It was in my younger days, oh, in the late 1960s, when I first became acquainted with Cobourg’s harbour. Living in Mississauga, I was going through an adventuresome phase, owning a boat that variously took me around
Lake Ontario, into the St. Lawrence river, the Thousand Islands and, heading back home on one occasion, an unscheduled stop in Cobourg’s harbour. Well, at least it was a place where one could tie-up alongside a dilapidated dock surrounded by messy piles of coal and garbage. Fast forward 50 years to the beautiful harbour of today with great facilities and its backdrop of the town of Cobourg, a welcoming sight for out-of-town boaters. Except – except one hopes the out-of-towners (and local boaters) quickly turn a blind eye to the shamefully battered, rundown, neglected east pier. Yes, the first thing sailors see as they approach and enter the harbour. But wait! There’s time for this present council to secure a legacy before the clock timing its term in office runs out.
All the approaches to Cobourg are pleasant and easy on the eye; from the east, a tree-lined highway, from the west, a relaxing drive past open fields, the ‘rural’ approach. Likewise from the north, a pleasant drive until one crosses Highway 401 into a gentle assimilation of the commercial part of Cobourg life. And then there’s the southern approach, busy in the summer months as visiting boaters are drawn to a safe harbour and a welcoming town. Now, with the farmer’s market in its new location, we have even more to offer the out-of-town sailor – such as the boat from Rochester that visits a few times each summer, making a point to stock up at Millstone Bread on each visit. I presume these boaters turn a blind, Nelson’s eye, as they pass the east pier. A pier that has suffered years of neglect, becoming a virtual parking lot in the summer months (and, rumour has it, a good place to toke up on a summer evening).
So, yes, this present council has an opportunity to leave a lasting legacy – which, over the years for previous councils, has not been an easy thing to do. The councils that created Victoria Hall – and the one that prevented its destruction – as well as creating Victoria Park, preserving our beaches, are the ones that stand out in the history books and should be commended. With the few months remaining of the present council’s term, it has an opportunity to find its place in the history books – if it acts quickly.
When the current state of repair of the east pier has been determined – and necessary structural improvements have been made – Cobourg Council could create a small (emphasis on the small) volunteer committee of Cobourg citizens to come up with approaches to resurrect the east pier into something in-coming boaters can look to with admiration – and Cobourgians can enjoy. Such as … well, how about a pedestrian pier with all vehicular traffic banned; a well designed gate welcoming visitors, beyond which attractive, well-placed seating so walkers can relax, soak in the rays, observe the various varieties of bird life drawn to the harbour? Enjoy a picnic. As well, perhaps some strategically placed planters with which the town’s Park’s Department can create its own floral magic? Then, to maintain continuity with Victoria Park, install a few of the tall, street lamps that illuminate the park? A simple, not too expensive, lasting, welcoming southern gateway – that all Cobourg residents can enjoy, relaxing as they watch the sun rise, or set, as cormorants skim the waves on their way to somewhere.
Oh. As for toking up? Nah. Not in Cobourg. Just kidding.