Town Issues RFP for Campground Upgrade Design

In 2018, Council approved a Waterfront Study that included recommended upgrades to the Trailer Park – now called the Campground.  The approved 2022 budget includes $50K for this study; the estimated cost of doing the work in 2023 is $750K. The justification given in the RFP is that:  “This design plan is necessary to update failing aged infrastructure and transform the campground back into (an) asset that can provide the requirements of current guests while continuing to remain a viable tourism destination and economic engine to the municipality.”  The RFP says that: “The campground currently consists of 43 trailer sites with Hydro, Water and Sewer, 28 trailer sites with Hydro and Water and 5 unserved tent sites.”  The  Request for Proposal (RFP) now issued requires the provision of engineering and landscape design related services.

Details of Work

The RFP document (available in Links below) spells out what is planned.  Here is the summary in the RFP:

The Waterfront Plan outlines several improvements to revitalize the Campground for the future, including redesign the facility to:

  • Improve attractiveness, functionality and privacy of sites while maximizing revenue potential
  • Accommodate pedestrian and bicycle flow around or through the facility while protecting camper privacy and safety (proposed “buffer” area on south end of Campground as outlined in the Waterfront Plan is not within the scope of this project  [and will not be implemented])
  • Accommodate vehicles waiting to check-in inside the campground rather than on Division Street, which creates traffic problems
  • Upgrade the facility’s water, sanitary and electricity services, including to each campsite, as well as the potential upgrade and relocation of the on-site sanitary disposal station
  • Consider options for expanding the year-round use of the Campground through the potential introduction of yurts or single room cottages for short-term rentals and seasonal special events
  • New AODA Compliant administration/washroom/laundry (service) facility
  • General landscape improvements including site restoration to improve grading and drainage
  • Protection of view corridors to the Lake from adjacent properties

The consultant will be asked to provide cost estimates and it’s quite possible that the $750K will be revised upwards.  See the link below (East Pier and Campground Report) for the original cost breakdown.

A public “consultation” is required to be complete by July 2022 and it will perhaps be another online survey.

The proposed schedule is:

RFP Close Date: Tuesday, March 29, 2022
RFP Award: April 24, 2022
Construction Tender Date: September 2022
Construction: Winter 2023

All dates and actually implementing depend on Council approval – including approval of the 2023 budget which will be complicated because of the October Election. The implementation work will be done during the term of a new council – so this could become an election issue. Suggesting new rates for campground users is not included in the work.


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Small town lover
5 March 2022 11:59 am

$750K! I really don’t get it. Before Covid hit people were lined up to get in. They drive in, park, hook up and then enjoy the scenery. They are happy!
One day the town may realize how valuable that piece of real estate is and build something there all the residents of Cobourg can utilize.

Reply to  Small town lover
5 March 2022 12:23 pm

Small town lover,

You wrote “…the town ….build something there all the residents of Cobourg can utilize.”

Like what?
Where would you re-locate the campground to?

Some Cobourgers have trailers and camp at the VPC
Evening walkers on the promenade like the “safe” feeling imparted by the campers’ presence
Campers do shop in Cobourg and help support the local economy
The VPC makes a profit that the Town uses for other purposes/projects
Cobourgers walk in and through the VPC in the off seasons

Beach walker
Reply to  Small town lover
5 March 2022 9:42 pm

A consultant was hired a few years ago. She identified the campground as being on one of “the towns most valuable piece of property” and suggested it be developed for everyone to enjoy.That consultant no longer lives in Cobourg. I wonder which councilor is sitting on that file.

Reply to  Beach walker
5 March 2022 10:08 pm

Beach Walker:
Why would a Councilor be “sitting on that file”? The inference being that a Councilor is withholding the report or blocking implementation of the recommendations. Do you have evidence to support this “inference”?

The Town hired the consultant, not Council or a Councilor. As you know what the consultant concluded, the report must have been made public, in other words, presented to Council.
The Town has a history of shelved consultants reports. Why would you expect this one to be different?

Last edited 10 months ago by Bryan
Beach walker
5 March 2022 11:33 am

Property taxes go up and the trailer park gets a face lift. Nice one Cobourg.

5 March 2022 10:22 am

OMG… Just look at the timeline to get something done in this town. The process started in 2018!
The RFP was just issued and the Town is asking for a response this month. A competent well thought out plan in 20 business days! (Unless the Bidder wants to work weekends) The other future dates are all depend on Council approval – including approval of the 2023 budget which will be complicated because of the October Election! Creating more risk for bidders! Why does it take so long to get things done at the town?

What is the long term overall vision for Cobourg? If you look critically there are large sections of downtown land, with derelict buildings, rotting and a few commercial visual stains.

Does Cobourg want to be a year round destination, with unique experiences? Boutique Accommodations, Dining, a larger number of interesting cultural opportunities(Art, Music). We have the space! We have the skills! … We need the appetite to make change!

As it stands Cobourg is just another offramp to a bland neglected commercial landscape, that is clinging to a history that know one cares about, all wrapped in a resistance to change. FYI, more people drive past Cobourg on their way to more interesting places.

If you want to show off the pony, you have to clean out the barn!

Reply to  Howard
5 March 2022 11:12 am

Does this apply to King st as well ??

Pete M
Reply to  Howard
5 March 2022 2:22 pm

And this is the Town trying to do something for the Town.
Thing about the poor individual or company that has been trying to get shovel into ground to build the new Holiday Inn by Home Depot.
Or the grocery store trying to get shovel.into ground out on King St E as you enter the Town.
Sometimes you wonder if they have given up and surprise there is some Town action of file. Usually its a request by Town for another modification to the site or request for a report from an expert.
And yet the developer pushes on.

Reply to  Pete M
5 March 2022 5:02 pm

The HOLD UP must have been found in Yesterdays John Draper article
about Cobourg’s Review of Public Works article– Lacking old Infrastructure that has been danced around / ignored for many yrs now lacking sanitary sewer line capacities and a Engineering Dept
that has no idea as to what’s available. The standard letter they send out to developers just when they think they are ready to build — after many yrs of of pre consultation , applications etc. reads something like this
” Its not up to the Town to confirm Capacity exists but rather for the developer to demonstrate that there is capacity for their proposed development ”

This results in the usual 3 season or 8 to 9 month study of sewage flow s. in town lines Great IDEA but don’t you think Engineering they should know this already.

They have also asked that the Hotel Holiday Inn on DePalma when they have 30 acres to contain their own storm water on to negotiate for the town etc
a storm water easement to accommodate the rest of the properties along DePalma over their and the neighbouring property to the west in Hamilton Twsp.
The truth is the town has failed miserably many times over 10 + yrs in dealing with this on their own .??

Reply to  Pete M
5 March 2022 3:00 pm

Pete M:
Or, knowing Cobourg’s reputation, the developer/investor looks for opportunities elsewhere, where their investment is wanted and welcomed.

Pete M
Reply to  Bryan
5 March 2022 3:44 pm

Soooo True Bryan.
In the article the reporter also talked about the Hampton Inn for Port Hope.
Shovel went into ground 2019, now open for business in Port Hope.

5 March 2022 8:34 am

We probably should have hired some local Camp operator with real life use experience that knows what campers want and what’s functional for about $10 k its their off season .
Besides we know this town will always spend the budget and then have unforeseen over runs .
Has anyone seen a canvasing report from the campers yet ???? or is this just another
Council / recreation Dept. make work justify my job project over and above routine annual maintenance This campground makes money $$ why do we have to create another losser
like the CCC.

Reply to  Sandpiper
5 March 2022 9:59 am


Staff (with Council’s approval) has mis-managed the campground (VPC) for years by skimping on annual maintenance and capital repairs. Now, extensive repairs are needed to the the electrical, water and sewer systems. The pads need to be raised and leveled so that rain water doesn’t collect under the trailers. The washrooms also need work.
This seems to be a common theme:
harbour repairs known since 2002, $12M
marina repairs known since 2015 (likely earlier) $500K+
VPC repairs $750K+
The list goes on.

In the VPC case, the profit ($125-175K) was skimmed off by the Town and used for other purposes. Little was set aside in reserve to fund major repairs

So here we are…again. major repairs, big expense and minimal reserves.

Last edited 10 months ago by Bryan
Reply to  Bryan
5 March 2022 12:33 pm

When reading these comments, all I can think of is the hullabaloo made over the residence located at 24 Sussex Dr. needing major work done for a decade or more and now inhabitable. Did Harper live there with his children? The present PM has refused to reside there. No party wants their name to be associated with fixing the Official Residence. Is this our Sussex?

Last edited 10 months ago by Gerald
Reply to  Gerald
5 March 2022 1:00 pm

To your Q re ‘our Sussex’ I reply yes it is. As it is with the similar projects named by Bryan above. In the larger context this is both an administrative & cultural problem. Admin because as stated above no one wants their name associated with a high cost, low/no payback adventure. Cultural because our business/capital mindset is targeted toward ‘spending the budget’ or it will be lost BUT no one likes to work on maintenance, not glitzy enough. So until we can ‘fix’ these issues, delays in implementation of remedies to regular ongoing/life-cycle problems will suffer the delays mentioned above. I would add that, in my view, these admin & cultural problems also affect how we deal with neglected properties and how to deal with that ownership.

Pete M
Reply to  Bryan
5 March 2022 4:21 pm

Does the Town not have an civil engineer/asset manager that oversees the planning and ongoing maintenance of Town assets and property ??
Or do we just go from crisis to crisis?

Reply to  Pete M
5 March 2022 5:54 pm

Pete M,

I believe the Works director is a PEng, Don’t know the field, I assume civil. The former CAO was a PEng.

Asset management is a different issue.
In 2017, the Province mandated that all municipalities implement asset management systems by 2025. These systems have been in use in the private sector for decades. Condo Corporations have been required (statute) to have them since the 60s
There have been no indications (announcements/reports) that the Town has made any significant progress in meeting this mandate.

Crisis to crisis seems to be an apt description.

Last edited 10 months ago by Bryan
Reply to  John Draper
5 March 2022 6:51 pm

John D;

As I noted, the province mandated this in 2017.
To date, there has been no indication from the Town that any significant work been done or progress made in this regard,
4 years have passed and the Town hasn’t even ordered the software, let alone installed it and loaded the data. The vetting process is the most time consuming.

I have helped several clients install AMS and am well aware of the work involved.

5 March 2022 8:18 am

Cost plus interest for a 5 year payout is probably around $1,000,000, so for 71 real spots that works out to about a $600 per month increase in lot rents for a 5 month annual usage period for 5 years. All we ever see is “costs” in this town…how about “the rest of the story” for a change.

Reply to  cornbread
5 March 2022 2:55 pm


Assuming the repair cost is $750K and $175 annual profit, less $50K to reserve, that leaves $125K for debt service. If financed at 3% for 7 years, the annual debt service would be $119K. The “payback” would be 7 years. If $125K was paid each year the payback would be about 6.65 years.
If a 15 year term was used, the annual payment would be about $65K

The Waterfront Plan consultants met with a campers delegation in 2016-17(?)
They outlined the issues, but indicated that if the VPC was fixed up, higher fees would be acceptable.

Ken Strauss
Reply to  Bryan
5 March 2022 3:39 pm

Bryan, your assumption seems to be that there would be zero profit if the repairs/enhancements are not done. Perhaps enhancements will increase annual profit but I haven’t seen that possibility quantified. Likewise, no enhancements (the do nothing option) might reduce profits but that possibility has not been quantified either. Further, you assign no value to having the trailer park land available for public enjoyment rather than renting is as a parking lot for private land yachts.

How is it possible for anyone to recommend a course without the relevant data?

Reply to  Bryan
5 March 2022 3:46 pm

If we take the annual profit from the park that normally subsidizes tax revenue, and pay down the Park improvements, Cobourg will still have to bump up the town taxes to balance out. Let the extra fees pay for the improvements…not games with the taxes thayt are too high already

Dave Chomitz
4 March 2022 8:20 pm

LOVE the campground – always have – we lived in Cobourg forever (Until Covid) we’d spend a couple weeks there every summer when the kids were small. The campground is a fantastic community that provides a ton of unseen benefits to Cobourg. So many small towns – just like Cobourg – in every province have municipal campgrounds in the heart of the activity. We seek them out, meet the towns people and summer students working there and spend our money downtown. Cobourg’s as it is, in my experience is about average for amenities but more expensive than most. Not complaining, we’ll probably spend most of September there again this year …. everyone welcome to stop down and experience it.

Reply to  Dave Chomitz
4 March 2022 9:00 pm

Hmm the trolls are out again two thumbs-down for someone who expressed a favourable view of the campground!

Last edited 10 months ago by ben
Reply to  Dave Chomitz
5 March 2022 1:03 pm

Agreed. My son/daughter-in-law/g’kids love the place. They come up every June/July for minimum a week. Hopefully these supposed improvements will add to their experience and not be inhibitors to campground users.

Beach walker
Reply to  Gerinator
5 March 2022 9:54 pm

I hope the bathrooms stay open over the winter for the tax paying residents to use and not just for the tourists like your family.

Beach walker
Reply to  Dave Chomitz
5 March 2022 9:47 pm

Without paying for a campsite not “everyone ” can stop down and experience it. It is for the elite, not all.

Tim Smith
4 March 2022 2:08 pm

What a waste of money. The campground is a blight, a private enclave, and a waste of space.

Some of the project goals are nothing short of ridiculous. Make spaces more private? It’s a tiny campground crammed into a busy urban environment. It is never going to be private. Any attempts to do so are just going to detract from potential revenue while never be able to even achieve that goal. Further to that, a different such goal is to increase pedestrian flow…while maintaining and increasing the privacy of the sites. Good luck with that. They may as well have tossed a goal of finding a unicorn on the campground.

Reply to  Tim Smith
5 March 2022 9:32 am

Long live the Campground. It’s one of the only bright spots that Cobourg has left. I would hope that camping fees include parking.

Reply to  Conor
5 March 2022 10:24 am

One of the only bright spots left or one of the only things that hasn’t changed?

Seems like a lot of older long time residents stand up for the campground because it’s been a constant in an ever changing town. The actual virtues of the campground don’t seem to matter much to this crowd.

Reply to  Conor
6 March 2022 8:26 am

Conor, If the Campground is one of the only bright spots left, that does not speak well of the town. We have amazing architecture that is just fading away. There are so many plots of space that are just under utilized. The marina area is rotting away!

Just imaging if Cobourg opened up to create an amazing summer destination and capitalized on #VanLife, #Boatlife. Make this a place for the next generation to explore. Bring people that love to travel and work remote! …. Then local businesses can really serve the tourist. Dining, Arts, Culture! and infrastructure to support the nomad lifestyle that has emerged. We have so much to offer as a community!