Harbour Repairs Clarified

Council has supported multi-million dollar repairs to the harbour – the East Pier and harbour walls need to be fixed and engineering design work for this will be done this year.  But along the way some “options” were mentioned which implied that there would be provision for a Travel Lift which many residents oppose.  This is primarily because it’s associated with expansion of boat slips into the West Harbour.  But at last Monday’s Committee of the Whole Council meeting, there was discussion of a motion to pay for pricing several “options”.  These included “Detailed Design of reinforced Concrete Boat Lift Platform”. However, it was clarified that this is not intended for a Travel lift but instead to support the crane as has been traditionally used for seasonal boat lift in/out.  Further, Councillor Chorley moved that other options should also be considered – see motion below.

The “other options” do not include a Travel Lift. In recent conversations with consultant Shoreplan Engineering, it was learned that for Marinas the size of Cobourg’s, common practice is to use a crane and not a Travel Lift. These are mostly used for larger, private marinas which offer more services.  But the weight of a crane could be a problem with the harbour walls hence the suggestion for a concrete platform.  An option to this would be to strengthen the (new) harbour walls so that the crane would not be a problem.

Here is the (modified) motion as passed:

THAT Council approve the costs associated with the following provisional items as submitted by Shoreplan Engineering in the amount of $45,700 plus HST, being:

A. Detailed Design of Reinforced Concrete Boat Lift Platform ($16,500);
B. (i) Pedestrian Walkway to Lighthouse – Construction Cost Estimate ($16,700);
C. Condition Assessment of Remaining Harbour Structures ($7,000); and
D. Monitoring of Existing Infrastructure Prior to Completion of Repairs ($22,000).

AND FURTHER THAT Council will decide at a later date whether to authorize provisional item B(ii); Detailed Design and Tender Documents for a Pedestrian Walkway to the Lighthouse ($28,800): this option will be considered upon receipt of B(i): Construction Cost Estimate;

AND FURTHER THAT Council direct staff to request a quotation from Shoreplan Engineering to identify and compare feasible boat-lifting options including high-level cost estimates for Council’s consideration.

This motion was passed unanimously.

Given the sensitivity of the Travel Lift issue, it’s surprising that this clarification was not previously provided although I note that staff (Director Laurie Wills and Deputy Director Teresa Behan) did not describe what was “learned” as a “clarification”.


Previous Posts

Supporting Documents

Print Article: 


Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Doug Weldon
13 March 2021 12:07 pm

I have said before and I will say again. I am a Cobourg tax payer but I have a cottage up north. Would the town of Cobourg help me to open up and close up my cottage each year? No. I think boat owners should cover their full expense every year. There is no other acceptable choice. We are all privileged people to own recreational boats etc. We should all look after this – On Our Own!

If no services were available locally would boat owners then take a Spring and Fall trip to Trenton to get their boat put in and taken out? That sounds like a fun ride to me. Isn’t that what boats are for? If their price is already competitive, why not? It is great to see the boats in the harbour but it is not great to see the growing mess of the boat storage area. Some boats seem to remain in storage all Summer. The Harbour is the most beautiful site in Cobourg but the storage area is an eyesore both Summer and Winter. We got rid of the mess of oil storage tanks but now have this. Explore ALL alternatives. Sometimes a better one pops up.

Beach lover
Reply to  Doug Weldon
13 March 2021 1:03 pm

The boat storage area is a real mess. It would be nice to see some alternative locations.

Cap’n John
Reply to  Doug Weldon
13 March 2021 3:44 pm

The boat storage area could be significantly reduced in size and cleaned up if the yacht club and the canoe club consolidated and organized their separate storage areas. The main storage compound could be used for small boat storage in summer, when the large boats are in the water, and the small boats then stored offsite in winter. They are easily moved.
The area currently used by the small boats would be available for paid parking, pedestrian use, park, etc.
This is an example of where user groups can work together for the benefit of all.

Reply to  Cap’n John
13 March 2021 4:18 pm

Get rid of the boat storage area altogether. It’s an industrial-type installation that should not be there at all. Imagine if that land were to be freed up for open waterfront space. Totally.

Reply to  JImT
13 March 2021 4:34 pm

Where would you suggest to store the boats? Don’t forget you have 14′ height restrictions (hydro lines) on the roads.

Reply to  Frenchy
13 March 2021 7:11 pm

The old Works yard on King St W has been suggested and there have been a few boats stored there. Security and additional transport costs may be reasons why this location has not been used more extensively.

Reply to  Bryan
23 March 2021 12:55 am

It could be done. Excellent suggestion. What is there to loose? This marina is for show only. No serious boat repairs, engine servicing, etc .. in the 90’s so many people were visiting from Rochester to see our First of July fireworks. People get older, fuel is costly, pandemic is restrictive etc..

Reply to  Frenchy
13 March 2021 8:26 pm

Not my problem. I don’t care where they move them, as long as they just move them.

Reply to  JImT
13 March 2021 10:00 pm

Where do you think marinas in other towns store their boats? Take a drive and have a look. Hint, it’s right at the marina or very close by. Why do you think that is?
Or do you want to get rid of the marina altogether?

Old Sailor
13 March 2021 10:49 am

As a Lake Ontario boater for 40 years, my boats were moored at several marinas and yacht club controlled harbours over that period. Including a short stay in Cobourg. I can understand some Cobourg residents being under the illusion that Cobourg boaters are not paying their fair share. A good exercise would be to look at the summer mooring rates charged per foot of boat length at Port of Whitby Marina, Newcastle Marina, Cobourg Marina and Trent Port Marina. The last time I checked those rates, Cobourg Marina’s mooring rates came out at or near the top end. What makes Cobourg Marina different in my opinion is that it is run as a tourist draw, not like a proper marina business. Someone on the Town’s finance team should calculate and make public how much revenue has been lost for the last four years by leaving one third of the slips empty and by not storing all the boats for the winter that would stay in Cobourg if Cobourg had made the storage space available. We are talking hundreds of thousand of dollars of lost revenue. We can’t blame Cobourg seasonal boaters for the historical mismanagement of the marina business. The seasonal boater retention rate in Cobourg is well below the average at other marinas and clubs. There continues to be a large exodus of long time Cobourg boaters to Trent Port Marina. Better facilities and services, boater specific parking and proximity to Bay of Quinte winter storage locations make it a desirable place to moor your boat. If Cobourg Marina is managed the same way going forward, the taxpayers will have to subsidize the operating and capital expenditure shortfalls. Don’t blame the seasonal boaters for the way our marina is managed.

Cap’n John
Reply to  Old Sailor
13 March 2021 11:17 am

Old Sailor
Your comments are right on. I would go further, and suggest that all of the user groups in the harbour, I.e. the boaters, the yacht club, canoe club, the marina, need to work better together to improve the harbour and Town finances.
There are instances where these groups seem interested primarily in promoting their own interests, often at the expense of other user groups, the Town and all residents. I know this because I have seen the problems first hand.

Reply to  Old Sailor
13 March 2021 11:30 am

What was that word Managed or Properly Managed or some one just holding a job.
I do not blame the boaters for seeking out an Affordable proper marina
I just find my self tiering of this same old Topic coming up every year after year
and never improving or becoming truly well managed functionally or financially positive
same old same old .

I was paying way more than what Jayne is suggesting 10 yrs ago at Hastings Marine
for mooring and dockage and sewage pump out was double .
Lift in , out , storage with pressure wash was nearly $1000. each way for a 28 ft
cuddy plus shrink wrap .

Reply to  Sandpiper
13 March 2021 3:28 pm

Jeez am I glad I don’t own a boat…..

Reply to  Conor
13 March 2021 4:22 pm

A sailboat is a hole in the water, lined
with wood, into which you pour money“.

So I have been told. Or fiberglass maybe, these days.

Last edited 1 year ago by JImT
Reply to  Old Sailor
13 March 2021 12:43 pm

Port Trenton being newly (5 yrs) built is attractive and offers lots of amenities. They also discounted the slip fees to attract customers from other marinas. There is a price to pay for this however. The 2015-19 Quinte West FIRs show that the Port Trenton Marina has NEVER made a profit and has needed a taxpayer subsidy every year of its operation. In 2019, the taxpayer subsidy was over $1M.
So much for the boaters paying their way at Port Trenton.

I agree with you that the Cobourg marina should rent most of the slips as seasonal, preferably to locals. Keep perhaps 10 slips for transient. This is the practice of most of the Lake Ontario municipal marinas, except Port Trenton, which is oversized for the market and therefore has a surplus of slips.

Reply to  Old Sailor
13 March 2021 7:24 pm

Old Sailor:
You wrote: The seasonal boater retention rate in Cobourg is well below the average at other marinas and clubs. There continues to be a large exodus of long time Cobourg boaters to Trent Port Marina”
Do you have any data/analysis to support the retention rate?
Further, the number of seasonal Cobourg slips rented has remained fairly constant at 140-150. Similarly, TPM’s seasonal occupancy also seems constant at about 160

Bill Thompson
13 March 2021 10:18 am


Shoreplan Consultancy appears to be the sole agency for Cobourg harbour.
Are there no competitors to them for consultancy ?

13 March 2021 9:05 am

I do not Know of any other locations in Ontario Trent sys. where owning a boat or pleasure craft , and its Maintenance , Storage, hydro and sewage pump out are subsidized by the Town or the Tax Payers .
This is how Marinas make their money and income Charging for it . If this was a commercial fishery and fishery jobs were at stake, things might be different .
If dock repairs and equipment are needed to keep up with the competing marina operators , then you increase your seasonal rates etc
Or you come up with other offerings and ideas to make more money Like a Ecological boat cleaning service . But the boat owners pay for it .
Anyone care to pay / subsidize the service and parking space for my Motorcycle
Just a thought ! Didn’t think so .

Reply to  Sandpiper
13 March 2021 10:22 am

The harbour is also home to the coast guard vessel unlike where you park your motorcycle.
The harbour is also home to the Marie Dressler suction dredge and though many protested that expensive purchase it has been continually rented to other harbours, has paid for itself and provides income to the marina.
Regarding the other services you mention, they are pay for use… over $10. for pump out, almost $2.00/foot transient dockage, $64-$69/foot seasonal dockage and over $600. for winter storage.
Management of marina facilities can always be improved.

Reply to  Jayne
13 March 2021 11:12 am

The Coast Guard is a separate positive rental income issue
self maintained and sustained why should that income
go to support the Private Pleasure sector .

Reply to  Sandpiper
13 March 2021 6:12 pm

You wrote “The Coast Guard is a separate positive rental income issue self maintained and sustained why should that income go to support the Private Pleasure sector” What exactly do you mean?
Are you suggesting the CC pays “rent” to the marina (or Town directly)?

Reply to  Jayne
13 March 2021 7:03 pm

The dredge does not provide revenue to the marina. The marina “pays” the dredge about $20K-$50K each time the marina basin is dredged. The dredge is “business unit” of the Town and is organizationally part of the Harbour. The dredge is NOT self sustaining as it is not “continually” engaged on dredging contracts. It requires taxpayer subsidy: 2016 $61K, 2017 $62K, 2018 $0, 2019 $1K, 2020 $100K
Further, staff have indicated that $200K is needed for a custom trailer and $300K for major maintenance. There is no indication how the $500K will be “repaid” by the dredge.

Reply to  Bryan
14 March 2021 12:56 pm

Looks like the “Dredge” is another CCC. Taxpayer subsidy. At the end of the day we would be better off to close the harbour…no need to fix the pier etc, etc.

Reply to  Bryan
14 March 2021 5:35 pm

How often has the harbour been dredged and since the Town purchased our own? I think it was getting expensive to hire this out and was getting difficult to schedule

Reply to  Sandpiper
13 March 2021 7:32 pm

Cobourg marina and Whitby are both profitable operations.
Trenton is definitely not. Per the 2019 FIR, the taxpayer subsidy was over $1M

M Jonez
Reply to  Sandpiper
13 March 2021 8:02 pm

What do you think the boaters should pay for that they are not?
It was my impression from one council budget discussion that the boaters had been subsidizing the waterfront for years and paying for items and upkeep that had nothing to do with their area.
It was only a year or two ago that this practice stopped and the excess revenue was held for sole marina use.
Can anyone weigh in on this or am I remembering wrong?

Reply to  M Jonez
13 March 2021 8:25 pm

You are correct.
The marina expenses included some campground, parks and harbour expenses. The most blatant of these was the East Pier sink hole fixes…$25K per year for numerous years. A few years ago, former Parks director Hustwick stated, at Council, that the non-marina expenses totaled about $500K.

Cap’n John
12 March 2021 10:50 pm

I think Council made the right decision in not funding a travel lift.
There just aren’t enough boats that require the use of a travel lift.
There is no business case that supports the investment in a travel lift.
The Town must take over the boat lift responsibility as part of the marina operation, and the boaters will pay the cost, as they always have.
Done properly, using a crane, it is a safe, cost effective process.

Reply to  Cap’n John
13 March 2021 9:12 am

That’s right. “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it“.

12 March 2021 3:34 pm

Considering that the Town paid $56,500 back in 2013 just to get the Lighthouse painted, these costs seem quite reasonable.
In 2018 Scotiabank set a world record by paying $800 million for the 20 year naming rights to the MLSE Arena, –with all due respect to local historians–I wonder what they might pay to put their logo on the side of our lighthouse?

Reply to  Dunkirk
12 March 2021 3:56 pm

Actually when you think about it the lighthouse looks like a Heinz ketchup bottle. Maybe you could see if they would support naming rights. 🙂 Also if you can afford a boat you can afford to have it lifted. No support from the town.

Reply to  Conor
12 March 2021 7:24 pm

The “town” has never ever supported any boat lift-outs. They are always paid by the boaters themselves. Check before you spout!

Last edited 1 year ago by jimq26
Reply to  jimq26
13 March 2021 8:49 am

So You were led to Believe ! ?????

Reply to  Sandpiper
13 March 2021 9:56 am

Perhaps the boaters could help pay for the reinforced section of the pier that could handle the weight of the boat crane.

Reply to  Sandpiper
13 March 2021 7:06 pm

Do you have proof otherwise that the boaters have NOT paid for the entire cost of lift in/out?
I’m sure numerous people would be interested in such evidence.

Last edited 1 year ago by Bryan
Reply to  Bryan
14 March 2021 6:43 am

Good question Bryan. Sandpiper does make some strange comments without any proof.

Last edited 1 year ago by jimq26