Should West Headland be a Nature Park?

In late 2019,  Richard Pope and Margaret Bain of the Willow Beach Field Naturalists made presentations to four Advisory committees, to Council and to the Ganaraska Region Conservation Authority (GRCA) suggesting that a Natural Park should be declared that encompassed the West Harbour, the West Beach, the West Headland and the Ecology Garden.  After a report by Director Dean Hustwick provided in March 2020, the idea was turned down by Council.  Dean’s report said that the area is currently identified as a “Landmark Park (under the name Marina Park)” which should “enhance tourism and economic development” and “accommodate increased commercial use” with a primary function as support for “tourism, festivals and large gatherings” [See below for definition of Landmark Parks as provided in the By-Law].

West Headland Nature Park
West Headland Nature Park

But the Parks and Recreation Advisory Committee believe that “this categorization does not provide adequate protection for the natural environment of the West Harbour and an important waterfront ecosystem and public space for passive recreation”.  They therefore passed a motion to ask Council to “strengthen the environmental protection of the West Headland by designating it as a Nature Park under Schedule A of the Parks Use By-Law… (see links below for a copy of the existing By-Law)” This motion will be before Council at their Committee of the Whole meeting on 29 March. Included is the map in the image at right.

Nature Parks are predominantly natural in character and exhibit landscape/environmental characteristics common to Cobourg or the surrounding area. The focus of these parks is conservation, nature appreciation, and interpretation.

There is a list of all Cobourg parks here and also at the similar list on the Town’s web site – see link below.  Note that the West Beach and Ecology garden are already designated as “Nature parks” and the West Headland is not mentioned here. A few parks in Cobourg are labelled “Landmark parks” in the Parks Usage By-Law  022-2016.  Included is “Marina Park” at 116 Hibernia which presumably means the West Headland although it’s a bit vague. Others in this category are Victoria Beach and the Promenade.  These three are not listed on the Town’s web site as “parks”.

The new Park boundary does not include boat storage and is currently natural except for an access road. See the image above.

The committee quotes the Lake Ontario Shoreline Management Plan in support.

In summary, the motion asks that the “Parks Use By-Law 022-2016” be modified to change the designation of the Marina Park (West Headland) from “Landmark” to “Nature”.


Earlier Posts on Cobourg News Blog

Other Links

Definitions in By-Law:

“Landmark Parks” shall mean parks located on Cobourg’s waterfront.  They are defining icons of the Town and provide a range of experiences and water related activities. As the center piece of the Town’s event programming, Landmark Parks are regional destinations that have wide appeal to a diverse audience. Portals are a sub-component of this classification and provide public access to the waterfront at street ends that terminate at the lake.

“Nature Parks” shall mean parks that are predominantly natural in character and exhibit landscape/environmental characteristics common to Cobourg or the surrounding area. The focus of these parks is conservation, nature appreciation, and interpretation. They provide a nature-based experience and environmentally compatible passive recreation activities.

Note: As outlined in “Many old documents no longer available on line“, many key Town documents are no longer publicly available since they were lost when Cobourg’s Civic Web went off-line.  Lost Documents (on Civic Web) include the report by Dean Hustwick on 9 March 2020.

Update to Note: The Town’s web site has a page where some earlier Agendas and Minutes are available. These are for the period 3 September 2019 to August 31 2020. More recent agenda and minutes are available on escribe. Documents earlier than September 2019 are not available online per the above note. Dean’s report from 9 March 2020 has therefore been extracted and is available here.

Update – 30 March 2021

At the Committee of the Whole meeting on Monday night, Council voted unanimously to pass the above motion.  That is, that the “Parks Use By-Law 022-2016” be modified to change the designation of the Marina Park (West Headland) from “Landmark” to “Nature”.

Addendum – 6 April 2021

Darling sketch
Darling sketch

At the regular Council meeting on 6 April, the above motion came up for final approval.  But before the vote, Councillor Brian Darling moved an amendment as follows:

Motion to amend Parks and Recreation Services Item 12.4.1. by adding:

AND FURTHER THAT the area from the west side of the boat launch, westerly to the current fenced compound, then from the southeast corner of the compound south easterly in a line toward the lighthouse be maintained as a manicured lawn area so as to provide safe passage to the water for the Sailing Club, the Dragon Boat and Canoe Club, paddle boarders and any other passive recreational users,
AND FURTHER to provide a clear view of the water from the parking lot for those who choose to park and sit in their vehicle to observe the waterfowl, enjoy a lunch break or coffee or just enjoy the panoramic view,
AND FURTHER that all work be completed with the approval of the Regional Conservation Authority (GRCA).

Brian showed the sketch above-right to illustrate his idea.

The intent was to exclude an area from the Nature Park and ensure it’s kept clear so that canoe and Kayak users have easy access to the sandy beach and the people parked in cars viewing the west harbour have a clear view.

Deputy Director Teresa Behan clarified that no matter the category of the beach, weed scrub and dangerous plants would be removed anyway.

But Councillor Emily Chorley (and others) felt that it did not allow for Public comment (perhaps via the Parks and Rec Committee) and was not needed.  At least not yet.  There was a recorded vote and only Councillors Adam Bureau and Aaron Burchat supported Darling in a 4-3 vote.

So Emily’s motion was passed without any amendment.

Here is her full motion:

WHEREAS at the Committee of the Whole Meeting on March 29, 2021, Council considered a Memo from the Secretary, Parks and Recreation Advisory Committee, regarding West Headland as a Natural Environment;
NOW THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED THAT the designation of the West Headland be changed from ‘Landmark Park’ to ‘Nature Park’ in the Parks Use By-Law;
AND FURTHER THAT the Town’s stewardship of its nature parks be explored through the Parks and Recreation Advisory Committee.

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K Krakenberg
1 April 2021 11:47 am

Keep it a green space. Enhance it perhaps with walkways and picnic areas. As many have said in previous surveys people who come from outside of town do not bring any business to the area. They bring what they need and leave a mess that costs money to clean up after them. A nature walk tied into the boardwalk with seating benches. A lot of seniors walk the area. A place to rest for them.

Concerned Resident
28 March 2021 8:43 pm

Not to have this entire area as a nature park would be greed driven, short sighted and a major loss to the residents of the Town of Cobourg !!

28 March 2021 12:04 pm

May be we have all forgotten past Recessions
if you recall the Govt stalled / postponed the recession time reassessment
and took advantage by adding the Boom or recovery year to their calculations
this had a significant impact and increase to the numbers and the tax.
How ever if they really wanted to be fair to the public they could use the present numbers
up to date , but hold off the application of the new tax rates of the reassessment calculation
for 1 yr .

27 March 2021 7:30 pm

The home owners state they are very against tax increases, COVID 19 had placed government coffers in a low state – fewer government grants. The handwriting is on the wall – already increased parking fees – now talk of further revenue through designating the west beach as Landmark with fees for use. I said it in a much earlier subject but was voted down – the town will be looking for further revenues as home owner taxation as reflected in the last budget will not bring in revenue. And no I am not negative, mean spirited or any of the other things some bloggers have tried to tag me with. I just look at what is and yes I would prefer the west beach to remain as a nature habitat or will it? Where will the next revenue grab surface?

Last edited 1 year ago by Liz
Reply to  Liz
27 March 2021 8:00 pm

To the down voters – perhaps you still believe in sugar plum fairies. However the town needs money and has foregone a tax increase. Instead of just voting something down why don’t you step into the open and offer your ideas on where the town will get the revenue or why you think it doesn’t need to?

Reply to  Liz
28 March 2021 8:20 am

Liz–the down voters are just a sign that you’re message is getting understood. A friend of mine who is a radio personality was told early in his career that he had 3 job requirements: have an opinion; have half the listeners love him and have half the audience hate him. Ratings fell when that balance changed….you still have time for some ‘up’ votes!
A group I know proposed a new idea to create(restore) 100 technical jobs for the Brookside site and to pay back taxes on the property. They never heard back from the Province. No tears…The point is, if good ideas were always adopted here we’d have a much different town..
In California some of the beach towns have large PEV charging stations; daily storage units; secure phone charging centres,Segway rentals, WiFi hubs that resemble Amazon GO locations. All of these are ‘for fee’. it’s clean and town coffers are growing…People who drive $50k cars to get to Cobourg, who talk on $1200 iPhones have lots of disposable income on their credit cards to pay for these services…..Right now-our downtown has shoes stores, cannabis retail, tatoos, cheque cashing, mattresses and lottery tickets….not exactly the same welcoming response to what the market wants.

Reply to  Dunkirk
31 March 2021 3:43 pm

Hi Dunkirk – meant to reply but time got away. I have never been a crowd person. Some subjects here I find easy to agree with. But some I see differently with other perspectives when so many are agreeing. So I would be surprised if my count was always in the clouds. I think individual thinking and presenting of issues should be considered. My fellow bloggers are not always in agreement. But that is the beauty of the Blog – to express points of view with hopefully consideration of the idea presented.

As your tag is Dunkirk I’ll add this – history has proved mass thinking is not always a good idea.

Fancy Nancy
Reply to  Liz
28 March 2021 12:25 pm

I read your response a dozen times or so. Came to one conclusion! Why can’t we (vet and rookie) come together and get rid of all 99.9% of the “thumbs down” – Here me out… quicker than you can say Tom Cruise we could attract all but maybe one thumb – since there are too many. Don’t believe me? Why would I give my address(1st post) if I were still in “witness protection”. Correct me if I am wrong but one thumb left and they would be too tired to get to everyone. Besides the more negatives this sacrificial lamb gets…I may get some street cred in here….you with me 🙂

Cobourg taxpayer
27 March 2021 1:16 pm

I fully support West Beach becoming a nature park not a landmark park. Interesting now that Dean is gone (and even his exceedingly long winded response I had to suffer through) this topic is back on the agenda. I thoroughly enjoyed Richard Pope’s and Margaret Bain’s presentations and was very disappointed council supported Dean’s opinion. I hope this time council has the foresight to support this change in designation.

Fancy Nancy
Reply to  Cobourg taxpayer
27 March 2021 11:25 pm

I agree with most of what you said. I think building is important but we need to preserve our natural areas as well. I have to go back through previous posts since I missed the presentation. Thanks for sharing that info.

27 March 2021 10:59 am

I am fully in favour of Council passing the motion to change the designation of the Marina Park, from ‘Landmark’ to ‘Nature’! Forget any ‘overflow’ parking area! Let’s keep it, as I see it, one of the ‘jewels’ in the crown of Cobourg!

Reply to  Ken
27 March 2021 2:54 pm

Turn part of the west beach into a parking lot? What kind of ½ witted idea is that? I know they have used the eastern end for just that purpose on Canada Day weekend, and perhaps other special occasions, but I don’t like it one little bit.

Do whatever it takes to keep that whole area natural, including never allowing vehicle storage – including boat storage – however temporary or seasonal – in what should be public beach and nature park all year round.

27 March 2021 9:38 am

If that change were made, what would be different? I’m not clear from the wording in the proposal.

Bill Thompson
Reply to  Viola
27 March 2021 11:47 am

Perhaps this may provide help in clarification of that area being preserved as natural, safe from any further development plans and remain as is.
The delegation in 2015 by Richard Pope and Margaret Bain of the Willow Beach Field Naturalists that the west beach area be designated a Nature Preserve, with reply by Mayor Brocanier that the issue be a Priority for consideration but forgotten from that day onward.
This visit from the Blue Dot may also be helpful

Reply to  Bill Thompson
27 March 2021 2:57 pm

removed by original poster

Last edited 1 year ago by JimT
Bill Thompson
Reply to  JimT
27 March 2021 5:51 pm

You need to Google my link above to see it.

27 March 2021 9:31 am

Yes and marketing of the west beach area for Group functions such as Church Picnics , Corporate functions , Volley Ball etc for a Fee of course would be great As well as reestablishing that large parking lot just west of the boat storage to take some of the excess off the streets over there
its becoming a problem over here

Reply to  Sandpiper
27 March 2021 11:16 am

I guess there are a lot of residents trying to keep this as their private beach !

ben burd
Reply to  Sandpiper
27 March 2021 12:55 pm

As well as reestablishing that large parking lot just west of the boat storage to take some of the excess off the streets over there
its becoming a problem over here”

And their private parking as well!

Reply to  Sandpiper
27 March 2021 1:34 pm

One of the problems that towns such as Cobourg and Whitby for that matter have is the space that these boat storage yards take up. They are ugly and only cater to a few individuals. Perhaps they should be moved to a farmers field north of the 401 at the owners expense of course.

Reply to  Conor
27 March 2021 2:08 pm

I agree they use valuable beach space for an industrial type installation. Problem is, so I’m told, they can’t transport them very far because of all the overhead wires that get in the way of the masts of the sailboats.

Reply to  JimT
27 March 2021 2:12 pm

Don’t they normally take the masks down?

27 March 2021 8:25 am

YES, sounds Great & when your at it reopen the gap in the headland extention to stop harbour silting?

Keith Oliver
27 March 2021 8:47 am


Please explain your comment and the benefit it implies in more detail. My understanding is that the natural west to east flow of water along the north shore of the lake, caused by our presence in the Northern Hemisphere, would result in increased silting in the harbour should a gap in the headland extension be created.

Last edited 1 year ago by Keith Oliver
Reply to  Keith Oliver
27 March 2021 9:35 am

look up Ross Dudley on face book! he & Ken Hines ran the dreger for many yr.s until people thought that a computer outwaid yrs’s of knowledge? i am not able to copy the link? same as the people that run the seaway? one yr.flooding, another yr. LOW water levels? Ottanbee the same way? they blame it on snow pack? B/S 50 yrs. ago could snowmobile from the Cobourg area to Bancroft (that was snowpack without flooding) on the Otanabee manually operated dams with stop blocks inserted & removed as needed!

27 March 2021 10:53 am

Click here for Ross Dudley Facebook page:

Comment & picture being referenced is just down from top of the Facebook page.

Last edited 1 year ago by JimT
Ross Dudley
Reply to  Keith Oliver
28 March 2021 12:56 pm

Mr Oliver The reason the gap has to be opened back up is because it has caused a back current into the harbour mouth. This is the main reason the silting of the harbour has increased at an alarming rate. The west breakwater was installed originally to do just that .Break the water so it would not be rough inside. It was made entirely of armour stones with plenty of room for water to flow. During the 80’s the town began to make a park there but never completed it but were smart enough to leave the gap where I indicated in my Facebook post. The launch ramp area never had a silting problem before this area was filled in. I believe I has as much knowledge or even more about the harbour than anyone else living at this time. I played there as a boy ,boated there as a teenager , ran a successful charter boat there for years , owned and operated the Coast Guard Auxiliary boat for many years. I studied the engineering report on the silting and completed the research for the dredge that the town bought. I dredged the harbour mouth areas several times over the years as well as other Lake Ontario marinas. I have a total of 48 years with the town both as an employee and a contractor. Really to bad no one in authority wants to discuss this issue.

27 March 2021 10:32 am

When I was a kid (many years ago) there was a gap at the base of the west pier that allowed water flow between the west beach and the harbour, and the beach shoreline was much farther back than it is now and the harbour was plenty deep enough for those big ferry boats to maneuver.

All that area filled in with rocks once that gap was closed, making a much wider beach consisting mostly of accumulated stones.

I’m no hydrological engineer, I admit, but I’ve always thought that gap should have been maintained to keep the water flowing and prevent that corner of the west beach plus the west side of the harbour from filling and stagnating.

Last edited 1 year ago by JimT
Reply to  JimT
27 March 2021 8:53 pm

experience over eddieouse?

Ross Dudley
Reply to  JimT
28 March 2021 12:55 pm

Jim Please see my response to Mr Oliver.