Downtown Parking Study says no Garage needed

With the 2014 downtown parking study needing to be updated, a new study was commissioned in 2023 and its results will be provided to council at their regular meeting on April 24. One recommendation that I find surprising was that no new parking garage is recommended on Covert Street or anywhere else.  The report passes the buck to Council to make some key decisions and there are some recommended strategies (that’s how consultants describe “actions”).  The good news is that no large expenditures are recommended for the next 10 years; that is, except for a suggestion that it would be good to buy the privately owned parking lots on Second Street and Albert Street, which are currently leased to the town.  The Second Street lot alone would cost more than $2M. However, other suggestions are made if this is not done.

The study looked at utilization of downtown parking lots at their peak hour on four days last summer:

  • Tuesday 22 August 2023 – utilization: on street 45%;  off-street 64%; total 56%.
  • Saturday 9 September 2023 – utilization: on street 37%;  off-street 42%; total 40%.
  • Wednesday 27 September 2023 – utilization: on street 34%;  off-street 47%; total 41%.
  • Saturday 30 September 2023 – utilization: on street 41%;  off-street 55%; total 49%.

Note: the survey data does not include any privately-owned lots. All references to “off-street” parking relate only to municipal (public) lots.

See the full report in Resources below.

At no time were all parking spaces taken – in fact, the maximum was 56%.

Below is a map from the report showing peak utilization on 22 August.

Map from Paradigm Parking Capacity Study
Map from Paradigm Parking Capacity Study

So let’s look at highlights of the report and recommended “strategies”.

Report highlights

  • The current supply consists of 2,633 spaces, of which the Town controls 57% (1,500) of all available stalls. The remaining 43% (1,133) are contained in privately owned, publicly accessible parking lots.
  • Both on-street and off-street parking tend to be short duration (less than one hour);
  • Overall, the downtown parking system (excluding private off-street parking lots) currently operates below its effective capacity. Although some municipal lots experience parking utilization rates greater than 85% under peak conditions, ample capacity exists elsewhere in the system to accommodate additional demand.
  • Five-year and ten-year parking demand forecasts project a peak utilization of 72% and 77%, respectively. These forecasts assume the potential loss of the Second Street Lot (139 spaces), Albert Street Lot (60 spaces) and a portion of the Trinity Lot (26 spaces) because these lots are not owned by the Town. The anticipated parking supply is sufficient to accommodate forecast demand for at least the next 10 years. No additional parking is expected to be required.

Summary of recommended strategies

Short Term

  • Maintain and expand (if necessary) enforcement efforts.
  • Continue publishing an annual Town of Cobourg Parking Guide.
  • Provide secure bicycle parking at the Covert Street Lot and install additional bike racks along King Street and at key locations in the downtown, such as at store and bank entrances and at public plazas and parks.
  • In general, the monthly parking permit should cost as much – or more than – a monthly transit pass.
  • Review the Town’s Cash-in-Lieu of Parking policy to reflect current land and construction values.
  • The Town currently leases the properties used for the Second Street Lot and Albert Street Lot. Acquiring these properties would enable the Town to control their future use, providing the certainty and confidence to invest in operational improvements. If the Second Street Lot and/or Albert Street Lot become unavailable, the Town could consider implementing two hours of free parking in the McGill Street Lot during all times of the year to supplement the lost supply.

Medium Term

  • Continue promoting active transportation through the implementation of the recommendations made as part of the Transportation Master Plan.

Long Term

  • Monitor the on-demand transit system as it becomes more familiar and reliable for users and make adjustments where possible to increase ridership.
  • Protect lands at Third Street and Hibernia Street for a potential surface parking facility.  (That’s the corner of Third and Hibernia – currently grassed – and a long walk to downtown.)

Recommendations by Staff

  • That Council direct staff to prepare a by-law that stipulates how parking revenue is utilized in the budget process so as to ensure appropriate distribution of funds is consistently followed. (Currently, a portion of parking revenue is distributed to waterfront operations, by-law enforcement and administration. I believe some goes into a reserve for usage in building a future parking garage which this study says is not needed). Staff (Laurie Wills) wants Council to specify where the money should be allocated.
  • That Council direct Staff to review the payment in lieu of parking policy based on the results of the 2023 parking Capacity Study through a zoning by-law amendment.

As far as I can tell, there has been no surveying of the views of residents so it’s not clear that the conclusions of this study would be acceptable to residents.  The consultants seem to believe that the need for parking can be reduced by promoting public transit and usage of bicycles.  But would that be a solution for Cobourg?


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24 days ago

I’m an East beach, highest taxed banged family that’s not “rich” as we’re being framed to be…..With a yearly slip at the Marina to boot! Say what you will but the waterfront would never have happened without the help of sailing and boating enthusiasts’ from the beginning! I recall kicking coal and oil tanks 30 years ago before it was popular. Now i pay for a slip but experience no parking availability throughout much of the summer as opposed to all other marinas on lake Ontario. Cobourg is a major port and should be run as such….quit sucking funds out of and double dipping i say!!!!

Cobourg taxpayer
27 days ago

Recommending more bike racks anywhere in this town is a recipe for more theft of any bicycle. The thieves are breaking into locked garages to steal bikes. I have seen the drug addicts stare at my bike as I ride around town and am very careful to take a convoluted route home. I now carry my bike into the basement and lock it there, never leave it in the garage. And to those that care about businesses downtown, I am going there less and less. The town of Cobourg has been destroyed thanks to enablers such as GWC and MSTH and of course the squatters at Brookside that are nothing more than drug addled thieves. So as far as parking downtown goes,other then banking, fewer and fewer tax paying residents will venture there so parking will be irrelevant and unnecessary. There the drug addicts take over as has been condoned by the town, county, province and feds.

27 days ago

For those in high dudgeon over the cost of downtown parking:

* Peterborough: $1.25
* Stratford: $1.50
* Kingston: $1.50
* London: $3.00
* Windsor: $1.00
* Ottawa: $3.00
* Oshawa: $1.25
* Orillia: $3.00

Some higher; some lower. Far from ridiculously high.

28 days ago

I am not sure if anyone noticed the MaGill st Lot by the Post office and Victoria Park / Beach
it is noted as the least used lot ,is that because the Former Council & Town Planner sold it off to
his now new clients for a Condo I Have never seen that Lot vacant and it is most crucial to the Beach all through the summer months , The Highland Games ? may be that’s why they left for Port Hope all the New stores on King st E and the Christmas lights in Vic Park
Something is certainly Flawed with this picture .
I also noted that the Post office Parking lot is still in the Towns name its ours
lets keep it that way . As for the Second & First st Private Parking lots leased to the Town
is this Consultant suggesting that the Town not permit development there after all the
money Time Pre Consultation meetings and professional services these people have invested to Develop these sites . When do they intend to tell the owners they are wasting there time and
money here Has the Town been blocking them all along .

28 days ago

Totally ridiculous. The Second &Albert street lot is a death trap. Trying to maneuver a senior with a walker is near impossible. Bike racks ? You kidding? Nobody has a bike anymore, they have all been stolen!

Reply to  Beachwalker
27 days ago

The Second & Albert lot is privately owned. If the town bought it the whole thing could be redesigned for more efficient parking. This could include several spots for people with walkers. If the lot is developed with condos and businesses there will be less parking, more demand for parking but also more property tax revenue. In the map for Aug. 22 this lot is over 50% full. What happens to other lots if it is closed?
If your bike was stolen maybe it is near some tents in a certain area of town. Yesterday it was hard to tell from King St. as there was a large power boat blocking the view. A donation? What is that old saying, “To teach a man to fish it is good to give him a boat”?

Last edited 27 days ago by Kevin
small town Ontario
Reply to  Kevin
27 days ago

Give a man a fish you feed him for a day, Teach a man to fish you feed him for a lifetime.
In this day and age, Northumberland County Social Services would buy the boat, pay for the gas, and cover the insurance on the boat. What then would be accomplished?

28 days ago

In my opinion, this was a flawed study with a predetermined outcome based in support of the climate agenda.

“Increase cost of monthly, semi-annual, and annual permits to reflect rates consistent with other municipalities, increase revenues, and encourage the use of alternate modes of transportation. In general, the monthly parking permit should cost as much, or more than a monthly transit pass.”

In other words, similar to the purpose of our (soon to be gone) carbon tax, increase the price of parking to a point where it is no longer viable for people to park downtown.

Our Town planning, developed a community where driving is absolutely essential and they coupled it with fast food, drive-thru restaurants everywhere except downtown. We have made all the same mistakes or worse as Whitby, Brockville, etc…

28 days ago

I wonder if consideration was made for the price of parking on King Street…I don’t park there
because it is just too expensive..that could account for the empty spaces…

Old Sailor
28 days ago

I find it curious that the sample days picked to assess parking availability did not include any weekends in June, July and August or the Labour Day long weekend in September. Instead, days in the “low season” were picked. It is almost as if the hoped result of the survey is that everything is okay. And the conclusion that on-street and off-street parking tend to be of short duration (less than one hour) does not apply to the high season – May 24 to September 1. Free lots like Covert St., Shoppers and the Albert St. LCBO get all day beach parkers in the high season.

28 days ago

How much did we pay the consultants…and…Cobourg is not Toronto!

Reply to  cornbread
28 days ago

we also have a Aged population and a not so great hard to get to Transit sys.
And we drive Rural vehicles in Northumberland not Micro Electrics —- where are the Charging stations —– out by Canadian Tire you say

28 days ago

If some of the Parking revenue is actually going into a reserve, then Council could direct Staff to do just as the study recommends…Purchase at least one of the lots. Now, why don’t I have any faith that our current Council will vote together to do what is pragmatic and future thinking?

28 days ago

Fair weather study why were there No cold wet or winter days studied only walking and Bicycle weather and near the end of Tourist and beach weather when students are readying to return to school , They must have search far and wide to find this Consultant that probably has no connection to Cobourg . But one thing for sure is that most of the locals have stopped coming down town for anything other than Banking which is also ridiculously controlled by the Town for just that reason . But even Bank machines are being used less as they to are now behind locked doors with Bankers hours due to the Homeless sleeping in the bank machine lobbies .

Lemon Cake
28 days ago

This is probably going to be an unpopular view, but building an unsightly parking structure on a small downtown street like Covert seems like a colossal failure of imagination in response to the parking problem. I’m glad it’s not been recommended. Bike racks and public transit “promotion” (as opposed to creation) is a poor substitute for a solution in Cobourg but at least it is somewhere in the realm of reality relative to where other municipalities are going (which is tearing down hideous parking structures to build housing and retail space).

Reply to  Lemon Cake
28 days ago

Underground is a possible option. Consolidate retail, mid-density housing, and parking in one structure.

Reply to  Cobourger
27 days ago

Underground is NOT a possible solution for Covert St.
A river runs through it.
OK, a small stream. It runs diagonally under the parking lot through a culvert.
Same for the number 7 and 16 lots on the map. It crosses Albert St. at the frink and runs directly underneath it.

Last edited 27 days ago by JimT
Linda C
29 days ago

The consultants seem to believe that the need for parking can be reduced by promoting public transit and usage of bicycles.  

These consultants don’t know their audience in Cobourg…public transit and bikes!!!???

Did they even consider that many people have given up coming downtown because the parking situation is too costly and ridiculous? How that can impact the number of cars in the parking lots.

Give you heads a shake!

Last edited 29 days ago by Linda C