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].
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
- Staff Reports on Natural Waterfront Park – 1 March 2020 – includes lots of photos of area.
- Should a Natural Waterfront Park be created? – 5 November 2019 – includes links to presentation by Richard Pope.
- Natural Waterfront Park Proposed – 5 October 2019
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
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.