West Harbour Concerns Resolved

In September 2019, Town staff presented a report to Council called an “Aquatic Safety Audit Report”.  It was conducted by the Lifesaving Society and it recommended a wide range of changes that were strongly criticized by West Harbour user groups. Jeremy Fowlie of the Dragon Boat and Canoe club said that implementing the recommendations would mean the club would need to shut down.  Critics said that it seemed that Staff wanted to limit usage so that the West Harbour could accommodate more boat slips.  Key recommendations were the need to provide a detailed schedule of activities, a powered safety boat should be mandated and a safety manual should be written.  The report was referred to the Parks and Recreation Committee whose first question was whether the Town has a legal right to govern the harbour.

West Harbour 2018
West Harbour 2018

After some delay, the legal question was answered (yes the Town does have authority – see link below) and meanwhile a committee “working group” was set up to write a safety Manual.  The working group included representatives from:

  • 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

The manual is now complete and ready for approval by Council at their Committee of the Whole meeting on Monday 31 May.  But all the contentious recommendations are missing.  There is no requirement for detailed scheduling, there is no requirement for a power boat and in fact most of the procedures are now whatever is set by the separate groups.  Here is the section on User Groups:

The Town of Cobourg requires the following from groups that regularly use the harbour:

  • For user groups that are members of Provincial and/or National Organizations, they will follow their own professional groups safety guidelines and submit same to the Town of Cobourg Marina Staff by June 1 of each year
  • Provide Marina Staff with their safety Manual by June 1 of each year
  • Submit insurance to the Town of Cobourg and name the Town as an additional insurer minimum of $2,500,000.00 (SCALED APPROPRIATELY) depending on activity
  • To communicate with the Marina Staff or designate any issues that may arise, i.e. boat sinking, debris in water etc.
  • Provide the Marina Staff with an up to date list of key contact people for their group
  • By June 1, provide to the Marina Staff an overview of their basic schedules, i.e. the timing of classes, day camps, races, practices and training.

Other procedures, rules and requirements are common sense and include extensive Town responsibilities.  See the copy in the links below.

It looks like the inflammatory “Aquatic Safety Audit Report” has been resolved amicably.


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Old Sailor
2 years ago

Looks like the better route was to draw in the harbour users and let them collectively suggest policies which enhanced harbour safety and allowed the users to continue with their appreciated activities. The initial Council concept of engaging a consultant to recommend procedures which would prevent harbour accidents that have never occurred was not a good choice. Give the town lawyers a rest and draw in the resident users to provide a solution.

Reply to  Old Sailor
2 years ago

Old Sailor:
It was not Council that engaged the “consultant” to do the harbour safety audit. It was a senior staff member, former parks director Hustwick.
In the furor that ensued, numerous user groups objected to the need to be “scheduled” and “regulated”. They correctly pointed out that they had somehow managed to schedule their events successfully, without conflict, and without the benefit of Dir. Hustwick’s “oversight”. Further, they were already adequately “regulated” by their individual provincial/national organizations and had no need of being regulated by “know-nothings”.

Congratulations to the PRAC and the working group members for producing a common sense solution that is consistent with the user groups’ needs, initial objections and recommendations.

Last edited 2 years ago by Bryan
Reply to  Bryan
2 years ago


Last edited 2 years ago by Gerry