Why not Sell the Trailer Park

At the next regular Council meeting on 22 November, Council will receive a letter from Ron Smith who is obviously a new resident in Cobourg.  His residence is at the new Legion Condo building on Orr street and he makes a proposal that shows he is not aware of the previous heated controversy on the subject.  His 7 page letter also includes concerns that Council might spend a large amount of taxpayer money on a development at Brookside, a suggestion to use the Memorial Arena as an Arts and Culture centre and some unhappiness at the thought that the Town must pay for maintenance of the New Amherst Clock.  But his final proposal is the zinger – he wants the Trailer Park sold or leased to provide for a Boutique Hotel and waterfront restaurant.  Any lost profit would be recovered by taxes on the property.

Trailer Park - June 2008
Trailer Park – June 2008

Ron’s concern was sparked by the budget request for $750K in the 2023 budget for campground improvements as included in the 2022 Capital budget documents. Ron gives details on how the property could be sold and how the proceeds might be managed by a citizen board for the future benefit of the Waterfront only.

When this subject was first raised during the development of the Waterfront master plan, I recall a survey and a Town Public meeting that indicated that the Town seemed to be evenly divided about keeping or losing the Trailer Park. Despite my belief that this result was biased by the heavy involvement of trailer Park users and their friends, the Consultant chose to recommend against selling and instead recommended improvements. Director Dean Hustwick and the “Steering Committee” (with Council spokesman Brian Darling) agreed with them. Despite considerable noise from citizens (see links below – especially report on Marathon Council meeting), Council decided to go with the report. And until now, this issue has been dormant waiting for a new taxpayer to wonder why. Ron makes the case eloquently so I am quoting it here [slightly edited]:

Ron Smith on the Trailer Park

I was shocked to read that the sum of $750,000 had been recommended for upgrades to the trailer park / campground located at the south­east terminus of Division Street for the consideration of Council, for the 2023 budget.

I feel that this extremely important and strategically located town owned property could offer the citizens of Cobourg a higher valued financial and citizen usage return by the opening of a waterfront boutique hotel and restaurant. The financial upside would come from either a long-term lease (50-75-100 year) arrangement or through the sale of the property to a private boutique hotelier.

I would suggest that all monies realized through the lease or sale process should be placed in a specifically created Cobourg Waterfront Community Endowment Fund via a very specifically worded by-law, which would be managed and strictly controlled by an appointed and varied board comprised of Cobourg only, citizens-at-Iarge in perpetuity. [Details of management of Fund omitted.]

My sense is that there would be a spirited amount of commercial interest in the lease and/or purchase of the current trailer park property despite the fact that any lease / sale agreement would explicitly restrict development on the property, to the construction of a boutique hotel and accompanying waterfront restaurant only.

I envision that the vast majority of members of the Cobourg Downtown Business Improvement Area (DBIA) and Northumberland Central Chamber of Commerce would welcome what I would describe as being an extremely significant shopper / pedestrian driven anchor destination for citizens and visitors alike. It would be another key feature for people to be drawn to the downtown. Our overnight visitors would continue to experience the entire waterfront and provide extra year-round foot traffic throughout the entire downtown business core.

I would estimate that a potential boutique hotel and waterfront restaurant would create in the neighbourhood of fifty (50) to seventy-five (75) fulltime equivalent opportunities for citizen employment, on a year-round basis. I recognize that the current trailer park does provide a positive financial return to the town during the trailer park’s five-month season, but I feel confident in suggesting that the annual property tax assessment received from the aforementioned commercial development of the property would recover any of the lost trailer park rental income for the town.

I will respectfully close by suggesting that the commercial development of the current trailer park with a boutique hotel and waterfront restaurant would provide a multitude of benefits for the citizens of Cobourg as opposed to providing a trailer park for a limited number of visitors, on a five-month basis, that creates minimal employment and provides limited opportunities for Cobourg citizens.

In Mayor Henderson’s 22nd of October 2021 column in the Northumberland News he described the many housing developments that are currently underway throughout the west side of town and asked us to stay tuned for a follow-up article on the growth and development within the central core of Cobourg. I believe that my proposed waterfront boutique hotel and restaurant proposal would complement the positive background work performed by the town’s Planning and Development Employees and from the current and previous elected officials.

When the study was released, the issue of what to do with the Trailer Park was sidelined by concerns about expansion of boat slips into the West Harbour and buying a Travel Lift. These concerns seem to have finally been put to bed. But now, given the heavy investment planned for the Waterfront and how it makes the Waterfront more attractive to visitors and given the expected Capital cost in Campground “improvements”, perhaps it’s time to revisit the idea.  Ron and at least some other taxpayers in Town would no doubt agree.

Resources

Earlier Posts on Cobourg News Blog

Downloads – hosted by Cobourg News Blog

Earlier Reports on Other Sites

Print Article: 

 

102 Comments
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
M MacDermaid
28 November 2021 3:27 pm

More shopping! How many of the existing downtown stores are open and profiting? Keep the downtown looking alive. Not saying it is a bad idea just take a good look at what is needed!

MiriamM
26 November 2021 6:29 pm

The restaurant theme comes up often. Is it change in fashion, want for choice or under-serviced amenity at the core of this idea for our waterfront? A relative of mine who spent some years in the restaurant business would run each of his food businesses for about three years or so, then close up or sell and open up a new venture somewhere else. Not everyone in the restaurant business operates this way and some dining establishments are just that, long time destinations with tradition and popularity. However, this relative’s business plan was to ride the newest food trends and cater to exclusive clientele. Once his place become too popular, he moved on. So, what is behind the ask for more waterfront restaurants in Cobourg when a creative take-out plan from existing downtown restaurants could be just as exciting as a new restaurant? And do diners really spend a lot of time looking at the scenery? For me, the dining experience is more about ambiance at the table, good company and good food (with or without wine). Attractive location and decor, optional. If the root of the ask is something new to experience, maybe a building is not the best idea. Maybe the ‘restaurant’ should be a pop-up, under a park gazebo style roof or tent and with no permanent walls and with a portable kitchen, with a different chef every few weeks. And a dance floor with live music. And, love the idea of winter time fire pits for BBQ.

Ken Strauss
Reply to  MiriamM
26 November 2021 8:19 pm

So, what is behind the ask for more waterfront restaurants in Cobourg when a creative take-out plan from existing downtown restaurants could be just as exciting as a new restaurant? And do diners really spend a lot of time looking at the scenery? For me, the dining experience is more about ambiance at the table, good company and good food (with or without wine). 

I agree regarding the important aspects of dining out. Sadly, in my opinion, existing downtown restaurants are somewhat lacking in both ambiance and interesting food.

Ted Williams
24 November 2021 2:14 pm

My apologies, In an earlier comment today, I stated that the staff were asking for $800K in the budget (that is for 2023 of course). I forgot the campground has a reserve fund of, I believe, approx $153K. Sorry!
I knew that, but simply forgot. Maybe a good example for the need of an annual report where all finances are put in one report

Scottie
24 November 2021 10:51 am

Wow — 91 comments and counting!!! That must be some kind of record. Maybe “saving” the “Trailer Park” is as simple as changing the name — reference the “RV Parks” in Florida — maybe call it something like “Euphoria Waterfront Estates” —- could be it’s all in the name and with a name like that, the sky’s the limit on what the fees could be! ….

Ted Williams
24 November 2021 10:30 am

A few things to add:
The Campground, over the past 5 years, has given to the Town (taxpayers) approx. $ 900K. Now staff are asking for $800K of that money back, to do upgrades, The Campground is fully user pay, so the operational money is not the issue. This looks a sloppy way to manage, but Staff are working on a asset management plan – so we could all understand the finances.
The campground is 4 acres – so the removal of 2 campsites (of the 71 sites) could accommodate a 4000 sq ft restaurant (the largest in Cobourg)
Lastly, campers come and go all season and they really enjoy themselves. They also pay over $4700 for a front row site. I live in the suburbs and we often speak about “community”. – here is one example of a real community.

Wally Keeler
Reply to  Ted Williams
24 November 2021 6:23 pm

The campground is 4 acres – so the removal of 2 campsites (of the 71 sites) could accommodate a 4000 sq ft restaurant (the largest in Cobourg). They also pay over $4700 for a front row site. 

It is a “real Community”. A good proportion of campers are Cobourg residents. Over the years I have from time to time sat in front of the campfire there with friends. It is splendid location air conditioned by a great lake.

Mark
Reply to  Wally Keeler
25 November 2021 9:50 am

Campfires , all that does is stink up the waterfront!

Informed
Reply to  Mark
26 November 2021 4:59 pm

Love the smell of a campfire.

Sandpiper
Reply to  Ted Williams
26 November 2021 10:09 am

Why a Restaurant any way it will only take away business from the already to many starving restaurants on King st The town needs to compete in some other fashion and not against those business already here

Sandpiper
24 November 2021 8:42 am

With out disturbing something that actually works in this Town and makes $$$ why not go back to the Peter Delanty Original promise to only have a Boutique Hotel on the former Quigley Hard ware site by the Town hall
Its a more central location with water views , walking distance to everything and would certainly bring life back to down town . Or even better the Old West Highschool
foot ball field on the West Beach .
And don’t forget that Insurance Cos. have now pegged Cobourg with a New Geo Line as they call it all along the
water front and back a block where they will no longer provide Flood and Overland water insurance coverage
on homes and structures . May be they know something we don’t

Rob
22 November 2021 11:08 am

As much as I support a redesign/repurpose of the campground, I shutter to think what the repurposing might look like. I do believe there is a better use for this beautiful piece of property…even now during the winter months it sits barren and unused – could house a winter wonderland with fire pits, ice skating trails, lights/tiki torches and beavertails. With so many empty stores on King Street, I don’t think this is the time to repurpose anything…fill King Street with life first.

Also – the state of the Town’s beachfront canteen is shameful and frankly, an embarrassment…not sure how a significant asset can be so easily ignored. Lease it and license it.

Bryan
Reply to  Rob
22 November 2021 12:40 pm

Rob:

The 2022 capital budget proposes that the beach canteen be renovated to provide washroom/changeroom facilities. The plan calls for food trucks to provide eats & drinks.

Isn’t it the responsibility of the King St merchants and DBIA to “…fill King Street with life first…”

You wrote “…I support a redesign/repurpose of the campground…” OK. To where would you move the campground, as it is clearly an “in demand” facility? What development would you put in the VPC’s place at no cost the local taxpayers?

JimT
Reply to  Bryan
22 November 2021 10:54 pm

Where? Out to the country where campgrounds belong.
Who ever heard of a campground right downtown on public park land?

Last edited 12 days ago by JimT
Wally Keeler
Reply to  JimT
23 November 2021 8:33 am

I have heard of such. It is unique, distinctive, one-of-a-kind. What you promote is boring conformity — makes Cobourg a dime-a-dozen town.

Mrs. Anonymous
Reply to  JimT
23 November 2021 8:55 am

I have camped at one. We loved it. It was a short walk to the main drag for a restaurant dinner. Since no one had to drive, we could have a drink with our meal. It is a very different experience than camping at a traditional woodsy campground, but it turned out to be a great experience. I think that is one of the reasons why I am an advocate for keeping the campground.

steve Brown
Reply to  JimT
23 November 2021 2:29 pm

VPC is beside a great beach on the shore of a large lake. Fine place for a campground.

ben burd
Reply to  Rob
23 November 2021 1:19 pm

“lease it and license it” been there, done that, got the T-shirt! Didn,t work out so well.

Rob
Reply to  ben burd
23 November 2021 4:10 pm

When was that Ben?

ben
Reply to  Rob
24 November 2021 8:13 am

The practice of leasing the canteen has been tried at least three times before, the lessee usually never comes back the next year.

Last edited 11 days ago by Ben
Beach walker
22 November 2021 10:15 am

Here we go again. Be careful, if you mention getting rid of the trailer park you are labeled an “elitist”! There was a consultant hired a few short years ago who had the job of identifying the most valuable land assets in Cobourg. She determined that the trailer park was it and that the land was not being put to it’s best use. She stated that, “in her opinion”, a hotel/restaurant facility would do well there . I knew this consultant. She worked diligently on this study. She was not very popular at the end of it all, but she got paid the big bucks from the tax payers. I wonder where her report is now? The trailer park, oh excuse me; “campground”, needs to go.

MiriamM
Reply to  Beach walker
22 November 2021 12:42 pm

Highest and best use. A good measure. However, as a general observation, open space and parkland is too often viewed as ‘undeveloped’ and as having greater potential with a building on it. Rob (above, today at 11.08am) and some others posting here (e.g. great idea about small hotel type on adjacent Charles Street, and, more tent camping – think Waterfront Trail and bicycle tourism) have outlined a good approach. Essentially viewing this campground/trailer park area as flexible use space over the year but still fundamentally in the public domain and owned by the Town, I mean, all of us. And, to be enjoyed by people of all ages.

A bit of background. In about 1994 there was a proposal for mixed high density residential and hotel use on lands now only residential, mainly Harbourwalk 1 and 2. Along the north wall of the harbour was proposed a residential development with commercial and office space on the ground floor. Now, only residential except for the ends (e.g. dining). Also, a new resident expressed to me some time ago that they too thought a trailer park was out of place here until they realized it was a form of community providing beach and waterfront security. Eyes on the beach where families and children play. So a private business instead, like a spa or hotel? What next? Silence those children playing on the beach and playground? How about movies on the beach? And those summer time food trucks with their aromas and live music next door?

It may seem quirky to have a trailer and campground area downtown. Some here have noted it as a sort of placeholder. I think the real value of the space as a flexible use public asset has yet to be properly acknowledged or optimally programmed.

CiW
22 November 2021 7:45 am

There is a beautiful old one, two or three story building on Charles Street that could be converted into a boutique hotel, if one is really needed.

Rather than attempt to attract more tourists to the town, why not more industry. That is what the town really needs. The loss of major industries like General Foods and General Electric combined with the closing of GM in Oshawa took a lot of money out of the town.

Btw, the campground is far from an eyesore. It is a beautiful little piece of green space that I enjoy walking or cycling through. When there are campers, I often enjoy a chit-chat. When no campers, I just enjoy the space.

Hugh Murray
22 November 2021 7:14 am

We’ve lived in Cobourg 4+ years, so still relative newbies. The trailer park has always struck me as a terrible use of prime, centrally located waterfront space. It is generally an eyesore, with no redeeming aesthetic features. It feels exclusionary, where only the RV owners can use this well-perched piece of land (even if that’s not technically the case) while the “commoners” get only to stroll by. If one does NOT have an RV in the park, the only reason to keep it is nostalgia, i.e that it’s always been there. Maybe I am missing something.
Why not a mix of some stores, restaurants, coffee shops, set towards the back, with space for all to enjoy in front. With proper engineering, the foundation and construction of new buildings can prevent ANY potential flooding issues, and while we are at it why not build energy-efficient buildings, perhaps with geo-thermal heating/cooling.
Whether green space, a hotel or a restaurant, I think there are far better uses for this space, which would result in far more people being able to enjoy it, on a year round basis.

Mark
22 November 2021 6:33 am

Sell or lease the land , no
close the trailer yes , turn it in more green space

look at downtown Toronto , all the building between the Gardener and the lake imagine How great it would be if it was green space ,
they looking at covering the train tracks at billions of dollars for green space

In 50 years will people be wishing they had more green space or happy there is an over price hotel for the 1%ers ?

by the way I always thought they should have built the library there over looking the lake

beach lover
21 November 2021 9:24 pm

If Cobourg ever hopes to have a thriving historic centre, reduce the number of empty storefronts and attract more than just day trippers, there needs to be major improvement in its hotel inventory. With the closing of the Woodlawn Inn there’s literally no year-round place to stay (excluding the King George Inn which is really a themed novelty hotel) within walking distance to the lake. A boutique hotel and waterfront restaurant is long overdue. Selling the trailer park would be a good step towards creating an attractive lakeside destination for all to enjoy.

Bryan
Reply to  beach lover
21 November 2021 9:56 pm

Beach Lover:
You wrote “…no year-round place to stay (excluding the King George Inn which is really a themed novelty hotel) within walking distance to the lake….”. So the Breakers closes for the winter? What about the B&Bs in the beach area?
You further wrote “..A boutique hotel and waterfront restaurant is long overdue…”. We have a waterfront restaurant….Cucina Urban. If a boutique hotel is in such demand and a good business opportunity, why hasn’t one been developed already? Maybe the developers don’t see the opportunity the same way.

beach lover
Reply to  Bryan
24 November 2021 9:29 am

The Breakers is a motel with kitchenettes not a boutique hotel. Cobourg could use some luxury accommodation options similar to the Drake Devonshire, Wander the Resort or June Motel in PEC as well as more B&Bs.

sam
Reply to  beach lover
22 November 2021 4:31 pm

Obviously beach lover has not been, or stayed, at The King George Inn. It is not a novelty hotel. It has 22 rooms of which only 5 a related to the old Cobourg Jail. The remainder are decorated and furnished in Victorian or Edwardian ambiance and is very much a boutique hotel.
The King George Inn attracts a lot of visitors who patronise the downtown and use the Beach. please go on Booking.com and read the comments and view the rooms so you will be fully informed. It is very much the Woodlawn or the Waddell in Port Hope. Unfortunately the Woodlawn could not make it in the current environment.

As for waterfront restaurants I suppose the writer has not visited Cucina on Division street. How much more waterfront location can you be?

I rest my case.

beach lover
Reply to  sam
24 November 2021 9:08 am

I’ve actually stayed at the King George Inn (it’s classified as a specialty lodging) and while it has potential and is well located it needs a major refresh in many ways. I’ve also dined at Cucina on Division and its popularity proves there’s demand for waterfront dining. It would be an improvement to have a large outdoor patio overlooking the lake rather than face a parking lot/ Division St.

Informed
21 November 2021 7:14 pm

I still wish we had the ball park at Victoria park. I still think it was a mistake removing it. Best memories ever as a kid. I hope the trailer park stays if it makes financial sense at the end of the day.

Kathleen
21 November 2021 3:21 pm

Perhaps one of the readers of this blog can verify the accuracy of a post I read a few years ago from the Facebook Group called, Save Victoria Park Campgrounds in Cobourg.
One of the comments read…”Sam Clark, member of Parliament, married to my Great Grandmother, donated it (“it” being the Trailer Park) to the Town (Cobourg) to be an extension of the Park and not a trailer Park…it could be challenged if its use is not what he had intended. It was to be for the use of all and an extension of the Park”.
According to another post, Sam let the soldiers pitch tents on his land during the WW1 (1914-1918).
I Googled Sam Clark and according to Wikipedia he was a Liberal businessman and Cobourg’s Mayor from 1887-1890. He died in 1928.  
Every story, whether fictional or true, there are the ‘Good Guys’ (obviously, Sam Clark in this story) and the ‘Bad Guys’ (whoever disregarded Sam’s Will and Testament).
Fact or Fiction? Anybody know?  

Last edited 13 days ago by Kathleen
Kathleen
Reply to  John Draper
21 November 2021 6:31 pm

Hum, Did Stephen Peacock actually see the Will? Cause it certainly does not appear, to me anyway, that the land is being used as its intended donation. If Sam Clark let the soldiers use his land to pitch tents during the war, it seems more plausible that he would say, “Let it be an extension of the park for all to use” after the War then, “Let the Town do whatever they feel like”.

Kathleen
Reply to  John Draper
21 November 2021 7:59 pm

Thanks for the additional info John. I find it a truly interesting, historical story that ought to be told. I’d love to know how and when it was decided that it should become what it is. (Personally, I’ve always referred to it as, The Eyesore by the Lake). I wonder if Sam Clark would agree? 😉

marya
Reply to  Kathleen
22 November 2021 6:43 am

The version that I was told (by an adjacent land owner) was that Sam Clark did stipulate that the donated land be used as a campground…

Bob Robertson
21 November 2021 1:24 pm

It always seems that folks that are new to town always seem to know what direction the town should be taking on the waterfront amenities. The trailer park operates at a profit, our taxes do not subsidize it. Many of the folks that use it other the years might even retire here when their time comes (not in the trailer park). Sure, it could be sold to a developer, or leased to one or more, but the icy wind off the lake, would probably discourage many folks from heading down there even if someone with deep pockets could build a fancy facility there.
My five cents worth, no pennies allowed anymore!
Bob Robertson from Toronto many years ago.

JimT
Reply to  Bob Robertson
22 November 2021 11:07 pm

If that were true, they would never have been able to sell all those condos a bit further west.

Merle Gingrich
21 November 2021 12:39 pm

Is this the same Ron Smith that was once the mayor of Port Hope?

Wally Keeler
21 November 2021 12:29 pm

Lot of talk of putting in a boutique hotel? Competition to Breaker’s Motel? Will it be a two story structure like a strip mall motel? Or will it be 3 or 4 stories high and dominate the northern parcel of land? Will the building stretch the length of the lot? Will the boutique hotel have underground parking? Or will a parking lot occupy the remaining parts of the parcel of land to serve the hotel? It is a business and not park land, so no expense for Parks and Rec to care for the former trailer park. So how much asphalt do you want covering the parcel of land to serve the hotel?. After all, asphalt earns money from parking whereas grass earns nothing. Instead of a trailer park full of shiny RVs, we will have an asphalt parking lot full of shiny cars, vans, suvs. etc. Will that become a barren asphalt desert in the winter? That will never again be part of Cobourg’s park system, and for what? $$$$$$.

So we put up the land for sale: what do we do with that one-time source of revenue?

The trailer park is an eyesore? The real eyesore on our waterfront is the open parking lot of yachts at the bottom of Hibernia. Or use the trailer park in the off season to store those boats and charge a fee for their parking. Then we can rehabilitate the land south of Hibernia for the enjoyment of all.

Leweez
Reply to  Wally Keeler
21 November 2021 1:28 pm

Good idea about moving boat storage and rehabbing the land south of Hibernia.
cost would be minimal as I well I’m guessing

Silverhairedsenior
Reply to  Wally Keeler
21 November 2021 8:04 pm

Every time I read comments similar to these, I think of Joni Mitchell’s song.

Gerald Childs
Reply to  Wally Keeler
22 November 2021 10:29 am

Would moving the boat storage to the campground/trailer park not necessitate a rather large fence surrounding the boats. I am not sure that is the image you wish to project so near to the beach.

Frenchy
Reply to  Gerald Childs
22 November 2021 8:18 pm

You mean like this?
comment image

Wally Keeler
Reply to  Gerald Childs
22 November 2021 9:54 pm

Damn good point. Move them and store them away from the waterfront altogether

RV Owner
21 November 2021 11:12 am

I am a resident of Northumberland County and an RV owner. I strongly support the repurposing (closing) the trailer park and converting the space into a commercial property that everyone can use and not to benefit just a few. The RV park certainly does not need to be in the centre of town taking up valuable space and then closed for 6-7 months. Most RV parks I have been to are not located on prime real estate in the core of a city/town. Most RV parks are located on inexpensive land outside of the core of the city because they are only used seasonally. Move the RV park to a larger and up to date (water/sewer/electrical serviced) space on the east or west end of Cobourg and create a viable space for commercial space which would be open for 12 months of the year.

Lesley Myers
21 November 2021 11:12 am

….fifty (50) to seventy-five (75) fulltime equivalent opportunities for citizen employment

That is an incredible overstatement. Ask the Hotel Carlyle Restaurant how many full-time employees and I’m sure the number is closer to 4 but certainly under 10. The rest are seasonal and part-time positions and staffing probably doesn’t go over 25 people including part-time, maintenance and maid services at peak.

Boutique hotel? How many rooms? How many potential users? We have restaurants sitting empty many nights in Cobourg. The trailer park provides gate to every summer event the town puts on: Ribfest, Sandcastle, Scottish Festival etc. etc.

It sounds to me like NIMBY-ism rather than financial concerns.

Those are real dollars being spent all season long by families who come back year after year and not simply weekenders from TO.

Keep the Trailer Park!
Lesley

Kathleen
Reply to  Lesley Myers
23 November 2021 9:42 am

“…long by families who come back year after year and not simply weekenders from TO.

Keep the Trailer Park!”

This begs the question, if the visual identity were to change and new people were able to bring their trailers, would all the people currently in favour of the trailer park still love it so much?”

Informed
21 November 2021 10:34 am

Im amazed how one person can stir up this issue again. Will we have a facebook poll next to support his aguments and then bring it to council to support this? Im sure there are arguements to be made either way with the trailer park. Polls and petitions will be next im sure.

Liz
21 November 2021 9:37 am

The trailer park should not be sold. It’s a special bit of Cobourg that makes us unique. We do not need a hotel on the waterfront. It’s all part of Victoria park and well worth keeping. And, it has realized a profit in most years. It pays for itself and helps to support the beach.

Tucker
Reply to  Liz
21 November 2021 10:09 am

I agree. It’s just like a “new resident” to Cobourg, trying to change things to suit themselves. If they just moved here, they have paid no taxes to support our community yet, so should have no say right now in how it’s run, get a little of this “feel good town” under your feet first. Obviously, in coming to Cobourg, you didn’t like where you lived and approved of what we offered, so don’t try to change it.

Conor
Reply to  Liz
21 November 2021 3:49 pm

Almost every year local citizens want to trash the trailer park. You don’t realize what a gem you have there. Nice open spaces and horrors people are enjoying themselves. Ok.. Lets tear the place apart trees and all. Perhaps you could put in a McDonalds drive thru and a so called boutique hotel. You could use the profit from the sale to bulldoze the lighthouse and the pier because it’s obvious the locals don’t appreciate what they have there. While you are at it why not concrete the beach to keep those. nasty “out of towners ” away. Make the town so miserable that nobody will want to visit. Just some advise from a former Cobourg resident.

Doug
21 November 2021 8:56 am

Why on Earth would the town be planning to spend $750,000 on the trailer park? For what purpose? Are they planning a gold plated entrance driveway?

Informed
Reply to  Doug
21 November 2021 11:04 am

Because of revenues of $331 k for 2021?Might be a good reason.

Ken Strauss
Reply to  Informed
21 November 2021 12:23 pm

Informed, why do you consider “Because of revenues of $331 k for 2021” relevant to the discussion? A rational decision requires knowing: What is the expected increase, if any, in revenue from spending $750K? Are there ongoing maintenance costs associated with spending the $750K? What would be the impact on revenue of not spending $750K?

Informed
Reply to  Ken Strauss
21 November 2021 7:02 pm

Good points. My response was simply a reply to a question that was asked.Of course these and many other questions should be asked. One way or another a decsion should be based on benefits versus costing. I would rather a decision be made on facts and not simply another poll or petition.

Bryan
Reply to  Informed
21 November 2021 1:25 pm

Informed:
$331K revenue!
As Ken S notes, your focus is on the wrong metric. Look at the surplus/ loss (net profit). The projected surplus is $82K. which before reserve is $132K.
Further, included in the expenses is $25K to “..to develop software to fully automate online bookings…..” Why is the Town reinventing the wheel?
The proposed “reservation fee” is $15K, so clearly the VPC has “working” reservation software. This is not new technology. The Town can likely buy suitable software for less, instead of “developing” the software at greater risk and cost.

Last edited 13 days ago by Bryan
Ken Strauss
Reply to  Bryan
21 November 2021 1:42 pm

Further, included in the expenses is $25K to “..to develop software to fully automate online bookings…..”

There appears to be no mention of the cost/benefit of “fully automating” online bookings. Will we eliminate a staff position? Will we achieve greater trailer park occupancy? What are the operational costs of the new software? 

Bryan
Reply to  Doug
21 November 2021 1:05 pm

Doug:
As with many of the Town’s infrastructure assets, the VPC electrical, water and sewer systems are in dire need of major repairs. The $125-200K VPC annual surplus has not been spent on upkeep or allocated to a VPC reserve. Instead, the Town used the VPC surplus to reduce property taxes. Some may approve of this but it’s a “pay now, pay later” situation.
Further, during the Waterfront Plan stakeholder’s meetings, the “campers” told the consultants that the VPC services needed repair and campers would pay more for well maintained up-to-date facilities.
The VPC is a Town business unit engaged in providing a service to Cobourgers and visitors. Just as the marina, Northam, Waterworks and “waste disposal” (sewers) are self sustaining business operations, so is the VPC.

Concerned Taxpayer
Reply to  Doug
26 November 2021 12:16 pm

The town should first clean up around the canteen at the beach. The fencing around the former basketball court is unsightly, all bent out of shape, and is a horrible first impression upon arrival. The washrooms need to be updated and cleaned up. This would benefit more people. I love the trailer park, but at times I do wonder if the few campers do benefit over others? However, if it is a moneymaker for the Town, then why change that?

I agree, the focus needs to be away from the trailer park and onto Albert St. Build a boutique hotel there and open the trailer park year round with activities for all and continue the beautiful green space associated with Vic Park.

Bryan
Reply to  Concerned Taxpayer
26 November 2021 1:20 pm

Concerned Taxpayer:
There are funds allocated in the 2022 budget to convert the canteen into washrooms/changerooms. Food/drink will be provided by food trucks, likely located in the “fenced area west of the canteen.

As to the “boutique” hotel. Who do you propose build this; the Town? I believe that the vacant lands on Albert St. are “developer” owned. If a boutique hotel is in high demand and such a good business opportunity, why hasn’t it been built already?
The developer’s assessment is likely somewhat less “golden” than yours.

Linda
21 November 2021 8:54 am

I’m a little confused! So many of you are very against tourism in Cobourg. You don’t like “come from aways” coming into town with their garbage and parking and using the beach that our taxes pay for.

And yet, you would like to build a boutique hotel which will attract more tourists.

Can someone please explain.

Jeffy
Reply to  Linda
21 November 2021 10:15 am

Likely because visitors to a boutique hotel would be spending money in the town.

Linda
Reply to  Jeffy
21 November 2021 1:19 pm

Why would tourists in the Boutique Hotel spend and the campground visitors not spend?

Bryan
Reply to  Jeffy
21 November 2021 1:28 pm

Jeffy:
And the “campers” don’t?

Last edited 13 days ago by Bryan
Wally Keeler
Reply to  Jeffy
21 November 2021 4:12 pm

No, they would be spending it at the hotel restaurant/dining room and on a patio overlooking the lake. They could have an entertainment room, for karaoke, or Fri or Sat nite for a live gig. They could draw customers away from some downtown establishments.

Keith Oliver
Reply to  Linda
21 November 2021 11:11 am

Linda Let me try to explain. Time and time again the main point of concern in these postings has to do with “money”, and whether or not a project under control of the Town produces more or less revenue or “profit”. What is almost always missing is the understanding that the special role of government in a free-market economy is to level the playing field and ensure a basic quality-of-life for all its citizens … regardless of income or wealth. Examples are our police and justice for all; below ground municiple services for all; equal education for all. What so many fail to understand is that a government is not a business. Of course cost is a factor, but in a business you expect revenues to exceed cost. In government you expect cost to maintain or enhance quality-of-life … for all!!. Access to the waterfront by bathers or boaters is a quality-of-life issue. If all you can afford is a small row boat instead of a large sail boat, you should have access to a launch slip at a proportionatly lessor cost or for free. If all you can afford is a modest camping trailer or a tent you should have access to the trailer park at less cost than that charged for an apartment on wheels. Ron Smith’s letter to this Monday’s Town Council is all about money, not fairness of access and this I find very disturbing. It does nothing but open up old wounds. There is a history of open access to the waterfront which goes back to before all the fancy boardwalks and other embellishments. On hot summer nights, people from near and far would come in their vehicles for an hour or two to enjoy a cool breeze, a beer and a chat with others… Read more »

Bryan
Reply to  Keith Oliver
21 November 2021 1:38 pm

Keith:
If I understand your thesis correctly, a low income person should be able to buy steak or lobster at a significantly lower price because they have limited means. Perhaps we should all be living in Fitzhugh Shores mansions purchased for a song because of our limited economic resources.
Utopia indeed!

Keith Oliver
Reply to  Bryan
21 November 2021 10:35 pm

Bryan

I believe you have missunderstood my contention about the role of government in a free-enterprize economy vrs that of business.

As to your question … whether or not that would include the purchase of steak or lobster by the poor at a reduced price? … you failed to include a bottle of fine wine which we all know is essential to making the subsequent meal a success!.

Dubious
Reply to  Keith Oliver
22 November 2021 9:15 am

Of course a reduced price for steak and lobster since they are a human right. The bottle of fine wine is a grudging benefit for the rich.

Bryan
Reply to  Linda
21 November 2021 3:24 pm

Linda:
The different types of tourists have different behaviors: the cultural/visitor types actually spend money in Cobourg and contribute to the general well being of the Town. Beachers, on the other hand, spend little and consume resources/services.

Conor
Reply to  Bryan
22 November 2021 3:42 pm

Do you have the facts to back up that claim?

Bryan
Reply to  Conor
22 November 2021 5:52 pm

Conor:
It’s simple. Talk to the King St merchants. They will tell you who spends and who doesn’t.

Barb
21 November 2021 8:36 am

Yes, sell the Trailer Park, please.

Lemon cake
21 November 2021 8:32 am

I think it’s a great idea to redevelop that land. I’ve always wondered why it’s ever been acceptable to have a trailer park in the heart of downtown Cobourg. Honestly – where else does that ever happen? Plus the washrooms stink! I do think the town could use a fresh and more up to date hotel that doesn’t just cater to budget travellers but to people who would actually spend money on downtown shops and restaurants all year round – and to the betterment of all of us who live here.

JimT
Reply to  Lemon cake
21 November 2021 8:52 am

I remember when the “Trailer Park” was a genuine campground with tents. No vehicular accommodation at all. Just tents. They should have kept it that way, obviously.

Look at it now! All that valuable beachfront acreage restricted to a few RV owners when it should be public grounds available to all.

A “fresh and more up-to-date” hotel there and elsewhere downtown could be all it takes to launch our hospitality industry and make us a quality destination for people wanting to get away from the big city for a quiet rest.

Greta
Reply to  Lemon cake
23 November 2021 1:35 pm

“I do think the town could use a fresh and more up to date hotel that doesn’t just cater to budget travellers but to people who would actually spend money . . . ” Elitist much? Sheesh. That’s what the area needs – a whole lot more rich people from the city to make the average Joe/Jane from Cobourg feel ‘less than’. Budget travelers are awesome. Hail to those who know how to live simply so others can simply live.

Seth
21 November 2021 8:13 am

I think this proposal is a great way to start / continue the conversation about the trailer park. If the town decides to develop this land with a third party, I hope that they lease the land only and maintain ownership.

Dunkirk
21 November 2021 8:12 am

The waterfront has long been the bright light that the public and elected officials need as a distraction to the real pressing issues of the day: Budget, Traffic, Job loss; CCC, vacant arean; escalating Town salaries….
Down in Prince Edward County, the town of Wellington said ‘yes’ after extensive rounds of consultation to a boutique hotel on their waterfront: Drake-Devonshire….the link below and public comments suggest their level of satisfaction with that enterprise:
https://www.countylive.ca/virtual-public-meeting-for-drake-hotel-expansion-and-development/

Lemon cake
Reply to  Dunkirk
21 November 2021 8:40 am

The Drake is an expanded version of a hotel that was already there. I have family in Wellington – the Drake isn’t the biggest problem, it’s Air BNB. The Drake itself is priced out of range for most people ($400 a night and up) and it is small. The Air BNBs however have turned residential streets into ghost towns off season and loud party zones in summer. It’s also priced regular people out of the market. I myself don’t mind the Drake – the restaurant is great, it employs many locals, and it’s a fun place to meet up for a drink.

h. Milne
Reply to  Lemon cake
21 November 2021 9:38 am

the Drake is nice — but fenced off!! no parking signs everywhere – ugly. You cant walk around and enjoy the waterfront unless you are spending.

Lemon cake
Reply to  h. Milne
21 November 2021 10:14 am

Not true – There’s a fabulous park with waterfront access next to the church that is free to enjoy. Wellington Beach is free and walkable. There’s also a terrific farmer’s market at the church with many low cost items. Go a little further east and there’s a pier you can use to fish in the bay – free and accessible to anyone. Lots of parking there.

Dunkirk
Reply to  Lemon cake
21 November 2021 10:07 am

Lemon Cake–like you, I love the Drake. $17 Whiskey Sours and a terrific Sunday brunch on the water…. My point is that our Council/Town ‘leaders’ have so many other basic challenges they seem overwhelmed to address. (We needed the Province to help us decide on a Santa Claus parade…)The Wellington example shows these waterfront development issues are lightening rods of public debate–good and not-so-good…..The re-opening of the age-old + endless trailer park re-purposing storybook, once again provides our Council another shiny object to endlessly chase…..consult…debate….engage…..review….post-pone…examine…
What makes anyone believe that we can do a better job this time around in consideration of this issue?

Jones
Reply to  Lemon cake
21 November 2021 1:27 pm

Wellington needs to develop their harbour

Lemon Cake
Reply to  Jones
24 November 2021 8:18 am

The trouble with the Wellington harbour is that it’s swarming with mosquitoes for much of the summer. It’s reedy and shallow and they breed there. I love using it to fish or launch a canoe but the bugs are really bad if you want to sit outside and eat – especially in the evening. It makes the restaurant a bit of a drag.

Local resident
21 November 2021 12:07 am

Good for Mr Smith for raising the possibility of doing something else with that beautiful piece of town property. Whether a boutique hotel is the answer, I’m doubtful it’s a viable solution in Cobourg. However, what would be so wrong with keeping it for public space, for the enjoyment of taxpayers 12 months of the year! I do not mean a picnic area to be over run by large groups, we have the beach and Victoria park for that already. Why not incorporate it into the Pier promenade? Why does everything have to be about money?
What’s wrong with keeping it green, an extension of the pier promenade with walkways, bike paths, benches, trees, gardens, lake views etc etc. Tear down the fences, remove the traffic log jam.
The trailer park looks like a junk yard parking lot full of vehicles 5 months of the year. Come on Cobourg council, surely we can do better than that. We
have a beautiful waterfront with so much potential. Get rid of the eyesore trailer park! Make the call!

Cap’n John
20 November 2021 9:43 pm

I commend Ron Smith for raising this question.
The campground should be seen as a placeholder for the future….only absolutely necessary funds should be spent to keep it functional in the short term….no upgrades…..and The Town should actively explore options for future use and possible development of this incredible location. Citizens should be encouraged to participate in this process.

ben
20 November 2021 6:17 pm

And of course if the land was given to the owners of the hotel they would obviously like the deal but who in their right minds would invest in a 14million dollar hotel after paying millions for the land and expect to make money?

Ahewson
20 November 2021 4:43 pm

A small hotel on the north part of the property would be ideal. The southern section could be opened as an extension of Victoria Park that all residents and visitors could enjoy. Get rid of the fence lining Division St and the parking lot. The sight lines coming down Division would be spectacular. Park land, a beach and the water would all be in view.

I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again. The only reason the trailer park remains is there is attachment to it by residents resistant to change. If the land was currently park, and the town proposed a trailer park, there would be an uproar. It is not a good use of the space. It’s an enclave used by very few, it’s seasonal, revenues are minimal.

Bryan
Reply to  Ahewson
20 November 2021 6:08 pm

Ahewson:

$150 to 175K profit (not revenue) per year is not minimal. The Town has used this for years to reduce property taxes. I agree with you that if the VPC was parkland and the Town proposed converting it to a campground, there would be an outcry, However that is not the case.
It is estimated that upwards of 50% of the seasonal users of the VPC are Cobourg residents.
Also consider that many of the trailers (land yachts) cost more than many of the sailboats moored in the marina. They also pay significantly more than the boaters.

A rough calculation indicates that a commercial property (hotel?) would have to have an assessed (MPAC) value in excess of $14M to generate $175K in property taxes.

Ahewson
Reply to  Bryan
21 November 2021 7:22 am

Those profits also come with price tags, such as the 750k the town is proposing. That is 4-5 years of profit gone. 50% of a small number of users is an even smaller number of residents. It is not a very large campground.

Also, depending on how the town went about this, selling a portion of the property would greatly help with pier/harbour expenses. A one time influx of money is exactly what is needed with that situation.

I am by no means advocating selling the whole piece off. The last thing anyone wants is another building butting right up the water (beach in the case). A small hotel could be tucked quite easily behind the existing buildings on Charles St as to not be overwhelming the waterfront.

Ken Strauss
Reply to  Bryan
21 November 2021 10:53 am

Brian’s comments regarding needing a commercial building assessed at $14M are somewhat misleading. Assuming that the land is sold or leased there will be annual income in addition to property taxes and no costs for maintenance or enhancements.

To put things in perspective the $175K “profit” is the same as our annual subsidy for the Art Gallery of Northumberland which is visited by very few. The “profit” is only slightly more than the cost of one of the unnecessary new managers in the proposed reorganization and staff expansion. The “profit” is less than $10 per Cobourg resident; I would be happy to pay $10 in additional taxes to be rid of the eyesore of a trailer park on our waterfront. I suspect that most residents feel that a waterfront without restricted access is worth $10.

Bryan
Reply to  Ken Strauss
21 November 2021 4:17 pm

KS:

I don’t believe my comment about the needed assessment of $14M to generate $175K in property taxes is misleading. I agree that if the VPC was sold and developed, the Town would no longer have the related upkeep and staff expenses, but it would also not have the camping revenue. Therefore the appropriate metric is the VPC surplus.

With regard to your comparison to the AGN or the cost of an “unnecessary new manager”, you are expressing a personal preference. You would “gladly” pay $10 per year to be rid of the VPC, but you would not pay the same for a “manager” or the AGN. Other Cobourgers may not feel the same way.

Ken Strauss
Reply to  Bryan
21 November 2021 5:06 pm

Absolutely!

The appropriate metric is the profit, net of all expenses, for the trailer park versus the total of additional property taxes plus any rent/lease payments.

Yes, I would gladly pay $10 to be rid of an eyesore but I see little if any benefit from spending over $1.3M per year for additional managers. How many residents do you think favour personally paying $70 per year for additional managers with no benefits other than “efficiency improvements”?

Barb
Reply to  Ahewson
21 November 2021 8:38 am

Sounds like a great idea!!

Bill Thompson
Reply to  Ahewson
21 November 2021 11:39 am

A small hotel in a corner over time expands to ………

Last edited 14 days ago by Bill Thompson
Old Sailor
20 November 2021 3:39 pm

If the use of the campground is to change, I would like it to be used solely for the benefit of local residents. Let the Parks Committee make recommendations on possible uses, including discussion with residents. We already have no parking left for seasonal boaters due to the swarms of non-residents enjoying our waterfront parking and “free beach”. No parking left at the waterfront for any local residents many days of the week. This has been exacerbated by the new parking needs of all the new charter fishing boats – 4 guests per boat twice a day – , plus parking for captains and crews. Look at how Cobourg has been overrun with Cannabis stores. I doubt the ability of our Council and Town staff to negotiate any deal with a boutique hotel that will work out as planned. Keep the Town as the land owner and and the land available for local residents.

Mrs. Anonymous
20 November 2021 3:00 pm

Building any large structure that close to the lake in this day and age seems like an odd proposal. It was only a few years ago in 2017 and 2019 that we experienced extreme flooding in that area, some condominium owners were evacuated and many lost shoreline.

Mrs. Anonymous
Reply to  Mrs. Anonymous
22 November 2021 9:39 am

One further thought:

There is a tremendous shortage of good camping spaces in Ontario which has only been exacerbated by the pandemic. I can understand moving the long term seasonal large campers to the back (North).

i guess beauty is in the eyes of the beholder. I see this in town campground as a little unpolished gem. Leave it for camping. Camping is in demand, affordable, great for downtown business, and environmentally friendlier than building close to the lake.

JimT
20 November 2021 2:29 pm

The proposal certainly has merit.

Area of Victoria Park Trailer Park land: approx. 153,000 sq, ft, (3.5 acres)
Area of Best Western Hotel property: approx. 134,000 sq, ft, (3.0 acres)

A “boutique” hotel doesn’t have conference/meeting rooms or extensive parking so would take up much less room than the BW and still leave lots of room for a patio and takeout food service counter for day-trippers and locals seeking “carnival eats” instead of having to bring boring sandwiches and salads that they make themselves out of sheer necessity.

Last edited 14 days ago by JimT
Art Seymour
Reply to  JimT
21 November 2021 4:16 pm

Here we go again but it might be worth it, this time. I’ve been a resident for only 19 yrs., but long enough to know that we really do need a waterfront atmosphere that encourages folks to go there and relax by the water, not to swim but rather just join friends and admire our lovely lake, from a nice outdoors atmosphere on a patio, toasting our blessings.
I have approached one of our elected officials about getting a little more vision for parts of the waterfront, including expanding the Yacht Club bldg. and make it a “go to” area for a wee cool sip, yet round! Or maybe close the trailer park, convert it to a fantastic “breach front” place to go , year round for the average citizen to enjoy both the Victoria Park and our super beach and the awesome waves of the Lake.
Form and Citizens Committee for a change to get a little “lived experienced” input from many of our Older Adults who still know how to get things done!!