Waterfront Parking Survey Results

At the next Committee of the Whole (CoW) meeting on 21 February, Council will receive a staff report on the latest survey about waterfront parking.  This issue goes back to 2021 when there was concern about managing crowds at the Beach.  The Parks & Recreation Advisory Committee recommended a major increase in parking fees at the waterfront with passes available to residents.  There were a number of meetings and surveys to get residents’ feedback before implementation for the 2022 season.  Then in January this year, a follow up survey was done to review the changes.  A total of 465 people responded to the online survey which mostly asked about how well the changes were understood and details about resident passes.

In presenting the results of the survey, Staff include some recommendations but no major changes are suggested.  The full report is long (15 pages) but is available for download below.

Here are some highlights (image was used when survey was active):

Waterfront Parking Survey Highlights
Selected questions and staff comments

Q. Resident Waterfront Seasonal Passes purchased in 2022

Waterfront Parking Survey
Waterfront Parking Survey

Of the 465 in the survey – here’s the number of waterfront passes they purchased:

Resident Season Pass: 32.6% (152) purchased – 1081 issued
East Beach Season Pass: 4.9% (23) purchased – 104 issued
No pass at all: 62.5% (291)

Another 482 Waterfront Daily Passes were sold – presumably to non-residents.


  1. Numbers in brackets are calculated.
  2. This data is presented differently here to establish what percentage of relevant residents responded: 152/1081 = 14%  This number is an estimate since the two time frames could be different.
  3. Staff commented that it was difficult to establish residency for people living in multi-unit buildings.
  4. A request for a discount for Northumberland residents is not recommended due to the difficulty in implementing.
  5. Based on the limited number of parking spots in the East Beach area, the high number of residential addresses in the East Beach area, the availability of parking on private property and the limited hours of enforcement between 9 am and 4 pm, it is not recommended that more than one pass be available for each residential property in Cobourg.

Q. Were you aware of the Charles St. Lot available for Resident Waterfront Season Pass holders only and did you use it? 32.5% were aware and 11.9% used it. Staff recommend that the usage of the Charles St lot be monitored in 2023 and considered to be converted back to regular waterfront parking use in 2024.

Q. Did you visit the Cobourg Waterfront Area this summer, go to the beach or attend an event this season?  90.7% Yes.

Of these what type of parking did you utilize?

  • 9.8% Waterfront Parking Lot ($40 day pass)
  • 12% Waterfront Parking Lot ($5/hour for time required)
  • 4.7% Waterfront On Street parking ($40 day pass)
  • 9.2% Waterfront On Street parking ($5/hour for time required)
  • 2.3% East Beach Area Day Pass ($40/day – Henry/Perry/Bay/Green/Church St)
  • 21.7% Resident Waterfront Parking pass ($40/season or $20/season for East Beach Area residents)
  • 40.3% Other (please specify)

Q. Did the increase in parking rates deter you from visiting the Cobourg Waterfront in 2022?

Yes: 51.8%     No: 48.2%

Q. Did the new signage allow you to easily understand how to pay for parking?  No: 45.5%

Parking Tickets/Fines
Approximately 2,685 parking tickets were issued within the waterfront area by bylaw enforcement officers from May 20 to October 10 inclusive.  See the full report available below for the status of these tickets – about half have been paid, many were disputed. Comments were received that fines were too much for parking tickets.

Communications Strategy
Town Staff identified the necessity to improve communications to residents and visitors alike well ahead of the 2023 waterfront season.  The full report lists 10 actions.

Financial Impact – Waterfront Revenue 2022

  • Revenue from Passes – $64,480
  • Hourly parking – $514,275
  • Revenue from tickets – $278,640

Total 2022 parking revenue $869,045 (Does not equal sum of above – perhaps because of difficulty separating waterfront parking from Downtown parking).

Of this, $219,300 will Transfer to Parks/Waterfront and $355,717 will transfer to Parking Reserve.

Staff comment: There were more savings transferred to the parking reserve in 2022 than from 2016 to 2021 combined and nearly the same for the contribution to parks/waterfront operations. Funds from the parking reserve will be utilized in 2023 to conduct a parking study (for $75k) that will consider future options for Cobourg when we can no longer rely on private lands for parking lots.

Again, see the full report available below for more detail.


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17 February 2023 10:53 am

It seems it might be a good time to ask what might be the plan for the former school property(football field) that the Town is presumably acquiring at 117 Durham St west of Legion Village?
I am not suggesting that it be paved–but, it may provide some sort of seasonal parking capacity before Council turns into a Dollarama or a tent city…….

Reply to  John Draper
17 February 2023 11:12 am

Thank you, John. Now the possibilities are truly unpredictable…

Dave Chomitz
16 February 2023 11:34 am

Having lived at the foot of Henry St when there were no restrictions at all and people were parking at the corners I can say seeing the bylaw guys give out tickets at all is amazing. We used to park on the street early in the morning so company could use the drive. Neighbours would share the space they had. It was was just part of living there. If the few tickets they give out now generate more cash it’s a bonus. But another study looks like a another joke.

16 February 2023 10:53 am

Understand parking garages are often dangerous places. Muggings and personal attacks. The point is moot however as the last study proved it was too expensive to build one due to the waterway running below. Why another study?

Reply to  Dave
16 February 2023 3:02 pm

That’s not quite right the last study said the amount to be charged was too much for the average parker to pay. The culvert has to be rebuilt sometime in the future do it at the same time and save money.

Reply to  ben
16 February 2023 6:34 pm

Ben If a large parking fee was required and above what is normal perhaps then the whole project is too expensive in costs to build. Otherwise why charge so much?

Reply to  Dave
16 February 2023 7:02 pm

Times have changed, a $40 day pass wasn’t even in the picture back in the day, everything has changed including the resistance to higher parking fees.

Reply to  ben
16 February 2023 9:29 pm

It was learned when first examined there was a waterway running beneath that area Ben and that was the reason at that time, not today, that it was deemed too expensive to do, so I don’t get your explanation Ben! The $40 parking pass was so residents could park at the beach all season long that was offered just recently.

Last edited 1 month ago by Dave
16 February 2023 8:33 am

Another way of looking at the topic – read the last paragraph: https://burdreport.ca/blog/2023/02/16/waterfront-parking-survey-results/

Wally Keeler
Reply to  ben
16 February 2023 12:49 pm

Ben: I tried to post the following as a comment on your blog, but was inexplicably rejected, so …

the principle of crowd control has long gone by the wayside in favour of cranking up the money-machine!

I absolutely agree. Could you explain why this is a bad thing? 

Reply to  Wally Keeler
16 February 2023 3:04 pm

I can but I just put it out there as an observation.

I think all the crowd control measures discriminate against out of town visitors – banning bbqs and stopping cricket games but couched in crowd control measures.

ps Wally the comment thingy has been fixed – I hope

Last edited 1 month ago by ben
Reply to  ben
16 February 2023 4:46 pm

Agree about “crowd control measures” comment. I don’t see the harm in bbq’s, particularly since we now have a large by-law enforcement contingent to monitor the comestibles and condiments! As to cricket, an insufferable game, most suitably played at Donegan Park.

Ken Strauss
Reply to  ben
16 February 2023 6:53 pm

Why is “discriminating” a bad thing? Shouldn’t those who pay for the beach get preferential access? Why pay if not?

Reply to  Ken Strauss
16 February 2023 7:04 pm

Economic discrimination wasn’t the type of discrimination that was being considered when the first ‘anti out of town visitors’ measures were being taken.

Cobourg Taxpayer
15 February 2023 10:55 pm

Comments on the report/ review: 2685 tickets handed out but 859 were voided, a warning or withdrawn. Only 1245 actually contributed to revenue so far as 330 are going to trial. Sounds like bylaw officers are wasting a lot of time writing tickets that don’t contribute to revenue.
The statement that 2022 was a banner year as compared to 2016-2021 is baloney. As far as contributions to parking reserve I see a grand total of $25642 increase in 2022 over 2016-2021. As far as contributing to parks/waterfront; in2022 the contribution was $219300 yet from 2016-2021 the contribution was $334517. This is a total higher revenue of $115217 from 2016-2021. How can the report state that 2022 revenue for both reserves was so much higher. I suspect most revenue has gone to increased city hall staff and vehicles etc. I really hope that a commenter here who has more financial ability than I do can make these figures sound a lot more impressive than they do to me. Hopefully council can all see the discrepancies here.

Greg H
15 February 2023 5:33 pm

 Funds from the parking reserve will be utilized in 2023 to conduct a parking study (for $75k) that will consider future options for Cobourg when we can no longer rely on private lands for parking lots.”
$75,000 for a further study is a complete waste of money . it is better to keep it in the fund for a parking building at Covert.

Reply to  Greg H
15 February 2023 7:52 pm

How about looking in the bowels of City Hall for the study done in 1986/7 and just update the numbers.

Definitely save $75K

Last edited 1 month ago by ben
Ron Frizzell
Reply to  Greg H
16 February 2023 8:50 am

At some point we need to quit paying for studies and simply implement a plan & stick with it for at least 5 years, unless experience warrants a change in the interim.

Bill Thompson
Reply to  Ron Frizzell
16 February 2023 12:59 pm

Makes more sense than the usual process of having “experts” telling us the time with our own watches!

Reply to  Bill Thompson
16 February 2023 2:47 pm

Whoa, easy there Bill.
You might incite a breakout of common sense

Greg H
Reply to  Greg H
16 February 2023 9:19 am

There are several reasons why a $75,000 study is not reasonable.

The concept that we need no more studies from outsiders is one reason. The fact that it has already been done before is another. I would think that the seven members of council are all aware of the issues involved without being told by an outsider.

Another reason is that $75,000 is an absurdly high figure. Even at $500 an hour I could deliver a study for $10,000. I would count the number of vehicles parked in the downtown lots on Albert Street between Second street and Division on a fine summer weekend. I would also count the number of vehicles in the Covert Street lot, and I would measure the total areas of the Albert Street and Covert Street lots for comparison purposes. There is little else to study, since the on-street parking in Cobourg is unlikely be altered.

For my fees I would also point out that the least costly option would be for the Town to buy the lots on Albert Street, and retain them for parking. These areas could be minimally landscaped with some grass, trees and shrubs to make there seem a little more upscale. The cost of buying the lots would be less than the cost of building a multi-story building at Covert Street and the Albert Street lots would provide more parking. Cobourg would then continue to have convenient parking downtown and for its waterfront recreational and tourist areas, for ever !

Reply to  Greg H
16 February 2023 11:45 am

Would you be willing to include coloured pie charts a few line graphs and a binder with title page?

Last edited 1 month ago by Informed
Reply to  Informed
16 February 2023 3:56 pm

The best parking at the Cobourg waterfront is what’s called free parking. That way you can do away with studies and pie charts. 🙂

Reply to  Conor
17 February 2023 6:18 pm

Do away with pie ! 😱
Never ! 🥧 😁

Reply to  Greg H
17 February 2023 6:16 am

Many people, other than myself, would gladly volunteer to assist You with the counting that is cited in paragraph two and with the interesting landscaping that is suggested in paragraph three.

Sam Westcott
Reply to  Greg H
17 February 2023 2:28 pm

Reply to Greg H.
Yes, but the property Taxes on the Condos to be built would be enormous at no cost to the Town.
Last time I heard the asking price on the Old Quigleys (North) lot was $2.2MM. probably lot higher now.

Last edited 1 month ago by Sam Westcott
Greg H
Reply to  Sam Westcott
17 February 2023 3:14 pm

What condos are you referring to? I did not suggest any.
Condos on the Albert/Second Street lot would be very difficult as the lot is also over a creek. The HarbourWalk condos on 3rd street have great problems caused by water in the underground parking.
In any event the issue is parking. Buying the Albert /Second Street lot for parking is sensible if it is less than the cost of a multi storey garage on Covert Street.

BTW calling it the Quigley lot is somewhat libellous to the Quigley family. The Quigley family operated a Pro Hardware franchise on the lot in an ex supermarket building. But the lot was owned by Bill Patchett.

Reply to  Greg H
21 February 2023 12:21 pm

When you do your report, as an expert, can you provide me 7 green lines, please, all perpendicular, with 3 red and 2 transparent? Oh, and one in the shape of a kitten….

Might need to increase your fees a bit.

For those who don’t know, check out “The Expert”: on Youtube.  

I agree – $75k is way too much for not that complex an issue…imho…

Last edited 1 month ago by MiloN