Council Responds to Delegations

At the committee of the Whole Council meeting on Monday, there were two delegations: Carol Anne Bell-Smith asked that the mat at the Beach be upgraded because of deficiencies in the existing mat and Lauren Quinto, President of the Cobourg Farmers’ Market Association asked for better terms for their agreement with the Town.  They want a 5 year lease, parking passes and storage space. And Council responded with actions.  Summaries of their presentations are below but both delegations were well received.  The cost of upgrading the mat would be approx. $30K plus installation – a decision was deferred to current budget deliberations; after debate, Councillor Brian Darling’s request to leave to Staff the details of the farmers’ market lease etc was approved.

Delegation Requests – summary

Beach Mat

Carol Anne said that the current blue mat was not good enough.  She pointed out that the Ontario Disability Act has “supremacy over all other Acts” so no matter what other legislation said, the Disability Act over-rode them.  She said that people with disabilities want the same rights as everyone else – she said: “We want to belong”.  Download the presentation below.  The main problem with the existing mat seemed to be its quality plus it does not extend into the water. Mats by the preferred supplier, MobiMat, are used extensively in Canada and around the world.

Beach Mat Sign
Beach Mat Sign

Carol Anne said that one problem is that people who are not disabled also use the Mat and that often makes it difficult for disabled people to use it.  This indicates that signs indicating that it’s for disabled people would be useful (sample sign in photo).

If an upgraded mat were used that extended to the water, Cobourg could advertise the beach as a destination for “accessibility tourism”.

To make it easier for staff,  a quote for a suitable mat was obtained:  $21K US including shipping.

The project will be up for approval in budget discussions on February 7.

Farmers’ Market

Lauren presented the contents of the letter submitted by the Farmers’ Market Association.  There are three issues:

  1. Currently, a contract is signed yearly between the Association and the Town outlining hours of operation, weekly fees, etc.  It would be a whole lot better for budgeting if there could be a 5 year contract.
  2. Parking for vendors is important but recent fee increases and availability of space are problems.
  3. With the Market building now used as office space, storage space there has been lost.  The space required is about equivalent to a walk-in closet.  Brent said that space in the market building can “probably” be found.

Initial discussions in Council attempted to resolve the issues but eventually Councillor Brian Darling moved that Staff be asked to negotiate with the Farmers’ Market Association to develop a solution that should be brought back to Council for approval by the first CoW meeting in April. Brian’s motion passed.


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4 February 2023 1:34 pm

$30,000.+ for a mat !?
Is there a cheaper, perhaps semi-permanent, way to achieve the same end?

Carol Anne Bell-Smith
Reply to  JimT
7 February 2023 8:24 am

Sadly there is not. However this is a permanent solution that goes into the water safely. It does not have to be taken out every fall and allows for winter access to the beach. These mats are an international standard used extensively across Canada and the rest of the world. This mat will last a lifetime. It is a one time purchase that will serve many. If we think about this purchase relative to the several hundred thousands we spend each year on keeping our beach usable or against the nearly hundred thousand we spent on Christmas lights it makes a bit more sense. This Mat was recommended by the company we purchased the current Mat from however the town decided to go with the cheap option which has turned out to be an unsafe and worn out already. I guess it’s a cost vs value consideration.

3 February 2023 11:48 am

I think the delegation should consider a name change – Reach the Beach has achieved their goal – reach the Reach the Water is the new goal. Also noticed that the delegation highlighted that able-bodied beachgoers and parents with strollers using the mat was problematic, yet they included several pictures of able-bodied beachgoers and parents using the proposed Mobimat – mixed messages.

I support a new mat – I am able-bodied and have also dragged many a stroller to the water in the past. I think all people should have the opportunity to touch the water and enjoy a day at the beach. That being said, there is likely grant funding available and people eager to support the initiative. I don’t think the entire cost should be shouldered by the Town but I think the Town could cover part of the cost – after all, the beach is Town property and it probably has a liability interest in ensuring the mat is adequate and well maintained.

To the delegation I would say start fundraising, apply for grants, start an online campaign (gofundme), look for an investor, etc… its easy to request tax dollars but the delegation should have some skin in the game.

Reply to  Rob
3 February 2023 6:03 pm

Maybe so, but if this mat were installed it is everyone who goes to the beach on any given day, that I am sure will use it, walk on it etc to get to where they are going. So it should not be up to the “Delegation” to sort out the funding program.

Last edited 1 month ago by Rationale
3 February 2023 9:02 am

Given the negative comments regarding spending $30K for a needed proper mat further supports why a user fee for non Cobourg residents should be charged during June – August. This revenue source would not only cover the costs of the mat, but lifeguards, beach maintenance etc, rather than Cobourg tax payers.

Reply to  Rational
3 February 2023 10:18 am

Great suggestion Rational.

How would it be implemented?
Fence off the beach?
Several access gates where residency is assessed and the beach fee collected.
Is this a 24/7 operation or is the beach closed during certain hours?
How many staff needed to man the access gates?
How is residency assessed?
Do we need a consultant to tell us what the beach fee should be?
How much revenue will the beach fee raise?
How many staff to count the cash money?
Will Cobourg residents get access passes?
Do Northumberland residents get a discount?
What happens if some people want to take a midnight skinny dip on a hot summer eve?

Last edited 1 month ago by Bryan
3 February 2023 8:38 am

30 Thousand Dollars?? Does it come with a Lifetime Guarantee? Is this US company the only company that makes them? If approved, and for that amount of money, baby strollers should definitely be allowed! Put a right-of-way sign up instead! But really? 30 Thousand Dollars? Obviously, no competition in that business.

Carol Anne Bell-Smith
Reply to  Kathleen
7 February 2023 8:27 am

It does come with a lifetime guarantee. This is the mat that was recommended for our beach but the Town chose a cheaper mat which is now deemed unsafe and cannot be used into the water. It also has to be rolled up and then reinstalled every season. The new mat would be permanent and made of military grade recycled plastic and does not need to be taken out every season. This month is used internationally and all across Canada.

Cobourg Taxpayer
2 February 2023 9:58 pm

I also see nothing wrong with the existing mat but councillors are so woke they leap at the chance to spend more money on another mat. Due to beach overcrowding I rarely go anymore but I do walk past frequently and I have to say I only see people pulling wagons and strollers on the mat. I have never seen a person with a visible disability. I never swim in Lake Ontario and I’d think a person with a disability would likely enjoy a heated pool more.

Give me a break
Reply to  Cobourg Taxpayer
3 February 2023 9:24 am

What is all this “woke” talk about ….. used with no meaning here ….. how do you know the mat is still OK …. Do you work for the town? If you rarely use the beach how would you know that it is not used? Have seen folks with disabilities and strollers use it …… why are most folks on John’s site so fricken negative …..

Carol Anne Bell-Smith
Reply to  Cobourg Taxpayer
3 February 2023 5:06 pm

The mat is used regularly by many people with mobility aids including me. If you see any of my photography posted on Facebook and Instagram, much of it is done from this mat. Respectfully people with disabilities want to put their feet in the water just like everyone else.

Reply to  Cobourg Taxpayer
4 February 2023 1:35 pm

“Nobody goes there any more – it’s too crowded”.
— Yogi Berra

2 February 2023 4:49 pm

Why is it a problem that other people use the mat other than disabled people?. The mat is there for people with young kids and strollers as well. I would suggest the mat is replaced when it’s suggested life expectancy is up and budget for a new one when this occurs.

Wally Keeler
Reply to  Informed
2 February 2023 8:45 pm

Why is it a problem that other people use the mat other than disabled people?

People park in the designated spaces for disabled. Why? Cuz convenience. Disregard the intent of the space.

If it is a baby stroller on the mat at the lake, and down comes an individual on a motorized wheelchair; when they meet half way, it is the baby stroller that gets off the mat for the passage of the wheelchair. Common courtesy. The intent of the mat is to provide the same opportunity as an abled person, including an abled person pushing a baby stroller.

Reply to  Wally Keeler
2 February 2023 9:10 pm

Happens all the time does it? Should we have a bylaw for common courtesy? This seems to be another case of 1 person complaining that an issue exists and the Town running out to spend 20k . How many other people have brought this to the Towns attention. I’m guessing 0.

Last edited 1 month ago by Informed
Wally Keeler
Reply to  Informed
3 February 2023 8:02 am

It used to be that a disabled person never ever had an opportunity to experience the water’s edge. Screw them right? Not just the one individual, but all disabled people.

So many expenses for disabled people, bylaws requiring accessibility ramps, other modifications to public buildings and services and businesses, etc. Screw them right? Spend $$$ to install buttons on our Town Hall front doors so that disabled people can access the Town Hall. More expense for those disabled people eh? We all pay for those incremental expenses because we are a community, including penny pinchers and their petty whines.

Why bring up the cost, when it wasn’t an issue for you in your previous comment? “I would suggest the mat is replaced when it’s suggested life expectancy is up and budget for a new one when this occurs.” Your previous concern was the courtesy protocols of sharing the mat.

“Should we have a bylaw for common courtesy?” What a puerile suggestion. No, Informed, you can be as rude to other people as you wish — no bylaw, and none was suggested, except by anonymous you. At least Carol Anne had the courage to present her case with her name.

Reply to  Wally Keeler
3 February 2023 8:07 am

Nice try with your rant. Make a presentation to council like you tell everyone else to. Btw… I’m not tying to make a case. I was offering a different opinion and you don’t like it,

Reply to  Wally Keeler
3 February 2023 9:09 am

People with baby strollers are usually young. Take the baby out of the stroller and drag the stroller behind you like we did in the old days. Lol. I do feel that this mat could be used by seniors that aren’t classified as disabled but would not be able to walk to the water on the sand. I do think that the mat should go all the way to the water for disabled people. Isn’t that the point of the mat? A lot of seniors used to love to drive down to the harbour and sit in their cars. Now that’s gone too.

Carol Anne Bell-Smith
Reply to  Informed
3 February 2023 5:11 pm

The mat is first and foremost for the use of people with disabilities and is mandated by 2 important laws. The current mat is unsafe and no longer sold because of this reason. It has exceeded its staledate. This new mat has been requested for 18 years. The current mat also does not reach the lake and so folks with disabilities are not able put their feet in the water or go for a swim. We spend 4 times this amount on Christmas lights every year. Also, the new Matt does not have to be pulled out every summer and so saves on staff time.

Reply to  Carol Anne Bell-Smith
3 February 2023 6:14 pm

Thank you for the additional information you provided. You would probably make a good argument for a new Mat. I like the idea that the Town has provided the mat for any and all people that struggle to get to the water or near it. The mat doesn’t have to be exclusive to any group as I don’t believe the mat is a requirement for every municipality that has a beach. I could be wrong on that point? Is it? That being said, if the old one is out of date and a replacement is needed then the Town should certainly start the process to source one that is better than the existing one. You have some valid points. Your approach is much better than insulting someone that may have a a different point of view or thoughts on the idea.

Reply to  Carol Anne Bell-Smith
6 February 2023 9:24 am

As someone with mobility issues, the very first time I saw and used that mat, I was so excited to finally be able to get onto the beach with the rest of my family, rather than having to stay up on the boardwalk and/or firmer ground where my wheels wouldn’t get stuck. HOWEVER, once I got to the end of the mat, close to the water’s edge, what could I then do?!?! Well, my only option, was to simply (and may I add, sadly), turn around and go back to the firmer area of the boardwalk! Hence, I had to spend my time at the beach, watching my family frolic in the sand and water, from a distance! SIGH!
Honestly, how I wish that some sort of firm base pod areas could be included just off to the side of the said mat, so that those with disabilities could actually linger longer, and not just have to retreat back to terra firma!
Oh I’m aware, that the nay-sayers on this blog, will probably roll their eyes and shudder, at this suggestion, but “there by the grace of God” you are SO fortunate to not have to “walk”?!?! a day, in our shoes!

Miriam Mutton
Reply to  Mrs.J.
6 February 2023 10:33 am

Hello Mrs J.
You may be aware of this service and I will mention it here. The Town has a water worthy wheelchair style device, available to use free of charge and with advance notice to reserve it. The person using it would need to transfer from their personal chair into the water chair. If you are with family or friends at the beach in any case, it might be an option. I understand that the water chair is stored at the Centennial Outdoor Pool building nearby.

Reply to  Miriam Mutton
6 February 2023 11:23 am

Hello Miriam Mutton,
First of all, I’d like to apologize to you for the “thumbs down”, when my finger accidentally hit that, when in reality I was trying to hit the “thumbs UP”! Grrrr that I couldn’t erase my error.
Yes, and thanks for your response, I am aware of that specialized water-going chair, but without going into details, going into the lake water is not doable/safe for my particular issues. Hence that chair is not a one-size-fits-all answer unfortunately. Actually, besides my suggestion of a sturdy pod/deck-like area, perhaps a few fat-wheeled mobility rollators/walkers/adult strollers could be added to the rental cache. (They cost a LOT less than those mats.)
Just a thought.

Last edited 1 month ago by Mrs.J.
Ken Strauss
Reply to  Mrs.J.
7 February 2023 9:08 am

First of all, I’d like to apologize to you for the “thumbs down”, when my finger accidentally hit that, when in reality I was trying to hit the “thumbs UP”! Grrrr that I couldn’t erase my error.

To correct a mis-vote simply click the desired choice twice.

Reply to  Ken Strauss
7 February 2023 1:24 pm


Carol Anne Bell-Smith
Reply to  Miriam Mutton
7 February 2023 8:32 am

I have extensive experience with the beach wheelchair and sadly it does not work well. It is nearly impossible to push except for perhaps a small child. The Town confirmed that it was only used twice and there were complaints that it doesn’t work well. This is an example of a purchase where people with disabilities were not consulted. You wouldn’t know it didn’t work unless you had tried it.

Greg H
2 February 2023 3:14 pm

I would be interested to know if the Farmers’ Market Association has ever had access to any original documentation relating to the formation of the farmers’ market in Cobourg. Did it specify any payments to the town? Perhaps somebody at the Cobourg Historical Society could shed some light on this?
Also, when the Market Building was erected was there any documentation relating to the farmers’ rights to be there? I believe the farmers’ market was established even before the Town of Cobourg was incorporated.
Several years ago I was a member of the Victoria Hall Heritage Maintenance Trust Committee and at that time we noticed that the Town of Cobourg had developed a “creep” method of taking over facilities that were used by the public. An example was the space north of the Market Building and south of Victoria Hall. When I came to Cobourg this was used as public parking but is now only available for council use.
Similarly the Town evicted the Seniors programs when the CCC was built, insisting the seniors should use the CCC. This was against the wishes of the seniors who used the Market Building.
Did the Town have any right to evict the seniors? Does the Town has any right to use the Market Building as offices? Have farmers lost their rights to the Farmers’ Market Building?
I hope somebody can shed light on this, since it would probably help the farmers.