At the Cobourg Town Council Meeting on June 29, council members unanimously voted to keep Victoria Beach closed until August 31, 2020, in efforts to stop the spread of COVID-19 within the community.
At a Committee of the Whole Council meeting on June 22, councillors debated about re-opening the beach. Councillor Emily Chorley proposed that the beach be re-opened on a limited basis with advance reservations and scheduled time slots for all beachgoers.
After much discussion, a town report outlined the possibilities to safely reopen the beach. The plan included implementing public health measures, beach capacity, sanitization of hard surfaces, access gates, a change over period, beach passes, an appropriate amount of lifeguards, enforcing physical distancing and screening all visitors.
“It would be a logistical nightmare to try and reopen the beach and control everything,” said Councillor Brian Darling when putting forward the motion to keep the beach closed.
The restricted reopening would have cost the town upwards of 377 thousand dollars to regulate the new operations. Budgeted items included hiring town staff, new signage, communications, security, cleaning and portable bathrooms.
Councillor Adam Breau added: “It’s putting our citizens at risk. A lot of questions I got was to keep it open for the locals… We would still have to man those gates to find out who is local and who is not and I for one am not willing to put anyone at risk to do that.”
“It’s not with enough benefit to the community and I think we’ve heard from so many citizens about preexisting concerns. Concerns that pre-date the pandemic… Concerns about how we manage tourism in Cobourg,” said Councillor Emily Chorley.
Mayor John Henderson has never been so busy attending to the community response.
“I have answered 324 personal emails and calls since we last met. It’s about the health and safety and the wellbeing of our community over anything that’s expedient, towards tourism, business or otherwise and at the end of the day that was certainly a clear message.”
Upwards of 1500 people could have gathered on Victoria Beach with the new the proposed restrictions in place– a too great of a risk for Cobourg Council to proceed.
The Cobourg Beach remains fenced off until August 31, 2020, while other public town spaces are open and being monitored with public health guidelines in place.