The Saturday of the first weekend in August is usually Cobourg’s busiest day of the year – especially if it’s hot. Well this year, the weather was hot but the main beach was closed and there was no Sandcastle Festival. There is usually also a Sidewalk sale on the same weekend but this year there was just a closed main street with no entertainment and much smaller crowds. See the Links below to see what the Festival was like in 2019 and 2018. The water level was not unusually high like it was in 2017 and 2019 but this just made the beach more inviting albeit empty. I visited the West Beach, the West Harbour, the Marina and the Main Beach and recorded this in a video and a collection of photos.
- The Parking lots were not full although the Marina lot came close.
- The Boat launch was busy
- Access to swimming in the West Harbour was fenced off due to a high e-coli reading – It’s never a good place to swim anyway
- Many forgot that parking on the waterfront is no longer free so did not get a Pay and Display. This meant the Bylaw officers were busy.
- The Marina was busy but not full
- The Trailer Park was close to full but had some empty spots
- The Splashpad was “policed” by a YMCA summer student
- The Canteen was closed
- Washrooms were closed but there were quite a number of Porta-Potties supplied by “Just in Time”. They disinfect twice a day – I was told that there are 40 between East of Grafton and the Marina so the cleaning guys are busy all day.
- I noticed a good number of strolling couples, young and old
- Some families had picnics in the park
- Everyone seemed to be observing social distancing and some even had masks on outdoors when this is not strictly required.
- The Breaker’s Motel Private Beach was open but limited to guests.
See the video below and below that some photos.
Addendum – 7 August 2020
The Town of Cobourg issued the following announcement::
(Issued August 7, 2020 at 6:30 p.m. EST) – The Town of Cobourg would like to advise citizens that a Water Quality Forecast sign has been erected at the West Harbour to inform residents and visitors of the E. coli bacteria count and if the water is safe for swimming and other recreational activities.
Last week, due to higher levels of E. coli bacteria present in the West Harbour, the HKPR District Health Unit directed the Town of Cobourg to fence off the West Harbour and to post signs immediately in an effort to alert users of the high E. Coli bacteria readings found in the water.
From June to the fall season, the Town of Cobourg is committed to taking weekly water samples from the West Harbour to test for E. coli bacteria. The purpose of the Water Quality Forecast sign will be to show a risk level from low to high and to advise what recreational activities are safe and what are not recommended in accordance with the Haliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge (HKPR) District Health Unit’s direction.
Levels of E. coli bacteria are measured in colony forming units (cfu). The Water Quality Forecast sign showcases a range of low, medium and high risk:
- At Low Risk (0-199 cfu) all recreational activities including swimming are considered safe.
- At Medium Risk (200-999 cfu) some activities are not recommended including swimming.
- At High Risk (1,000+ cfu) all recreational activities including swimming and non-propelled watercraft (kayaking, canoeing, paddle boarding, etc.) are not recommended.
According to SGS Canada Inc., a leading provider of comprehensive water quality testing that meets all provincial and national regulatory requirements, including the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA), the latest beach and harbour water quality report sampled today (August 7, 2020) showed bacteria levels at 1,195 E.coli which exceeds the provincial standard of 200 E. coli and puts the Water Quality Forecast at High Risk.
West Harbour users are asked to seek out the Water Quality Forecast sign, the current level of risk as reported on the sign, what recreational activities including swimming that may not be recommended and to always proceed with caution.
If you have been swimming in West Harbour and experience such symptoms as nausea, vomiting or diarrhea please seek medical attention.
The sign makes it clear that it’s not just swimming that’s unsafe if E-Coli levels are high. Users of paddle-boards, canoes, Kayaks and even small sail-boats could well be in the water at some point.