Harbour Safety Audit reviewed – Take 2

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.

West Harbour 2018
West Harbour 2018

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.]

Major concerns

Presented by Nancy Marshall, Past President, Survivor Thrivers and Steve Wilkes, Coach, Survivor Thrivers

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).


  1. There was no consultation with the Canadian Coast Guard
  2. Separation of motorized and other boats
  3. Ignoring CYC comments and recommendations
  4. 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.


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Lynn Lynn
3 years ago

Having trouble understanding the whole Marina situation and town of Cobourg site, long weekend coming up nothing on Cobourg website to day we are closed down.We as citizens of Cobourg have been in shutdown for 2 months…. council can’t tell on website we are closed for visitors and Marina staff are not able to stop citizens from parking for their gatherings with no social distancing on the grassed areas of the parking lot. The seniors park there in the afternoon can’t figure that out would they drive on their own lawns when the parking lot is empty ???? The young people use the marina parking lot as party central In the evening and nothing is about this??? Anyone have any comments?????

Reply to  Lynn Lynn
3 years ago

No teeth in any enforcement bylaws/policies.
Ask Councillor AB.

Reply to  Lynn Lynn
3 years ago

Lynn Lynn…Perhaps the facebook opinion poll wasnt complete to aid them in making a decision. Worse thing about making an unpopular decision is not having the ba..s to make one.

Reply to  Lynn Lynn
3 years ago

Unfortunately doing something about it does not provide opportunity for gratuitous Photo opportunities, social media self promotions or self promoting media releases.
If you organized a parade to drive by there you could lead all the front line services you need to the location and a few politicians.

Reply to  Lynn Lynn
3 years ago

In my opinion the Marina and parking area is a disgrace. There are:-
No Stop signs on exits
No Speed limit posted
24/7 free access for cars and trucks
No noise control bye law posted
Use of boat launching ramp allowed 24/7 (in normal summers)
Grass area that used to have children playing on its surface now being destroyed by 4×4’s speeding up, down, and through the parking area all times of day and night
I hope that Cobourg has good liability insurance on this lot. There is an accident waiting to happen on this town property

Reply to  Bookbinder
3 years ago

Councillor AB, where are you on this? You told us everyone was behaving themselves. Better have another FaceBook poll.

3 years ago

Does anyone know if the province has addressed this issue? The 1% rule has in the past been a problem for municipalities.

Merle Gingrich
3 years ago

John Tory could use a Dean on his staff in Toronto, then he could get lost in the shuffle.

3 years ago

According to the Risk Management study
We don’t need the pier for anything other than a break water wall. Close the dam thing past the coast guard let it crumble and save us all from Risk, Liability and The Expensive repairs
and for goodness sake don’t let the town build any more Risky items

Old Sailor
3 years ago

The message that is becoming a dominant thread in the town’s thinking is mentioned above ” we are just trying to mitigate risk”. And as noted by the harbour user groups, this new report was done without their consultation and without regard to how all the other marinas and clubs on the North Shore of Lake Ontario operate or what regulatory oversight already exists for those marinas and clubs. To me, the report reads like it was prepared by a firm of litigation lawyers who were only instructed to “mitigate risk” in the harbour. In reviews like this, the town councilors, employees or committees should first get in their cars and drive to other town managed harbours and find out how those towns are dealing with these “perceived risks”. Pickering, Whitby, Trenton and Belleville are less than an hour’s drive away from Cobourg.

3 years ago

Stake Holders ?? who and what is represented by Stake Holders
I live down here and have for yrs pay massive taxes for the privilege I also have a boat Take family out on Guided fishing charters once or twice a yr Yet in all the time we have lived here— I have not once been consulted nor have any of the neighbors by any Town official or Professional study group retained by this town to supposedly research and deal with so called risky or sensitive areas .

Reply to  perplexed
3 years ago

I guess the 6 Nays work for the Town or Dean

Reply to  perplexed
3 years ago

Dean appears to work only for Dean rather than for the Town and residents who pay his salary.

Canuck Patriot
3 years ago

Dean has to become a lot less patronizing if he wants to keep his job here. This is Cobourg not Toronto or London or Ottawa. Focus on the residents who pay his salary and all the taxes in town. Work with Council, not against it. His speech at Council was again way over the top. He always makes these dire warnings for greatest impact. Thanks goodness Councillor Chorley asked him to wind up quickly and I applaud her on an excellent motion and all who supported it. There are a few good relationship building books that Dean needs to read.

Dean Critic
Reply to  Canuck Patriot
3 years ago

A job search book would be better for Dean.