No Cobourg Beach Canteen Courtyard this year

By Cecilia Nasmith

Support for the idea of a licensed waterfront patio at the Cobourg Beach Canteen Courtyard slowly bled away to nothing at this week's committee-of-the-whole council meeting.

Councillor Emily Chorley put options out for what proved to be a lengthy debate during which support gradually died as the ramifications were explored – most specifically, the lack of a report for a similar initiative tried last summer as the Courtyard Summer Series. Though a report had been promised, Mayor John Henderson said, he had never seen one.

Furthermore, he added, there had been unhappiness with the initiative from members of the Downtown Business Improvement Area who felt they hadn't had sufficient opportunity to take part or even be consulted.

Though members would be delighted to have a chance to participate this year, Councillor Adam Bureau said, there's no DBIA meeting to share the news until next month.

Henderson also noted that getting a liquor license in time for the summer could be problematic, though Councillor Nicole Beatty said that on-line applications for small-capacity venues that don't charge admission could be processed quite quickly.

An amendment Beatty put forward called for a staff report of the 2019 initiative by Nov. 4 to ascertain if the project was a success and what might be learned from it – but the amendment was defeated and it was agreed that, first, a report from 2018 would be in order.

Though councillors expressed their own support of such an initiative in theory, there was little confidence it could be done for 2019 with all due diligence in terms of reviewing last year's effort and taking from it whatever lessons could be learned in time to do a proper and inclusive job of it.

In fact, Bureau revealed, the DBIA had opposed the Courtyard Summer Series in 2018 for its lack of opportunity for members' participation.

“They just wanted a chance to participate, not have it outsourced,” he said.

By the end of the debate, director of community services Dean Hustwick did not see a viable way forward.

“To do a procurement process this year would take too long, and we are not in a position to operate it ourselves this year,” he said.

“I think we need to follow Director Hustwick's lead and do a thorough job on it,” Councillor Brian Darling agreed.