On September 23, 2019, a report was presented to Council called an “Aquatic Safety Audit” Report. It was conducted by the Life Saving Society (LSS) at the request of the Community Services Division but immediately created concerns for Harbour users. Several harbour users made presentations to Council with strong objections to parts of the “audit”; they basically said that the requirements were onerous and not necessary. Council asked Director Dean Hustwick to write a detailed report responding to the concerns and he delivered that on 11 May 2020 – see links below for copies of the presentation and reports on the related Council meetings. As a result, Council decided to refer the whole matter to the Parks and Recreation Advisory committee and at the Committee of the Whole meeting on July 20, the committee provided three resolutions.
Parks and Recreation Coordinator Emily Chorley then made three motions implementing their recommendations:
- A request for legal clarification
- Agreement to implement 5 of the 16 original recommendations
- Setting up a new working group to prepare a Safety Procedure/Emergency Manual
(Photo is from 2018 when both small sailboats and Dragon Boats were using the West Harbour.)
Although this was not spelled out, it appears that the Advisory committee thinks that legally the Town may not have jurisdiction over activities on the water’s surface even though they own the harbour.
The motion passed by Council directed:
THAT a definitive legal opinion from an independent legal counsel with expertise in riparian rights be obtained regarding the municipality’s ability, if any, to regulate on-water activities in the harbour;
AND FURTHER THAT the legal opinion be obtained before any further attempt to regulate on-water activities;
AND FURTHER THAT the 2015 legal opinion on this matter be made available to the public.
Emily commented that the 2015 opinion needed clarification.
Implementing Select Recommendations
The motion passed by Council directed staff to implement five recommendations from the original report that all members of the advisory committee agreed on:
Recommendation #1: Install an Automatic External Defibrillator (AED) unit adjacent to the marina office.
Recommendation #2: Ensure all marina staff are standard first aid certified and trained in the use of rescue equipment and extraction techniques.
Recommendation #12: Complete a safety equipment audit; establish lifesaving stations on each marina dock and around the harbour.
Recommendation #13: Clearly Identity the egress ladders in the harbour.
Recommendation #15: Conduct stray electrical current testing and document the results.
Establishing a Working Group
Staff is instructed to setup a working group comprised of two staff members and one representative of each user group, including:
- Survivor Thrivers
- Cobourg Yacht Club/Learn to Sail
- Cobourg Dragon Boat & Canoe Club
- Coast Guard
- Green Canoe
- Northumberland YMCA
- Seasonal marina boaters (Boaters Council)
- Anglers/commercial charters
- Cobourg Surf and Paddleboard Club
AND FURTHER THAT the working group be tasked with drafting a safety procedure/emergency manual for submission to Council and the Parks and Recreation Advisory Committee ahead of the 2021 boating season.
Eleven other recommendations have either been already implemented or will be resolved by the working group with reference to the legal opinion obtained.
Looks like a highly contentious issue is on the way to being resolved.
- Aquatic Safety Audit Report (by LSS) – 12 Sept 2019
- Harbour Safety Audit Concerns – 25 Sept 2019
- Harbour Safety Audit – Take 2 – Report on May 11 meeting – 14 May 2020
Discussed at May 11 meeting
- Dean Hustwick Report to Council – 11 May 2020
- Survivor Thrivers Presentation to Council – 11 May 2020
- Cobourg Yacht Club Presentation to Council – 11 May 2020