An early wet start to the Summer of 2017 threatened to wash out the tourism season for the popular Lake Ontario town of Cobourg, but tourism operators say, while it was quieter than usual, it wasn’t a total “washout.”
“It’s been a great summer, actually,” said Cobourg’s director of recreation and culture, Dean Hustwick. “Cobourg is becoming known as a community of events. This year, I think we had over 150 events.”
Hustwick’s celebratory mood is not without the reality check that came with a wet spring that drastically damaged the town’s feature attraction, Victoria Beach.
The season began with one of the wettest Mays in recorded history, according to Environment Canada. And it didn’t stop there. Heavy rain and flooding deteriorated beach conditions in Cobourg and nearby towns and forced evacuations of low-lying homes.
The persistent heavy rainfall had caused levels in Lake Ontario to rise dramatically, and local watersheds to flood. By July, much of Victoria Beach was unusable, officials said.
At the time, town officials said they were cautiously optimistic that tourists would still flock to the area for the annual events.
Midway through summer, officials acknowledged that transient boat traffic at the Cobourg Marina was noticeably down.
“It’s been fairly quiet for us this summer,” said the town’s manager of water-front operations, Paul Gauthier. “Our parks department became proactive and brought in some additional sand, did some grading and was able to restore about half of the beach to its usable condition early in the summer and as the water level recedes it’s getting better and better.”
Both Gauthier and Hustwick acknowledge the Summer of 2017 was tough. There were fewer beachgoers at Victoria Beach — in fact, ten per cent fewer, Hustwick said.