Beach hypocrisy: Big city beaches open, small town beach closed; downtown festivals allowed

The Town of Cobourg has once again closed its main street while actively promoting a private event in the downtown core, despite closing off its main attraction — the beach — at the beginning of the summer to “keep the tourists away” due to COVID-19 fears.

The weekly anti-lockdown protest in front of Victoria Hall was alive and well — gaining more interest with each week.

A few demonstrators continued to the pier, where they accessed Lake Ontario and once again walked the forbidden shoreline in a show of defiance. One local woman had a refreshing swim and brought her lawn chair to enjoy a pause in the lake.

What a difference from the week before! There was absolutely no police or by-law presence whatsoever, whereas they had actually put one man in handcuffs the previous weekend.

Perhaps the clarification I received from Cobourg Police Chief Paul VandeGraaf via e-mail after this widely publicized event had something to do with that. He clarified that the “ankle height in the water” rule that we reported on last week is not an actual law; that might explain the absence of law enforcement on the beach now.

In a familiar turn of events, more people from out of town than locals were interviewed. Some realize the hypocrisy of this “new normal,” while others feel safer walking closed off streets than an unrestricted sandy beach.

Regardless, Cobourg Town Council votes tonight: Will they open the beach up as originally stated on September 1, or will they buy into the fear and cower in the face of harshly worded public opinion to extend the closure of Victoria Beach, “to keep everyone safe”?

Statement from Cobourg Police Service Chief Paul VandeGraaf:

Ms. Ugolini

In relation to enforcement of the Town of Cobourg beach closure, our members are instructed that anyone on the dry portion of the beach is considered to be trespassing. Ankle visibility is not a criteria for trespassing set out in the Trespass to Property Act.  When violations are identified, individuals may be subject to charges and possibly arrest under the Trespass to Property Act.

The Trespass to Property Act is available to the public online at https://www.ontario.ca/laws/statute/90t21?search=tresspass+act

Regards