At the next Committee of the Whole meeting, the Sustainability and Climate Change Advisory Committee (SCCAC) will recommend to Council that a natural heritage waterfront park be created. This would comprise “the westerly part of the Cobourg harbour and water front lands” as described in a presentation to the committee by Richard Pope of the Willow Beach Field Naturalists. Richard also presented to Heritage, Parks and Rec, and Planning committees and told me that “none of the four committees had objections and all planned to notify Council of this and/or actively support it. Many individuals on the committees were very enthusiastic.” As Richard notes, apart from the inclusion of the west harbour, this idea was recommended by both the Parks and Waterfront Master Plans.
Richard will make a presentation to Council about this idea at some point but his presentation to the SCCAC includes a good description of the idea – a copy is in the links at the end of this article and here is a summary.
Proposed Natural Park
West Harbour (the water west of the Centre Pier Area and a line connecting the Centre Pier to the west lighthouse, and the shore west of the north end of the Centre Pier – perhaps excluding the strip in front of the Yacht Club between the Centre Pier and the boat launch), the West Headland, the Ecology Garden, and the West Beach.
The PMP (Parks Master Plan) already proposes that the “West Beach Lands & Boardwalk” and the “Ecology Garden” be reclassified as nature parks (p. 27).
The WUNA (Waterfront User Needs Assessment) recommends that we “Preserve the Headland and West Beach as a naturalized area” (Recommendations for West Beach and Headland, p. 37).
Sailing, canoeing, kayaking, dragon-boating, fishing, walking, running, nature hiking, dog-walking, birding, picnicking, photography, painting, and sitting on benches enjoying the view. Richard does not mention boat launching which might not be in the proposed Park but would include use of the West Harbour.
- Since the West Harbour is included, that would “preclude Marina expansion into the area, an idea still dear to a dwindling few.”
- When the Planning Committee considered the proposal in 2016, they were told by staff members that the Town did not have the jurisdiction to protect the West Harbour because it formerly belonged to the Federal government. (Ed note: The Town is now seeming to say the opposite when talking about Harbour safety – but see Glenn McGlashon’s comments below.)
- Including the West Harbour in a park does not “preclude the necessary dredging, the building of a disabled access dock, or even the acquisition of a boatlift if placed east of current launch or in the Marina where it would make sense.”
- The OP classifies it as under Environmental Constraint.
Comments by Willow Beach Field Naturalists
- The area is fragile – the West Headland was badly damaged almost overnight in 2014, and the West Beach could be ruined by a bulldozer in half a day.
- This is why we are asking for protection now; we want something left to enhance when the Town is ready. The specifics can be worked out later.
- The Legion ownership of the north strip of the Ecology Garden can be resolved.
- Nor should the School Board ownership of a section of the boardwalk be allowed to prevent the Town from creating a park.
- We are asking only for protection now, not money (we recognize that fixing the East Pier is more pressing).
Recommendations for Action:
- That Council move to initiate the creation of this Natural Heritage Waterfront Park.
- That Council ask the Parks and Recreation Committee working together with appropriate staff to formulate a detailed proposal for the rules and regulations of such a park, including the things that need to be done over time to make this park into the potential jewel it can be and a timetable for undertaking the improvements
Below are some photos of the West Beach, “West Pier” (headland), West Harbour and Ecology Garden.
Clarification from Glenn McGlashon, Director of Planning and Development
7 Oct 2019
Firstly, the article is partly correct in that the Planning Committee reviewed the issue a few years ago however, to clarify, Town staff stated at the time that the water component of the West Harbour is and always has been under the jurisdiction of the Federal Government and is governed by Parliamentary Statute and Transport Canada under the Navigable Waters Protection Act — legislation which is “designed to protect the public’s right to navigation and marine safety in the navigable waters of Canada”. Any municipal regulations governing this water component, including harbour use and safety, must comply and/or not conflict with this Federal legislation and would require legal interpretations to that effect. The Town has more direct policy and regulatory controls over the West Pier, Headland and Beach areas (ie. land), but these too must still comply and/or not conflict with higher Provincial and Federal legislation.
Secondly, the Cobourg Official Plan, via the Harbour Area Secondary Plan, designates the western harbour lands and beach area, excluding the area covered by water, as follows:
- West Pier: “Public Open Space Area/West Pier”
- West Waterfront/Beach (including the waterfront portion of the Marina): “Environmental Constraint Area”
- Presentation by Richard Pope and Margaret Bain to Sustainability and Climate Change Advisory Committee – 2 October 2019
- Harbour Safety Audit Concerns – 25 September 2019
Update – 16 October 2019
Although a recommendation from the Sustainability and Climate Change Advisory Committee was on the Agenda for the October 15 Committee of the Whole meeting, Council deferred acting on this until Richard makes his promised presentation to Council.