A gathering of about 100 people in Cobourg, Ont., marched to the town’s beach to do what most normal people would do on a July day when the humidex was pushing 40 C – go for a swim.
But alas, if you go to Coburg’s beautiful eastern beach these days you will see that it resembles post-war Berlin thanks to a steel fence preventing residents and tourists alike from having fun in the sun there.
Indeed, only seagulls frolic at this particular sandy beach.
In any event, the group gathered at Victoria Hall on Saturday and marched toward the beach to, well, take back the lake. And here’s the beauty of their demonstration: they didn’t have to break any laws or bylaws by illegally climbing the fence.
Instead, the protesters discovered a loophole: namely, if they access the beach via the pier, they can indeed go for a swim given that the town does not have jurisdiction over the lake (a bylaw officer on site even admitted that this was indeed the case).
But the beach closure does not appear to make any sense.
The day we were in Cobourg, downtown streets were closed off for an outdoor market attracting hundreds of people. So, people can congregate in large numbers in Cobourg, as long as it is on asphalt and concrete but not on sand?
As well, the RV park mere metres away from the beach is operating, again attracting a large mass of people. How does that make sense if Cobourg town council is seemingly obsessed with social distancing?
Also, the western beach of Cobourg is not closed off. It was pointed out to us by locals that the only people swimming there would be tourists who do not know better, as the water is likely contaminated with e.coli.
Again, if closing the beach is all about the health and safety of people during these dark days of the Wuhan virus, how does this make any sense? I, for one, would rather take my chances being infected with the coronavirus than e.coli – so, wouldn’t it make more sense to close a polluted beach rather than one with pristine water?
Yet, Cobourg town council in a local media report stated that reopening the beach this summer would be a “logistical nightmare” and “costly.” So, the good beach remains closed until August 31 – or essentially, until the end of summer.
Incidentally, we spotted Cobourg town councillor Nicole Beatty observing the protest on Saturday (undoubtedly with great disapproval).
We sought comment from this elected official but she… fled. In fact, she wouldn’t even admit how she voted on the beach closure. Which was inexplicable given that it was a unanimous 8-0 vote!
But in any event, the protesters proved that there is indeed a completely legal way around the beach closure. The question now is: will Cobourgers and others embrace their beachfront liberty? Or will they continue to cower under the mandate of a town council – members of which don’t even have the decency to explain why they voted the way they did…