Walkway to Cobourg’s Lighthouse too Expensive

At the March 8 Committee of the Whole (C.O.W.) Council Meeting, it was decided to ask for an estimate of the cost of making a walkway from the East Pier out to the lighthouse.  At the C.O.W. meeting on Monday, this estimate was provided and discussed.  According to the Town’s Engineering Manager, Terry Hoekstra, adding a pathway would cost about $3 million (+30%, more detail below). This is in addition to the cost of repairing the breakwater under the path. It seems that a breakwater can be allowed to move a little but a path must not. This means piles would be required as well as the armour stone. It also means that it would cost even more if done separately to fixing the breakwater.

The path would include railings (on the west side) and a wall (on the east side) to ensure safety. See Shoreplan Report in Links below. The estimate is divided into two parts, North and South Segments – see diagram.

Cost estimate to add a walkway



Including HST, Engineering etc








$3.13 Million

$4.07 Million

Cobourg Lighthouse Walkway
Cobourg Lighthouse Walkway

Some idea of why the cost is so high can be found in the Shoreplan Report  “Lighthouse Walkway Options Report”.  The drawings show that the path would be quite different to the current “use at your own risk” one.

All Councillors felt that the costs were too high and made the idea “not feasible”. There was a short discussion on whether it was worth doing the North section only but in the end, Councillor Brian Darling moved the following motion:

THAT the walkway to the lighthouse be abandoned and;
FURTHER THAT Council not go ahead with the Lighthouse walkway options and cost estimate.

Brian’s motion passed and will require to be ratified at next Monday’s regular Council meeting.



Previous Cobourg News Blog reports

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Cobourg resident
27 August 2021 11:15 pm

Before a walk way to the lighthouse, how about cleaning up that disgraceful eye sore of a pier! Trim the bloody weeds, a bit of asphalt to fill the holes, perhaps a few flower planters, some benches to rest awhile and enjoy the view. Don’t think these small improvements would cost millions of $$$ and it sure would be an improvement to the current look of our “diamond in the rough” sad pier. For a town that is so concerned about tourism surely we could do better. This would be a simple, cheap, temporary fix until the “consultants” come up with a costly plan. In the meantime, residents and tourists alike could be enjoying the simple pleasures in life!!

Reply to  Cobourg resident
28 August 2021 5:47 am


Last edited 1 year ago by Ahewson
Observant Town resident
Reply to  Cobourg resident
30 August 2021 6:21 am

I have noticed everywhere about Town that basic garden maintenance has been totally ignored this year – numerous and large weeds everywhere including around all the trees. And then the sides and cracks in the sidewalks are overrun with weeds. I presume due to COVID students have not been hired to do these jobs but the overall look is appalling and certainly doesn’t convey the impression of a “Feel Good” town. Due to the neglect this year, things will be even worse next year as all those weed seeds spawned this year germinate.

27 August 2021 8:36 am

This is like having a bicycle with a broken chain and two flat tires and wanting to dress it up with streamers and flags.

Leona Woods
Reply to  Jeffy
27 August 2021 8:48 am

Love this image – may I use it in another context? Brings to mind how some of us are feeling through the heat wave, “like a bicycle with a broken chain and two flat tires.”

Reply to  Leona Woods
27 August 2021 3:45 pm

Use away. Why is council even thinking about this when the pier so badly needs repairs?

Leona Woods
27 August 2021 8:34 am

At Port Dover you can walk along the pier to the lighthouse and they have historic plaques along the walk noting shipwrecks, heroic feats etc. Perhaps the walkway in Cobourg could be a tourist attraction, photo opportunities etc, with a tourist kiosk (employee inside) at the entrance to the pier providing pamphlets of other historic sites around Cobourg, advertising restaurants and specialty stores etc. If need be, we could charge an “entrance” fee.

Ken Strauss
Reply to  Leona Woods
27 August 2021 10:49 am

Leona, that’s a nice idea but have you considered the needed entrance fee to justify a $4.07M expenditure? The estimated cost is approximately $400 for every family in Cobourg. And even that amount doesn’t include anything for staffing the tourist kiosk and future maintenance.

Last edited 1 year ago by Ken Strauss
Leona Woods
Reply to  Ken Strauss
27 August 2021 5:20 pm

Good points Ken – had not considered that.

Reply to  Leona Woods
27 August 2021 11:30 am

The Town could put a turnstile at the entrance to the “lighthouse walk” and charged a fee to recover the $4M cost (excluding interest) over the next 10 years.
Would you be willing to pay?
How much?
If 4,000 people (1/5) of Cobourg’s population were willing to pay, the fee would be $100 each.
If 8,000, the fee would be $50 each
I doubt there would be any (perhaps a few) customers.

Reply to  Bryan
27 August 2021 11:56 am

I wonder what grants are available for this type of project…I don’t believe the answer is “none”. This takes a degree of creativity and enthusiasm that many appear to lack… somehow we secured 1.35 million in Provincial funding for Rotary Park plus 250k from the Rotary. Perhaps sell licensing rights … The Astra Zeneca Boardwalk and Lighthouse? The Metamucil Moonlight Stroll?

Last edited 1 year ago by Rob
Reply to  Rob
27 August 2021 12:21 pm

I especially like the Metamucil Midnight Stroll…always good to laugh!!

Reply to  Rob
27 August 2021 7:09 pm

“Free” provincial and other funding or not, it’s just not worth the cost, considering the very limited use it would get.

Reply to  Bryan
27 August 2021 12:11 pm

Most of the east breakwater beyond the east pier, especially the southern section, has to be rebuilt anyway in order to protect the harbour. Finding a creative way to replace what is there now, a fair weather walkway or seasonal access path, as part of essential works seems to be the fundamental question. If the question posed was ‘how to create a year round walkway?’, for sure, that could be very expensive.
And, on another poster’s point about potential graffitti on the lighthouse, consider that those wave rush walls being proposed to edge the new pier works are potentially (depending on design) a big blank canvas!

Bill Thompson
Reply to  MiriamM
27 August 2021 3:23 pm

Do you recall how much it cost to repaint the lighthouse a few years ago ?

Reply to  Bill Thompson
27 August 2021 3:36 pm

“The present pyramidal, concrete lighthouse on the east pier at Cobourg was built in 1924. In 2013, Unlimited Painting of Brighton was hired to paint the lighthouse at a cost of roughly $56,500. Over a three-week period, loose and flaking paint was removed and a white elastomeric Carboline coating that can expand and contract with temperature changes was applied to the tower. Once the contractors were finished, town staff painted red maple leafs and the town’s name on the white tower, a move that upset some historians.”

An excerpt from https://www.lighthousefriends.com/light.asp?ID=1091

Reply to  Bill Thompson
27 August 2021 3:40 pm

Thanks for raising the question. I learned more about the lighthouse! 2024 will be the 100th year anniversary of the present lighthouse which was built in 1924 according to the article by lighthouse friends in the link in my previous post.

Bill Thompson
Reply to  MiriamM
27 August 2021 4:56 pm

Thank you for the interesting response and history ! 👍

Reply to  Bill Thompson
28 August 2021 11:19 pm


Here is another source of information, details on the history and significance of the east pier and lighthouse. Report by Branch Architecture dated November 12, 2020. A great read.

An interesting bit of information is noted on page 69 of the report.
“The lighthouse was built on an existing concrete breakwater, as was described in historic documents and is evident from examining the base of the tower.” (there are photos) If I understand correctly, the lighthouse relies on its connection with the concrete breakwater. So, if the proposed works put new armour stone chunks piled in place of the existing concrete breakwater cap (which currently includes a walkway but will all be removed), will this in any way destabilize the lighthouse by removing integral support?

The options to include a new walkway appear to be based upon the proposal to use armour stone on that section of breakwater, and this then suggests that a walkway has to be a separate structure. Hmmm … let’s back up a bit here. Is the starting point, the right place? Maybe that section of breakwater design should be revisited. I am not an expert in these things but as a taxpayer I have read that the price tag for harbour repairs is already at about $12 million. The lighthouse is an iconic symbol of our harbour and Cobourg, and has been assessed to be in very good shape (it is almost 100 years old!) for a structure out there in the lake. It would be a shame to compromise it.

Reply to  MiriamM
27 August 2021 3:36 pm

There are plenty of blank canvases in our community that remain untouched…I’m sure the new lifeguard houses would make a great place for an anti-establishment message or two…the potential for graffiti isn’t a reason to not do something. Alternatively a new pier could be a great place to introduce an intentional, purposefully designed graffiti art wall installment….some of those artists are incredibly talented – could start as a blank slate each spring..

Reply to  Bryan
27 August 2021 12:33 pm

$100 assumes that 1/5 of Cobourg residents visit EVERY YEAR. It would be $1000 if they visit only once.

James Mitchell
27 August 2021 8:31 am

Smart decision on the councils part to abandon the walkway. Cobourg has so many other pressing issue that need to be addressed and that will make a meaningful difference to the community. The walkway was not one of them.

Reply to  James Mitchell
29 August 2021 3:31 pm

The harbour and the lighthouse are what made Cobourg the town it is. It’s time the cheap taxpayers pony and pay for the repairs. Otherwise the lighthouse will end up in the harbour…

Reply to  Conor
29 August 2021 3:57 pm

Most harbours are making it safer for the people who rely on the lighthouses on the lake. Here’s a link to what they just did this week at Bronte Harbour – “Bye bye lighthouse”. The new harbour entrance system is far safer and efficient than any lighthouse ever was. Link -https://www.facebook.com/bronteharbouryc/

Last edited 1 year ago by jimq26
27 August 2021 8:23 am

I think it would be wonderful to be able to walk out to the lighthouse. Maybe the town could apply for a grant. Maybe we could fundraise for it. Are there other options??

Reply to  Phunkeemum
27 August 2021 9:18 am

Wait… If you repair the walkway to the lighthouse it might attract more tourists ( or for some of you “out of towners ). You can’t have that can you?

Reply to  Conor
27 August 2021 4:01 pm

Good point Conor.

Ken Strauss
Reply to  Conor
27 August 2021 7:14 pm

Yes, Conor, another downside.

Reply to  Phunkeemum
27 August 2021 11:27 am

You have given two highly feasible options for this project not to be abandoned. If other areas in Ontario and other Provinces can restore such symbols of safety and strength, there are ways for it to be accomplished. My family will pledge funds.

Reply to  marya
27 August 2021 12:26 pm

Generous! How much are you willing to pledge beyond every Cobourg family’s $400 share?

Reply to  Dubious
28 August 2021 7:04 am

That is a dubious question regarding an essential project; whatever is needed is the answer.

Reply to  marya
28 August 2021 8:54 am

Needed, marya? Cobourg residents need nothing in relation to the lighthouse. A breakwater is nice for the few boaters who use our marina. A walk to the lighthouse would be nice. Some even think that it would be nice to attract more tourists to the detriment of our small town. None of these are NEEDS. We cannot afford $400 from every family in town for something that is NICE. Is your family pledging the required $4.07M for an unneeded but NICE project?

Reply to  Dubious
29 August 2021 6:45 am

The walkway to the Lighthouse, the Breakwater and the Pier are all part of the same system that requires needed restoration.

Bill Thompson
Reply to  Phunkeemum
27 August 2021 3:26 pm

Have you ever tried to walk out there in winter time?

Reply to  Bill Thompson
29 August 2021 1:32 pm

But the walkway is there all of the time.

27 August 2021 8:13 am

Thank God The kids — would have covered it wit Graffiti
if it was easy to get to .
Just follow those guys on roller blade s dressed in black around town some night and see what they do ,

Reply to  Sandpiper
27 August 2021 8:55 am

Sandpiper, speak to the question and leave your fears of boys in black out of it. Do you have a real issue with a walkway to the lighthouse?

Reply to  Abby
27 August 2021 11:54 am

Just the fact that these roller Boys are painting graffiti on any they can
aaaand if they can skate to it easily we will have to look at it

Wally Keeler
26 August 2021 4:36 pm

Fair enough. The price of romance is too high these days. At least the baby boomers got to enjoy the sublime isolation of sitting on the south side of the lighthouse. especially at night with the stars crisp, clear and sharp.

My lady will meet me on the pier
her body plunged in shadow.
She’ll give me kisses quick and dear
there below the midnight fresco.

She will greet me with knifing eyes
that cut deep through my emotions
and my hands will gather replies
from her body and its motions.

My lady will meet me on the pier
where waves arrive then are gone.
My lady will make love to me here
before stars surrender to dawn.

Cobourg, made it illegal for lovers to take a midnight stroll along the beach. Cobourg made it illegal for students of the cosmos to lay on the beach to enjoy the annual Perseid Meteor Shower. What the old inflict on the young.