Should a Natural Waterfront Park be created?

Richard Pope of the Willow Beach Field Naturalists (WBFN) did all the right things.  He convinced four Advisory Committees and the GRCA that a Natural Heritage Waterfront Park would be a good idea but his presentation to Council only got a lukewarm reception.  Despite a lot of information being provided in advance, the idea was deferred to February 2020 when Staff will provide a report.  The idea was made public in a Post based on Richard’s presentation to the Sustainability and Climate Change Advisory Committee (SCCAC) early October (see link below) and basically means that the West Harbour, the West Headland, the Ecology garden and the West beach would be declared a Natural Park with restrictions on what can be done there.

Richard Pope
Richard Pope

Richard’s presentation covered a range of issues:

  • The Parks Master Plan and the Waterfront Master Plans recommend something similar.
  • Making the area a Park is compatible with all uses the Public wants to do there  – with the exception of adding additional boat slips which some want, and a boatlift “which would have to be outside of the Park boundaries”.
  • There is no upfront cost and long range costs are low since “low maintenance is characteristic of such parks”.
  • Its importance for birds is legendary and plant life is rich – this was reinforced by author Margaret Bain who presented some slides about fauna and flora in the area and also said that the area had still not recovered from the devastation caused 5 years ago when tons of dredging material were added to the West Headland.  As Richard said: “the area is fragile”.
  • The harbour has heritage value and is in fact called our “Heritage Harbour”.
  • Jurisdiction is not a problem since the Town owns the entire shoreline. Later comments by Mayor Henderson pointed to possible legal problems with the boardwalk across the land currently owned by the School Board.
  • There is no request for money now, just protection
  • WBFN first asked for this in August 1994; Richard made a proposal in January 2016 and despite being declared a priority item, nothing happened.  Richard said that “I hope this is the last time and that it’s not just ‘received for information purposes'”.

When it came time for delegation actions, Councillor Emily Chorley moved that the idea be endorsed and that the Town proceed to create a Waterfront Park and during this process no changes be made to the area without Council’s consent.  Further that the Parks and Recreation Advisory committee, in collaboration and consultation with the GRCA,  prepare recommendations re Park boundaries, permitted and prohibited activities within the Park, expected costs and timeline.  These recommendations to be provided by the first of August 2020.

But Director Dean Hustwick and Councillor Adam Bureau said that this proposal duplicates what’s already directed by the Official Plan, Zoning, the Parks Master Plan and the Waterfront Master Plan. Brian Darling was concerned about the inclusion of the section from Third Street to the headland.  Both Brian and Adam wanted a report from staff on the impact of declaring the area a Park.

In the end, Adam’s motion to refer the motion to February 1st was passed 5-2 (Emily Chorley and Nicole Beatty opposed) so we will hear from staff on or before that date.

Although Richard Pope provided all his presentation materials to the Town, they were not included in the Agenda.  They are instead provided below.


Richard Pope’s Presentation Materials

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John Green
4 years ago

Wow, it seems like just about everything is centrally planned. I prefer more freedom. Lets try to sustain some of our freedom.

Walter Luedtke
4 years ago

“Sailing, canoeing, kayaking, dragon‐boating, fishing, walking, running, nature hiking, dog‐walking, birding, picnicking, photography, painting, and sitting on benches enjoying the view”
Seems that this will be a hectic,bustling place and not so compatible with birding, certainly not with birds nesting..
And talk about sustainable.
Most people already seem to enjoy the view sitting in their cars with the motor running.
Are exhaust pollutants like carbon monoxide, hydrocarbons, nitrous oxides, carbon dioxide, and particulates really compatible with a Nature Park?
Maybe the Park should be at Willow Beach?

4 years ago

Apparently “.. four Advisory Committees and the GRCA” are unaware of the duplicity of their considerations, and Mr. Popes efforts, when aligned against the Official Plan, Parks Master Plan and Waterfront Master Plan. Seems like a gross waste of time for a lot of people. Maybe the ‘lukewarm reception’ is due in part because of: Unspecified revenue opportunities; unspecified special interest groups designs on the West Beach; desire to have implementation of all of the components of the PMP & WMP.

If Richards’ assertions “no upfront cost and long range costs are low” and “Parks Master Plan and the Waterfront Master Plans recommend something similar” are true/accurate it seems to me that his delegation speaks to the proverbial low hanging fruit that would give a kick start to the oft delayed, confrontational aspects, of the PM & WM Plans. Oh well.

4 years ago

Sounds like the westenders are getting a private beach !
the next thing you know the rest of us won’t be able to walk on the sand
with out disturbing its natural and sensitive Quiet placement on earth.

I wish the rest of the Cobourg beach and water front was that quiet and peaceful
the way it was when we moved here
and less like the CNE grounds its becoming

Reply to  sandpiper
4 years ago

Because the areas in question are so far a part…

It’s nice to have options.

4 years ago

A great idea that I fully support.

Bill Thompson
4 years ago

2016 delegation and “priority” status given by previous mayor Brocanier for action ,and immediately ignored thereafter.

Mr Pope and Ms Bain delivered another very comprehensive delegation on this same subject and yet …. …
This repeat delegation being required to get a council decision resulting in a decision made for further staff action and report being promised during January 2020 ( period of four years) is very unusual I would think.

Surprising that anyone, particularly any new council members, would not be totally aware and brought up to date on this issue and yet the vote agreeing to a deferral to get more the result.

Canuck Patriot
4 years ago

Getting this long overdue approval is like watching molasses go up a hill backwards in the middle of January. I don’t understand why the continuous delay.

Illo Neri
Reply to  Canuck Patriot
4 years ago


Even though there is no cost to this designation, it could preclude future development (read – $$$$).

Anyway. my zwei pfennig-worth. Pure speculation not based on any real fact!!! Hey – if Trump, Scheer, Trudeau and Ford can speculate….so can I! 🙂

Reply to  Canuck Patriot
4 years ago

I don’t understand the foot dragging either. Screw further development in that area…there are plenty of other options for other over sized buildings. We seem to speak of protecting the environment with the old familiar forked tongue.

Miriam Mutton
4 years ago

Yes! … to answer the question title of this piece. The park in fact already exists and is appreciated by many people. An excellent presentation by the delegates. Council directed protection of the natural area is much overdue. As pointed out during the presentation and discussion, a natural park does not mean that other uses can not also be included in the management plan for the area.