Beach Survey Results

From February 2 to February 23, Cobourg residents were asked what they thought about managing the visitors at the beach.  The survey was described in a Cobourg News Blog article on February 3 – see the link below – but now the results are available.  A tabulation of answers – including all of the comments by participants – is available in a 156 page “Public Engagement report”.  This will be reviewed by the Parks and Recreation Committee in a meeting on March 9 and they will then make recommendations to council. The survey had 1408 respondents and is considered the Town’s “most responded to survey”.  Although the report is long and a good summary of the comments is impossible here, some highlights of responses to questions can be reported.

Highlights of Question Responses

All questions are listed here

Q. Where do you live?  A. About half live within a 20 minute walk and half of those within 10 minutes.
Q.  How old are you?  A. About half are over 60.
Q. How often do you visit the beach?  A. Three quarters visit daily or weekly.
Q. Why do you visit – or not visit?   
Why do you visit or not visit

Most respondents thought amenities/services were good but few thought enforcement of rules were adequate – particularly littering.

Q. Should changing facilities be available at the beach?  A. Three quarters said yes with most wanting this free.
Q. Should the Town continue to provide lifeguards on the beach? A. 68% said yes, 21% wanted weekends and special events only and 7% wanted to eliminate them.
Q. Should the Town do more to generate revenue from beachgoers?
Should the Town do more to generate revenue from beachgoers

Q. If you own a business in Cobourg, to what extent does your business benefit from visitors to the beach?
to what extent does your business benefit from visitors to the beach?

Q. Which parking options should be considered? Check all that apply.
Which parking options should be considered?

Q. The Town typically allocates $75,000-100,000 per year to advertise and promote Cobourg as a tourism destination.
What proportion of the budget and staff effort should be spent on advertising the beach?
What proportion of the budget and staff effort should be spent on advertising the beach?

Q. If the pandemic continues into the summer of 2021, what level of public access to Victoria Park Beach would you consider appropriate?
what level of public access to Victoria Park Beach would you consider appropriate?

Note that in addition to the survey with its questions, there was also a forum with an open ended question that got 56 contributions and 29 comments on those.

The Cobourg News Blog article on the survey (see link below) got over 3000 hits and 57 comments (contributions).

There is a very large interest in this subject in Cobourg!  Stay tuned for a report on committee recommendations and a Council decision.  Whatever is decided, not everyone will be happy.


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Wally Keeler
8 March 2021 6:58 am

In the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic, Canada’s tourism industry is facing a crisis greater than the combined impacts of Sept. 11, 2001, the SARS outbreak and the global financial crisis, according to a new report.

The depth of the crisis means it will be a long recovery for the tourist industry with potential shock waves for other areas of the economy, says Destination Canada, a Crown corporation whose mandate is to promote domestic tourism. The agency compiled new data for the report to be released Monday on an industry that is linked to one in 10 Canadian jobs, Destination Canada says.

“Tourism has a ripple effect into so many other parts of our quality of life as Canadians,” said Marsha Walden, president and chief executive officer of Destination Canada. “It’s one of those very few industries, maybe the only one, that can be found in every corner of this country.”
‘Worse than Sept. 11, SARS and financial crisis combined’: Tourism industry in crisis | CTV News

7 March 2021 12:44 pm

Clearly 74% of business owner respondents see no benefit from ‘visitors to the beach’. So why don’t we stop calling this group of people Tourists. They are Beach Goers and that is the sole purpose for their visit to Cobourg. If Tourism (attendant costs, plans, resourcing, etc) is a focus for Cobourg & can be justified, then it needs to exclude the Beach Goer numbers. Has there been any study done that differentiates these two groupings? I doubt it. I would suspect that such a study would show a heavy weighting on the Beach Goer side vs the Visitor (for non-Beach related) side. If accurate that says to me that Cobourg has wasted tons of money, must develop a new plan and needs to decide how the character of Cobourg must change in order to attract (annually) this type of Visitor, to the benefit of Business Owners.

Ken Strauss
Reply to  Gerinator
7 March 2021 6:54 pm

Correct. The Beach Goer provides zero to negative benefits to the town. Regardless of the benefit to local businesses, why should the town spend anything to attract tourists? The town doesn’t (and rightly so) pay to attract customers to Walmart. Why should they pay to attract customers to any other business? If a business thinks that advertising to attract tourists is beneficial then they should be willing to fund 100% of the costs.

Bill Thompson
Reply to  Ken Strauss
8 March 2021 10:40 am

Perhaps the two prior Mayors /Deputy mayors could explain the rationale for making the tourism choice as I believe that’s when it was made.

5 March 2021 4:04 pm

Be careful what you wish for. Beautiful locations all over the world are struggling with the new Corporate tourism. Mega companies now own the hotels, transportation, tours and retail. They grab all the money and the poor locals loose what they have.

it doesn’t take much for them to look at Cobourg and it’s “free” beach, empty stores and small town politics to have them start selling bus tours to Cobourg beach, buy up some retail and have “their” operators to direct the groups to “their” retail outlets and stay in “their” hotels. Of course the taxpayers of Cobourg will foot the bill for infrastructure and cleanup in turn for some low paying seasonal jobs. The local politicians can be bought off for a “free” trio to one of their many destinations (China).

Economic prosperity from tourism is a mirage.

Reply to  Kyle
5 March 2021 4:45 pm

Never did get a formal report of the trip by old or new mayors…are they now silent Chinese agents??? Hope the special wing of the RCMP has an eye on things.

John Draper
Reply to  cornbread
5 March 2021 5:24 pm

Off Topic – any more comments on this subject will be deleted.

5 March 2021 2:34 pm

It is good that so many people responded to the survey. I found it interesting that nearly 1 in 5 visit Victoria Park for cycling/rollerblading. It is part of the Waterfront Trail which goes east on Bay St. to D’Arcy and then south to Lakeshore.

5 March 2021 10:24 am

Im hoping the decision to open or close our beach again isnt based on polls but on covid numbers in the existing red and grey zones.I believe this must play a part in the decision and the Town has an obligation to protect the residents of Cobourg. That being said ,I would love to see it open.

Music Lover
5 March 2021 10:22 am

The sad truth is that out of town visitors that come to the beach do not come to shop in the downtown stores. The come to Cobourg for the sandy beach, a hot dog and ice cream, that’s it. To wish otherwise is just fooling ourselves. If we want out of town visitors to come for the shopping, then that is a different strategy which will require answering questions about a vision for rejuvenating the downtown core and some capitol investment, making it a truly enjoyable shopping experience and a “destination” where downtown shopping and outdoor patio dining are part of the ecosystem for both local residents and out of town visitors.

Reply to  Music Lover
5 March 2021 10:37 am

Well said

mrs Bigley
Reply to  Music Lover
5 March 2021 11:54 am

you are absolutely correct = the downtown needs to do some revamping to attract people. better, brighter lightin – better decor – how about white window boxes in front of every store bursting with red geraniums – what a street scene that would be – followed by seasonal windw box decorations – alsos a proper amount of the budget should go to advertising this”new happy face” for the downtown. just a thought – as the street scene altho historical its not conducive to attract visitors – even residents

Reply to  mrs Bigley
5 March 2021 10:09 pm

I hate geraniums. They remind me of unhappy times and troubled circumstances. NO GERANIUMS!

mrs Bigley
Reply to  JImT
10 March 2021 6:12 pm

too bad – get over the fact that it reminds you of sad times – the red is for glory and happiness which is sadly needed now – we all experience sadness – but dont blame it on one of earths happiest colours red

Mrs. J.
Reply to  Music Lover
5 March 2021 11:57 am

If the Downtown businesses are having such difficulty getting even the locals to shop there, then they really need to give their heads a shake with their overly unrealistic “dream” that the out-of-towners/tourists will be keen to shop there!
The BEACH and the DOWNTOWN are two totally separate entities!
The DBIA need to put on their big girl/boy pants and get real!

Reply to  Mrs. J.
5 March 2021 12:37 pm

Downtown Re-vamp – there are many things to consider. Population demographics/wage – many other lower paid, offerings elsewhere and lastly the town has grown. Many are able to purchase high priced homes. There is a contingent of upper crust. Big box stores have taken a sizeable bite. There are many here who may choose to visit The Keg, Oshawa Mall and other out of town establishments. However they live/moved here for a reason, they like the town. Will they like a closed downtown and deteriorating businesses? There are many restaurants within reach of most living here. COVID 19 has certainly deflated their profit margins. Supporting your home town and not just hoping tourists will do so should be a priority.

As for the downtown businesses they may need to put their hats on again to come up with ideas to start people here thinking of more patronage.

Last edited 1 year ago by Liz
Bill Thompson
Reply to  Mrs. J.
5 March 2021 2:40 pm

Which previous town council made the decision to make “Tourism”the main goal of Cobourg, vice industry etc and employment for locals ?
It’s never been the same since that decision from all indicators.

Reply to  Bill Thompson
5 March 2021 9:27 pm

“…vice industry…” ? Now there’s an idea!
“Vice” is always a big seller and provides incredibly high profits.

Last edited 1 year ago by JImT
Bill Thompson
Reply to  JImT
5 March 2021 10:43 pm

vice = preposition ….”instead of “

Reply to  Bill Thompson
5 March 2021 10:38 pm

Bring back The Matting Factory! Send our women off every day to labour in a textile mill filled with Victorian Era machinery to labour there for nickels per hour and Make Cobourg Great Again.

Reply to  Music Lover
5 March 2021 1:19 pm

I agree. As long as successive Council’s favour tourism in their budget and keep kicking legacy issues like the annual 7 figure losses at the CCC and forgiving tax revenue from places like Brookside, the downtown will never stand a chance…… Will 3 new cannabis retailers help?….will another drive-thru restaurant a mile away help?…..will the loss of Greenbacks (& Coles) help?….what if like Belleville and Trenton a couple downtown bank branches leave?…will coverting the Woodlawn into a Rehab clinic help?…will closing St Marys PS help?…would a sale of the perpetually for sale local Pub-Hotel help?….will another Methadone clinic disguised as a pharmacy help?…will the arrival of more Toronto landlords help?….will making more Heritage designations help?….what if a couple downtown historic places of worship can’t sustain government/Parish support?…….There are real symptoms to our ignorance and nowhere is this more evident than in our downtown.

Reply to  Music Lover
5 March 2021 10:30 pm

“They come to Cobourg for the sandy beach,
a hot dog and ice cream, that’s it…”

I disagree most assiduously. They come to Cobourg looking for recreation, diversion, novelty, variety, fun food experience, stimulation and excitement, and they are willing to spend serious $$ from their entertainment budgets here to anyone who can provide it.

There’s an incredible and valuable “hospitality industry” right here just waiting to be developed, if we can only just get our minds around the whole concept.

Last edited 1 year ago by JImT
5 March 2021 10:20 am

I think we all know what would happen if the Town charged to use the washrooms and change rooms.

Bill Thompson
5 March 2021 9:58 am

Interesting suggestion re Donegan Park and parking.
It has been used by visitors for free for years but not monitored.

5 March 2021 8:44 am

Recently, Macleans Magazine ranked us #163 in Canada, as a place to live; meanwhile, Chatelaine ranked our beach #4. This contrast might suggest how we have marketed ourselves to the world and what we, ourselves, have come to prioritize. This might also explain the interest in the topic.(?)…
The response rate to the Survey is self-validating. Mission accomplished. Almost half of the citizens who might have voted in the last election for any given Councilor responded. The fact that roughly half of the respondents are over 60 is reflective of our community’s demographics. So, I think our representatives should be able to take some good guidance from the exercise: ‘we’ want the beach open; primarily for walking & special events. While there are other considerations, the other glaring conclusion is that most local small businesses do not benefit in any way.(*my family happens to be one of those). Accordingly, I will trust what Council decides to do with the beach and by-laws based on the survey. What I will not believe is when they start talking about the economic benefit to ‘all of us’ by spending more tax dollars increasing ‘tourism’….

5 March 2021 8:36 am

One of the largest concerns of the beach remains managing the amount and flow of people. The beach apeears heavily overcrowded, especially when another well attended activity is held simultaneously on a weekend. There is only so much area that regularily gets used.
Permanently close Queen St (between Church and McGill) sod it over, and suggest more events take advantage of the upper part of Victoria Park.
The beach is over utilized but Victoria Park, in many areas, is not.

Reply to  Malcom
5 March 2021 8:47 am

I agree but what is wrong with using the West Beach for certain controlled functions and Corporate / sports events IE : Volleyball tournaments , sand sculpture , large group Picnics .
There is an area that has historically been used as a parking lot at the east end
well controlled with a gate / cable .solid base
Or is it a special beach for special property owners . Its obviously enjoyed by many
and the Natural landscape is not all the beautiful anymore kind of over grown .
But lets not start promoting it OK just a suggestion user group pay maybe

Reply to  Sandpiper
5 March 2021 9:28 am

No washrooms, no drinking water, no food vendor, no change facilities, no shade, no sand, hardly. Not at all the same as Victoria Park beach and nowhere near suitable for events and functions at this point.

Reply to  JImT
5 March 2021 12:22 pm

And it should be kept that way. People take up enough room; the natural area of West Beach should be kept for birds, migrating birds and other critters.

Reply to  Abby
6 March 2021 11:51 am

I dont personally use the west beach but its great that people understand the importance of keeping it as is and advocating to keep it so.

Reply to  Malcom
5 March 2021 2:08 pm

Interesting idea about closing part of Queen St. This is the opposite of the unpopular idea from several years ago to build a road across the park closer to the beach. If Public Works has their way a new sidewalk will be built on the north side of Queen St.

Reply to  Kevin
5 March 2021 10:15 pm

More park; less pavement!
More park; less pavement!
More park; less pavement!

Last edited 1 year ago by JImT
5 March 2021 8:25 am

Now if only the Town will re-read and listen to these results
Cobourg Down town and water front might have a chance of
pulling it self out of a slump .
Obviously the Cobourgers love their waterfront and its peacefulness
and the tranquility it offers .
This certainly shows that Council has wasted a lot of $$$ over the years promoting
on the basis of local Business survivorship on King st Which anyone who lives here knows
is Rong . Or they just like spending Tax payers money on out of town Beach goers that obviously offer nothing aand leave nothing in return . Now may be we as residents will once again come back down town to shop , din, and see a local professional as in Long ago .
I do think some of the shop owners need to pull up their socks a little with a spruce up and new interesting stock .

Reply to  Sandpiper
5 March 2021 10:17 pm

Downvoted for bad formatting. STOP pressing enter at the end of a line.
You are not using a typewriter!!!

Last edited 1 year ago by JImT
Joka faulkner
Reply to  Sandpiper
7 March 2021 12:57 pm

Those so called tourist only come for the beach they bring their own food they don’t spend money in town ..they litter….many downtown stores empty…and they are closed on Sundays…town should direct their money to improving the downtown to make people want to shop there and do away with downtown parking fees ….we need decent stores in town

Bloated Senior
5 March 2021 7:36 am

Congrats to all who responded.

mrs Bigley
Reply to  Bloated Senior
10 March 2021 6:17 pm

l am wondering if most folks KNOW just what the downtown has to offer – a simple pamphlet including all the businesses as a handout or better still included in the weekly newspaper/flyers would circulate to many folks – also have pamphlet available at all the downtown businesses, as it is suprising the lack awareness that is available in THIS TOWN OF OURS

Ken Strauss
Reply to  mrs Bigley
10 March 2021 7:52 pm

Other than Smors and the banks, what is of interest in our downtown? Let’s see: an optician, over-priced men’s shops, pawn shops, mediocre eateries, a couple of coffee shops and… What did I miss that would attract customers?

Reply to  Ken Strauss
10 March 2021 10:11 pm

Ken, where do you get your hair cut?

Ken Strauss
Reply to  Frenchy
11 March 2021 8:22 am

Formerly at Jonesy and now with Joy. Sorry, I forgot that semi-downtown shop. Unfortunately I don’t have enough hair to need a cut very often. Doesn’t the DBIA end at Division Street so that is not really “downtown”. And of course the funeral home but that is typically a one-time shopping destination. Perhaps we do need a flyer to remind us of why to visit downtown!

Last edited 1 year ago by Ken Strauss
Reply to  Ken Strauss
11 March 2021 8:27 am

“What did I miss that would attract customers?”

Let’s see… a very popular bakery, a liquor store, a pretty popular hotel (been going on for a few generations), a very busy sports store, a 90 year old furniture store (must be doing something right), several barbers and hair stylists, couple of law firms, an international school, Cobourg’s largest pharmacy, Cobourg’s only florist, some soon to be cannabis shops, a few investment firms…
Can someone from the BDIA help me out here?

Reply to  Ken Strauss
11 March 2021 8:06 pm

Ballet at the British or plaza 😉

4 March 2021 3:56 pm

Wow if I was a tourist and I read the results of this survey I would stay on the 401 and keep going. My thoughts would be what an unfriendly town. They want to wallow in their own misery and keep the place for themselves. They want to charge for a washroom? Forget it.

Reply to  Conor
4 March 2021 4:49 pm

I bet you go to yard sales and offer a nickle when someone asks for a dime.

Wally Keeler
Reply to  Informed
5 March 2021 1:53 pm

It’s called bargaining. The buyer gets a 50% discount.

Reply to  Informed
5 March 2021 3:53 pm

What the heck has that got to with the beach survey? I don’t go to yard sales but isn’t that what one is supposed to do at a yard sale?

Reply to  Conor
4 March 2021 6:42 pm

You shouldn’t be reading while you’re driving.