cobourg beach open

Popular beach in Ontario is opening for its first summer in two years

A popular Ontario beach that was fenced off last summer is reopening but the town is planning on making it difficult for visitors from out of town.

Cobourg Beach, a day-trip destination for people in the GTA, was enclosed by a fence last June and didn't reopen until September.

The fencing is going up again but this summer beachgoers can enter on weekdays, Cobourg council decided after a long debate this week.

The beach will open Monday, May 31 but only remain during weekdays, and also be closed on public holidays. Council also says it will close the beach if the crowds exceed 1,200 people.

There will be no lifeguards, so swimming is at your own risk.

The choice to open only during the week comes after considering comments from residents, Cobourg Mayor John Henderson said at the council meeting.

"We are trying to find the balance in a very unnatural environment," the mayor said.

The town is still grappling with the potential for large crowds while still in the pandemic, Cobourg councillor Emily Chorley said.

"I am still concerned, knowing how popular our beach can be, even on a normal summer on the weekend, that crowding is a risk on the weekend," said Chorley.

The town also discussed only allowing local residents onto the beach but Cobourg chief administrative officer Tracy Vaughan warned that would be "a very slippery slope."

To enforce a locals-only policy, security or staff would have to ask people to produce their identification, making an assumption that everyone has government-issued identification with an address.

"There are certain segments of our population that would not be able to freely produce that documentation," Vaughan said.

Stuggling with over-crowding, popular beaches such as Wasaga and Sandbanks have looked at ways to reduce the number of visitors, such as increasing fines and limiting the number of people on the beach.

Like Cobourg, Sauble Beach chose to shut down last year.

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