cobourg beach open

Popular beach in Ontario could reopen with online booking and fixed time slots

Cobourg’s sandy beach draws visitors from Toronto and beyond each summer, so when the town announced a closure until Aug. 31, many wanted it to reopen.

In a meeting this week, Cobourg Mayor John Henderson said he has had numerous emails and phone calls from families wanting to use the beach again.

A fence was put up and beach-goers have been turned away since early June but now Cobourg is reconsidering that decision in light of Premier Doug Ford’s announcement that the province could move into Stage 2.

The beach could reopen as soon as July 6.

Under the new plan, the fence will stay up, but an online booking system will allow people to access the beach, free of charge, in fixed time slots. Security or staff will check the passes at the gate.

“I really didn’t want to see line-ups into the gates,” said Cobourg Councillor Emily Chorley who brought the idea to councillors. Chorley is considered about staff dealing with uncooperative people. “At some point they are going to have to turn people away and I think that could spark a confrontation.”

There could be conflicts either way as many people didn’t get the message the beach was shut in June, said Cobourg councillor Adam Bureau.

“There have been visitors every day that didn’t know the beach was closed,” he said.

Through the online system, staff can do a health screening and advise people of the rules such as taking garbage with them and leaving when their time slot ends. 

The idea of reopening the beach doesn’t sit well with everyone. Other Ontario beach towns, such as Wasaga Beach and Sauble Beach, have grappled with similar issues.

“I sure hope they are looking at the other beaches that are having major problems from opening up too soon,” said one Cobourg resident on a local news blog.

Another Cobourg resident questioned the mayor’s assertion that people want the beach open.

“The Mayor commented that he receives numerous emails and phone calls including from families wanting the beach open for their families,” said the resident. “How many called, emailed, texted to keep the beach closed, Mr. Mayor?”

The backtrack from the earlier decision is also confusing.

“Council members top flip flopping around,” said another person. “You voted to close the beach and fence it off. You also posted signs at the entrance to Cobourg. Now council is considering opening the beach again. Make up your mind!”

Cobourg will make the final decision on the reopening on June 29. If it goes ahead, the beach could reopen on July 6 for seven days a week on a trial basis.

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