In 2018 and 2019, the Lifesaving Society (LSS) conducted an audit of the safety of recreational activities in the Harbour and in September 2019 a report was presented to Council (see links below). Some of the recommendations in the report were unacceptable to both the Dragon Boat and Canoe Club and the Cobourg Yacht Club and caused a stir in Council. After considerable debate, a motion was passed that the report be referred to the Parks and Recreation Advisory Committee to get feedback from all user groups and that by the first COW meeting in March 2020, staff will provide a report to Council inclusive of the feedback from all user groups. Dean Hustwick, Director of community Services, provided this report to Council at Monday’s Committee of the Whole meeting and responded to concerns previously raised by user groups.
However, since the Advisory committees are currently not meeting, the Parks and Recreation Advisory Committee did not participate in the report. In addition, both the Survivor Thrivers Dragon Boat Team and the Cobourg Yacht Club were unhappy with some of the report’s content. They agreed with many although not all recommendations and their primary criticism was that they had not been consulted in the final report. Both groups had (online) delegations to Council.
[Photo is from 2018 when both small sailboats and Dragon Boats were using the West Harbour.]
Presented by Nancy Marshall, Past President, Survivor Thrivers and Steve Wilkes, Coach, Survivor Thrivers
- Does not support Recommendation 4 (developing a Harbour Emergency Response Procedures Manual) until a full study of the Harbour Safety by Cobourg’s Risk Manager is completed.
- Does not support Recommendation 6 (revise the User Group Agreement form) until Town Staff and User Groups have clarified mutual responsibilities and defined best practices and minimum standards.
- Does not support Recommendation 7 (separating motor craft and self-powered craft) at this time.
- Survivor Thrivers does not support Recommendation 8 (ensuring all user groups are using a safety boat for all organized activities) until further discussion and investigation by Town Staff and all of the User Groups have been completed.
Cobourg Yacht Club
Presented by Alan Clough and Monica Sheridan (Commodore).
- There was no consultation with the Canadian Coast Guard
- Separation of motorized and other boats
- Ignoring CYC comments and recommendations
- CYC already has safety standards required by Transport Canada and Sail Canada / Ontario Sail
There was considerable discussion on these concerns and Director Dean Hustwick defended his report. He said:
LSS was engaged to do our due diligence in an inherently risky area … recommendations were not addressed to a particular group … we are just trying to mitigate risk … we do work with users … this report is simply a starting point.
Dean said that it was up to Council as to whether they want to mitigate risk – for example, there is no law requiring lifeguards on the main beach yet the Town has chosen to mitigate their risk in that case.
Council noted that Dean’s report had not been reviewed by the Parks and Recreation Advisory Committee because it was currently not meeting. Councillor Nicole Beatty asked Town Clerk Brent Larmer when meetings would resume. Brent said that this was being worked on. Virtual meetings for committees must be open for public viewing and participants would need training. Although Brent did not give a date, his description of requirements pointed to a summer time frame.
When it came time for action on this subject, Councillor Emily Chorley moved that the delegations’ comments, the LSS report and the Director’s report be referred to the Parks and Recreation Advisory Committee to ensure stakeholder engagement. Her motion carried.
- Harbour Safety Audit Concerns – 25 September 2019 – first report to Council on the July Report by LSS
- Aquatic Safety Audit report – Download pdf
- Report by Dean Hustwick, Director of Community Services.
- Survivor Thrivers full presentation – Download pdf
- CYC Comments on Staff report – Download pdf