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Water levels on Lake Ontario in Cobourg rise above 2017 flood level

A flood warning has been in effect for the shoreline of Lake Ontario since May 6. On Wednesday, the water level was more than 40 centimetres above normal on Lake Ontario at Cobourg. Mark Giunta reports.

As of Wednesday morning, water levels on Lake Ontario at Cobourg exceeded those seen in the historic 2017 flood.

According to Fisheries and Oceans Canada, the water level at Cobourg is 75.92 metres above sea level. At its highest in 2017, the level was 75.88 metres above sea level.

“We’re approximately 40 centimetres above normal,” Cobourg Mayor John Henderson said. “With the rain we got this week, I expect that 40 centimetres will be higher, approaching 60 centimetres.”

READ MORE: Hamilton closes waterfront trails due to high water levels of Lake Ontario

Cobourg’s beach is its main attraction for tourists in the summer. On a hot and sunny day, thousands of people come to “Ontario’s feel-good town” to enjoy the beach.

But Henderson says the high water levels pose a problem.

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“It has its implications. It delays everything for our tourism season,” Henderson added. “As we lead to major events, such as the upcoming Canada Day for our four-day waterfront festival, it will have major implications. We will still welcome citizens, but the beach will be less usable.”

Over at the Cobourg marina, staff have put measures in place to ensure they can keep the harbour open for business.

“We’ve had to shut off our shore power for safety reasons. We’ve had to make modifications to our fuel dock to keep it open because of high levels. We built a temporary railing so boats can come aside,” said Paul Gauthier, manager of attractions and facilities for the Town of Cobourg. “We’ve had to do a bit of shoreline stabilization because of erosion.”

READ MORE: Wolfe Island residents homes are now threatened by high water levels

In 2017, the high waters affected the number of boats that used the docks at the marina. So far, that hasn’t been the case.

“That year, we did see a decrease in transient traffic. Boaters weren’t travelling because of the high water levels, because of the uncertainty of the facilities available to them as they travelled,” Gauthier added. “It had an impact on our transient business, not so much the seasonal business.”

A flood warning has been in effect for the shoreline of Lake Ontario since May 6.

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It’s unknown when the water will go down.