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Council motions tackle tourism, traffic, and STAs to make County ‘more liveable’

In separate, but related motions, council is seeking information from municipal staff to make Prince Edward County “a more liveable” community.

Headlining the requests is a motion from Mayor Steve Ferguson seeking a comprehensive analysis of the effects of increased tourism on residents, businesses, roads, parking, traffic, infrastructure, waterfront, beaches, natural amenities and budget implications.

The analysis, several councillors said, is a long time coming – especially during an extraordinary tourism season exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Wholly supported by council, mayor Ferguson hopes experiences this year will provide valuable lessons moving forward.

“I think it is fair to say the summer of 2020 has been like no other,” he said, adding COVID-19 has affected the way of life in the County profoundly.

“It is important to ensure our residents have an opportunity to enjoy the home they have invested in and the place they pay taxes.”

Councillor Brad Nieman stated he would like to see a report that includes ways the County can raise funds for its coffers to help offset related costs including increased garbage and use of roads.

Ferguson noted his motion specifically asks staff to consider both “financial implications and opportunities”.

Councillor John Hirsch sought assurance “natural amenities” included lands owned by others including Little Bluff owned by Quinte Conservation, areas of the South Shore and Pt. Petre areas under the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry.

Councillor Mike Harper said the report must include issues of overflow at the Sandbanks and help from the province.

Ferguson told council he had a productive meeting with Environment and Parks Minister Jeff Yurek and Bay of Quinte MPP Todd Smith yesterday on concerns surrounding Sandbanks Provincial Park, notably traffic congestion, garbage and environmental effects of idling vehicles.

“My belief is that Mr. Smith will take steps to address the park’s overflow moving forward.”

Expecting the coming budget talks will be tough, councillor Janice Maynard suggested the report break down immediate fixes and long-term solutions.

Council determined a report received in January would allow incorporation into budget considerations and facilitate changes for the 2021 tourism season.

Councillor Ernie Margetson noted the lockdown during the pandemic caused heightened desire for city residents to seek nature in the County, but the concerns are not new.

“We need to take a good look and where we’re going to make a liveable community and maintain it,” he said, adding concerns have been ongoing for years and include short term accommodations and other similar issues.

The motion, received unanimously by council, is to come to the Aug. 18 for final approval.

Councillor Kate MacNaughton mused several of the motions on the committee of the whole agenda Thursday were focused on making the County a liveable community.

Her’s was to declare a temporary whole home short-term accommodation moratorium on new applications, noting “there is still an affordable, meaningfully attainable housing crisis in Prince Edward County and council should do everything in its power to preserve residential housing stock.”

Councillor Phil St-Jean was in full support to second the motion, adding it would send a clear message to investors wanting to take advantage of turning homes into short-term accommodations “that we are not going to allow that immediately.”

MacNaughton noted the move temporary until the planned full assessment of the short-term accommodation program can be completed and reviewed.

“It’s one small first step, a piece of the puzzle,” she said.

The motion for moratorium is to come to council Sept. 1 with a report explaining how it would work, and the scope of a larger review to be expected in the first quarter of 2021.

Addressing another long-discussed subject – to ease traffic congestion in Wellington, councillor Mike Harper requested the speed limit on Beach Street be reduced to 20km/h from 50 km/h.

Council easily supported the speed reduction, but had concerns about designating one-way streets and no parking areas without further consultation with the traffic committee.

Under review is a recommendation that West Street be designated as a one-way street with parking on the west side, and Water and Narrow streets also be one-way, with no parking.

Harper brought the requests forward a year ago to address residents’ concerns about increasing traffic volume, parking on both sides of the streets leaving little room for through traffic; and motorists who make a wrong turn on West Street, then use residents’ driveways to turn around.

Further to this year’s magnified traffic woes, especially on routes to the beaches, councillor Ernie Margetson sought support to ask staff to investigate options to reduce vehicle idling.

His motion acknowledges climate change and impact on the environment and health and seeks information surrounding the creation of a policy for to guide the County’s fleet, delivery of services and provide the public education to reduce idling. He requested the report also consider an idling control bylaw.

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  1. Gary says:

    Picton needs the housing developments to support the tax base and to get more users on the water/wastewater system.

  2. SaraLouise Miller says:

    I would like to suggest that Council needs to take a really serious look at the situation we are becoming in The County. Tourism is the economy but it is overload and has been becoming that before Covid. Covid has put it under the microscope. With that issue and the incredible increase in housing development in Picton and elsewhere, this is making infrastructure bursting at the seams. I didn’t move back to PEC to live in suburbs after moving away from exactly that to have a quieter life here. I don’t think I am the only one who feels this way. Tourists will always come that is a given with Provincal Parks in our backyards. Please put a cap on development. We local residents live here and pay the taxes we need a voice and need to be represented.

  3. Doris Lane says:

    The number of tourists using the Main Street of Picton make it impossible for most of us to Go up the street most of the time
    It is too bad the outlet beach was opened it should have been left closed. Look what happened in Florida when they opened the beaches.
    It is the day trippers that cause most of our trouble
    They are not registered at an accommodation and just stop anywhere
    I noted the comment about boats chasing geese That is horrible
    If you don’t like wildlife do not come to the County

  4. Lucy says:

    We’ve all lived with “regular” tourism for years, however, 2020 has been unbelievably horrendous. It’s the “day trippers” and the “overnighters” that have no lodgings causing the biggest problems. They know that the we lack the staff to enforce our By-laws to the fullest and they take advantage.
    The hiring of seasonal By-law officers should be considered. This could help deal with the issues of illegal camping,camp fires, STA’s,dumping (in more ways than one),etc,etc. We simply don’t have the By-law staffing compliment to deal with this effectively during the this tourist season.
    Doling out fines will never be a tourism deterent. The people will always come. Fines would be a great source of revenue and at the same time letting the visitors know that we care about our homes and community.

  5. angela says:

    I’m with you, Marie. These tourists have over-run the county and now they are trespassing on private property. Council should have taken action long before this. The problem has been obvious for some time.

  6. Mike Rodgers says:

    As I read the encounters that some readers are facing, I would suggest if possible to record a video or take pictures with vehicle plate or boat REG. numbers on your phone then show to police when they arrive after you call them.

  7. Marie Powell says:

    Angela, I can empathize with you. I witness out of control situations almost daily. This morning, I saw a large group of people traveling at high speed in a boat, deliberately and aggressively chasing a family of geese with their young on the water. As I yelled at them and gestured at them to slow down and stop what they were doing, they just laughed and gave me a gesture of a different sort as they sped on by. People have a huge sense of entitlement to do what they please, and the word is definitely out that there will likely be no repercussions for bad behaviour. I think we all grew weary of this years ago, and now we’re at the breaking point. I hope there is still a chance to change things for the better. We’re in a sad state of affairs.

  8. kb says:

    The comprehensive analysis should include a detailed breakdown of costs, and measured against available resources. Police, fire, ambulance and impact on infrastructure. If these critical services are not sufficient to meet demand why then, do locals suffer the consequence, and taxpayers flip the bill? I’m tired of drunks vomiting on the sidewalk outside my house; tired of picking up visitor’s garbage from my yard and driveway; and I’m unsettled when strangers use my front door step as a “bench rest” to sit at. This is my house, my home, my county and I pay my taxes. There’s no use making rules and bylaws if they are not getting enforced.

  9. angela says:

    I had an experience this morning which reminded me of just how out of control the tourist situation has become. My friend and I were leaving for town and he had walked ahead of me to the car. When I reached the driveway there was an expensive new red car parked right beside mine with a woman at the wheel. My friend said he had walked over to her car window to see if he could help but she had rudely waved him away refusing to talk. Earlier he said she had been walking around in my yard. When I approached the car she lowered her mask and yelled, “Ten minutes. I rest for ten minutes. I am having a panic attack.” There was plenty of room on the shoulder of the road for her to pull over and rest. Had she politely said she was feeling unwell and asked if she could sit in my driveway for a short time it would have been different. Instead I was being told what she would do. Since we were leaving the property I explained that she could not stay with no one at home. She sped off blaring her horn loudly. She was a tourist from Quebec.

  10. Marie Powell says:

    Thank you for this. I’m particularly pleased that the issue of short-term accommodations is being addressed. This has had an enormous effect on my quality of life and experience of community in the County, and that effect has not been a positive one. I feel hopeful for the first time in a while after reading this, and I look forward to preparing a letter to my Councillor on this issue.

  11. Dennis Fox says:

    I believe that this is a great start to an important issue – I hope that the public will also have the opportunity for input.

    One major target that needs to be investigated is the impact that tourists have on our hospital – how many more patients does it serve during the high season and do we receive more staff at that time? Chances are the hospital staff are run off their feet every summer!

  12. Trevor Collier says:

    Finally, the council has addressed the issue of preserving the County as a pleasant place to live. I congratulate them. All of the the motions proposed are bold and helpful. Also noted is how the staff under its new leadership seem to be working well with our elected reps.

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