Cobourg's parks and recreation are thriving
The big news of 2012, as far as Cobourg Mayor Gil Brocanier is concerned, was the fact that it was the 175th anniversary of the founding of the town.
Commemorative activities were planned by a number of groups throughout that banner year, Brocanier said in a year-end interview.
"All of them proved to be very successful so, as a result of that, we are publishing a book to commemorate the year and recognize all the events that took place."
One lasting reminder of the town's heritage will be the Sifton-Cook Heritage Centre, located in an old limestone barracks thought to date back to the War of 1812. After about a decade of work by dedicated volunteers, it finally opened its doors in June.
Much of the other important news from Cobourg also had to do with culture and recreation, Brocanier said.
"There was the Parks Master Plan and Waterfront Concept — and I stress the 'concept' part," he said.
"I think the parks part of the study was well received. I haven't heard many negatives about it.
"There were some negatives about the concept, which will be adjusted. I have given some feedback to the consultant. The steering committee had an opportunity to give their feedback, and we will soon have an open house with display boards so members of the public can drop in, review some of he changes proposed, and ask questions. I am looking forward to that."
At the last meeting he attended, Brocanier said, he did hear a lot of angry opposition to some aspects.
"But what I heard is what I heard 25 years ago, when we first proposed a waterfront plan — when we had coal piles and oil tanks. We were looking 25 years into the future. We had to think about what the needs were going to be, to end up with this jewel we have now."
They polished the jewel that is Victoria Park this year with the planting of 200 trees and the banning of barbecues, and Brocanier hears a lot of happy comments about the latter.
"People seem to think it was a great move forward in terms of having a little more control over what's taking place, and I feel much better personally from a safety perspective. My wife and I would go for a walk and see barbecues on blankets, and kids playing soccer running in and around them," he said.
"West Northumberland Curling Club is going gangbusters. Their membership continues to grow by leaps and bounds. It's turned out to be a fine facility, and the great news is that it's all done with volunteer work," Brocanier said.
"I know they really feel that the ice is as good as any ice in any curling facility anywhere, and that's because we have a high-tech refrigeration unit that controls ice temperature to a very, very fine degree."
Almost any time during the summer season, you can walk west of the marina and see a thriving youth-paddling club. About 65 kids participated last year in their canoes, kayaks and paddle boards.
As for seniors, he said, "The Cobourg and District Seniors Association continues to grow gangbusters. They have gone from 480 members at the end of 2011 to up to 800, if everyone renews their memberships at the end of the year."
The Cobourg Community Centre walking track is an asset for everyone in the community to improve his or her health, although seniors seem to have the most time to use it. Brocanier tries to use it a few times a week himself, and he is always seeing both regulars and new users. He has even seen wheelchair users on the track.
"At the Community Centre, we had two really big, successful events: the Blue Rodeo concert, which was more a cultural event, and the Marlies game, a great sports event," he said, referring to October's pre-season game that saw the Toronto Marlies taking on the Hamilton Bulldogs.
"Both were sold out and raised a lot of money for the Community Centre, and put Cobourg on the map," he stated.
"The good thing is, there were so many people from out of town who came and saw the Community Centre for the first time. Everyone said they were blown away with the facility we have in Cobourg.
"Even (Toronto Maple Leafs general manager) Brian Burke wrote a letter to the (Northumberland Today) editor to say what a wonderful venue it was. When you have the manager of a professional hockey team telling you you have a great venue, you know you have one."