Aquatic Safety – Take 3

On September 23, 2019, a report was presented to Council called an “Aquatic Safety Audit” Report.  It was conducted by the Life Saving Society (LSS) at the request of the Community Services Division but immediately created concerns for Harbour users.  Several harbour users made presentations to Council with strong objections to parts of the “audit”; they basically said that the requirements were onerous and not necessary.   Council asked Director Dean Hustwick to write a detailed report responding to the concerns and he delivered that on 11 May 2020 – see links below for copies of the presentation and reports on the related Council meetings.  As a result, Council decided to refer the whole matter to the Parks and Recreation Advisory committee and at the Committee of the Whole meeting on July 20, the committee provided three resolutions.

West Harbour 2018
West Harbour 2018

Parks and Recreation Coordinator Emily Chorley then made three motions implementing their recommendations:

  1. A request for legal clarification
  2. Agreement to implement 5 of the 16 original recommendations
  3. Setting up a new working group to prepare a Safety Procedure/Emergency Manual

(Photo is from 2018 when both small sailboats and Dragon Boats were using the West Harbour.)

Legal Clarification

Although this was not spelled out, it appears that the Advisory committee thinks that legally the Town may not have jurisdiction over activities on the water’s surface even though they own the harbour.

The motion passed by Council directed:

THAT a definitive legal opinion from an independent legal counsel with expertise in riparian rights be obtained regarding the municipality’s ability, if any, to regulate on-water activities in the harbour;
AND FURTHER THAT the legal opinion be obtained before any further attempt to regulate on-water activities;
AND FURTHER THAT the 2015 legal opinion on this matter be made available to the public.

Emily commented that the 2015 opinion needed clarification.

Implementing Select Recommendations

The motion passed by Council directed staff to implement five recommendations from the original report that all members of the advisory committee agreed on:

Recommendation #1: Install an Automatic External Defibrillator (AED) unit adjacent to the marina office.
Recommendation #2: Ensure all marina staff are standard first aid certified and trained in the use of rescue equipment and extraction techniques.
Recommendation #12: Complete a safety equipment audit; establish lifesaving stations on each marina dock and around the harbour.
Recommendation #13: Clearly Identity the egress ladders in the harbour.
Recommendation #15: Conduct stray electrical current testing and document the results.

Establishing a Working Group

Staff is instructed to setup a working group comprised of two staff members and one representative of each user group, including:

  • Survivor Thrivers
  • Cobourg Yacht Club/Learn to Sail
  • Cobourg Dragon Boat & Canoe Club
  • Coast Guard
  • Green Canoe
  • Northumberland YMCA
  • Seasonal marina boaters (Boaters Council)
  • Anglers/commercial charters
  • Cobourg Surf and Paddleboard Club

AND FURTHER THAT the working group be tasked with drafting a safety procedure/emergency manual for submission to Council and the Parks and Recreation Advisory Committee ahead of the 2021 boating season.

Eleven other recommendations have either been already implemented or will be resolved by the working group with reference to the legal opinion obtained.

Looks like a highly contentious issue is on the way to being resolved.


Discussed at May 11 meeting

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3 years ago

Sounds like just another make work project to me…how in earth have we ever gotten along for the past 100 years in Cobourg without all these new or about to be new regulations for the harbour area.

Reply to  cornbread
3 years ago

Fact: you can’t even jump in the lake these days – not if it’s off any of the piers.

Insurance co. forbids it.

A true fact!

Paul Pagnuelo
3 years ago

The way the Advisory Committee took charge of this issue, its approach and recommendations are an outstanding example of how committees should operate as independent advisors to Council separate from staff.

All around, from the committee stage to Council approval this is how municipal government should function in a democracy.

Please let’s see far more of this type of interaction and participation at the committee/Council level. Broadcasting the Committee meetings by Zoom was another very positive step forward.

Cobourg taxpayer
Reply to  Paul Pagnuelo
3 years ago

Are all the thumbs down from town of Cobourg public servants??? I think it’s excellent that the committees advise council and are separate from town staff. The town staff prefer to run council and do not answer to the taxpayer, this has to stop.