Travel Lift rejected – again

You would think the subject would be dead by now, but it won’t die.  Once again, Council were asked to consider a report on options for lifting boats out of the Harbour at the end of the season and one of the options was a Travel Lift.  Ted Williams spotted it on the Agenda of the Committee of the Whole Meeting on Monday and made a presentation that objected to the idea – his concern was that the cost would be subsidized by taxpayers who would not be using the service. Ted pointed out that the big advantage of a Travel Lift is that it could be used at any time and not just at the start and ending of a season – but there are problems. See summary of his report below.

Summary of Shoreplan Report

Travel-Lift at Fifty Point Marina
Travel-Lift at Fifty Point Marina

See links below for full report and Staff cover memo

  • A summary of existing lift-in/lift-out by crane is provided.  It was noted that operation on the East Pier is not safe and that the Harbour North and East wall areas will need to be upgraded – no additional cost other than upgrade of Harbour walls – $50K to $100K.
  • Option of a Self-Propelled Trailer – cost approx. $530K including dredging and ramp extension.  It has the advantage of being useable at any time.
  • Option of a Travel Lift – cost approx. $770K including dredging and ramp upgrades.
  • Disadvantages of the Travel lift include that it needs a storage location – specifically “Due to its size and visibility it may not be well received by the public so a location that is out of sight would be advisable if at all possible.”

Summary of Ted Williams Comments/Objections

Ted was representing the Cobourg Taxpayers Association

  • A travel-lift can provide haul out and launch at any time – this benefits boaters.
  • The Cobourg marina facility operates on a user pay basis being wholly funded from fees received for rentals and usage.
  • The Marina reserve fund, at the end of this year, is essentially at zero dollars.
  • There is a $1.25M shortfall attributed to the projected replacement costs of C, D, E and F docks, within the next ten to fifteen years.
  • Our harbour has used a crane for over 100 years – accident free to any one’s memory.
  • If Cobourg undertakes the purchase and operation of a travel-lift, the Town can expect increased insurance premiums and possibly be responsible for the full damage award if an insurer can find a means to decline coverage. What are the increased costs that will result?
  • To garner many of the benefits of a travel-lift, boats will need to be moved at any time. A new storage yard will have to provide sufficient space for roads (called fairways) to access each boat. Currently boats are “sardined” into the storage lot with inches separating them (50-60 boats). The current yard would have to be enlarged to perhaps 3 times its current size. An obvious solution is to winter “active” boats in the trailer park – which empties at the precise week the boats are hauled out.
  • A financial analysis by others shows that the crane produces about a $5K profit and the travel-lift would show a loss of about a $50k per year. This was based on lifting 100 boats (currently it’s 50 boats). Our Marina makes about $ 75K profit per year, which is needed to pay for capital repairs and additions.
  • Can we find an experienced and qualified heavy equipment operator and will they be full-time staff? Will this operator be available in a timely manner?
  • It’s really all about money (taxes). At the CCC, taxpayers are spending $1M a year to keep it operating not including the building mortgage which is still not paid off. We assume it is always good to consider all options so one gets the Big Picture, but where is this money coming from? Giving it an honest look, we are convinced, the travel-lift should not be considered as an option, and should, at this time, be taken off the table.

Comments and Action by Councillors

  • Councillor Brian Darling criticised Ted’s concern with liability as being speculative.  He also said that Cobourg already has heavy equipment operators on staff.
  • Deputy Mayor Suzanne Séguin said that continuing with the crane method was the only way to keep the Marina self-sufficient.
  • Brian Darling said that a Travel Lift may be needed 5, 10 or 20 years in the future but not now.
  • Adam Bureau commented that the annual crane lift-in/out attracted spectators.
  • Councillor Emily Chorley said that the current crane method was the most efficient.  Her motion included a directive to staff to “include upgrades to the north and east seawalls in the Harbour design plans to facilitate the safe use of the crane for boat·lifting.”  Her motion was approved.


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25 August 2021 7:50 pm

I’m with Bill – “Isn’t it about time that the town staff request initiator be identified and held accountable?” Who is/are this/these person(s) who refuse to remove the TL from any consideration, for any reason, in any report? We have infrastructural/housing/etc issues up the wazoo. Thank you Ted for spotting this covert threat, spending the time to assess this threat and articulating the exposures to this Town.

Ken Strauss
Reply to  Gerinator
25 August 2021 9:52 pm

In many organizations reports are submitted and approved by people in management positions. The person submitting the recommendation gets the credit (or blame) depending on the success of what is recommended. The staff person who actually did the work is frequently not even mentioned. Cobourg is no exception. For example, the “Cobourg Marina Boat Lifting Options Analysis Report” was submitted by the Deputy Director Community Services and was approved by the CAO. No staff person is named.

Reply to  Ken Strauss
27 August 2021 11:58 am

Yes I get it Ken. The implication being that either the DDirector and/or the CAO are fans of the TL. Somehow I don’t think the CAO is a sponsor due to her having just arrived in Town. So the Dep Director (and 1 or more of their staff) continues to insinuate this awful idea on the Town. Seems like the ghost of Hustwick looms large.

Reply to  Gerinator
26 August 2021 9:14 am

Boat Owners that don;t want to pay for their Hobby
Try Golf and see haw inexpensive thats become These days

Reply to  Sandpiper
26 August 2021 1:17 pm

Sandpiper, what is it that boaters don’t want to pay for? They pay for their boats and maintenance on them. They pay for their slips and they pay for haul-out and haul-in. What is it they don’t want to pay for?

Reply to  Frenchy
26 August 2021 2:38 pm

You’re totally correct Frenchy. Plus – the mooring rates at the Cobourg Marina are among the highest on Lake Ontario.

25 August 2021 10:20 am

This should be a dead issue….a significant cost to service the few.

On another note, I was having a coffee at the beach canteen on Sunday morning and noticed the terrible state of upkeep the canteen and the surrounding area are in. The building looks tired and is in desperate need painting (maybe something more creative than white and blue), the tables are faded and rusting, siding coming away from the building, the area where the payphone was removed remains unfinished, the pergolas are boring and do not feature any lights, grass and bushes need trimming – frankly it’s shameful and embarrassing. Hire a local artist and contractor and create something we can be proud of.

Reply to  Rob
25 August 2021 10:47 am

Demolition would be cheaper.

Reply to  Dubious
25 August 2021 11:19 am

Perhaps – great opportunity add licensed roof top dinning and observation…

Since dead issues keep coming around, perhaps a discussion about the prime real estate that is currently a trailer park is in order…

Reply to  Rob
25 August 2021 12:10 pm

Bring back The Pav !

Wally Keeler
Reply to  JimT
25 August 2021 12:58 pm

That would require a new Louis Stover. Suggestion?

Reply to  Rob
25 August 2021 1:08 pm

Observation = Bikini Watching?

Reply to  Dubious
25 August 2021 3:32 pm

Dubious…for some 😉

Old Sailor
25 August 2021 9:52 am

I am a long time sail and power boater who has moored at ports using either a travel lift or crane. Sailboat owners don’t mind crane lifts and powerboaters stay away from cranes as their “boat build” is different and more care needs to be taken in lifting them. So if you have a powerboat in Cobourg Marina you either come out by Land Tug or winter elsewhere. It is difficult for Cobourg Marina to attract non commercial boaters like our charter fishing boats, as Cobourg is in a remote location on Lake Ontario. A long way by sail or power to the next port east, west or south. Not much fun for day cruisers wanting a return visit to another port in a day or on a weekend. Add to that limited to no parking near your boat due to the swell of beachgoers, tourists and local people enjoying the view. No security gates on docks and limited to no winter storage. This makes Cobourg Marina not a desirable all season location for cruisers. Which leads to high boater turnover and declining slip fill rates. As a result we have a recipe for financial losses from the Marina. My guess is over $100,000 of slip and winter storage revenue is foregone due to the way the marina is managed by Council. Not the boaters’ fault. The marina annual losses are not on the scale of the CCC losses, but boaters seem to be easier targets.

Ken Strauss
Reply to  Old Sailor
25 August 2021 10:17 am

Old Sailor, you make several mentions of “power boats”. Fossil fuel burning power boats are incompatible with fighting the climate change emergency that Cobourg’s Council has declared. Shouldn’t power boats be banned from our marina rather than making changes to encourage them?

Reply to  Old Sailor
25 August 2021 11:20 am

Old Sailor:

  • the marina is managed by Town staff, not Council
  • the marina is self-sufficient. It nets about $75K per year, unlike Port Trenton which requires a Taxpayer subsidy of $1M+ per year (2019 FIR)
  • ignoring 2020 & 2021 (Covid) seasonal slip rental has been consistent at about 150 boats. There is turnover and additions, which is normal in any marina
  • you “guess” that the marina foregoes $100K in revenue. I understand that to mean you have no data or analysis to support this assertion. About 40 additional boats would be required to provide $100K in additional slip & storage revenue. Somewhat of a stretch, I think

As I noted in my reply to Power Boater, boaters choose the marina that best suits their needs in terms of facilities/services, proximity, cost and “life-style”. The Cobourg marina can not be all things to all boaters, nor should it try to be. It does a reasonable job given its resources and constraints.

25 August 2021 9:44 am

Please, please (for once) consider the residents who live near the waterfront.
The last few years have seen a massive increase in traffic and loud noise after 11 pm. In short, a travel lift with its constant beeping would make life by the waterfront unbearable. When exactly is the town going to act on any of the two info three major waterfront studies? Whatever happened to local input? Thank you Ted.

Reply to  waterwatcher
25 August 2021 4:40 pm

Its quite amusing to me when people purchase/build a residence near one of the great beaches in southern Ontario, with a vibrant marina, waterfront and trailer park that is surrounded by parks, food outlets and small businesses and then complain that people are attracted to it.

What did you think was happening down there? I assume all of this was there before you moved in? AND that noise you hear is life within our community…

Michael Sprayson
Reply to  Rob
26 August 2021 3:18 pm

What is amusing? Waterwatcher isn’t complaining about the things you are insinuating they are complaining about. We know what we bought, some of us have lived here our whole lives, even before many of the residences at the waterfront were built. Notable about the comment is the concern about the massive increase in traffic. Over the last two years, it has grown exponentially. And the infrastructure is not here to support it. The main complaint is the noise after 11pm. There is very little bylaw or police enforcement. Living by the beach or harbour should not mean that we should have to put up with something that any other resident, living anywhere else in Cobourg would not be willing to deal with. People using the beach area during the day is one thing – common sense dictates that people are going to use it. One of the reasons many buy in this area is the beach and the marina. It’s the booming stereos at 1am that rattle your windows. It’s the intoxicated people fighting in the middle of the night. It’s the people using the Esplanade as a drag strip when a lot of the traffic has cleared for the day. It’s the tailgate parties that go well into the night and the diesel trucks revving their engines so they can see the black smoke rolling out the back. Are you welcoming of that ‘community life’ happening at your front step at one or two o’clock in the morning? Why are the people who live by the waterfront shamed for complaining about things they have every right to be upset about?

Reply to  waterwatcher
25 August 2021 7:43 pm

You sound the all the people from the city that moved here years ago and complained about the train whistles when they knew a train ran through Town.

Reply to  Informed
26 August 2021 7:24 am

Actually if you knew the full story about the whistles you wouldn’t buy into this myth. A consistent anti-whistle campaign was supported by all people in Cobourg not just the “toronto refugees”. Probably the longest list of names on a petition was presented to a supportive Council and the effort succeeded.

25 August 2021 8:39 am

And where exactly do we intend to Park such a large Industrial Monstrosity
most of the year
No where near the water front or in some ones View line of the lake
The boat yard at the foot of Hibernia is looking more and more like a Bone yard as time goes on

Reply to  Sandpiper
25 August 2021 4:02 pm

If you can afford to buy the toy then putting it in and out of the water should be on your dime.

Reply to  Conor
25 August 2021 6:33 pm

Who do you thinks pays for putting it in and out of the water now Connor?

James Mitchell
25 August 2021 8:37 am

I really can’t see how this benefits the community of Cobourg other than a handful of boaters and at great tax payer expense. Having operated at fleet of 35’ plus sailboats (6) I am very familiar with crane haulouts and Launches. To be frank they are the most cost effective method. Secondly, why would you want to be taking boats in and out of the water at different times of the season? Is it for repairs? Last time I checked there is no marine repair yard at the harbour. Is it for the convenience of boat owners not to be limited to one time for launch’s and haulouts? Seem like an awfully big extravagance for just a few – a bit of a boondoggle if you ask me.

Lemon Cake
25 August 2021 8:29 am

As I read and the comments my question is – what’s the plan overall for the harbour? It’s a massive part of the town and it’s waterfront – but what I understand from some of the comments is that it’s not full service for boaters who use the harbour – would having a full service marina make better use of this resource and generate more revenue for the town? Right now it seems like kind of an in between/half service for some boaters but not really well positioned to expand or grow. Honest question here from a relative newbie to this issue.

Reply to  Lemon Cake
25 August 2021 9:13 am

Cobourg marina has most of the services that boaters generally require: boat dockage, power & water, fuel, septic pump out, showers, laundry, washrooms, boat handling, winter storage, cradle storage and boat launch ramp. Services not available are boat works & repair and “anytime” launch/haul-out

Dean Marine is located a short walk from the marina and provides boat related products.

You wrote “…would having a full service marina make better use of this resource and generate more revenue for the town?…” The short answer is no. You use the word “revenue”. Revenue is of no use if it doesn’t cover the costs incurred to earn it. Focus on “net profit”. The marina is currently self sufficient and does not contribute any profit to the Town. There is no land available for a boat works/repair yard and such a business would be out of place with the surrounding “high end” residential area.

The Cobourg marina does a reasonably good job given its resources and constraints

Last edited 1 year ago by Bryan
Reply to  Bryan
25 August 2021 7:26 pm

I would add to the list of services – a dedicated eatery. Not sure how complete is the menu GIVEN I’m not a Yacht/Marina member at large.

Reply to  Gerinator
25 August 2021 8:40 pm


A dedicated eatery for the CYC members only. It is not part of the marina.

Lemon Cake
Reply to  Bryan
25 August 2021 9:58 pm

Thanks – all good points especially about the lack of space for a boat yard etc.

Ken Strauss
24 August 2021 6:25 pm

Thank you, Ted! Council has rejected a travelift many times but the proposal keeps being brought forward by staff as a viable option. Why? Who wants it? It really should be called a “Phoenix Lift”.

Bill Thompson
Reply to  Ken Strauss
24 August 2021 9:21 pm

Recall that ShorPlan has been involved since the beginning attempt(s) at marina expansion and involved with the travel lift .
Isn’t it about time that the town staff request initiator be identified and held accountable.?
Does the staff work for the elected council or vice versa ?
I thought No meant No. Obviously not to everyone.
How much did it cost the town for the report this time ?

Reply to  Ken Strauss
25 August 2021 1:16 pm

The staff are better informed than council

Wally Keeler
24 August 2021 5:50 pm

Thanks Ted, for nipping it in the bud.

Power boater
Reply to  Wally Keeler
24 August 2021 6:34 pm

The crane method is sufficient for sailboats but not the larger power boats
i have joined a group of 4 who have moved our boat to a marina that has a travel—lift. Unfortunate as I live in Cobourg but the marina doesnt have the facilities that I need. I respect the wishes of many and have moved on.

Reply to  Power boater
24 August 2021 7:24 pm


How large is your boat? The LandTug that is also used for boat lift in Cobourg launches and hauls out large power boats on a regular basis. Did you consider their service?
Was this the only factor in deciding to move to another marina?

Power boater
Reply to  Bryan
24 August 2021 7:56 pm

Used landtug for 2 years and not happy with the service. Boat is heavy and wide. Yes I left because no lift. I am within walking distance to the harbor. All the funds spent on the boat for supplies and food go elsewhere now

Reply to  Power boater
24 August 2021 8:44 pm

Many of the seasonal boaters use the Cobourg marina during the summer but haul out and store their boats elsewhere. Whitby and Wiggers come to mind.
An option to consider perhaps.

Reply to  Bryan
24 August 2021 9:09 pm

What does Whitby and Wiggers have that we don’t have?

Last edited 1 year ago by Frenchy
Reply to  Frenchy
24 August 2021 11:11 pm


  1. Each has boat repair, boat sales and boat manufacturing.
  2. Each has large storage facilities
  3. Each has a travel lift, made financially viable by the facilities listed above
Power boater
Reply to  Bryan
24 August 2021 9:10 pm

I understand and respect the majority not wanting a lift. I looked at all options and costs and found storing docking and lift in/out at one marina cheaper.

Reply to  Power boater
25 August 2021 12:09 am

I totally agree with your choice based on your needs, the facilities/services available at the Cobourg marina and the facilities/services available elsewhere that do meet your needs. There is nothing that requires the Cobourg marina to be “full service”. As with any business, it needs to offer facilities/services that most customers want AND that the business can afford. A TL is not a financially viable service for the Cobourg marina.
If you closely examine the the WFP (Waterfront Plan) TL business case, you will find that the TL’s net loss is over $45K and that is based on 100 boats. Cobourg’s current boat lift requirement is about 50 boats, so the loss would be even more.

You wrote “… All the funds spent on the boat for supplies and food go elsewhere now…” Are you suggesting this is a reason for the Town to fund a TL even though it is a money looser. The Port Trenton marina’s annual net loss is over $1M per year which is covered by the local taxpayers. Are you suggesting that Cobourg should do the same?

Reply to  Bryan
25 August 2021 7:30 pm

Why not – said with tongue in cheek? We do same for CCC.

Reply to  Power boater
25 August 2021 9:21 am

I had considered to acquire a Laker (Great Lakes Freighter) for joy riding.
I was told it does not fit into our harbor. So I will have to settle for something a tad smaller…

Reply to  Marie
25 August 2021 1:34 pm

The Goose Bay, a Canadian Navy frigate, was able to dock in Cobourg harbour. Perhaps that would suite your needs. You would just have to make sure the harbour was dredged often

Last edited 1 year ago by Bryan
Bill Thompson
Reply to  Bryan
25 August 2021 6:18 pm

With a draft of only11ft, the harbour shouldn’t require dredging more than once (just to be sure) for its arrival! 😊