The Town of Cobourg has a large number of By-Laws and this page tries to help you understand them.
Note that there are also Policies that mostly govern employee conduct but although there is a page which supposedly lists 42 of these policies, the links are dead. Hopefully these will be available online later in 2022. This is the page where they should be: Town of Cobourg policies.
Some By-Laws are more frequently requested and the Town has a list of them here: Frequently Requested By-Laws - There are 54 on that list although there are many more altogether. Most of the links are dead.
There is a list of by-laws for the period 2018- 2023 here (Note: scroll to the bottom of the page). All these links are active.
I have a shorter list.
By-Laws referenced the most
Hosted on Cobourg Internet
- 18-99 - Property Standards By-Law - Sets Standards for Occupied Properties. Clause 1 (4) (a) states: Every owner of property shall repair and maintain the property in accordance with the standards prescribed in this By-law.
- 08-2009 Sign Bylaw - Governs signs allowed. For example clause 11 (4) states that no permit is required for election signs from day of writ to Polling day. Amended by 096-2012 Amend Sign By-Law.
- Alcohol in Municipal Areas - 003-2012
- Parking By-Law - 030-2022 - major update in May 2022; many older by-laws replaced. Last I checked, this was not on the Town's web site under "By-Laws".
- No Smoking Law – 019-2015 - e.g. no smoking in Parks or on the Beach
- Use of Parks – 022-2016 - e.g. no BBQs on the Beach
- 009-2019 Council Procedural By-Law - how council meetings are run and what motions may be made. For example, clause 18.11 states: A Motion in respect of a matter which is beyond the jurisdiction of the Council shall not be in order.
- Animal Control ByLaw - 021-2014 - More below, click here.
- 008-2019 - Terms of Reference for Committees (Advisory, Ad Hoc etc)
I have copies of most Bylaws from 1972 to 2017. Email me if you would like to see a particular one here.
By-Law Guide Booklet
In 2018, the Town of Cobourg published a booklet which provides plain language guidance to the Town’s by-laws. The 2018 edition was available at the Town’s Offices in Victoria Hall (it's not known if it still is) and is online here. You can download/print this page which provides the same information. To print this page without header etc, see box at bottom of this page.
Other than parking and beach infractions, most by-law enforcement is reactive - that is only actioned when someone complains. You can report a bylaw infraction and ask for action from the bylaw officer at this email:
By-Law enforcement officers now have body-worn cameras. The Town has a page explaining this here.
If you want the actual By-Laws, they were listed on the Town's Portal web site but that site is no longer active. But you can see "Frequently Requested By-Laws" at this link. A full list is not available online. See my short list at the top of this page.
However, below is an extract of information from the Guide – omitted is some fluff stuff that does not talk about actual bylaws. Links have been added or improved – general links to www.cobourg.ca have either been removed or made more specific.
Bylaws are grouped by Home, Yard, Parks, Street/Neighbourhood and Police. Use your computer's search/find function to find something more specific (CTRL F on PCs; Command F on Macs; Menu>Find in page on Android).
If a building is located within a Heritage Conservation District (HCD) it is automatically designated as heritage but others are individually designated.
A Heritage Permit may be required when undertaking work that alters or changes the heritage attributes of buildings or properties that are either individually designated or district designated including: additions and alterations to structures, all new construction, landscaping and/or alteration of the property and demolition of structures on the property. For proposed alterations that are considered to be minor, approval may be given by heritage planning staff. For more complex and extensive alterations, applications for approval are considered by the Cobourg Heritage Advisory Committee (CHC) and subsequently Town Council. The final decision rests with Council.
Every HCD has its own Plan that includes policies and guidelines to manage changes and alterations to properties in heritage neighbourhoods. Copies of HCD Plans can be obtained online or from heritage planning staff, who can also direct you to resources and information about how to responsibly care for your heritage property.
To determine if your property is designated, please visit the Town's web site here or contact heritage planning staff in the Planning Department at 905-372-1005
Categories and Type of Use for Properties
All properties within the Town of Cobourg are zoned for a specific type of use:
- Residential (areas where people live)
- Commercial (retail or service businesses)
- Industrial (manufacturing businesses)
- Institutional (hospitals, schools, places of worship)
- Agricultural (farms).
A property cannot be used for a different purpose than the one for which it is zoned. For more information about permitted use, requirements and restrictions of the Zoning By-law, contact the Building and Planning Department at 905-372-1005. All complaints regarding zoning and the use of property will be investigated on a written complaint basis.
Decks, Porches, and Patios
Before you can get a building permit, the Building Department will ask you for very specific information and construction details. This process is designed to ensure that every construction project in Cobourg meets the requirements of the Ontario Building Code and all applicable laws, including the Town's Zoning Bylaw.
A Deck (porches, patios) is a floor system, the same as that within the dwelling unit, and must be designed accordingly.
The design and construction of the Deck must conform to the requirements of the current amended version of the Ontario Building Code as well as all other applicable bylaws.
Special consideration must be taken if the Deck is to be used to support a hot tub or similar structure due to the increased load. In addition to this Bylaw handbook, the Town's Building and Planning Department has developed a guide (for informational purposes only) to help citizens better understand the requirements for constructing a deck, porch or patio. It is the responsibility of the Applicant/Designer to review the building code to ensure all information is complete, accurate, and up to date.
For more information, contact the Building and planning Department at 905-372-1005
Operating a Business from Home
Also known as a "Home Occupation" the Town of Cobourg Zoning By-law allows certain businesses to operate from a home. However, there are strict requirements that a Homeowner must be aware of. For example, the number of employees and signage provisions need to be adhered to, and all related parking must be accommodated within the driveway of the residence.
If a citizen suspects that a business is operating illegally, they can make enquires through the Planning Office at 905-372-1005 or use the Town’s complaint system. (The guide also says: Formal complaints must be provided in writing on a Formal Complaint Form delivered or sent to 55 King Street West Cobourg, Ontario, K9A 2M2 on the Second Floor east side, Victoria Hall at the Building and Planning Offices. For more information call 905-372-1005).
Sheds and Accessory Structures
Accessory Structures are defined as extra buildings on a residential property and include but are not limited to: Sheds; Gazebos; Garages; Etc.
Building Permits are not required if you are building a shed or other structure that is less than 10 square metres (108 ft. square) and it is not attached to your house or another structure and does not contain plumbing,
Pets and Animals Licensing
All dogs in the Town of Cobourg require a dog tag and dog licenses must be renewed annually.
The dog licensing program is now administered by Docupet. The Town's web site has a page explaining Docupet and Dog Licences here.
Registered Service Dogs also require a Dog Licence within the Town of Cobourg, but the owner is exempt from paying the fee with valid proof of registration.
Licensing and Registration of your dog allows Municipal Staff to contact you in the event that your pet is found away from your home. This reduces the chances that your pet may end up at the Animal Pound if it accidentally goes missing. This also provides for immediate contact in the event that your pet is in an emergency situation.
Number of Animals Permitted on Private Property
No more than three (3) dogs that are 12 weeks or older can be kept within a single home property, and no more than two (2) dogs can be kept within a unit with residential dwellings containing two or more units (i.e. semi-detached, apartment, condo). Exceptions include: Licensed Kennels; approved businesses and veterinary offices.
Leash, Poop and Scoop and Running at Large
The Town of Cobourg requires that dog owners at all times have their dogs on a leash that is a maximum length of 1.8 meters (6' feet) and accompanied and under control by the Owner or a competent individual.
All dog owners shall remove any/all excrement left by their dog anywhere within the municipality and shall dispose of the waste in a sanitary manner.
No owner of an animal shall permit an animal to run at large within the limits of the Municipality. Note that there is a Dog Park on Ontario Street where dogs may be let loose.
The Town of Cobourg and the Northumberland Humane Society have entered into a five-year renewable agreement to provide certain animal control services beginning January 1, 2022. This agreement replaces a previous Service Agreement and saves the Town $68,000 per year.
The Humane Society provides the following services:
- Providing animal shelter that meets all applicable standards of the Town and provincial or federal standards for such shelters.
- Remaining open and staffed from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.
- Operating and maintaining the shelter including collecting any impound fees or other fees as set forth in the Animal Control By-Law.
- Participating in community activities to promote a better understanding of animal control problems.
And the Town provides the following animal control services:
- Providing By-law Enforcement Officers for the purposes of enforcing the Animal Control By-Law including issuing tickets or charges relating to offences under the Animal Control By-Law and any other applicable provincial legislation.
- Delivery of domestic animals to the shelter.
The Northumberland Humane Society is located at 371 Ward Street in Port Hope.
Animal Control Issues
For those requiring assistance from an Animal Control Services Officer for regarding an animal-related incident including but not limited to a lost or found pet, sick or injured stray animal, animal-related by-law infraction, or other animal-related emergencies, call 905-372-4301 or email
Copies of Cobourg's Animal Control By-law are available for download here: Animal Control ByLaw - 021-2014
The Town of Cobourg's Comprehensive Zoning By-law restricts the height of fences and establishes regulations in regards to certain areas on your property. The reason there are fence restrictions in place is to ensure proper sightlines for pedestrians and vehicles. Any questions related to these requirements can be directed to the Planning Department at 905-372-1005.
The Town of Cobourg does not have a stand-alone by-law in regard to fencing or for a fence that runs along a property line. The Provincial regulation known as the Line Fences Act shall apply. If you build a fence, make sure that you do not build your fence on a neighbour's property or on Municipal property by mistake.
The Town of Cobourg cannot provide information on the location of property lines between private properties. If you did not obtain a survey from your Purchase and Sale Agreement contact an Ontario Land Surveyor (OLS).
Generally you do not need a permit to build a fence, however you do need a Permit when building a Fence around a Pool as required through the Pool By-law.
Boulevards and Public Rights of Way
The section of your property bordering the Municipal Road Allowance is municipally owned land and is known most commonly as the 'Town Boulevard'. This area is the entrance point of many municipal services on to your lot and is regulated space as defined in the Boulevard By-law and may need to be accessed at any time to repair or improve Municipal Services. Any time you plan to alter the Town-owned boulevard, please contact the Municipality. If you would like to report a safety hazard, please call By-law Enforcement Services at 905-372-4301.
The Town of Cobourg regulates the types of plantings and the heights of vegetation you may add to your boulevard and it also prohibits certain additions to the boulevard such as large rocks and landscape stones, which in the opinion of the Town could be a potential public safety hazard.
Open Air Burning
Open Air Burning and Outdoor Fireplaces can be popular and appealing to Homeowners, but they can also prove to be very dangerous. The Town of Cobourg has put in place restrictions on Open Air Burning to protect the safety of all residents.
In accordance with the Town's Open Air Burning By-law a fire for recreational, camp-style purposes may be set at any time or times without a permit under this By-law subject to the following precautionary requirements:
- such fire shall be supervised by a responsible person at all times;
- such fire shall be kept safely confined and under control at all times;
- such fire shall be kept a minimum distance of 3 metres from the nearest property line, shrub, overhanging trees or other combustible materials, and 10 metres from the nearest building or other combustible structures;
- fire suppression equipment or materials shall be readily available for the extinguishment of the fire;
- such fire shall be fully extinguished before the site of the fire is left by the person responsible for setting and supervising the fire.
For more information, call the Fire Department at 905-372-9789
Before installing or setting up a pool, be aware that a Pool Enclosure Permit may be required. This helps ensure that the area around the pool is securely closed and blocked off to protect the public from easily gaining access to pools that are on private property. A permit is required in order to install and erect a fence around any property and body of water located outdoors on privately owned lands and contained in part or in whole by artificial means and/or structures in which the depth of water at any point can exceed sixty-one (61) centimetres and which is capable of being used for swimming, diving or bathing. Without limiting the generality of the foregoing, "pool" shall include structures known as "hot tubs or whirlpools".
Residents must contact the Building Department for the Town of Cobourg to acquire any permits that are required before building a pool or fence. The Building Department can be reached at 905-372-1005.
There are a number of property standard regulations. Including, but not limited to the following:
- Properties are required to be maintained free of accumulations of garbage, refuse and debris;
- Sheds and Garages are to be maintained in good condition;
- Buildings are to be maintained in good condition, including the maintenance of roofs, windows, doors and eaves troughs;
- Working and in good condition; plumbing, heating and, electrical services and
- Rental Property Standards.
If you have any questions, please feel free to call the Property Standards Officer at 905-372-1005.
Clean Yard and Lot Maintenance
The following provisions are within the Clean Yard and Lot Maintenance By-law:
- Every Owner or Occupant of land shall keep land free and clear of all refuse, debris, and waste of any kind.
- Every Owner or Occupant of land shall trim or cut weeds or grass, whether dead or alive, that are more than 8 inches (20 cm) in height.
- Every Owner or Occupant of land shall trim, cut and/or maintain vegetation (other than weeds and grass) in such a manner as to not adversely impact the safety, visibility or passage of the general public.
Town of Cobourg Enforcement tools would include the issuance of orders requiring property owners to discontinue the contravening activity and/or to do work to correct the contravention. Property owners who do not comply with orders may not only find themselves subject to charges and fines but also costs added to their taxes by the Town for work done to correct the contravention.
Sidewalk Snow and Ice Removal
Every owner of a building whether occupied or unoccupied, or vacant land is required to clear and remove the snow and ice in the area within 24 hours after the accumulation of snow and ice.
.Snow, ice or slush from a sidewalk may not be pushed on or deposited onto the Municipal road allowance. For all inquiries or to make a complaint, please contact Public Works at 905-372-9971 .
Use of Parks
All parks are regularly monitored by Parks Staff, Cobourg Police Services and by Town of Cobourg By-law Enforcement Officers. The Officers use every opportunity to inform residents about the rules and regulations and where appropriate may issue tickets for non-compliance with the Town's various by-laws. To report any unauthorized activities in any park, please call the Town at 905-372-4301
Special Events and Park Permits
The Town of Cobourg requires that all individuals, businesses and groups obtain a Special Events Permit to hold an event in a Municipal Park or on other municipally owned property. The Town has put together a Special Event Application package for individuals to follow when applying for a special event through the Community Events Coordinator for the Town.
If you are looking to book the Lions/Lioness Pavilion in Victoria Park for use during a picnic or other event you can contact the Cobourg Community Centre at 905-372-7371 Monday to Friday from 8:30am to 4:30pm. You can also visit their website here or send an email to
Barbeques and Cooking Devices
The Town of Cobourg's Parks and Facilities Use By-law strictly prohibits the use of BBQ's and Cooking Devices within its municipal parks. No person shall use a BBQ or like cooking device in any municipally owned Park or on the Town of Cobourg Beach or other municipally owned property. Signs are posted in order to educate and inform the public of this regulation and to protect municipal parks and those persons enjoying and using the parks within the Town.
Notify the Town if you see anyone using a Barbeque or Cooking Device at 905-372-4301 or on the Town's report it page here.
- smoke on and around children's playgrounds, publicly owned sport fields and surfaces (e.g., areas for basketball, baseball, soccer or beach volleyball, ice rinks, tennis courts, splash pads and swimming pools that are owned by a municipality, the province or a postsecondary education institution).
- smoke on all bar and restaurant patios, whether covered or not (with an exemption for uncovered patios established by the Royal Canadian Legion - Ontario Provincial Command before November 18, 2013).
In the Town of Cobourg individuals are prohibited from smoking or using any tobacco products within the boundaries of any Municipal Park and building and also prohibits smoking on and within the boundaries of Victoria Beach.
For more information about No Smoking within the Town, please contact By-law Enforcement Services at 905-372-4301.
Street & Neighbourhood
Common Parking Offences
The following is a list of the most common parking offences in the Town of Cobourg:
Blocking the sidewalk: Vehicle is parked in a driveway and covering a portion of the sidewalk.
On the Boulevard: Vehicle is parked on the grass between the street and the sidewalk.
Two-way Street parked facing the wrong direction: Vehicle is parked facing the opposite direction of the flow of traffic.
Parked over the limit at a meter or sign: Vehicle is parked at a parking meter or signed parking area with no payment, or expired payment.
On the street during winter parking restrictions: Vehicle is parked on the listed street in the Parking By-law from November 1- March 31, impeding the snow clearing by Snow ploughs. (More on Winter Parking By-Law on Cobourg Internet here)
Unplated or not working: Broken or unplated vehicles are left on the street or other municipally owned property.
Fire Route: Vehicle is parked within a Fire Route - these routes must be kept clear in case of an emergency.
Fire Hydrant: Vehicle is parked within 3 metres (10 feet) of a Fire Hydrant
Parking in an accessible parking space: Vehicle is parked in a designated accessible parking space without a valid accessible parking permit clearly visible, including the expiry date.
For more information, please see the Town of Cobourg Parking By-law, or contact By-law Enforcement Services at 905-372-4301 or by email at
Within the Town of Cobourg no person shall set off, or cause to be set off fireworks, including backyard displays on any day other than:
- The three days prior to the holiday known as Victoria Day and on the Victoria Day Holiday
- The three days prior to the holiday known as Canada Day, July 1 and on the Canada Day Holiday, July 1.
Fireworks must be set off 15 metres from any structure or property line, or as recommended by the manufacturer.
Areas containing dead undergrowth or dry grass are to be avoided due to their likelihood of sparking.
Firecrackers are not allowed to be set off within the jurisdiction of the Town of Cobourg. For more information, call the Fire Department at 905-372-9789
The Town of Cobourg licenses for the following types of businesses:
- Itinerant Vendors (door to door sales) Licence;
- Refreshment Vehicle Licence;
- Second Hand Goods Licence;
- Taxi Driver and Owner Licence;
- Horse and Carriage Licence;
- Filming and Photography.
The Town of Cobourg Legislative Services Department ensures that the above listed vehicles, owners, companies and drivers meet the strict regulations under the Town of Cobourg's established Business licensing by-laws. This occurs before a licence is issued or renewed, to ensure vehicle inspections, criminal record checks, insurance and other documentation are in place.
Please notify the Town If you see a taxicab, itinerant vendor, refreshment vehicle, second hand goods dealer operating in the Town of Cobourg without a licence, you should report it to the Town at 905-372-4301 or by email at
Within the Town of Cobourg it is illegal to dump waste; for example items such as household and business waste, construction materials, old tires, unwanted furniture, and cigarette butts.
Notify the Town If you witness illegal dumping on private or public property, please call the Town of Cobourg or the Cobourg Police immediately.
Important information to include in your report to the Town or the Cobourg Police include: time, location, vehicle description, licence plate number and description of person doing the dumping.
For more information, please contact By-law Enforcement Services at 905-372-4301 or by email at
The Town of Cobourg has put into place a Noise By-law that regulates excessive noise within the jurisdiction of the Town of Cobourg. The Noise By-law includes such things as a dog barking daily and excessively, persons playing loud music and provisions around noise after 11:00pm and before 7:00am and also including daily construction noise that is on-going throughout the Town.
Notify the Cobourg Police at 905-372-6821 to report any noise that you may hear in order for on investigation to be conducted. Complaints about loud parties and any excessive noise after 11:00pm should be directed to the Cobourg Police at the time of reception and when the noise occurs.
For more information, please contact By-law Enforcement Services at 905-372-4301 or by email at
The Town of Cobourg Sign By-law lays out the process and the types of signs that require a permit within the Town of Cobourg. The Adninistration of permits for signs is through the Building Department at 905-373-1005. There are additional provisions related to signs within Heritage Districts.
Signs are only permitted to be placed on Town property with a permit and some areas on Town property are strictly prohibited from posting notices or signs, such as Hydro poles, Light Standards, and Traffic Light posts.
In 2018, the Town of Cobourg will be conducting a Municipal Election. Residents of Cobourg, including Candidates for the Election shall be familiar with the Town of Cobourg Election Sign By-law. There is no fee or permit required for Candidate and Third party Election Signs.
The following are some specific provisions of the Town of Cobourg Election Sign By-law.
- Restricting the placement of election signs to no earlier than Nomination Day for Municipal Elections;
- Election signs are to be removed no later than seventy-two (72) hours following the day of the election;
- Election signs are prohibited from using the Town of Cobourg'S logo or the Town's municipal election logo.
Election Signs for Provincial and Federal Election Campaigns can be erected no earlier than the day the Writ of Election or By-Election is issued.
No more than two (2) election signs per candidate may be permitted on a zoned residential land, and no more than three (3) election signs per candidate may be permitted on a piece of land zoned other than residential.
The Election Sign By-law will be enforced by the Municipal Clerk or designate and the Municipal By-Law Enforcement Officer for the Town of Cobourg.
A nuisance is considered an 'activity that causes an unsafe environment, affects the well-being of persons or the enjoyment of public places.' The following disturbances are not permitted in public spaces:
- urinate, defecate, vomit or spit on public property;
- engage, participate, or be a spectator in any type of disorderly conduct or fight on public property;
- damage or destroy or attempt to damage or destroy any public property;
- knock over or attempt to knock over a Canada Post mailbox, newspaper box, bench, fence, recycling box, organics bin, or garbage container, or any other structure or object, located on public property;
- loiter in any public property whether signed or not;
- block, interfere with or otherwise impede the passage of any pedestrian on any Town sidewalk or other Town pedestrian-way, or portion thereof unless authorized by the Town;
- engage in any type of conduct or activity on any public property when the activity is prohibited or restricted by any sign.
The following is in the By-Law Guide but does not discuss any particular by-laws.
The Cobourg Police Service is constantly working in collaboration with community members, policing partners and Town of Cobourg staff to provide a safe and enjoyable Town for our residents and Visitors
Policing services for Cobourg continue to be dispatched through the professional staff of the Owen Sound Police Service
In our collaboration with municipal by-law services, and their enforcement staff, we are constantly striving to provide better education and consistent enforcement for residents and visitors throughout the Town of Cobourg.
Police responses respond to varied issues and concerns, ranging from loitering, trespassing, noise complaints, vandalism and serious criminal activity.
With the creation of our newly designed reception area, we are able to provide added public services. Our Special Constable program has been expanded within the reception area. There are now uniformed members that greet visitors and clients at the station. The Special Constables also contribute to our capabilities by adding to patrol and enforcement duties in the Downtown.
Their capabilities now allow us to be capable of further collaboration with by-law enforcement personnel and police officers to work through the varied issues like traffic, parking or liquor violations that arise in relation to Downtown, the Beach or Victoria Park.
Our enhanced Waterfront presence throughout the summer, and events such as Canada Day and Rib Fest ensures availability to deal with any issues/disturbances. Community members and visitors will always be able to find us by our high visibility patrol clothing which emphasizes our presence with members of the public.
We actively engage our community and visiting communities alike to ensure safe and happy visits to our Town.
Call 911 for emergencies or 905-372-6821 to speak with an officer / dispatcher. If you have information you wish to provide confidentially, please contact Crime Stoppers Canada-wide Toll Free: 1-800-222-8477 (TIPS)
By Law Enforcement F.A.Q.
I wish to submit a potential By-law Complaint, How do I complain about a By-law infraction?
In order to determine whether a complaint is under the scope of Cobourg By-law Enforcement, please check the Town website here. or call the Town to inquire if the complaint is legitimate and under the Town’s responsibility. Before Cobourg By-law Enforcement can act, you must submit a complaint in writing via a By-Law Enforcement Complaint Form which requires you to provide the following:
- your name, address, and your phone number;
- clearly identify the subject property or location of the complaint by providing the address, or the owner's name, and other identifiable information; and
- detailed account of the by-law infraction or substance of the complaint. Each Complaint Form must be signed and dated.
How do I submit my Complaint Form?
To obtain a fillable By-law Complaint Form, download here or you may call the Town directly to have the form emailed, mailed. or faxed. The completed form can be submitted by email or in person, or by regular mail. It is important that the Town receives your information to give validity to the complaint and to assist the By-law Enforcement Officer in effectively dealing with the concerns. Anonymous complaints will not be investigated.
Will I remain anonymous?
When a complaint is submitted to the Town, your personal information is strictly confidential, and is not revealed to the individual, or subject property owner. Under the Ontario Municipal Freedom of Information Protection of Privacy Act (MFIPPA) the Town may be asked to release records. If releasable, the Town must remove personal information and all content that would reveal the complainant's identity from the records. Complainants' names or identifying information is not released; however, should a by-law infraction proceed to an Ontario court application, the contents of the file, including your name, may be part of the court process and you may be called to testify.
What happens after I submit my complaint?
Do I need to follow up with my complaint?
Please note that investigation contents and process is confidential. The Town will let you know that the investigation process has begun, or that the subject of the complaint is not applicable to a Municipal By-law and direct you to another agency.