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’10-4′ on County’s draft Official Plan

By Sharon Harrison
At a five hour Special Council meeting Wednesday night, the Prince Edward County draft Official Plan was approved with a handful of amendments.

Council voted 10 to four in favour of passing the plan but voting against, councillors Bolik, Maynard, McMahon and Nieman stated it could be better.

Prince Edward County Mayor Steve Ferguson acknowledged the extraordinary amount of work that went into creating the document, which is to guide how Prince Edward County will grow and develop over the next 25 years. It is a living document, typically reviewed every five years.

“This is an extremely complex and important document that has been in the works for years,” said Mayor Ferguson.

Planning Manager Michael Michaud gave an update on the draft in a slide presentation incorporating many of the comments received during a lengthy public process.

Main changes in the draft included reducing the number of severances per
property from two to one and the elimination of country lot subdivisions within the County.

The County is currently processing subdivision applications within Picton, Wellington, Consecon and Rossmore representing more than 1,500 units. The challenge to bring infrastructure online for the proposed units remains, though it will take years for all to build out and the uptake in development will be dependent on the housing market.

It was also noted development in rural areas introduces more conflict with the agricultural community such as odour and noise; limits farm expansion opportunities and concerns that the County does not bear a significant quantity of water in rural areas.

Motions brought forward by staff included changes relating to wetland setbacks, the transition policy and restricting major development in natural linkage areas among them.

The live-streamed meeting also heard deputations and comments from members of the public.

“We request that council direct the 2020/21 draft Official Plan to be updated to give natural core area linkages the same protection as the natural core areas they connect,” stated Amy Bodman, speaking on behalf of the South Shore Joint Initiative, the Prince Edward County Field Naturalists and Prince Edward Point Bird Observatory. “Major development should not only not be permitted in natural core areas, but also not permitted in the linkages.”

Cheryl Anderson sought a 50-metre buffer around all County wetlands, speaking on behalf of the same groups, and the Alliance to Protect Prince Edward County.

“You will ensure that not only are our wetlands protected, but our developments as well.”

Council agreed to to a 50-metre setback (replacing 30-metre) for development from wetlands and included Warings Creek. Staff will review and consider including the Slab Creek provincially significant wetland as part of a natural core area and potential linkage to coastal provincially significant wetland for consideration in a future Official Plan amendment no later than 2023.

It also re-worded the sentence ‘villages are intended to prioritize municipal services infrastructure, tourism and amenities, and amenities for tourists and businesses catering to tourists’ to: ‘villages are intended to prioritize municipal services, infrastructure and small-scale commercial uses’.

A motion to eliminate policy which regulates tourist development activities by season with the understanding that this is already restricted via provincial environmental compliance approvals for septic systems failed.

A motion to restrict major development in natural linkage areas to the same degree as in natural core areas also failed.

Applications deemed complete before July 6, 2021 are to be reviewed under the existing 2006 Official Plan, and may include applications missing one report based on seasonality.

Council also directed staff to add that ‘The conversion or demolition of more than four rental units in a proposed development shall only be considered if the Canada Mortgage and Housing Commission vacancy rate is three per cent or higher, or there is a comprehensive replacement plan.’

Ameliasburgh Councillor Janice Maynard acknowledged much work has been done with the draft Official Plan, “However, I feel it is possible for us to do much better. We are a community of communities and different things can work in different areas.”

Maynard said she was not comfortable with the guiding document for many reasons.

“It does not align with the vision of most of the constituents whose voice I represent or our own strategic plan in many ways, especially both in the near and the long term.”

She added that in a year of COVID-19 pandemic restrictions, the inability to have in-person public consultation sessions “precluded meaningful input for many residents”.

She also added the final draft was updated to council the night before, with the public seeing it on the day of the meeting.

Ameliasburgh Councillor Andreas Bolik said he also would not support the plan calling it “bad for the County” and “terrible for Ameliasburgh”.

“It does not recognize that different areas of this County have disparate needs and realities. It is a product that fails to incorporate a true understanding of all areas of this County and certainly not the needs and wants of Ameliasburgh residents,” he said.

Bolik opined the excitement and energy council exuded two years ago; that things were going to be different.

“That has now grinded to a case of paralysis by analysis. We have declared emergencies then ignore them, we have endless special meetings where very little gets achieved, we spin our wheels, we lurch from one crises to another, we ended up with a budget that is essentially the status quo that we have seen for decades. This council aspires to fixing all that ails the world, but we can’t even figure out how to fix our roads.”

“Now we are being asked to approve a plan that caters to tourism and tourists: those activities may be part of the County’s future, but they have little positive relevance to those of us in the northwest,” Bolik said. “I can only conclude that it is now time to work toward extricating Ameliasburgh ward from the unwieldy and unworkable municipal structure with which we are currently saddled. I cannot, nor will I, support this plan.”

Councillor Bill Roberts called the document “A a darn good new Official Plan. It’s contemporary, it’s thoughtful, it’s inclusive and in many ways, it’s very compassionate. I am really proud we got this done.”

Mayor Ferguson acknowledged the Official Plan had “languished for years and years and years.”

“I paid particular attention to whether the details of the plan adhered to the vision for the future,” he said. “Does the plan respect the County’s historical roots, its agricultural heritage and to ensure appropriate protection is in place for those, as well as the natural environment. I think we’ve gone through a long struggle and a lot of analysis with this and the plan and doing what is appropriate for everyone in Prince Edward County.”

Next steps involve the draft Official Plan being sent to the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing for final approval.

This meeting can be viewed on the County’s YouTube channel.

 

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  1. Fred says:

    Ameliasburgh has 3 Councilors who all voted against the Plan. I am sure if you contact them via the County e-mail they would be glad to thoroughly inform you of the issues.

  2. Bruce Nicholson says:

    Will someone please explain what Ameliasburgh’s issues are with the official plan that are unique from the other wards of the County.

  3. Chuck says:

    Have strayed slightly from the Official Plan debate. The concern was not about tourists but the fact tourism is not a factor that affects everyone, and some have other land interests and needs. This is particularly true of Ameliasburgh. A purposeful Official Plan for the next 25 years should strive to connect with all County residents.

  4. angela says:

    If you love Wellington today chances are you did not know it 20 years ago. Back then it was possible to visit Wellington beach on almost any day without finding it swarming with tourists. It was a beautiful, peaceful place. Last summer the first thing in a visitors line of sight was a port-a-potty. Forget tranquil, it was a zoo. It’s Main Street was straight from a postcard – tree-lined streets, life moving at a leisurely pace, friends meeting for coffee at the diner. And there was lots of parking. Now we have “improvements” to the downtown – largely patronized by tourists. It is hard to love the wave of so-called progress that has swept over Wellington village, taking with it many of the things that made it unique. The locals are tired of being ignored in favour of the tourists. It’s time we became a vocal group and made our feelings known. Our way of life is disappearing and for the most part it is not putting any money in our pockets. It is the come from aways who have arrived here to capitalize on our popularity and open businesses. They are pocketing the money now, not the locals. The same thing has happened to a lesser degree in Bloomfield.

  5. LB says:

    I strongly disagree that Wellington has been destroyed. It most certainly has not. But here’s how tourism has RUINED the County: it has attracted some very undesirable people. People such as winery owners, brewers, restaurateurs, artists, musicians and a slew of young fresh and entrepreneurs who seem to think working 12 hours a day, 7 days a week is good for the County. It has attracted a diverse culture that has woven an even grater sense of community into the County fabric. Who needs THAT!?? Look. These people can’t make a living solely relying on business from locals. They are attracting other people to the County. This CANADA for goodness sakes! People shouldn’t be allowed to go just anywhere they want!

    So this is how I fight back: when I’m in Wellington on a Saturday during the summer I smile at everyone and say “hi”. Then I go to the market and tell each and vendor how that their wares look amazing. When Covid is done I will meet some friends for a bite to eat and every once in awhile take in a music experience. I know the County has been RUINED! DESTROYED! And I’ve explained who’s responsible. I just can’t explain why I’m so happy all the time!

  6. Janice says:

    Wellington has been destroyed. It’s a nightmare in the summertime. Yes, can’t even venture to the local library or post office without great difficulty. Picton is a mini Toronto. Is that something wonderful? I find it disgusting. I’m tired of hearing the same lingo—oh it’s progress—we’ve got to go with change! No we don’t have to destroy our County for the sake of tourists. Just how are we going to pay for this billion dollar new water and sewage plant in Wellington. We’re taxed to death now. We can’t even get our roads repaired and rebuilt properly but can afford this new water and sewage plant? Of course the solution is to saturate Wellington and Picton with more subdivisions. That will surely make the County more enticing for tourists and please the locals immensely. Oh, I forgot, we could care less what the locals want—that’s evidently no concern.
    CP24 is reporting the provincial parks summer bookings are double to what they were last year at this time! We’ve got that mess to look forward to again this summer! Welcome to our once beautiful County! Just make sure you don’t block any driveways on the East Lake Road as you squat in locals yards to relieve yourselves!

  7. Ig says:

    I still hold that the document I’ve read, many times over, holds no to resemblance to the anti tourist rhetoric that has become a rampant sirens call among a vocal group in the County. “The only ones who like tourists are the ones making money from them” nonsense…”Wellington ..a tourist trap devoid of character” …we live here and love it! Enough already!

  8. Mark says:

    As Councillor Bolik stated the Plan very much leans towards catering to tourism and tourists. This at the expense of development and rural land uses.

  9. angela says:

    They did re-word a sentence in the plan that called for the county’s villages to prioritize tourism and tourist amenities. Two beautiful villages, Bloomfield and Wellington, have already lost their original character. Ever try going to the Bloomfield library on a summer’s day? There is nowhere to park. Wellington, a quaint old village that time forgot is now a tourist trap devoid of its original character. The county is for our summer visitors now and locals are taking a back seat. What about prioritizing the needs of locals for a change? The only people who love the tourists are the ones who are making money from them.

  10. Ig says:

    I think I must have been reading a very different version of the plan…. just where in its 250+ pages has the plan ‘pandered’ to tourists or ‘given them the keys’?

  11. SM says:

    You want cheap water, but don’t want the infill development to pay for it. You want good paying jobs, but lack the industry to provide them. You want to have a nice place to go out for dinner, but you don’t want the tourists that these businesses depend on to be there. You want housing priced the way it was in the last century but refuse to see that the housing crisis is not just a local issue. You want to keep up the rural nature of the County but want to subdivide your land as much as you want. We are in a new reality. Things don’t work like they used to. We don’t like it, but better get used to it.

  12. Emily says:

    This end result saddens me. I feel a large and important sector of the County has been left out. This process is flawed and trying to conduct such an enornmous Plan thru zoom is not effective.

  13. angela says:

    Council has sold local residents out in favour of pandering to the tourists. They’ve given them the keys to the county. Of course we can all take comfort in the fact that there will be bigger signs asking them not to litter and they may be asked to sign a pledge requiring them to “respect” our home. These juvenile solutions should protect us and solve all the problems.

  14. Gary says:

    Further interference with rural landowners restricting severances is just government control over our rights. Councilor Bolik had it right, they try to control everything in our lives but they can’t fix a road.

  15. Susan says:

    Great Plan for tourists. Terrible Plan for rural property owners, who pay taxes here.

  16. Chuck says:

    I don’t know how you promote this Official Plan let alone celebrate it when our largest Ward unaminously voted to reject it as it did not serve their residents well. Ameliasburgh is much removed from the tourist focus of Picton and Wellington and have different needs.They are also more connected with Belleville than the rest of the County. They may very well choose to align municipally with Belleville rather than being taxed but forgotten by Shire Hall.

  17. Fred says:

    When we all 3 elected representavives from Ameliasburgh the municipalities largest ward oppose this Official Plan, we have a serious problem. One Councilor is suggesting it is time for Ameliisburgh to leave the County municipal structure. I believe it is poor judgement to move this Plan forward when a large Ward and significant population are opposed. That does not serve the constituents and process well. Something is obviously wrong with the Plan and adjustments need to be made to satisfy our northern residents, who by the way are a huge part of our tax base. Good leadership should strive to find consensus.

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