Cobourg Council – Preparations Proceed For Once-In-A-Lifetime Event

In City Hall

By Cecilia Nasmith/Today’s Northumberland
The April 8 total solar eclipse will bring total darkness to Cobourg, as well as the potential for a host of problems.

A presentation at the February council meeting from Eric Thibaudeau of Emergency Management Ontario and the town’s Emergency Planner Adam Bennett outlined what might be expected from this once-in-a-lifetime event (the next one of which is not expected in southern Ontario until 2099).

Unlike other kinds of eclipses a total solar eclipse will see total darkness except for a thin ring of sun that the moon’s shadow fails to block out. The shadow will begin to move into position at about 2:07 p.m., will block out the sun almost totally for not much more than a minute by about 3:21, and will cease to block any portion of the sun by about 4:33.

That only goes for areas in what he called the northeast-to-southwest Path of Totality – that band 110 to 115 km. wide that will see this total eclipse. The western border of that path cuts through Lake Ontario but makes landfall at Port Hope and continues eastward from there.

Between those who live in the area and those who are travelling to destinations within the Path of Totality to get a better view, Thibaudeau anticipates a number of potential problems, such as epic traffic jams, fuel shortages, disruptions and delays to emergency services, gatherings at locations that may be unsuitable, demand for washrooms, plus fake viewing glasses being sold and the potential for eye damage and the resulting hospital overload.

On the other hand, there is the potential for the tourism industry.

“It might take somewhat of a holiday aspect,” he said.

Preparations being made include school boards rescheduling PA days, businesses making alternate arrangements for their employees and emergency services working with municipalities to get ready.

Bennett said Northumberland municipalities are working with the County of Northumberland for this purpose. He added that Port Hope hotels are full, though there are still plenty of vacancies in Cobourg, and that a number of small businesses are asking employees to work a double shift to cut down on traffic.

The temperature will fall five to eight degrees as the sun is blocked, Bennett added.

He also cautioned that even appropriate viewing glasses can result in eye damage if there is so much as a scratch on the lens.

As preparations become more finalized, he urged everyone to sign up for the Alertable app, which can send out updated notifications by text, phone, e-mail or social media.

Councillor Randy Barber asked about the availability of appropriate viewing glasses.

“We are already compiling some resources and some tools with respect to staff, and council will be included in that,” Chief Administrative Officer Tracey Vaughan said.

Cecilia Nasmith
Author: Cecilia Nasmith

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