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Cobourg is known for its beach – although there are really two beaches. There is the popular, groomed Beach adjacent to Victoria Park that’s called “Victoria Beach” and the West beach that’s been left natural. This page is about Victoria Beach. That’s where all the visitors go and where everything happens. On some weekends there’s Volleyball matches; on one weekend there’s a sandcastle competition; and on every hot weekend you can be sure of a crowd.
Note about Lake levels
In recent years (2017 and 2019), the level of Lake Ontario was much higher than usual resulting in the beach being flooded at times and therefore restricted in its area. But because of a lot of dredging in the harbour, an extra foot or so of sand was added to the beach so by the high season (mid June), the full beach was in use and available. It’s expected that levels may be high again in future years and although that’s an issue for property owners with lakefronts, it will not be a problem for the beach.
The Beach season with lifeguards on duty is from the last week of June to Labour day and from 11:30am to 5:50pm.
The beach is quite wide and the water shallow; there is currently a very popular trailer park adjacent to the beach; there are washrooms and a canteen for food; there is a water park for kids and a playground for kids. There is a mat that is laid out to provide wheelchair access to the water. There are free kids movies in the park behind the beach on three summer Saturdays (calendar here). Parking is not free and you may have to walk a bit on a busy day. The slide show at right gives you an idea of what it’s like.
In addition to Blue Flag certification (see below) Victoria Beach uses a green flag to indicate that it is safe to swim and a red flag to indicate that lifeguards are not on duty.
Council has passed bylaws that prohibit a number of things on the beach. As well as no alcohol, there are bylaws that say:
- No smoking on the beach (probably not enforced if no-one complains)
- No Barbecues on the beach
- No dogs, cats or other domestic animals.
- No Tents with sides
- No-one allowed between 11:00pm and 7:00am – (not enforced if no-one complains)
Beach and water quality
The quality of the beach is assured because it’s a “Blue Flag Beach”. But what does that mean? To be certified by the Blue Flag organization, you must meet 33 criteria set out in the Blue Flag Canada Certification Guide – download it here. A summary list is provided below – quite impressive.
Blue Flag Criteria for Beaches
Note that the page numbers shown refer to pages in the guide.
Environmental Education and Information
1 Information about the Blue Flag program must be displayed. (pg. 5)
2 Environmental education initiatives must be offered and promoted to beach users. (pg. 6)
3 Information about recreational water quality must be displayed. (pg. 6)
4 Information about the local ecosystem must be displayed. (pg. 7)
5 A map of the beach indicating different facilities must be displayed. (pg. 7)
6 A code of conduct that reflects appropriate laws governing the use of the beach and surrounding areas must be displayed. (pg. 7)
7 The beach must fully comply with the water quality sampling and frequency requirements. (pg. 8)
8 The beach must fully comply with the requirements for water quality analysis. (pg. 9)
9 No industrial, wastewater or sewage-related discharges should affect the beach area. (pg. 10)
10 The beach must comply with the Blue Flag requirements for the microbiological parameter Escherichia coli (E.coli) and intestinal enterococci (streptococci). (pg. 10)
11 The beach must comply with the Blue Flag requirements for the following physical and chemical parameters. (pg. 10)
12 The local authority/beach operator must establish a beach management committee. (pg. 11)
13 The local authority/beach operator must comply with all regulations affecting the location and operation of the beach. (pg. 11)
14 Sensitive areas must be managed accordingly. (pg. 12)
15 The beach must be clean. (pg. 12)
16 Seaweed or natural debris should be left on the beach. (pg. 12)
17 Garbage bins must be available at the beach in adequate numbers and they must be regularly maintained. (pg. 13)
18 Recycling bins must be available at the beach. (pg. 13)
19 An adequate number of toilet or restroom facilities must be provided. (pg. 13)
20 The restroom facilities must be kept clean. (pg. 14)
21 The toilet or restroom facilities must have controlled sewage disposal. (pg. 14)
22 Camping, driving and dumping are prohibited on the beach. (pg. 14)
23 Domestic animals must be prohibited from beach. (pg. 14)
24 All buildings and beach equipment must be properly maintained. (pg. 15)
25 Marine and freshwater sensitive habitats in the vicinity of the beach must be monitored. (pg. 14)
26 A sustainable means of transportation should be promoted in the beach area. (pg. 15)
Safety and Services
27 Appropriate public safety control measures must be implemented. (pg. 16)
28 First aid equipment must be available on the beach. (pg. 17)
29 Emergency plans to cope with pollution risks must be in place. (pg. 17)
30 There must be management of different users and uses of the beach so as to prevent conflicts and accidents. (pg. 18)
31 There must be safety measures in place to protect users of the beach. (pg. 18)
32 A supply of drinking water should be available at the beach. (pg. 19)
33 At least one Blue Flag beach in each municipality must have access and facilities provided for the physically disabled. (pg. 19)
History of West Beach
The beach on the west side of Cobourg is natural and much less crowded. There is an article here on its history.