Communication is good and in these difficult times the only way to have a Town Hall meeting is online. Using Zoom, MPP David Piccini and Mayor John Henderson co-hosted a meeting tonight for Cobourg residents to ask anything about Covid-19. I counted 20 questions and up to 71 participants and, no surprise, most questions (12) were about the Beach closure with the majority in favour of closure or if not, wanted assurance that social distancing could be enforced. There were also questions about wearing of masks and a couple of other items – see below. Mayor Henderson referred most questions to the decision making that will come out of the Council meeting on June 29. I did not hear any new beach issues but below is a summary.
Summary of Questions
Most answers by Mayor John Henderson
Q. What’s happening about getting a Go service to Cobourg? A. Work continues, the first step was getting the Go-Train to Bowmanville and that has been announced. Next is a petition.
Q. We should allow residents on the Beach. A. this will be covered in the report at the Council meeting on June 29.
Q. How can social distancing be enforced and why the change of mind? A. Refer to report that’s coming.
Q. Normal behaviour on the beach is not conducive to social distancing so the beach should be closed.
Q. Has there been a risk assessment report re the beach opening as required? A. This will be done by the emergency planner. Q. Will this be made public? It seems not.
Q. What’s being done about people not wearing masks?
Q. Why open the beach to non-residents A. There has traditionally been no restriction on beach usage.
Q. Development (e.g. a hotel) is being held up A. Please contact Mayor by email.
Q. Councillor Chorley’s original proposal made sense – weekdays only, 2 sessions, morning and afternoon. A. Refer to report that’s coming.
Q. There will be a problem controlling visitors. A. “This is a theme coming forward”.
Q. The beach should be open.
Q. What’s being done about migrant workers who come to Cobourg? A. That is being addressed and employers have been doing a good job.
Q. (By a particularly vulnerable senior). What would you do if there was a case? Why change? Why open to everyone? It’s irresponsible and incomprehensible.
Q. The beach should be open but if so, what would you do about masks and enforcement? And people should look in their hearts, is beach closure a prejudice issue?
Q. Brookside should be used to house the homeless A. A complicated issue and is being investigated.
Q. A beach closure should err on the side of safety – so beach should be closed. But since it’s a natural resource and not the exclusive property of Cobourg, if it is open it should be open to everyone.
Q. The beach should be closed and secondly, is everything being done by stores/restaurants to enforce the rules? A. Most seem to be doing so.
Q. A query about how decisions are made.
Q. What’s happening with infrastructure – it’s needed for development and is lacking. A. The asset management plan being developed will help with this. The Province is working with the Federal Government to help with funding.
Q. The Emergency Control Group meetings are not open to the public but there should be at least one citizen rep who could report back and perhaps offer expertise. There would also be more buy-in and knowledge on how decisions are made. A. Experts are pulled in as needed. No other similar groups have a citizen representative.
The Mayor commented that he receives numerous emails and phone calls including from families wanting the beach open for their families. But he deferred a decision to Council on June 29 and did not indicate which outcome he favoured. I noted that several Councillors were participating on the Zoom call.
The meeting went for about two hours.