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The consultant's report on expansion of the Marina plus the business justification for it were originally intended to be presented on Wednesday 18th March to the Parks and Recreation Advisory Committee. These meetings are open to the public but usually no-one shows up except committee members. However, this time the Agenda has been published on the Town's web site along with copies of presentations to be made. These include the justification for borrowing approx $1m to expand the Marina plus a forecast of the expected revenue to pay it back. Marina Manager Paul Gauthier will present the "justification" and presumably the consultant will present their report.

The business case for additional docks relies on the fact that there is a backlog of boats waiting to get a berth.  Here is the list provided:

Boats on Waiting list by Size Shortage Proposed Existing Total Existing
& proposed
28 Total Boats 20 to 25 ft. L.O.A. 28 0 48 48 30 ft.
73 Total Boats 26 to 30 ft. L.O.A. 73 0 88 88 30 ft.
49 Total Boats 31 to 35ft. L.O.A. 49 34 48 82 30 ft.
35 Total Boats 36 to 40 ft. L.O.A. 35 60 16 76 36 ft.
19 Total Boats 41 to 50 ft. L.O.A. 19 18 16 34 40 ft.
3 Total Boats 51 to 55ft. L.O.A. 3 4 2 6 45 ft.
TOTALS 207 116 218 334  

Note [from report]: Slip Size recommendations are based on industry trend towards increasingly larger boats and the ability to put a smaller boat on a larger finger but not vise versa. As a result boats in the smaller size range (20' to 30') can be accommodated with the proposed mix of dock sizes.

[Editor's note: Column of "Existing" was not in original table].

There is no estimate of boats that might leave or owners who might not in fact use berths offered even though they are on the waiting list.  I wonder where else they have their names listed?  However, the number of berths proposed is significantly less than the number waiting. There is also no discussion of the financial risks involved.

With the additional boat slips, the capacity would increase from 218 to 344 (down from original 348), the estimated $1M cost of the work would be covered by the extra revenue and there would be additional profit money added to the Town’s “reserves”.  Debt repayment would take 15 years. The full justification is in this report by the Marina Manager. Separate Marina Manager reports make it clear that the Marina currently does not require taxpayer money to operate and in fact makes a small contribution.

The report on Marina Expansion from the consultant Shoreplan Engineering Limited mostly discussed the layout - that is, how the expansion could be accommodated including increased winter storage. Presumably because of the concern by citizens of the takeover of the harbour by the Marina, they did provide some drawings that showed where the other users could go - although there was no attempt to accommodate bird-watching. Although the current report shows 4 main options plus a modified Option 1a, they are all on the premise that 116 new docks will be provided and they all intrude on the west side of the existing docks. No matter which layout is chosen, the expanded Marina would dominate the entire harbour.

Below is Option 1a.


(click here to download a larger version).

The report is to be submitted first to the Parks and Recreation Advisory Committee, then there will be public meetings for input - no date yet but see below for a copy of a letter sent to Councillors and Staff. Before the Public Meetings, there will be a Stakeholder's meeting on 31 March at 10AM at Vic Hall. "Stakeholders" will presumably be those previously identified: Canadian Coastguard, Cobourg Yacht Club, Cobourg Dragon Boat and Canoe Club, Survivor Thrivers Breast Cancer Survivor Society and the Willow Beach Field Naturalists. This assumes that the proposal will get past the parks and recreation Committee.

Download the full report: "Final Draft 2015 Marina Expansion report" from Shoreplan Engineering Limited.

This is likely to get some flack from citizens - to put it mildly.

The following is one letter already sent by one citizen to the Councillor who is Co-ordinator for Parks and Recreation. Copies were also sent to other Councillors and CAO Stephen Peacock.

Dear Theresa:

You wanted some early feedback on the Final Draft Report of the Cobourg Marina Expansion. I regretfully submit the following.

On page 1 of the Cobourg Marina Expansion Final Draft Report, we are told that “Phase III will include the addition of 120 serviced slips … .” 

As can immediately be seen from figure 3.2 all four options place the new slips in the open water west of the centre pier.

On page 8 in the Section 3.1 Docks, we read:

The Town wishes to expand the capacity of the Cobourg Marina to 344 slips [bolding mine].” 

Is this what the Town wants? This is deeply shocking. If it is true, there is little point (other than cosmetic) in wasting time over a bunch of unneeded meetings to hammer out storage and parking details for the greatly expanded Marina.

If it is not true, then the whole document, which is clearly only a slight re-jigging of the original “non-plan,” and which still places the expansion in the public waters west of the centre pier, is predicated on a false premise and should be scrapped. It offers nothing to anyone but the Marina, and all former consultation fell on utterly deaf ears. Not even the heartfelt opinions of the Cobourg public at the final open meeting seem to have made any impression whatsoever on the decision makers, even though the numbers opposed to the plan vastly outweighed those of the proponents of the expansion scheme.

I am truly perplexed by this and read the report with a sinking heart because I believed (and still firmly believe) the following statements made by the people who actually represent the Town:

Mayor Gil Brocanier: The only harbour plan I will support is one that respects the needs of all the user groups and the public. I will NOT support a plan that restricts or compromises the current user groups … .”
Deputy Mayor John Henderson: “… If by chance the report’s recommendation focuses primarily on the marina expansion, then I will not be able to support this recommendation.”
Councillor Brian Darling: “ … I personally cannot in good conscience vote to allow expansion of boat slips west of the centre pier. The west basin should remain as close to its current condition as is possible.”
Councillor Forrest Rowden: “I would like to see the harbour stay the way it is now and then all groups … could enjoy the harbour the way it has been for many years … .”
Councillor Theresa Rickerby: “To date I have not received any information nor seen any plans that lead me to believe that an expansion into the west of the central pier is necessary or viable.”
Councillor Debra McCarthy: “I will not support the Phase II and III expansion of the Marina for 120 more slips because the waterfront is the Town of Cobourg’s most precious all season destination that must be protected as a natural environment for future generations.”
Councillor Larry Sherwin: I will only support a plan that has taken in all concerns. … We need to build a harbour for all users … .”

I am very sorry that you are being dragged into this messy business. I am even sorrier to be dragged in to it again myself. It’s going to be a battle royal.

Richard Pope
For the Advisory Committee on Natural Spaces of the Willow Beach Field Naturalists


Update: The meeting was listed on the Town's web site as being on Wednesday March 18th but at the last minute, it was rescheduled to March 23 with fewer documents attached although the two included above were included. A time was not provided for the rescheduled meeting - the documents removed may have been considered confidential since they had detailed budgets of employee salaries.

BUT, it remains to be seen what the Committee will do with the report. What will the Committee and Politicians do? Will they rubber stamp the recommendation of the consultants and staff? Stay Tuned.

Addendum - March 19, 2015

Update: The Advisrory Committee meeting was rescheduled from Wednesday in light of the funeral for little Grace Bowen.

Theresa Rickerby says that: "that before spending any more time and money that it would be best to sit down with the user groups and get their feedback".

Theresa reports that "the user group (stakeholder) meeting on the 31st is meant to be an intimate round table discussion with one representative from each organization. We have circulated the document as it currently stands for review by all parties and have asked everyone to please submit their three main topics of discussion. There will be some additional seating available for people who wish to observe but there are some space limitations as this meeting is not intended for the public at large."

Update:  If you want to see what the current Councillors said on this subject before their election, go here:


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