Town wants Comments on Harbour Repairs

Over the last year or more, Council has reviewed then decided on repairing the Harbour. The scope includes the East and West Breakwaters, the North and East harbour walls, the fuel dock and the centre pier walls. Since the Town will be spending $12,755,000 over 3 years, someone in the Town decided that citizens should be given a forum to comment and ask questions. Engage Cobourg is usually used for surveys but there have already been multiple surveys on related subjects – this time, it’s more that the Town is providing information and allowing comments and questions. The finish date is February 17. The good news is that a short presentation is included that provides a good summary of the work planned.

Cobourg Harbour Rehabilitation
Cobourg Harbour

And if you prefer to ask your questions to the consultant directly, they will be at the Council CoW meeting on March 7 making a presentation and I believe will respond to questions raised at Engage Cobourg – link below.

At right is a diagram of the harbour that might help (it comes from the consultant’s presentation which is available in the Links below) – click to enlarge.

But let me outline what’s being done.


  • North and east basin walls, the fuel dock and the center pier walls – including storm sewers extension.
  • East and west breakwaters (enlarge image at right for location).

Cost and Phasing

2022 Phase 1 North Basin Walls $2,535,000
    East Basin Walls $1,525,000
    Fuel Dock Walls $825,000
    Centre Pier Walls $100,000
2023 Phase 2A East Breakwater $2,275,000
2024 Phase 2B West Breakwater $5,495,000
Total Project Budget: $12,755,000

But first the design needs to be done (now 90% complete) then permits need to be obtained.
And the Town is not even on the list for permits:

  • The Department of Fisheries and Oceans
  • The Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry
  • The Ministry of the Environment
  • The Ganaraska Conservation Authority
  • Transport Canada

According to the consultant (Shoreplan) permits can take anywhere from 3 months to a year or longer to obtain and may be obtained at different times for different areas or structures allowing some work to start before others.

Expected Timeline

Design: 90% Completion – February 2022
Permitting: February 2022 + 3 months or more
Phase 1 Basin Walls I Centre Pier I Fuel Dock
Retain Contractor: Summer 2022
Construction: Commence Fall 2022
  Duration 4 Months
Phase 2  East and West Breakwater
Retain Contractor: Fall 2022
Construction: Phase 2A – East Breakwater
    Commence Fall 2023
    Duration 4 Months
  Phase 2B – West Breakwater
    Commence Fall 2024
    Duration 4 Months

East Pier rehabilitation may begin following completion of the East Breakwater pending Council approval.

One thing that’s sure to get questions asked is that the Esplanade parking lots may be “restricted” during the work. Even off beach season, these are popular as visitor parking for the condos there.

If you want to see the presentation or contribute with a comment or question, go here.


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31 January 2022 7:16 pm

“Comments on Harbour Repairs…”?

Fill it in with sand pumped in from the lake bottom. The area gained will be bigger than all of Victoria Park, including the Trailer Park.

Build additional trailer spaces for renting out at the going rate and plant the rest with gardens, walkways, kiosks and a beer garden. Maybe a new Pav, too.

Last edited 1 year ago by JimT
31 January 2022 10:27 am

Time has shown that fools bought the harbor, fools continue to pour money into it, and bigger fools plan to spend millions for the next 15 years or so, only to be followed by additional fools that will want to repair and remake the harbor again. It’s a “Never-Never Plan” at taxpayers expense. Do we really need a Yacht Club in Cobourg for the few? If you want a nice area to walk/sit etc. and have a few kiosks…why not the present trailer park right beside the beach.

Dave Chomitz
30 January 2022 1:48 pm

This in not the plan I would support, but I also believe repairs are inevitable – I did ask a question on the town site – if anyone here has an idea it would be appreciated.

Is the part marked “restricted access” intended to be closed to regular folks who have always walked along the water ?

30 January 2022 1:33 pm

I just saw on CTV last week that the city of Mississauga has or is undertaking a massive waterfront project with a pier and marina like ours. Would it not make sense to have a Cobourg council member or Mayor visit Mississauga to find out how they are doing this and who is paying??? Why reinvent the wheel?

Francine Birket
30 January 2022 11:45 am

There are good points made, personally, I would not like any kiosks set up on the North wall, the condo owners who have paid dearly for their view. maybe the East wall could have some as we see in L. A. . With climate change, it is predicted that water levels and storms will increase, we therefore need to protect the town , its citizens and its economy. The work should be done. Has there been any consideration to how this works might affect the sewer system, flooding in the garages etc? , Some of the costs should be charged back to the marina over a 25 year period , the beneficiaries should absorb some of the costs.

Reply to  Francine Birket
30 January 2022 12:15 pm

marina? is that not the town?

Reply to  Francine Birket
30 January 2022 3:01 pm

Francine B,
See my comment to Oneconcernedtaxpayer below in this thread

30 January 2022 9:13 am

The town should pass the whole marina and Harbour to the province

Reply to  Jones
30 January 2022 12:38 pm

The town bought the harbour from the Feds in 2002.
Why would the province want to take it over?
The Town has no leverage to cause (force) the province to do so

Last edited 1 year ago by Bryan
30 January 2022 8:31 am

Before we start the discussions I would like to know if the plans contain the capacity for limited commercial/public use. In other words will there be service conduits (water, hydro, sewer) laid in the reconstruction for services needed for public use – washrooms or limited commercial uses – food kiosks and maybe a restaurant in the future. After all another future Council may not have the passive stand that this Council does, like not catering to any other uses other than sitting on benches and looking at the water. Some of us want a Council to plan for more than that.

30 January 2022 7:57 am

I support repairing the harbour infrastructure. My questions posed on the Engage Cobourg site: Has there been a review of the width of the existing harbour mouth and any suggestions for changes? Background: the current opening to the harbour is much reduced in width to earlier entrances. I think the section that points north east was added about the time the marina became a small craft harbour, but not absolutely sure on that point. There was also a floating collection of chained together tires used as a breakwater off the centre pier for many years. It became unsightly and smelly, a preferred water bird resting place. This current width of the harbour opening may be affecting the silting that is a regular occurrence within the harbour basin. The west breakwater has a $5plus million repair cost. It may be prudent to question the design of the opening as part of the design. Also, • Why is sheet piling not considered an option for the breakwaters? • What is the expected life span of the proposed armour stone additions for the breakwaters? Relatedly, what is the anticipated regular maintenance requirement for the new breakwaters? Note that armour stone is currently used on the west breakwater and it looks pretty beat up by the lake. I did not notice a sample real life photo of what the finished armour stone design would look like. These days even though it is random shape pieces they are typically placed to lock, not jumbled like some sections of the current west breakwater. The drawings in the presentation make the stones look very neat in profile, and hopefully that would be the end look too. The company does a lot of this sort of work and they would have comparable projects as examples. And, they investigated… Read more »

Reply to  MiriamM
30 January 2022 3:17 pm

There are other materials used for breakwaters that are more resisitent to wave action. These are manufactured products…tretrapods..

comment image

The sheet piling is typically made from steel or vinyl which is supposed to last somewhat longer (doesn’t rust) but likely costs more.

Reply to  Bryan
31 January 2022 12:42 pm

Here is more information about options. For example, note the path on top of the breakwater in the picture heading the information at the link below.

Old Sailor
30 January 2022 4:23 am

Thanks for your summary John. Looking at the picture of the harbour in your report, it appears that the harbour is slowly silting in from the west side towards the east side. Which means more and more of the harbour will become unusable if we do not permanently remedy this silting problem. Are we spending $12.755 million on breakwalls for a harbour that over time will be unnavigable due to its lack of depth? Has Shoreplan been asked to include solving this problem in their engineering designs?

Reply to  Old Sailor
30 January 2022 11:46 am

I can remember when there was a gap at the base of the west pier allowing water to flow between the harbour and the west beach, back in the early ’50s.

Once that was filled in, the west beach grew much wider as gravel accumulated in the corner at the base of the west pier.

Perhaps someone can answer whether opening that gap again would help resolve the silting of the harbour by creating a steady flow in that now stagnant area.

Last edited 1 year ago by JimT
Reply to  JimT
30 January 2022 12:19 pm


Reply to  Old Sailor
30 January 2022 12:18 pm

Ross Dudley has the answer to the silting PROBLEM! BUT KNOW WON WILL PAY ATTENTION!

Reply to  greengrass
30 January 2022 1:09 pm


He does?
He is the consultant who, in 2009, recommended that the Town buy the dredge ($633K+). He claimed the dredge would have a 5 year payback and provide an annual net profit to the Town of $122K.
Neither claim has proven out.

A review of the Town’s budgets since 2012 shows that the dredge has never made a profit and has not reached payback.

In spite of this, the net cost to dredge the harbour appears to be less (how much??) than it would have cost otherwise for contracted dredging.

Staff have proposed significant major dredge repair costs of $140K in 2022-2024 and claim these costs will be covered by dredging revenue. History suggests otherwise.

Last edited 1 year ago by Bryan
Reply to  greengrass
30 January 2022 1:31 pm

How is a $12 million project going to affect the taxbase of a small town such as Cobourg on a dollar per capita basis? What is the math on this? It sounds expensive. Why not have the marina manage the fuel expansion? The harbour is lovely and needs to be managed and maintained but can the town afford this? I like the Phased approach.
Infrastructure maintenance is important. Are there any matching dollar for dollar programs from the Province or Feds?

Reply to  oneconcernedtaxpayer
30 January 2022 2:57 pm


The $12M cost of the harbour project will be debentured (net of any grants). The Town seems to favour the Ontario Infrastructure Loans, typically 15 year. The current interest rate is about 2.5%. The debt service on $12M is about $960K per year which is about $100 per year per household.
The marina is a Town business unit, not an outside entity.
The marina could could fund some of the costs by deductions from its reserve fund.
You use the term “fuel expansion” I don’t believe the project includes expansion of the fuel service area or facilities….just repairs to the harbour wall in that area.

Ken Strauss
Reply to  Bryan
30 January 2022 3:55 pm

The debt service on $12M is about $960K per year which is about $100 per year per household.

To put things in perspective, spending $960,000 each year for the repairs is somewhat less than the annual cost of the additional bureaucrats that Council recently approved hiring. Neither the repairs nor the additional bureaucrats will provide a clear benefit for most Cobourg residents.

Reply to  Bryan
31 January 2022 6:35 pm

I compute 2.5% on a principle of $12,000,000. to be $300,000. per year. Or am I missing something here?
A lot of money to spend on interest payments either way.

Reply to  JimT
31 January 2022 7:34 pm

Yes simple interest calculated annually is $300K
Debt service (total payment) is principal repayment plus interest.
Also, payments are made monthly and interest is compounded monthly

Last edited 1 year ago by Bryan
Reply to  Bryan
1 February 2022 11:12 am

Aha! That’s what I was missing. Of course.