Because of a motion put by Deputy Mayor Suzanne Séguin, the installation of a Water Park on Cobourg’s Beach was raised at Monday’s Committee of the Whole meeting. Although Council agreed last year to approve the idea, installation did not happen last year and no contract has yet been signed. Jason Pulchinski, President of ATL (At the Lake), the distributor of the equipment, made a presentation to Council and triggered a good debate on the subject. He explained that last year they had tried to partner with the YMCA to provide lifeguards but that did not work out. They did manage to hire 5 but they needed 10 so that 4 could be on duty at all times. It was not clear until May that the YMCA partnership was not going to happen and by then it was too late to recruit the number needed.
Jason answered many questions about safety and liability and said that he had a good relationship with staff – that is, Dean Hustwick (Director of Community Services) and Teresa Behan (Deputy Director of Community Services). He said that the planned contract would be zero cost to the Town (see links below) with a big tourism benefit including Downtown and overnight stays.
During the debate, there were a number of points made – all councillors asked at least one question:
- All participants would wear a lifejacket – unlike regular beachgoers. Brian Darling pointed out that the Town does not concern itself with the liability of the beach and only had lifeguards from 10:00am to about 5:30pm
- The Operator has $10,000,000 liability insurance coverage. The same operator currently operates a Water Park in Muskoka.
- The daily cost of $35 is comparable to other activities like canoeing, skiing, Canada’s Wonderland.
- The Park would be expected to operate for only about two months in summer during which it would provide “good clean family fun”.
- The park occupies about 10% of the beach.
- Although it has not operated previously in a large lake like Lake Ontario, it will take special precautions against strong winds and large waves.
- A report of a child injured in a similar park in Barrie was not related to equipment. A boy had held his brother under water.
- ATL has not yet partnered with local entities.
- Suzanne Séguin questioned the business case – at $35 per user/day, 132 users per day would be required. Jason said that based on their experience, this is fairly realistic.
- In response to a question from Adam Bureau, Jason said that ATL had so far spent $7,500 to $10,000 on hiring and uniforms
- Suzanne said she was concerned that the money spent by users was money that did not go to the Town but instead went to the Water Park. Jason responded that the Town could always buy the equipment themselves although they may not want to take on the risk. Equipment has a life of about 5 years.
- Despite an ad in Muskoka saying that lifeguards would be required to sell passes (and that would be a disincentive to take the job), Jason said that this would not be the case in Cobourg.
- When asked if ATL had done an impact study, Jason said that he assumed the Town knew what to expect. Brian Darling supported that and said that the Park would have less impact than other events.
- Adam Bureau asked what would be on the beach – it would be a 10′ x 10′ tent to house lifejackets.
- Emily Chorley asked “Do we really want an ‘amusement park’ on our waterfront”. Suzanne Séguin said that it was not part of the vision for the waterfront.
In the end, Council asked staff to report back by February 19 which should be soon enough for the contractor if there is a decision to proceed. Dean Hustwick wanted to know what exactly was wanted in the report since he had already reported extensively on the subject. Suzanne referred to the motion (asking for “financial implications, safety concerns and legal impacts”) plus she pointed out that Councillors had not seen the RFP nor the proposed agreement. She also asked about any special requirements for use on Lake Ontario.
The motion carried – so there will be a report and presumably a decision on February 19 which is a Committee of the Whole meeting date.
- First Idea from Waterfront Study – 23 January 2018
- Water Park to be ready for summer 2018 – 4 April 2018
- Water Park Approved in Close Vote – 10 April 2018