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I have had a boat at the Cobourg harbour for many years, and am a former executive member of the Cobourg Yacht Club.

I have written two letters to the editor recently, identifying opportunities for change at the marina and waterfront, and received strong support from readers. They have encouraged me to work on another idea‚Ķ.. creating  a "Waterfront Outdoor Dining" venue open to all Cobourg residents.

I understand that this may seem unimportant in our COVID world this winter, but I believe that by next summer, we will begin to go back to normal, and an outdoor waterfront patio dining venue could be welcome as we return to the pleasures of normal life.

Waterfront Building

The Town owns the building leased by the yacht club. This building occupies prime waterfront real estate, yet it sits empty and unused over 80% of the time, even in summer.

Many have suggested that this building be repurposed, and that the kitchen be used to support a restaurant that would be open to the public.

The waterfront plan supports this strategy, however a new building has been proposed in the official plan.

That would be significant cost, and years in the future.

Alternatively, if the lease with the yacht club was renegotiated, and modifications to the existing facility were made to accommodate a seasonal, waterfront patio dining area, the existing building might be used now.

The cost should be minimal, and the patio could be open in the summer of 2021.

The question of building accessibility needs to be understood, however if the public is restricted to outdoor, ground floor patio dining, with access to ground floor restrooms, this may not be an issue.

As one local restaurant owner recently told me ...

"This idea is a no brainer. Cobourg needs this. I might be willing to supply some capital for a patio and kitchen modifications, and I can support the kitchen from my existing restaurant. It could open this summer. The only problem might be red tape and regulations. I would love to operate it."

I suspect there are other local restaurant owners who share this enthusiasm, and have the ability to make it happen.

Cobourg Showcase

The patio could be a showcase for Cobourg, and attract residents and visitors to enjoy our beautiful waterfront and town.

It could promote locally produced food and craft beer, support local business, and offer diners the best view on the waterfront.

The menu could be moderately priced and encourage families to dine.

Other waterfront communities have long known the value of such a venue to their town.

Cooperative Effort Required

This will require a coordinated, cooperative effort from all parties in order to succeed.

Here is what I think needs to happen:

  • Cobourg residents need to indicate if they support this initiative.
  • The Town needs to help manage and facilitate the approval process.
  • Town staff need to work with interested parties to expedite the process.
  • The yacht club must agree to renegotiate the building lease to create a "win, win" situation.

I believe yacht club members will support this idea. The new building lease should result in a shared overhead with the patio operator, resulting in cost savings for the club. The club should retain full access to the building and full use for all club activities.

The "win, win" should  include the Town, all residents, visitors, boaters, local business, and yacht club members.

Next Steps

Cobourg residents need to let Council know how they feel about this idea. If you support it, let Council know.

If you oppose the idea, or have other suggestions, let them know that.

Then Council needs to act.

Thank you.
John King  - ex-member Cobourg Yacht Club

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