Revisions to Policies on Free Parking

At the Committee of the Whole (CoW) meeting on 21 February, Director of Legislative Services, Brent Larmer submitted a memo that asked Council for direction on the distribution of free or discounted parking passes. This was in response to a discussion during budget deliberations on Community Grants when staff were asked to review the relevant policies. Some groups currently ask for free parking passes as part of the Community grant process but others ask separately as part of organizing a special event. There are three policies that affect the issuing of free parking passes and Brent made recommendations for changes to each of them. Brian Darling moved that staff make the recommended modifications and bring the amended policies back to Council for approval. His motion passed. So here are the recommended changes likely to be implemented.

First, Brent commented that with the recently increased parking rates, free or discounted parking would have a significant impact on the Town’s budget and since “parking reserve funds are reinvested into the Town through operations and capital programing” then “should reserve funds not be available for necessary operations and capital works, the result is an increase in taxes.” He noted that free parking “is not an in kind contribution since it is a direct reduction in parking revenue.”

Impacted Policies

Recommendations (Summaries)

General Parking Permits Allocation Policy PW-ADM1
Note: a copy of this policy is not publicly available although new software is being sourced to make all the Town’s documents available – expected in 2023.

  • All existing user groups that have historically received annual passes will be reviewed and addressed through individual memorandums of understanding (MOU’s), purchasing agreements, contract agreements, and/or the fees and charges schedule.

Special Events Policy Administration CSERV-OPS1
Note: a copy of this policy is not publicly available although new software is being sourced to make all the Town’s documents available – expected in 2023.

  • Recommended that Special event organizers can request free parking to a maximum of the full use of the Charles Street lot (18 spaces) for the length of the event up to a maximum of three (3) days. Beyond three (3) days use of the Charles Street lot, organizers would be required to purchase daily or hourly parking at full rates.
  • Investigate a receipt validation system, for example: for paid events at Victoria Hall, attendees can produce a receipt for a minimum of $10 spent at any downtown vendor and receive a free day parking pass for the downtown within the current year (not valid for the same event day). Not applicable for waterfront events or waterfront parking. (Note: a separate discussion indicated that Staff will look at improving signage to clarify what parking is classified as “waterfront”.)

Municipal Community Grants Policy FIN-ADM1

As part of the review of this Grants Policy which is due by June 2023, “Add to the policy a section related to parking permit requests”:

  • A request for parking permits which allows for up to twenty (20) parking permits at a maximum 50% discount in various municipal lots, and on occasion at specific metered locations.
  • All requests for discounted permits must be made through the Municipal Community Grants process.
  • Grant application to be updated to include a section for applicants to describe the benefit to the community for receiving discounted/free passes;
  • The equivalent value for any day pass shall be in accordance with the current daily rate.
  • The total value of parking passes permitted to be issued annually by Council as grants shall be limited to $5,000 (125 waterfront day pass equivalent).
  • Recognizing that not all event organizers are prepared by the grant application deadline, and in those cases a special event application is required which must go to Council for approval and must be approved by Council a minimum of two (2) weeks in advance of the event.

Brian’s motion did not specify a date when these changes would be made but it would likely be synchronised with the overall review of the Grants’ policy due in June.  As reported earlier, one of the options is to discontinue community grants altogether.


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27 February 2023 7:08 am

It is a pity that many people do not know, or forget, that there is free parking in the Downtown for seven months of the year: After the Thanksgiving Weekend until the start of the Victoria Day Weekend for anyone who is interested in walking a block or two to Banks or other Businesses.

Reply to  marya
28 February 2023 6:31 am

Didn’t know there was free parking on the street downtown in the winter.

26 February 2023 11:06 pm

Near me there are people that park overnight on the street even though they have driveway parking and paid parking. Reason is one they don’t want to park in tandem and the other is the street is nearer their residence door than the paid parking. The bushes grow and grow as the cars block access to the boulevard becoming unsightly. If the Town is looking for revenue this would be a great spot to put in no overnight parking and ticket offenders.

26 February 2023 10:24 pm

Rather than killing the biggest asset Cobourg has perhaps the Town could examine some of the side streets to apply no overnight parking then ticket offenders. Near me is a street where people are constantly parked overnight. As I live in the area I know these people have driveways and garages but don’t want to park in tandem so they park on the street, others have paid for a parking spot but the street parking is much nearer their residence door so they park on the street. As the warmer seasons go I watch the boulevard bushes grow and grow, seldom tended to as the cars block access lined up right in front of it. No reason but laziness that these people park constantly on the street creating sight line hazards for people crossing as well.

26 February 2023 7:46 pm

Cobourg leadership is spending too much time on items like sleeping cabins and parking fees. Look to the beach asset and generate revenue from it.

Last edited 1 month ago by Rationale
26 February 2023 5:27 pm

Are there any explanations out there that indicate the cause of the meter malfunctions? I’m not ready to give up on shopping downtown. There have been some very useful, achievable and doable in real time suggestions made below. These changes should be employed soonest, then maybe the ‘mood’ would change slightly toward the positive.

26 February 2023 12:32 pm

I know let’s build the parking garage and totally kill the downtown off!

Last edited 1 month ago by Dave
26 February 2023 11:26 am

Hahahah parking in this town is an absolute joke. Not sugar coating my comment either. Parking is an absolute mess. The machines don’t work EVER , and I will be damned if I will pay a fine for trying to do business down town. Happen yesterday in fact. Parked , had to walk to find a meter , lost cash trying to get a ticket to park , and what do you know… took money but failed yet again to issue a ticket. Oh and that’s after I had to climb snow banks to get to it. Absolute nonsense. Had I have fell on the damn snow bank or got a ticket there would be hell to pay. This town is killing business down town more now than ever. Not worth the agitation to even try going down town. I deal with only 2 stores down there and the one I only go to every few months. The other is a bank , and only on Sunday when I know I can park for free AND NOT HAVE TO DEAL WITH DRUG ADDICTS. Piss poor crap we deal with in this town.

Reply to  Jade
26 February 2023 11:34 am

When did they make parking free on Sundays?

Reply to  Lois
26 February 2023 11:51 am

That’s what I was going to ask. Jade must have be thinking of every other Town in the world.

Reply to  Lois
27 February 2023 4:40 am

Sorry , meaning actually park in the bank lot for free

Reply to  Jade
26 February 2023 12:43 pm

we have been trying to move the Banks to better locations for years Most have drive throughs now days How ever this Town Has a Prohibitive Zoning ByLaw Preventing them from locating any where else . The one at the Mall was an Inducement back in the day to get the Mall Built .
Check it out Call Planning and find out what’s avail. right Now .

Sam Westcott
Reply to  Sandpiper
27 February 2023 11:43 am

To Sandpiper;
WE (like other small Towns) don’t want the Banks to be allowed to move out of the downtown. They bring people downtown and smart pro downtowners do not want them to be allowed to relocate say, near the Mall, or Walmart. They are Anchor Tenants. The LCBO should have been forced to build a bigger store IN THE DOWNTOWN. When we lost out to the Mall we lost a lot of customer Traffic.
It makes good sense to keep the Banks downtown except the Scotia other branch which got away but BTW does not have a drive thru ( which are environmentally unfriendly.

Besides, for the ever increasing Condo Owners downtown they can walk to the Bank, as they probably prefer that to using internet Banking. These seniors also get exercise and reduce emissions and Carbon footprint. Also they are handy for all the individual small business owners for deposits & change etc. and good for tourists.

Lots of good reasons for the Town of Cobourg to make the Banks stay “Downtown” as Petula Clark sang.

Last edited 1 month ago by Sam Westcott
Ken Strauss
Reply to  Sam Westcott
27 February 2023 3:21 pm

Sam, the reasons that you cite for forcing banks downtown can be summarized as: “Make in-person banking inconvenient so that everyone will use online banking.” With that attitude perhaps Cobourg’s banks will close and move to a more customer friendly town.

What downtown location would allow a large LCBO with ample free parking?

Sam Westcott
Reply to  Ken Strauss
1 March 2023 2:02 pm

The Old Quigleys lot opposite the Frink, The lot just being developed now at Division & Albert, the vacant lot to the west next door or the lot next to the old Cobourg Jail.
Lots of other possibilities actually.

Ken Strauss
Reply to  Sam Westcott
1 March 2023 2:36 pm

The Quigley lot is frequently full without an LCBO and a large store would have even less space for parking. The Division/Albert lot isn’t very large.

Why would anyone want to bother with downtown? There is ample free parking at the mall and one can shop for groceries at the same time as visiting the LCBO.

In hindsight building the new LCBO at the mall is even more attractive since it avoids the downtown vagrants.

Last edited 1 month ago by Ken Strauss
Sam Westcott
Reply to  Ken Strauss
5 March 2023 1:40 pm

Lots and lots of possibilities.

  1. The Covert street Parking lot could have taken a Large LCBO on the west or the East with adequate surface and multi level parking. LCBO customer parking is very short term. This could been likely done without disturbing the Cobourg creek running underneath.
  2. Most of the buildings on the North side of King St. back on to Orange and have large lots. They could have been repurposed with lots of parking at the rear. (Think Shoppers Drug Mart)
  3. Furthermore, some of the South properties on Albert Street have large lots and they could have been perhaps repurposed for a large Heritage LCBO.
  4. Again the Old Cobourg Jail south lot would easily accommodate a big LCBO and it is right opposite the existing small downtown store which could have been sold to the town to create the traffic circle already in the Town’s long range plans for Market Square. I did hear that the owners offered this location to L.C.B.O. but they were turned down.

In any event the LCBO was, to all intents and purposes, the major Anchor Store which brought people to the downtown. This opportunity was lost.

Reply to  Ken Strauss
1 March 2023 2:59 pm

Ken many small successful communities have thriving downtowns that include maintaining efficient banking … you only need to drive next door to see a great example in Port Hope. A new look LCBO would be a good addition to our downtown and likely only needs a small increase in its footprint to achieve it and the town could easily isolate parking in the large Quigley’s lot for LCBO shoppers.

Ken Strauss
Reply to  Rob
1 March 2023 4:40 pm

I believe that the mall LCBO is significantly larger than the downtown one. There is now downtown LCBO only parking which is a pain if I want to visit the LCBO, Smors and perhaps my bank. It would be far more convenient to have everything at the mall.

Sam Westcott
Reply to  Ken Strauss
5 March 2023 1:42 pm

So you actually want the downtown to die?

Reply to  Jade
26 February 2023 3:12 pm

The tickets do get issued but you have to pokje your finger up at an angle to get it out. try do that while wearing gloves!

Give me a break
26 February 2023 10:42 am

If the town is looking for savings ……. No one has ever suggested reducing staff like private sector does in a crunch given that most of the town’s costs are Human Resources. …… I guess with unions we are hard pressed to do anything ….. for the Beach why not build a gate and charge to get in ….

Reply to  Give me a break
26 February 2023 12:37 pm

This was their justification for spending so much on these new machines
and eliminating the Meters not mine you know one of those Election type Promises

26 February 2023 10:04 am

Cobourg is setting themselves up for a big fall, I believe.  For now, citizens still have options to park for free at the Albert St. & Covert St. parking lots to do some shopping and have lunch.  But when those options are gone, we have other other options…We can go to Port Hope (where they actually clean their sidewalks of snow).  We can park for free in all the Grocery Store Malls.  We can drive a short distance and eat at a restaurant on the water in Brighton and park for free.  We will still have options.  And then The Town of Cobourg will be forced to charge all special interest groups asking for free or discounting parking.  Because they will be the only ones needing to park downtown.  I can’t be the only one thinking this way.

Reply to  Kathleen
26 February 2023 10:51 am

No your Not ___that’s why Cobourg Down Town is Dying and has been for the last 10 yrs or so
They the Town Economic Development office – refuse to be honest with them selves and us and do an in house review of all the Business that have Come and Quietly Died on King st .
Besides the Pot Hole in these Parking lots are so large and deep they can damage your car .
Hey By Law ??
The Buyer of the 3 Derelict store fronts on King st next to our Councilor and Pawn Shop operator Adam ,that have been sitting empty with either a For Lease or For Sale sign in the windows for the past 7 + yrs was sold last yr.
Some unsuspecting Buyer acquired it, Guess what They are back on the Market again and never upgraded or occupied Any Ideas as to Why .

Sam Westcott
Reply to  Sandpiper
27 February 2023 12:08 pm

To Sandpiper,
Yes, the old Lui buildings are bank on the market at $2,500,000 after being purchased last year for an overpriced $1,600,000 (considering their condition).
They did Architects drawings for redevelopment and got free building permits from the Town apparently. No lick of paint, or tidying up, it seems and a quick way to make a fast buck or two (almost) $1,000,000. Not bad payday if they get that price.
If they sell perhaps the new buyers will refurbish this Thirty year, or more, eyesore!
Let’s hope.

Reply to  Kathleen
26 February 2023 12:16 pm

The only downtown business I will visit will be my bank! I refuse to pay for parking in my own town. The taxes we pay are already too high. The downtown will be a ghost town before long. The town is its own worst enemy.

Reply to  Liz
26 February 2023 4:58 pm

I agree, the downtown in Cobourg is a sight for sore eyes. There is no store that I purchase anything from, with the exception of Nessie’s for shortbread at Xmas. My banking is not even done downtown. Too many empty stores, nothing to be proud of. Being born in Port Hope, as a teenager, the thing we did was hitch a ride to Cobourg, because it was better than Port Hope, it was the place “to be”. I love the look of Port Hope now, they seem to take pride in their town, we don’t. Cobourg, is a mess and no wonder the only people that come here are the ones who bring their litter to the Cobourg beach for free.

26 February 2023 9:35 am

Personally I think the Cobourg Public is tired of supporting For Profit operations
and Not for Profit Out of Towners ? Groups taking advantage of our so called Tax Payer Generosity
As well as they park where ever they can anyway
And yes the New Parking machines are an issue , even for locals and elderly that try and park as close as they can to where they are going shall we say the Barbers or the Bank , they now have to walk half a block in each direction just to get the parking receipt for the window Those old street metters where right there .
By the way were we not to have reduced the need for some staff with the introduction of these new Parking machines to off set the investment ???

26 February 2023 7:38 am

One of Brent’s comments relates to the impact on the Town budget. Something that may have a bigger impact on the town budget is shovelling snow from bus stops. With on-demand bus service many bus stops are not being used. Instead of shovelling snow from them, for no apparent reason other than to keep town employees busy, why not remove the signs and do away with many of the bus stops no longer used?

Cobourg taxpayer
25 February 2023 10:23 pm

Well I consider myself a relatively intelligent person but trying to decipher the town of Cobourg parking policies is mind boggling. As a resident who has read the various bylaws and is left shaking my head how in the world is a visitor supposed to decipher this? And these parking permit recommendations are also gobbledygook.

Reply to  Cobourg taxpayer
26 February 2023 9:01 am

I agree …

Reply to  RUSS
27 February 2023 9:27 am

I also agree….the Town of Wellington in Prince Edward County virtually killed all of their summer tourist and local traffic with tragically flawed Parking Rules and Enforcement measures last year. It’s a cautionary tale and Case Study for us to look at before our next effort to ‘fix’ things…

A colleague once gave me a coffee cup with an inscription” None of us is as dumb as all of us”….it seems fitting when we look at the mess our Parking Policy has become/.

Old Sailor
25 February 2023 2:03 pm

If we want to dramatically increase parking revenue fix all our parking meters IMMEDIATELY. And keep them fixed all year long. I can’t remember the last time one worked for me. I was in a local barber shop last week and all the men were complaining about the $#!*** parking meters on King Street. How do local residents or town visitors feel when they don’t know whether they need a Ouija Board to operate the parking meter or whether the meter is broken. I have seen so many upset residents/visitors frustrated by our parking meters. I am sure our retail store owners get an earful of this frustration. You return to your car wondering if you have a parking ticket on the windshield. And if we have to replace the parking meters YET AGAIN, outsource the procurement process as we do not seem to have any competency when town staff do this.