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Council approved draft settlement goes to Picton Terminals

Shipping containers at Picton Terminals shown in this photo from Terminal – Picton Bay on Facebook

Council has approved draft terms of settlement between Prince Edward County and the Picton Terminals port operation on Picton Bay.

Council returned from closed session Tuesday night with a motion to “direct legal counsel to seek similar approval from Picton Terminals and that a meeting with council, the Mohawks of the Bay of Quinte, and Picton Terminals be held to discuss the draft terms prior to bringing a bylaw to implement a settlement agreement.”

The minutes of the settlement are to be made public with the applicable council agenda.

The motion carried in a 7-6 recorded vote. Councillors Kate MacNaughton, Janice Maynard, Phil Prinzen, Phil St-Jean, John Hirsch and Mayor Steve Ferguson were opposed. In favour were councillors Chris Braney, Sam Grosso, Brad Nieman, Bill Roberts, David Harrison, Roy Pennell and Corey Engelsdorfer.

“The municipality does not have the authority to interfere with activities that are, at their core, shipping and navigation, but that does not mean that Picton Terminals has a blank cheque on how it operates in our community,” said Mayor Steve Ferguson. “Council decided to address the widest range of community concerns, some of which would not be possible through litigation.”

Following a closed session at council’s June 11 meeting, municipal staff was asked to draft the terms of a settlement.

“In a final good faith effort to seek a negotiated agreement that will bring timely closure to the Picton Terminals litigation issue and provide tax levy mitigation prior to the 2025 budget planning cycle, council direct staff to return in closed session as soon as practical with draft terms of settlement for council approval,” stated councillor Brad Nieman reading that motion.

That motion was approved in a recorded vote of 8 to 4. In favour were councillors Chris Braney, Sam Grosso, Brad Nieman, Bill Roberts, Phil St. Jean, David Harrison, Roy Pennell, Mayor Steve Ferguson. Opposed were John Hirsch, Kate MacNaughton, Janice Maynard and Phil Prinzen.

Council in 2020 unanimously denied Picton Terminals’ application for rezoning the 24 White Chapel Road site to allow a Great Lakes cruise ship port destination and additional storage.

Picton Terminals appealed to the Local Planning Appeal Tribunal but withdrew that appeal in 2021.

The current law means Picton Terminals has a legal non-conforming use on its properties to engage in the trans-shipment of bulk products, like iron ore, aggregates, salt, farming and steel products. The current law prohibits Picton Terminals from storing and shipping containers on its properties, yet their presence has been recorded showing containers stacked on top of the escarpment.

Picton Terminals has claimed that “all ports in Canada are regulated by the federal government”, “that shipping and navigation is a power wholly within the jurisdiction of the federal government”, and “the County has no legal jurisdiction to regulate the port”.

In May last year, the County and Picton Terminals agreed to engage in discussions that could lead to a negotiated settlement with “hope to avoid a costly and protracted legal battle”.

Attempts to reach an agreement reached an impasse last summer, the County issued a statement saying it had “no other course of action but to seek a court ruling” on bulk storage arguing that shipping containers should not be included in the definition of bulk storage.

Last October the County filed an application seeking an injunction with the Ontario Superior Court of Justice constraining Picton Terminals from developing its lands without approval from the County.

That injunction seeks to restrain Picton Terminals from developing outdoor storage and a facility to load and unload containers. The injunction also sought to block cruise ships from docking at Picton Terminals.

At the time, the County stated it would continue with its by-law enforcement order against Picton Terminals related to shipping containers on the site. Because Picton Terminals has not complied with the order within the two-week period granted, the municipality is in the process of laying a charge against the company in order to achieve compliance. That was expected to move forward this year.


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