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Council denies Picton Terminals’ rezoning for cruise ships, more storage

By Sue Capon
Prince Edward County council presented a united front at Wednesday night’s planning meeting in unanimously denying the Picton Terminals application for re-zoning to allow a Great Lakes cruise ship port destination, and expanded open storage for goods and materials.

“I do not think what is being proposed here is appropriate for this community. It’s too big. It has the potential to fundamentally change Prince Edward County for years and years to come,” said Mayor Steve Ferguson. “We have to preserve that which is most valuable to all of us. So I’m glad we got to this point. There will be more to come, absolutely. But we’re making this decision for all the right reasons.”

Ferguson noted councillors and staff in the room have been considering the application for months.

“I knew this time was going to come when we were going to make a decision. I was personally dreading it for all kinds of reasons, but as I read through the material, and talked to many people – whether they phoned, or emailed, or in casual conversation on the street, I found the decision was becoming easier to make.”

Council and staff are aware an appeal can be made to the Land Planning Appeal Tribunal (LPAT). Mayor Ferguson noted Picton Terminals owner Ben Doornekamp has stated previously he would appeal the decision if rezoning were to be denied.

PEC CAO Marcia Wallace advised councillors to take further conversation about defending their position into closed session, with the benefit of legal advice.

“This has been good conversation,” said Wallace. “I would also say that the record for how council feels, and why you made this decision, is also wrapped up in this recorded meeting.”

Council also heard from 16 County residents, all against the proposal, expressing concerns about the environment, traffic, transportation infrastructure, pollution, fish and habitat, water quality and supply, noise, vibration, material storage, container shipping, excessive tourism, and quality of life.

A repeated question was “What is the benefit to Prince Edward County?”

Council deemed the application incompatible with the vision for Prince Edward County and stated it also did not address concerns of neighbouring Mohawks of the Bay of Quinte.

Councillor Stewart Bailey stated inclusion, but no response to Chief R. Donald Maracle’s letter indicates acknowledgement, but is not paying attention to the Bay of Quinte Mohawks as being good stewards of the land and water.

The staff report noted Picton Terminals stated concerns expressed by the Mohawks of the Bay of Quinte would be worked on during the next stage Site Plan Control process. However, “Many of these concerns involve other levels of government and cannot be resolved through the municipal zoning process.”

In a letter, Chief R. Donald Maracle had expressed environmental concerns related to negative impacts to fish and habitat, disturbance to historical contaminants, transportation systems, and increased traffic on the Skyway Bridge, and through the Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory.

“This can have serious impacts to the health of our people. MBQ have high rates of cancer, and further, we have seen a spike in childhood cancers.”

Maracle also noted linkages drawn between international shipping, human trafficking and cases of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women. “This port utilized for shipping and our territories utilized as a transportation corridor increases the vulnerability of our women and children.”

The staff report had confirmed the proposed zoning bylaw conformed to all applicable local and provincial policies, however, a recommendation for approval of a Site Plan Control Agreement (required to implement detailed design elements) was not to be approved, until additional concerns had been addressed by the applicant.

“These concerns, while significant, are detailed, site-specific issues concerning the operation and final design of the site and will need be addressed through the Site Plan Control process,” stated Matt Coffey, Planning Co-ordinator, approvals, in his report. The IBI Group consulting firm was used to assist staff to review the applications.

Concern included how the proposed tour boat operation would function on the site and how it would be integrated with transshipment (the shipment of goods or containers from one destination to another).

Coffey states Doornekamp’s application was “highly conceptual” with just a concept plan to illustrate how docking use would function on the site.

Picton Terminals wanted the site to become a Great lakes cruise ship port destination beginning next summer. Plans shown at at public meetings earlier this year stated 300-500 passengers each cruise ship would bring would be use five to 10 buses for daily trips to local beaches, restaurants, wineries, galleries, etc.

The Picton Terminals property is approximately 25-hectares on the south side of White Chapel Road, with 1,200 metres of shoreline along Picton Bay.

The historical uses of the site include rail shipments of iron ore and transshipment operations of the former Marmorton Mine (Bethlehem Steel). The transshipment of iron ore ceased in 1978 however, transshipment of a variety of products has continued to varying degrees over the years.

In 2018, the transshipment use was formally recognized as to be a legal non-conforming use by the Ontario Superior Court of Justice in its ruling. In this decision, the applicant was ordered to remove equipment and stockpiles from areas of the site formerly agriculturally-zoned.

The Ministry of Environment, Conservation and Parks in an April 15 letter re: Compliance Confirmation, states several of the previous work ordered items issued under various Orders to Comply have been complied with, but some remain in effect.

MECP requires a seven-day notification prior to the acceptance of any product or material at the site which has the potential to adversely affect offsite receptors. It is the ministry’s understanding that the site will continue to accept other non-salt products in 2020 and beyond.

All salt shipments received after April 1, 2020 are to be stored inside a dry storage facility, and be managed such that it does not come into contact with any precipitation, groundwater or stormwater run-off.

Environmental Compliance Approval was issued March 2, 2020 authorizing the construction and operation of a stormwater management works for the collection, treatment and disposal of stormwater runoff at the site.

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  1. Andy says:

    Yes, it will be difficult to ‘win’ the next round of this battle with the Approvals people at Shore Hall giving it their “approval”. As part of their defence, Council might be able to rely on what was said by the Approvals Manager at this meeting – Coffey states Doornekamp’s application was “highly conceptual” with just a concept plan to illustrate how docking use would function on the site. Why spend time and our money for a ‘highly conceptual’ proposal, instead of telling the proponent “Sorry, but we only deal in actual submissions”?

  2. Gary says:

    It’s going to be a real tough defend at appeal with our Planning Dep’t supporting the rezoning.

  3. Becky Williams says:

    Thank you to our mayor and council for listening. If the owners are truly interested
    In being good neighbours I am sure there will be no appeal. If not then it would
    Seem we will be in court defending what we value as important.

  4. SaraLou Miller says:


  5. Dennis Fox says:

    I too am very pleased with Council’s decision. However, the decision goes against the Planning Dept. recommendations – which the developer will no doubt challenge. What complicates council’s current decision is all of their previous decisions to support this terminal. I will be interested in seeing how much time. work and money the municipality places on this decision. Let’s hope it is not too little too late.

  6. Hedy says:

    Thank God! I am thankful that Mayor Steve Ferguson and Council have voted in favour of the people and of this beautiful County, and saved us from a looming disaster. Respect to all Council for this. And of course the health & welfare of the Indigenous population is a factor that deserves due diligence in any decision so I think this decision is the right and only proper verdict.
    Further, I think the type of setting/business that Doornekamp envisions for his Terminals would be better placed elsewhere on the Great Lakes.

  7. Mike Roy says:

    Kudos to Mayor Ferguson and Council for doing the right thing for the poeple of PEC. Hope this responsible attitude continues as other decisions are made by Council for the benefit of the County.

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