Swimming in West Harbour to be Banned

With Victoria Beach closed on Weekends and Holidays and limited to 1200 capacity on weekdays, visitors will be looking for other local beaches.  The West Beach would be a good bet but it’s not groomed and hard for visitors to find.  Another obvious swimming spot is the beach in the Harbour along the West headland.  Locals avoid it because they know that it’s often unsafe because of a high e-coli count caused by water that doesn’t move much and pollution from gulls and ducks.  The main Harbour area on the east side (see picture below) is already a “no-swimming” area because of the danger from boats but Council moved on Monday to also ban swimming in the rest of the Harbour.  The motion to do this will be ratified at the Regular Council meeting on July 26 – ironically the same meeting when the closing of Victoria Park Beach will also be re-considered. [Update: The motion to ban was ratified].

West Harbour 2018
West Harbour 2018

The West Harbour is popular with small boats but it does have a small stretch of sand and would seem attractive to people denied access to the main beach. The revised bylaw would allow short term “swimming” if a boat occupant finds themselves in the water but signs would be erected to warn that recreational swimming is prohibited.

As described in an earlier Post, Council have directed staff to implement staff recommendations to manage beach crowds (as approved by the Parks and Recreation Advisory committee – go here for the article) –  but these won’t be in place until the 2022 season.  Meanwhile, swimming in the west Harbour will be banned.

Swimming in Harbour
Swimming in Harbour

I can see the West Beach getting crowded.


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23 July 2021 11:51 am

First of all, the area that John has shown us…’area for additional prohibition’… borders on being a ‘cess pool’, in my opinion! It sounds like there are no signs up….”Danger-No Swimming’…..for this area? I think council should think about erecting signs for this area, saying the same!

Also, I was at the ‘main’ beach, this past Monday, with two of my grand children and although they had a great time…in and out or the water…I wasn’t impressed! The beach seemed to be overcrowded and it wasn’t fun sitting on hard-packed sand ‘people watching’! I feel the town has waisted money on those lovely life-guard stations, that were not ‘manned’? They are too far from the waters edge and maybe it’s time we got rid of them and just put up signs saying ‘Swim At Your Own Risk’! It would save the town money!

When we arrived by car, to attend the beach, I found that the ‘parking meter’ that dispenses parking tickets, was not working? I guess some of us got free parking that day? The lot was full!

As my grandkids and I walked towards the beach, I saw lots of garbage blowing around and also saw that the ‘community police trailer was ‘unmanned’ and locked up?

I wonder if it isn’t time that we stared charging admission to our lovely beach? I’m sure this would save us taxpayers a bit of money…in the long run?

Just my thoughts!

Reply to  Ken
24 July 2021 9:02 am

Taking away the life guards after all these years would “save the town money” right up until the day the courts hand down a multi-million-dollar judgement against the town for allowing a known hazard to exist and causing a tragedy.

Poof! There go all the “savings” plus a lot more.

Reply to  JimT
24 July 2021 10:07 am

That would seem to be a logical result. However, the law is often counter-intuitive and perverse. Based on discussions with several legal friends, the town is taking the least risk path.
The simple version is that lifeguards are a clear signal that there is danger, that the Town is aware and taking responsibility to mitigate the danger. A clear admission of liability, some would say.
By having no lifeguards and “use at own risk” signs, the Town is trying to sidestep the liability and transfer it back to the “user”.
There is also a question of jurisdiction. Drownings occur in water, not on the beach. Who “owns” the water? the Town or the Crown.
Your scenario poses several important questions. The answers to which are anything but clear and simple.

Reply to  Ken
24 July 2021 10:36 am

I suggested a few weeks ago that Northumberland County ? Town issue to every home owner and Landlord a garbage Dump pass and a Resident Family Beach pass tag
this can and has been done annually for many yrs . No more hiring no more jobs
just supervision / Bylaw enforcement — Non residents of Northumberland could purchase a Beach pass at the gate the same way they could pay for a parking lot pass if the machines were operational of course

Wally Keeler
Reply to  Sandpiper
24 July 2021 12:21 pm

Cobourg taxpayers pay to maintain the beach. Northumberland residents pay nothing. Why should Northumberland residents be given a free beach pass in your scheme of things?

Reply to  Wally Keeler
26 July 2021 11:29 am

Excellent, concise response.

Just Wondering
Reply to  Sandpiper
25 July 2021 7:28 am

Hasn’t it been a couple of years since the free dump passes were issued by the county?

23 July 2021 10:33 am

Bird Poop has been studied for a very long time every where else especially in the Netherlands
Facies ( Poop ) from Geese , Gulls , ducks etc has been a long standing issue and cause of
E.coli and Histoplasmosis contamination , decaying and rotting vegetation can also contribute
leave the Birds alone just don’t move the stuff to the beach .
The West beach is probably safer for humans than the East due to water flow direction

Bill Thompson
Reply to  Sandpiper
23 July 2021 10:45 am

Unless I’m mistaken the sludge is taken away by truckload not dumped on the beach it stop dumping on Victoria Beach a few years ago I understand

22 July 2021 7:26 pm

E colie isn’t it the same sludge and Duck Poop they pump over the sea wall to Victoria beach
where the rest of us go ?

And if West beach is hard to find just move or put up another one of those Cobourg Beach signs we have all over town The West beach is in better condition than the natural beaches at Presquiele
Park most of the time

Bill Thompson
Reply to  Sandpiper
23 July 2021 8:21 am

There is more pollution caused by humans with sewage drainage etc.and land run off into the water.
Wildlife pollution i.e. duck poop etc is natural and biodegradable, grass.etc.
The biggest polluters are humans .Take a look around everywhere on land as well.

Reply to  Bill Thompson
23 July 2021 8:29 am

Duck and geese poop is natural
Human poop is not???????
It’s a question of volume of poop
Check it out in spring , it’s inches thick
Ban the geese and ducks
The marina is man made for. Man

Bill Thompson
Reply to  Jones
23 July 2021 8:49 am

The marina is made for boats mooring.The west harbour /beach is natural and should remain that way.

Reply to  Sandpiper
24 July 2021 12:36 pm

You clearly haven’t been to the West Beach in recent weeks.
Tens of thousands of small fish (1″-6″) were washed up onto the beach and are rotting there. The stench is almost overwhelming. The gulls and bugs will clean this up in time, a natural occurrence and process on a “natural” beach.

22 July 2021 5:33 pm

How about operating a truck in the West Harbour?
Does this mean we can’t even drive a truck around in the West Harbour any more?


Last edited 1 year ago by JimT
Wally Keeler
Reply to  JimT
23 July 2021 1:13 am

I’m gonna miss those out-of-town trucks tearing up the mud flats. Was quite a spectacle.