Cobourg Harbour Usage Higher in 2022

According to a report to be provided by Cobourg Community Services Staff at the Committee of the Whole meeting on Monday, both the Marina and the Campground (previously called Trailer Park) had successful years.  There is a long waiting list for seasonal slips – that seems to mean that Cobourg does not have to have a full-service Marina to be popular.  That is, we don’t need a travel lift.  Staff report that there is no desire to expand.  Both Marina and Campground split between seasonal and transient users although the Campground is gradually moving to more transients since it’s more profitable – the six remaining seasonals will be changed to transient “as they are relinquished”. The budget for the harbour requires that both Marina and Campground are self-sustaining and provide a dividend. The report says that revenue targets were exceeded but detailed numbers were not provided.  The focus was on occupancy.

Marina

The total number of slips available is 218. Of these, 164 (75%) are seasonal and 54 (25%) are transient.

Seasonal

The seasonal target was achieved in early spring of 2022.  The demand was such that a waiting list has been created:

Currently the waiting list breakdown is as follows:

Boat Length Number of Names on the Waiting List
17′ to 25′ 44
25′ to 30′ 49
30′ to 37′ 66
37′ to 44′ 36
44′ to 71′ 26
Total 221

There is no plan to change the 75% – 25% seasonal to transient ratio.

For the 2022 winter season, the storage compound did not have sufficient space but the Cobourg Yacht club provided an area in their compound to fulfill the needs.

Transient

The transient occupancy is now greater than pre-Covid.

Occupancy levels for transient guest boaters

2022 – 2936
2021 – 2779
2020 – 2184
2019 – 2400

Financial

The seasonal revenue target of $255,000 was met and exceeded as was the transient target of $155,000. With the increased number of seasonal contracts, the storage target for 2022 was also met at $40,000 and surpassed.

Victoria Park Campground

The campground hosted six seasonal sites for 2022 leaving 65 for transient guests with an additional five tent areas.  Staff have noted that transient sites have a higher potential for income so in 2023 “the Town will continue converting seasonal sites to transient as they come available.”

Occupancy levels for transients

Year Guests
2022 7152
2021 6418
2020 3683
2019 6362

Financial

The target budget of $265,000 for trailers was surpassed for the season and the target for tents of $12,000 was met and exceeded as well.

Staff report that “Final financial figures [for the harbour] will be presented as part of the Town’s year-end reporting processes for 2022”.

The harbour is also home to the Cobourg Yacht Club and the Cobourg Dragon Boat and Canoe Club and both reported a good year.

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Dave Chomitz
17 December 2022 12:36 pm

Having camped in the campground for 25 years – now being in BC. We camped municipal campgrounds right across the country last summer. I can say with confidence that in 2022 the Cobourg campground was the dirtiest, poorest organized and MOST expensive camp we stayed in. It seems the seamen took over management and they just didn’t care. No one on site, grounds were a mess and the bathrooms disgusting (and most campers have their own facilities on board). In 2021 we spent a month at the park. In 2022 it was 1 night and then we cancelled. As a taxpayer it’s frustrating to see a cash cow being so poorly tended to.

Old Sailor
13 December 2022 11:09 am

Where a boater keeps their boat is driven by price and services available. Services like parking paid by and reserved for boaters (which we don’t have), lift in, lift out, winter storage, a gas dock and gate security at docks (which we don’t have). Transient and charter fishing boaters need washrooms and laundry facilities whereas Cobourg resident boaters do not.

My observation in walking around our marina is that most of the sail and power pleasure boaters own very well kept 30 to 50 year old boats – 1970 to 1990 vintage – with market values equal to a 10 year old Ford F150 – $10,000 to $20,000. These folks don’t drive up in BMW’s and Range Rovers. They drive moderately priced cars like the rest of us Cobourgers.

The question is, do we want boats in the harbour? If so charge fair market competitive pricing and provide the services boaters need to enjoy their summer pastime.

I remember being on a 300+ long boater wait list kept on a columnar pad of paper at the Cobourg Marina which was stuffed into a desk drawer in the office. I was on the wait list 7 years and not called or communicated with once. I would guess 75% on that wait list eventually found another marina or left boating. Our Marina manager could comment on our current wait list.

Ken Strauss
Reply to  Old Sailor
13 December 2022 7:28 pm

Old Sailor, if the desired services plus facility maintenance plus a reasonable profit can be covered by the charges that is fine. If not, tax payers are funding the marina rather than the users and that is not acceptable.

Why ask the marina manager? The marina manager’s supervisor provided the wait list numbers. Are you suggesting that his report is misleading?

Mike H
13 December 2022 6:49 am

Here’s an excerpt relating to the new 75 million $ marina being built in Port Credit.

”It will increase public access to the waterfront; enhance the physical appearance of the City’s waterfront; raise real estate property values on the waterfront and in nearby neighbourhoods; act as a catalyst for new commercial and residential development, and in doing so increase the tax base”

Hey! That sounds like Cobourg!

Not surprising that our Cobourg town logo includes a sailboat. Those thousands of visiting boaters are also spending money downtown.

We should commend our forefathers who built the recreational marina after the industrial harbour died. It benefits us all, and those that actually keep a boat in the marina pay for the added privilege.

Ken Strauss
Reply to  Mike H
13 December 2022 7:09 am

”It will increase public access to the waterfront; enhance the physical appearance of the City’s waterfront; raise real estate property values on the waterfront and in nearby neighbourhoods; act as a catalyst for new commercial and residential development, and in doing so increase the tax base.”

Hey! That sounds like a press release with a significant dose of exaggeration! Does our waterfront significantly benefit our downtown residents? Do residents want more parking problems? With Bill23 can we fund the infrastructure required for growth? Do our residents even want growth?

Mike H
Reply to  Ken Strauss
13 December 2022 7:25 am

The growth has already occurred.

Just Wondering
12 December 2022 8:38 am

From a curiosity perspective, is there more information on transient occupancy numbers? For example, the 2022 number of 2936 for boaters, is that the number of boats, the number of boat/days or total number of people on transient boats? Same question for campground.

Cobourg taxpayer
11 December 2022 3:02 pm

What concerns me is “detailed numbers were not provided”. I’d like details on expenses such staff costs, cleaning costs, utility costs such as potable water and sewer, electricity and garbage removal etc. These have to be factored in and town staff have always been negligent in providing these figures.

Bryan
Reply to  Cobourg taxpayer
11 December 2022 4:21 pm

CT,

Why do you expect that the Town to report detailed expenses and profitability when they never have?

Staff hasn’t yet presented the 2021 Audited Financial Statements to Council.

I think it is totally unreasonable of you to expect timely detailed financial reporting from Town staff for business units have completed their season.

Ken Strauss
Reply to  Bryan
11 December 2022 5:18 pm

Bryan, since there is no effort to maximize profits I assume that your reference to the marina and trailer park as “business units” is intended as a joke. Their claimed profits would be much less impressive or even non-existent if staff were to include all expenses and set aside sufficient reserves for future repairs.

No 2021 financials at the end of 2022 is typical. Staff have learned that residents are less likely to complain if they are kept in the dark regarding town finances. They get away with it because Council never demands complete and timely reporting.

Bryan
Reply to  Ken Strauss
12 December 2022 12:33 pm

KS,
The lack of performance doesn’t negate the fact that the CCC, Concert Hall, marina, VPC, Waterworks, waste water collection & treatment, Northam and the Police Corporate Services (PCS crimcheck) are all “business units”. Their purpose is to provide a service and, at a minimum, be self sufficient: earn sufficient profit to cover capital repairs and additions.

Northam, Waterworks, VPC and the PCS all meet this objective. Some do better than self sufficiency and their surplus helps offset property taxes.

Last edited 1 month ago by Bryan
Sandpiper
Reply to  Bryan
12 December 2022 9:20 am

I believe they are obligated to provide a full and accurate Financial report to the Citizens of Cobourg are they not ?????.
AND With out Offing/ Diluting some of the Costs to other departments ,
ie Garbage , Grounds keeping Parks and Rec. All those Salaries and wages to , Docks in and out via MacCracken To trucks , Dredging year after year We see whats going on and the Real numbers $$$ might be shocking !

ben
Reply to  Cobourg taxpayer
12 December 2022 12:08 pm

I am sure these line items are in the detailed operating budget – just ask for them

Bryan
Reply to  ben
12 December 2022 12:29 pm

Ben,

The 2022 budget contains 2021 numbers, but only for 10 months. The 2021 YTD has not been updated.

The 2023 budget with the 2022 YTD is not yet available and the 2022 YTD will again be for only 10 months, not the full year.

Similarly, the 2021 Audited Financial Statements have not been released, nor has the 2021 FIR data been posted.

So if you asked for them, exactly what data would you expect to get?

Last edited 1 month ago by Bryan
ben
Reply to  Bryan
12 December 2022 4:34 pm

I would want to see the consolidated budget document that all Councillors have when they vote on the global budget. Each department has their costs. Look in Parks/Rec Marina

Bryan
Reply to  ben
12 December 2022 5:05 pm

Ben,

I have a copy of the 2022 budget, The budget is only an estimate of planned (expected) revenue and expenses. The prior (2021) year’s actual (YTD) is for 10 months only and not a full year. Mostly useless.
The Town does not update the actual revenues and expenses (2021) until the following year (2023).

To my knowledge, the Town has never made separate reports to Council on the actual financial performance of any of the Town departments.

The Financial Information Report (FIR) filed with the province provides some data by department. The FIR, like the Audited Financial Statements, are not released by the Town on a timely basis. Note that the 2021 reports have not been released at this date (Dec 12).

ben
Reply to  Bryan
13 December 2022 7:37 am

Bryan I would dispute that 10 months activity is useless. Depends on many factors, seasonal reporting, un/expected costs, both will throw the final figure out but refined analysis will winnow out the anomalies.

Bryan
Reply to  ben
13 December 2022 8:12 am

Ben,

And who is doing this “refined analysis”? Certainly not the Town.

Ken Strauss
Reply to  ben
12 December 2022 1:21 pm

Ben, as noted by Sandpiper, many marina costs are not specifically attributed to the marina. It is impossible to get an accurate picture of marina revenue versus marina costs.

Ken Strauss
11 December 2022 2:16 pm

With 221 boaters on the wait list, shouldn’t fees be significantly increased? With all 6 seasonal trailer park spots rented, why not significantly increase the fees? Any not rented could be used as the more profitable transient spots.

The marina and trailer park would be far more profitable with a 50% fee increase even if many spots were not occupied.

Mike H
Reply to  Ken Strauss
12 December 2022 9:10 am

Cobourg Marina charges $68.00 to $73.00 per foot for the season

Whitby Marina charges $72.65 to $75.56 per foot for the season

Meyers Pier in Belleville or Victoria Park in Belleville charge $42.00 to $45.00 per foot for the season.

As for the waiting list, I think you will find the list may be quite stale. When I contacted the marina a number of years ago it seemed highly unlikely I would get a slip as there was a long list of names ahead of me. A few days later, I was assigned a slip. That list crumbled pretty fast.

By the way, my boat is a 30′ sailboat built in 1965. Most of the boats in Cobourg are pretty modest vessels. We pay a fair rate and stay at great marina, walking distance from home.

I encourage everyone to take adult sailing lessons at CYC during the summer of 2023!

Last edited 1 month ago by Mike H
Keith Oliver
Reply to  Ken Strauss
12 December 2022 10:30 am

Keñ

Fees for harbour use should be determined by maintenance and operating costs plus a set aside ammount for unexpected future cost. If you had your way only billionaires and their yachts would populate our harbour while the rest of us would have to be satisfied playing with our boats in the bathtub.

cornbread
Reply to  Keith Oliver
12 December 2022 11:22 am

As a business for the Town of Cobourg, the Harbour should make a decent “Profit” from the operation…after all associated costs including set-aside for future repairs….just like the Industrial Park on D’Arcy St.

Keith Oliver
Reply to  cornbread
12 December 2022 6:15 pm

Cornbread

Where you and others make a fundamental mistake which renders your comments/complaints on almost every issue confusing to say the least, is that government is not a “business” which needs to produce profits to satisfy and retaine investors, but is a “service” born out of a democratic belief in the worth of individual regardless of financial status,and therefore has a moral obligation to provide equal access to all basic services such as water, police, fire provention, roads, etc.

In Cobourgs’ case we have a wonderful, natural waterfront. Should that not also be available and accessible to all Cobourg residents, and not just those who can afford it?

That’s what Ken Straus and others believe when they confuse the function and objectives of business with thosr of government.

Ken Strauss
Reply to  Keith Oliver
12 December 2022 9:12 pm

Keith, providing equal access to basic services such as water, police, fire provention[sic], roads, etc. is rather different from expecting taxpayers to subsidize docking a boat at the marina or a land yacht at the trailer park. The function of business is to satisfy the desires for non-essentials in a way that maximizes profits.

Keith Oliver
Reply to  Ken Strauss
12 December 2022 10:01 pm

Ken

Please read Johns’ blog in which he states it is a requirement that “both Marina and Campground be self sustaining and provide a dividend”. That means no subsidy by taxpayers. Represents the method of determing fees that I described to you above (posted Dec 12 at 10:30 am).

Ken Strauss
Reply to  Keith Oliver
13 December 2022 7:00 am

Keith, reality does not always coincide with claims. If the marina and trailer park are “self sustaining” then why are there insufficient reserves for repairs and improvements? How does one know whether they are “self sustaining” when many costs are not included in their budgets and other costs (sinkhole repairs, for example) that are not part of their expenses are attributed to them?

Bryan
Reply to  Keith Oliver
12 December 2022 10:08 pm

Keith,

You are seriously misinformed about government not being a business. It absolutely is. Government is in the business of providing services to its customers (taxpayers and residents) for a profit!. Yes, a profit.

Look at the Town’s audited financial statement, The Town’s 2020 audited FS reports a surplus of $11.9M. That’s profit.

In the four years (2017-2020), the Town’s profit (surplus) totaled $28.3M. As with many governmental non profits, the profit (surplus) is used for capital expenses and debt repayment.

The term “non-profit” does not mean not earning profit. It has to do with the distribution (use) of the profit for the collective benefit of the members. In the Town’s case, these are the taxpayers and residents.

Last edited 1 month ago by Bryan
cornbread
Reply to  Bryan
13 December 2022 9:02 am

So, the Town has been “ripping-us-off” for the last 4 years with higher than requires taxes?

Bryan
Reply to  cornbread
13 December 2022 10:54 am

Cornbread,
Perhaps, if it is your view that the Town has spent frivolously.
Or, it may be that the Town has spent the surplus wisely, paying down debt and making good infrastructure investments for the benefit of all Cobourg residents

There are good arguments for both views.

Last edited 1 month ago by Bryan
cornbread
Reply to  Keith Oliver
13 December 2022 8:58 am

Keith, if you were the “government”, you would be broke, in debt up to your ears and living in the streets. All governments should be forced to have no debt…the only trouble is, that governments work to get re-elected and spend others money to do so. We can’t have everything we want right now…we can’t afford it.

Ken Strauss
Reply to  Keith Oliver
12 December 2022 11:45 am

Keith, get serious! No billionaires are likely to dock here regardless of marina charges. Those who dock a boat are either not poor or they are making ridiculous financial choices. Why should the town’s taxpayers subsidize their toys? Every dollar of marina profit reduces the taxes for the rest of us.

Keith Oliver
Reply to  Keith Oliver
12 December 2022 2:15 pm

Wally

Post your reply to my post when you get back from lunch.