Council Listens to Public and Keeps Beach Closed

As many as 311 people watched the Council make a final decision about the Beach – this compares to a normal audience of around 20.  Mayor John Henderson said that in the past week it was the busiest he had ever been as Mayor with 320 phone calls and emails.  He and other councillors thanked the public for their engagement.  John estimated that 20% of those communicating with him wanted to limit the beach to just locals and 80% wanted the beach fully closed. He said that health and safety were more important than tourism or business.  Other councillors gave more detailed reasons and there seemed to be some nervousness about how the vote would go since a recorded vote was requested.  But in the end, it was unanimous – close the beach until August 31.

Detailed reasons and issues

  • It would be a logistical nightmare
  • Too costly, permissive and complicated
  • Would put citizens and staff at risk.
  • Even with use by locals only, workers at the gate could be exposed to infection from visitors being turned away
  • At 1500 people, the beach would be too crowded
  • No net benefit to the community
  • Cobourg (Council and citizens) needs to have a conversation about how the beach should be managed – perhaps a fee should be charged to visitors.  This is irrespective of Covid-19.  A committee will likely be setup to handle this.

See the articles below for more – the item on 27 June gives details on what was thought too complicated and permissive.


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12 July 2020 2:34 pm

The City of Orillia seems to have figured it out.
“The program allows City of Orillia taxpayers to park and launch their boats for free with a Resident Parking Permit, but requires visitors to pay $50 for each.”

Reply to  Frenchy
12 July 2020 4:55 pm

That’s a pretty good deal. $50/season covers you for multiple launches and parking if you’re a visitor and not a resident of Orillia.

Here’s what you pay at our Cobourg Marina – Seasonal Launch Ramp$90.00 (includes parking)
Daily Launch Ramp$10.00 (includes parking)

Reply to  jimq
12 July 2020 5:09 pm

I suggest you reread Frenchy’s comment and the Orillia site. It’s $50 for parking AND $50 for the boat launch. Total $100. How is that a better deal than Cobourg?

Last edited 2 years ago by Bryan
Reply to  Bryan
12 July 2020 6:03 pm

You’re right! Sorry, I misunderstood their published rates. Here’s the one for visitors –

Reply to  jimq
12 July 2020 5:25 pm

I guess I missed the part about that $50.00 (for each, launching and parking) being a seasonal charge, not a daily charge. Where did you see it?

Last edited 2 years ago by Frenchy
Reply to  Frenchy
12 July 2020 6:12 pm

Frenchy & jimq:

The Orillia site is a bit confusing.
The site opens with a red COVID19 banner that seems to suggest that seasonal permits similar to resident permits (parking & launch) are available for visitors for $50 each.
Elsewhere in the site it becomes clear that this is a temporary program and the cost for visitors is $100 per day.

What Visitors Need to Know
The waterfront parking program will be in place from Thursday to Sunday between the hours of 7 a.m. – 7 p.m., starting July 9, 2020 and lasting through to Sept. 13, 2020 (including the Civic Holiday Monday and Labour Day Monday).
Visitors to Orillia will have to pay a $50 flat rate per day to park their vehicle at waterfront parks and $50 to launch their boats.

Canuck Patriot
Reply to  Bryan
12 July 2020 8:24 pm

Sounds like a reasonable fee to charge the beachers. $50 parking; $30 entry per person. No BBQs or tents permitted.

Reply to  Bryan
12 July 2020 10:24 pm


The Orillia site is a bit confusing.

I didn’t find it confusing at all.

Last edited 2 years ago by Frenchy
4 July 2020 11:33 am

Here’s a little bit of “we told you so” for those who wanted to keep our beach open.
Had to know the crowding was going to happen.
Good on you Port Hope, let’s work together to keep our communities safe and healthy.

Reply to  Frenchy
4 July 2020 12:31 pm

Port Hope is keeping their beaches open during the week. Is that not what the Cobourg Council motion first said before it got amended to keeping beaches open also on weekends and holidays? Instead of going back to a gradual opening plan, they scrapped the whole idea.

Leona Woods
4 July 2020 8:32 am

WIcklow Beach last Wednesday was packed with tents, BBQs and people side by side and several deep. Very concerning as people spread out along the Lake. Topic of discussion in the grocery story line.

1 July 2020 10:16 am

Here is an after Thought
This is the First Canada week end in 10 y where I can see the water front and We have not had to put up with Tents and work crews starting at 5 AM and continuing for up to 10 days Not to mention the crowds Its actually nice to live here this summer Rather Peaceful

In any event having seen several of the Rotarian’s wandering about last night with nothing to do on Canada day I came up with a thought =====
Why don’t we let them run and man the Beach they know how to attract people and make it PAY at the same time taking some of the Burden off Council so they can get down to the real matters of Business
We may even save money on some of those make work Parks and recreation management jobs

30 June 2020 8:14 pm

So tell me. Will the beach be closed until the end of August or is there an escape clause we dont know about?

Reply to  Informed
30 June 2020 9:00 pm

I will suggest this for your consideration, Informed. Is the Town of Cobourg still in a declared state of emergency? If so, the elected Council is not in fully in charge because their authority on certain matters was delegated to the Emergency Control Group. So, yes, it would be reasonable to expect the unexpected in some form.

30 June 2020 5:37 pm

Thank you Cobourg Town Council!

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Beach walker
30 June 2020 3:08 pm

And now the little beach at the end of Brook road is super crowded every sunny day. No law enforcement. Garbage strewn. Dogs off leash. Licences plates from Hamilton, Barrie, etc. No social distancing going on. Will it ever end?

Reply to  Beach walker
30 June 2020 3:56 pm

call bylaw or CPS….

Bill Thompson
Reply to  Beach walker
30 June 2020 4:14 pm

Pandora’s box has been opened !

30 June 2020 10:48 am

Great news, sanity prevails! Now by all means let’s address the west beach issue.

30 June 2020 9:37 am
  • Re Mr Draper’s “Cobourg (Council and citizens) needs to have a conversation about how the beach should be managed – perhaps a fee should be charged to visitors. This is irrespective of Covid-19. A committee will likely be setup to handle this.“ Absolutely bang on correct!
30 June 2020 8:49 am

As a resident living at the harbour area, I am relieved that the beach remains closed. We’re too small a town to have had so many people converge in such a small area during this global public health crisis. We are all making changes in our lives to stay safe; those changes apply to visitors as well. The more we all do to limit our exposure can only help stop this virus spreading. I hope it goes away and we can all live more freely again soon. I applaud the decision to remain closed this summer. Change to routine and expectation of summer must apply to everyone. Stay safe and healthy. Thank you to the town council.

Bill Thompson
Reply to  Jen
30 June 2020 10:14 am

Right decision made by the town.
The west beach however is already becoming an issue for overcrowding and I hope the town already has a plan for dealing with it
It will be interesting to see how it and Victoria Park is managed as that will be the next issue as well, as they are both open.
I assume we shall see this coming weekend what transpires.

Reply to  Bill Thompson
30 June 2020 12:19 pm

The lands comprising the west beach are not all publicly owned. Some sections are privately owned with the boardwalk being a sort of easement. Not much the Town can do. We do risk losing public access to the popular boardwalk, though. The potential snowballing effect of cutting off public access to the waterfront everywhere is very sad in deed.

Merry Mary
Reply to  MiriamM
30 June 2020 12:36 pm

I love your play on the word(s) “in deed” as well as the substance of your reply!

Joan White
30 June 2020 8:41 am

for following years some new rules on use of the beach – no picknicking on the beach, no gazebos, no barbecues (I know that is a by-law but not adequately inforced) The park is for picknicking and eating and use of garbage cans. The beach should be for swimming, sunbathing, playing in the sand and volleyball and just for walking

Reply to  Joan White
30 June 2020 2:27 pm

Perhaps I’m reading it wrong but are you suggesting that someone should not feed a sandwich to a hungry child and perhaps enjoy one themselves or that bringing a cooler with snacks and drinks should be prohibited on the beach or the group of teens playing volleyball shouldn’t be able to have a quick burger in between games while sitting on the sand…what difference does it make to anyone else what others do on the beach just so long as I do not break any laws and they respectful of those around them and the space they are privileged enough to enjoy. BBQ’s, dogs, garbage are already addressed in the bylaws and I couldn’t agree more – more enforcement is certainly required. Perhaps gazebos/larger sunshades should be restricted to areas closer to the boardwalk so to not impede others ability to see the water/younger swimmers for safety reasons.

30 June 2020 8:28 am

Its to bad that Council does not listen to its Constituents and continuously engages in
unrest and turmoil Why should we have to go to such an extent a second time .

I was happy to see their comment of ” No net benefit to the Community ” finally .
some fiscal sense

Reply to  sandpiper
30 June 2020 9:31 am

Sandpiper, it might benefit your disposition to ease up a bit on your negativity. These are difficult times when situations change quickly and firm decisions that affect so many and so much are challenging to arrive at. Be grateful it isn’t your job to do anything more than be supportive.

Dr Zhivago
Reply to  sandpiper
30 June 2020 11:04 am

I liked your comment Sandpiper….all of it. The debate of trailer parks two years ago, lake levels last year and beach openings this year are just practice for our Council and their fans for when real issues like the operating deficit and tax increase get tabled.

New Cobourg
30 June 2020 8:17 am

To our town council:
I commend you all for making the decision that best represents the requests and wishes of the majority of this great town.
I do have a problem with how each of you jumped off the June 22nd bandwagon of wanting the beach opened and didn’t admit to it. At no time during last night’s meeting did any of you mention your wish to have it opened originally, however in listening to feedback, changed your mind. It’s ok to admit to your constituents that you have a change of heart based on that feedback.
Moving forward, our town and you, our council must realize and take financial advantage of our number one $$ attraction, which is of course our beach and the subsequent advantages to our store owners and small vendors.

For the balance of this year, you should be planning on how best to maximize ROI off of our beach. There aren’t many towns that have the privilege of having such a fine golden goose. Some examples have been discussed in the past, such as charge individual / family rates to use our beach for out of town guests. Have greater official presence in the late afternoon to deter rowdiness, littering, etc. Close off the downtown core to vehicular traffic every 2nd weekend throughout the summer. There are many more ideas that will help this town prosper for the future and recoup our financial losses for this year.
It might be time to put together a task force, with the input of our citizens, to have it all ready to go for next season.
Overall though, well done with regard to the reversal of previous discussion and listening to your constituents!


Bill Thompson
Reply to  New Cobourg
30 June 2020 10:40 am

It would be beneficial if the shop owners of Cobourg were to join in the discussion and explain how the “tourist” season impacts on their business, but that doesn’t appear in the equation.
Other than the town hall being of historical significance, the main “tourist” attraction is the free one at the beach and park.

Reply to  New Cobourg
30 June 2020 12:51 pm

Very good comments,especially the last two paragraphs

30 June 2020 3:32 am

Well that’s it – say goodbye to the idea of ‘representative democracy’ and usher in the idea of “Govern by Facebook”.

I will congratulate those organisors on social media for this reversal of one unanimous decision for another. Well done.

So what happened for the complete Council to realise that they had to do a U-turn? A couple of FB pages and lots of comments. I would suggest the CTA give up on online petitions and move over to Facebook, it worked.

But what does this event do for the backbones and resolve of the complete Council? Not one member had the courage to stay with their convictions of last week – so much for those!

The following well-known quote, or some variation of it, is often attributed to Ledru-Rollin: “There go the people. I must follow them, for I am their leader.”. The same quote has been attributed to Ghandi,

Cobourg Council is following in esteemed steps but at what price?

Reply to  ben
30 June 2020 6:44 am

I suppose that is one way of looking at it. This is a different view:
-the first decision to close the beach was made with the available information at the time. There was a possibility to change that decision with new information.
-June 22 a decision was made knowing that it would need to be confirmed the following week when more information would be available
-the decision of June 29 was based on the most recent information available (staff report, what has been happening at other beaches and communities, more public input)

The council is supposed to represent the residents, from what I understand. Phone calls and emails could have had much more significance than social media polls. Social medial is not statistically representative so it needs to be taken ‘with a gain of salt’. Right or wrong the latest decision was made by following a process. In a few weeks we will have more information and maybe the fences can come down for part of August. Maybe the beach will stay closed in September. If we all follow the guidelines the cases of covid-19 in Cobourg/Northumberland will remain low and there is a greater chance of the beach opening sooner.

Regular reader
Reply to  Kevin
30 June 2020 8:12 am

Absolutely bang on with this response. Council made it clear with the first decision that it was subject to further research and reports from staff. There have been further developments on the COVID front generally since the first Council meeting, lots of citizen input since then and an opportunity for all to reflect and review the consequences. Changing a decision in light of further info is always a much better course to take than to hide one’s head in the sand (no pun intended) and barge forward stubbornly to “save face”. Council did the right thing.

Ken Strauss
Reply to  ben
30 June 2020 8:03 am

Ben, many things — Facebook, the US situation, approaches of other beach towns, fear, petitions, conversations with neighbours, phone calls and emails to Councillors — “worked” to get the right decision. However respect for the health of our residents was the most important.

New Cobourg
Reply to  ben
30 June 2020 8:29 am

Hi Ben,
I have to respectfully disagree with your point to the backbone and resolve of the complete council. They showed their courage by changing their respective minds after listening to the feedback over this last week. It takes a good leader to stand up and admit error after making an initial decision, then changing tack.

Reply to  New Cobourg
30 June 2020 9:03 am

Then why didn’t they say to the public why they changed their minds

Ken Strauss
Reply to  ben
30 June 2020 9:10 am

Ben, I suppose that you didn’t bother to read Mr. Draper’s “Detailed reasons and issues”.

New Cobourg
Reply to  ben
30 June 2020 9:14 am

I totally agree with you on that point. In saying this, clearly they changed their minds based on the pushback they encountered over the last week, which many of council alluded to during the meeting.

Bill Prawecki
Reply to  ben
30 June 2020 9:30 am

If you watch the meeting on Youtube you will find that each of them provided their rationale for changing their mind.

Reply to  New Cobourg
30 June 2020 9:35 am

It was not error. Unfortunately, the reality check of a politician aiming for a long career in politics is hearing from them words like ‘pick your battles’ and ‘not wanting to die on that hill’. And, watch the lack of discussion on creating a pedestrian zone downtown with a qualifier of wanting to try the idea. (Why did this idea fail in Peterborough? What did we learn from their experience?) And when folks speak to ‘no net benefit to the community’ or to ‘maximize ROI off our beach’ the underlying priorities are clearly measured first in terms of financial gain. And, a task force? Council has a number of citizen advisory committees already. Apply to join or make a presentation.
It seems to me that Council conducted their due diligence and acted with the information they had at the time. For example, separately, I questioned the reported costs and received more detail. Much will happen anyway in terms of security for a closed beach and general maintenance. So, Council had a choice … spend a lot of time in the summer weeks ahead with extra meetings figuring out how to make the beach work as a limited open amenity even for local citizens, or wait. Too bad for citizens of Cobourg who do not have options because they lost their jobs, and, to give their families some sense of normalcy they need to find things to do closer to home and with little or no cost.

New Cobourg
Reply to  MiriamM
30 June 2020 10:16 am

Miriam, to address your points. I do understand it wasn’t an error. However, it would be refreshing to hear our council admit it when they make mistake in judgement.
When I stated “ROI on our beach, it isn’t just financial gain I was alluding to, it is also the returns on mental and physical well being for our residents, the help needed for our local businesses survival, and continued improvements we can make for our town together.
If they ever announced a new committee or task force to specifically address beach improvements and enhancements as suggested by Emily last night, I would indeed apply for a role.
As for council doing due diligence, I disagree. The June 22nd discussion caught most people off guard, as the assumption of the beach already being voted to close until the end of August UNLESS there were further developments. Under the guise of moving to phase 2 as an excuse, just doesn’t count as further development. Also, when that discussion took place on the 22nd, most didn’t need any report to see it wasn’t a good idea to even consider reopening the beach. Someone on council should have easily and clearly seen that.

Reply to  ben
30 June 2020 10:36 am

If you were really that interested in keeping the beach open, you could have started a petition on FB the same as the ‘close the beach’ proponents did! Citizen action and Council heard us.

Cobourg resident
29 June 2020 11:01 pm

These are unusual times, difficult decisions must be made.
Thank you to the Mayor and Council for listening, caring, and doing the right thing, keeping our beach closed.

Reply to  Cobourg resident
30 June 2020 8:47 am

Let’s use the same resolve to open east pier to light traffic as engineers advised and reduce the congestion and noise in the marina parking lot,,

Reply to  Jones
30 June 2020 11:14 am

The idea of vehicular traffic on the pier is an incredible waste of a local landmark. I’d like to see an extension of the board walk, trees, grass, benches/individual seats to read, outdoor exercise equipment/yoga in the park, maybe a space for a food vendor or pop up shop to sell cheezie Cobourg tourist swag…extend a walkway to the light house for a great photo opportunity….

Reply to  Jones
30 June 2020 11:56 am

As an early morning walker on the east pier, I have appreciated the pedestrian-only access to this area. In years past, the cars and light trucks parked at the end of the pier in the early morning have kept their engines running and radios blaring. To once again invite vehicles onto the pier is not, as Mayor Henderson stated, a good compromise, but rather, an unimaginative return to how it was in the past. Cobourg has the opportunity to create a wonderful,safe, exhaust-free space for moms with strollers, young children and older folks like me who want to breathe cleaner air. The cars and trucks can watch the sunrise from the west beach parking lot.

Reply to  NKE
30 June 2020 1:10 pm

Well said!!

29 June 2020 10:06 pm

As a resident who loves this town very much, I say thank you to the Council.

29 June 2020 9:57 pm

Good news.

Art Seymour
Reply to  Frenchy
30 June 2020 8:40 am

Fantastic news and thanks to all our fellow citizens for providing Council Members with frank and sincere input to help our Mayor and Council make an appropriate decision! Now let’s hope they actually do something for the future re admission for non-residents …yes, we do have a great “golden goose” if we feed it well.