers as you refer to did not come down here and leave their garbage behind
they came here to get away & enjoy the serenity of the water front This should be all about how to reduce traffic if we are talking safety .

Reply to  perplexed
31 March 2019 10:17 am

And if we are not talking safety but a NIMBY situation how can you defend that? A lot of us live in noisy places in Town plagued by speeding traffic.

Wally Keeler
Reply to  perplexed
31 March 2019 3:04 pm

A spokespersona crows for Cobourg’s Condo Cove crowd.