The popular Victoria Park Beach in Cobourg is now open on weekends and statutory holidays, just in time for the Civic Holiday long weekend.
At its regular meeting on Monday (July 26), town council voted to fully reopen the beach after a lengthy discussion.
The beach has been open only on weekdays since last September, following a closure for the entire summer of 2020 because of the pandemic.
Council passed a motion to immediately reopen the beach in a 6-to-1 vote, with deputy mayor Suzanne Seguin voting against the motion.
After a discussion on whether to reopen the beach on weekends on August 3 and whether to take down the rented fencing from the beach perimeter, but to keep it on hand in case it needs to be reinstalled for emergency reasons, council decided to immediately open the beach on weekends but to keep the fencing up until September 7 to help manage crowding on the beach.
Town of Cobourg by-law enforcement and Cobourg police will also retain the authority to temporarily close the beach if an emergency is declared.
While it was open during the week, a 1,200-person capacity limit was in place at the beach. Last Wednesday (July 21), the town closed the beach when the capacity limit was exceeded by about 400 people.
When asked what the new capacity limit will be with the beach fully opened, town clerk Brent Larmer was unable to provide a specific number.
“We really know what congestion looks like and how it feels on the beach,” Larmer said, adding that enforcement officers also listen to members of the public who feel the beach is too crowded. “Our officers have pretty good judgment, so when they can’t move or they’re rubbing shoulders with people, that’s a good indication there may be too many on the beach.”
Larmer added the town would also follow provincial rules on capacity limits as well as physical distancing requirements.
The Town of Cobourg is encouraging beachgoers to follow rules and safety protocols, including maintaining physical distancing and not playing organized team sports such as beach volleyball.
The town’s website states the beach “may close at any time if rules and safety protocols are not being followed.”
The beach is now open from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. seven days a week.