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Councillor seeks change to council’s support of Picton Terminals

The County continues to monitor its drinking water supply hour-by-hour as the municipality awaits news on the timing of the removal of a partially submerged barge at the Picton Terminals site. Photo by Dave Tugwood, Dave Tugwood Photography https://www.facebook.com/DaveTugwoodphotography

UPDATE MARCH 30: Motion Carried.

Mayor Robert Quaiff supported the motion and indicated he will also be addressing the issue with the Eastern Ontario Wardens Caucus at month end.

“We can start with a clean slate. If another application for zoning comes, we can start the procedure in a better manner and be more informed,” said Quaiff. “What’s happened since last Friday does raise your eyebrows and give you concern. All eyes from the provincial government are on Prince Edward County for all the wrong reasons. They have offered assistance. All neighbouring municipalities have offered resounding support to us and Chief R. Donald Maracle at Tyendinaga has gone above and beyond in his support of us. He was the first one to call and we have had several conversations with him offering support, advice and information and the first one to have trucks and drivers ready to bring water and it started coming in today.”

Councillor David Harrison declared he would not the support motion, stating Picton Terminals was “getting an unnecessary black eye” over an incident that could have happened to anybody using the bay. “There would be no Picton without the harbour. The cement plant has sustained this town for years…Get off Picton Terminals’ back.”

Order was called after an audience member’s heckle of “Shame, shameful”.

MARCH 27 – While work to remove a partially submerged barge at Picton Terminals site continues, matters related to Picton Harbour and the deep marine dockage facility are on Thursday’s Committee of the Whole agenda at Shire Hall.

Already on the agenda is to receive correspondence from lawyers for Save Picton Bay and the County’s legal opinion on Picton Terminals.

Coming down the pipe could be change in council’s support in the company’s plans to expand as councillor Lenny Epstein is currently working on a motion he hopes can be added to the agenda “by the will of council”.

His motion reads (updated):

THAT Council Motion 2016-242 adopted on May 10, 2016, supporting the revitalization of Picton Terminals be withdrawn;

THAT Council Motion 2016-243 adopted on May 10, 2016, requesting the Federal and Ontario governments prioritize and fund the initial request of $10 million from ABNA Investments for the acquisition of two Port Cranes for Picton Terminals be withdrawn; and

THAT Staff report back on available municipal options as they relate to the activities of Picton Terminals in order to ensure that the intent of municipal land use regulations and municipal and public interest, including our obligations to our drinking water system, are being protected to the full extent of the law.”

Last May, County council and the Eastern Ontario Wardens’ Caucus expressed support of a $10 million need for provincial and federal government funding to buy cranes needed to load and unload ships to increase the port’s capacity by 20-30 per cent. The company stated 100 vessels a year would equate to removing about 350,000 km of truck traffic from highways, reducing wear on local infrastructure.

In November, more than 120 local residents attended a meeting of the newly-formed ‘Save Picton Bay’ group to hear concerns about the White Chapel Road businesses in light of more than a dozen work orders issued by the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change related to contamination of water, air and land.

In December, Picton Terminals pulled its application, announcing it would self-fund the cranes. They also pulled the zoning application, noting they had received legal and professional planning opinions indicating that between current zoning and the pre-2006 zoning that they can operate their business as “legal non-conforming”. The company stated its goal was to clean up all pre-Picton Terminals environmental issues with the MOE dating back to 1991, and all current issues involving stormwater management by the end of 2017.

Lenny Epstein, on his Your Picton Councillor and the Save Picton Bay Facebook pages, said that he spoke at length with Mayor Robert Quaiff on the weekend and is trying to put a motion together for Thursday’s Committee of the Whole relating to Picton Bay.

“As far as the original motion to support the grant application – that occurred before the MOECC orders, before the withdrawal of the zoning application by PT. What reason for suspicion did we have then? And the motions took no action beyond supporting a grant app- largely a symbolic motion,” he said. “Of course, we were assured, if they were to actually get the grant, they would go through all needed processes and get permits, go through rezoning as/if necessary. They then withdrew their grant app so the motions have no practical effect at this time, other than that they can be taken as indication of political support.”

He stated it will be interesting to see how many councillors have, “like myself, changed their opinion of the merits and impacts of the original motions.

In the original recorded vote, Janice Maynard and Steve Graham were opposed to supporting the company.

“I admit, I chose at the time to be trusting, to support the mayor’s resolution and while I did voice concerns at the time, I still voted with the majority. Hindsight is 20/20. Sorry. I am always learning.”

He also stated residents “need to realize there are multiple jurisdictions, divergent legal opinions and that council has to govern the municipality in a way that reflects on those and the complexities of many issues, including this one.”

Quaiff, in an interview Sunday about the removal of the barge, confirmed he also has concerns.

“I have great concerns going forward now. There is a lot that has changed since they first came to council with their application.”

Also to be received at Thursday’s Committee of the Whole is a Picton Harbour Development Vision report from the Community and Economic Development Commission, designed to be a guide for future development.

The vision includes a history of the harbour, summary of consultations considered by the subcommitee and 23 priorities and recommendations that could be implemented. The 23 are grouped under four key areas of Quality of Place, Accessibility, Amenities and Activities.

Picton Terminals is listed as a current user, dormant for the past 30 years, but recently purchased by ABNA Investments to be developed as a commercial marine port with “the potential of having considerable economic impact on Eastern Ontario industries through reduced transport and logistics costs. Compatibility with the natural environment and proximity to proposed non-industrial harbour developments must be considered” the report states.

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  1. hockeynan says:

    Down the road I believe he plans to ship grain from the terminal which would be great for the farmers and grain elevators— oh I forgot you guys don’t give a hoot for farmers,just your self

  2. Paul Cole says:

    They aren’t going any where’s soon GaryW they are a legally zoned business that is complying with Ministry orders and will self fund to expand…

  3. GaryW says:

    Paul, Adam Ant hits the nail on the head….this issue is not about a tanker coming to the cement plant to pick up product manufactured at the plant by county workers/residents…the issue is about setting up a terminal that produces nothing, hires a few seasonal, is run by people who don’t live in the county or care about the county and its environment, whose only interest is making money for themselves by arranging for storage/shipment of salt, bauxite, pet-coke and oh yes, garbage (ie/ anything they can) ……we don’t need them and we sure don’t need this terminal in our Bay.

  4. Paul Cole says:

    GaryW I read somewhere that Mckeil Marine the barge owner has signed a long term contract with Essroc to operate the Stephen B Roman..https://mckeil.com/post/mckeil-marine-enters-long-term-agreement-essroc

  5. Adam Ant says:

    To compare the actions of PT with the cement plant are unfounded. The cement has in the past had its problems. They have always tried to stay within the confines of the regulations. Because of the complex operations they have fallen outside of these limits and have corrected the problem as quickly as possible. They have also been fined because of their actions. Mostly because regulation requirements have changed and they were slow to change with them. They continue to meet or surpass the regulations that are required.PT on the other hand turns their noise up to what regulations they are required to adhere too. Whos fault is that. I would say the government regulators that have not put a stop to their actions. The Save Picton Bay lawyer said that the terminal is not zoned properly, the county and PT say they are.Someone has to act on this as priority one before any more battles are to be fought.
    PT are not to blame for this mishap, and they would not be to fault if a large freighter polluted while at their dock but what most people are saying is that they do not want a port in this location because a port in this area is just inviting the possibility for disaster.

  6. hockeynan says:

    You can have the same thing happen at the cement plant.Where do you think the oil would go if there was a spill. Harrison is right.

  7. GaryW says:

    As far as I can tell in reviewing the info on Save Picton Bay Facebook page, there is no reference to the cement plant or its operations….their beef is with Picton Terminals who has been ignoring environmental concerns. Councillor Harrison brought up the cement plant only because he has no defence for supporting Picton Terminals…don’t be caught by his attempt to make this segue …..the motion was to withdraw support of the the Picton Terminals not about the cement plant. Pretty lame excuse and rationale by Harrison.

    Congratulations to the mayor and the rest of council for doing the right thing.

  8. Fred Flinstone says:

    Where did the cement come from to pour their foundations? Where did the gravel come from to form a base for their petroleum based driveways? Hmmm!

  9. Mark says:

    We now have an active website “Save Picton Bay ” which wants to stop all large vessel traffic to PT! So I expect the Cement Plant is included meaning a loss of 150 high paying jobs. Hysteria has set in.

  10. Barney Rubble says:

    Some points are positive but you adamantly resist any alternative point of view. Mr. Harrison did not deserve your tirade because his views on things were different than yours. No one is always right or wrong.

  11. Dennis Fox says:

    To respond to a couple of questions – in another community, I spent close to 25 years involved in municipal politics – 15 years spent on their council, until I retired. I don’t pretend to have all the answers, but I do know how decisions should be made and what the proper planning process is. Until recently, our council was a mistake waiting to happen and now it has. For a community of our size, with 16 councilors and NONE of them questioned the zoning and land use for this terminal – unbelievable! I have no interest in running for any office – but as a resident I will continue to express my opinions and to share what I know – which is a heck of a lot more than some of you! Thanks for the banter – I’m done for now until a new development occurs.

  12. Chuck says:

    Whether I agree or not, Councilor Harrison seems to be the only one with common sense and a backbone. His address to his peers was sound and he made some real strong arguments as to why he couldn’t support the motion. He is willing to speak up for what he believes unlike many others at the table. The rest flip flop depending on the political wind direction on this and other issues like a fresh pickerel right out of the Picton Bay!

  13. Barney Rubble says:

    Shouldn’t slight my name. The Rubble name goes a long way back. Didn’t hear a discussion on zoning yesterday. The PT solicitor says it is Legal Non Conforming. The County lawyer says it is Legal Non Conforming. Sounds like the two parties are in agreement that the terminal can continue. Dennis, since you raised it, what would the scenario be if a tanker coming into the Cement Plant encountered problems in our harbour? After all I may just be a simple fisherman. What would I possibly know.

  14. hockeynan says:

    Dennis, If you are so smart why don’t you run for council .You seem to have an answer for turbines,farm taxes,water rates,Picton harbour and many more

  15. Dennis Fox says:

    I too fish out on those waters, that doesn’t make me anymore of an expert on them than anyone else. The question of zoning and land use is at the centre of this argument, anyone not understanding that has not been following the Save The Bay comments from the start. Anyone following this, would know that the Re-Zoning application was withdrawn by the owners – so Barney Rubble, zoning is definitely part of the puzzle and is at the root of the problem. We are told that this spill is a small one – but look at the chaos that has resulted. As I asked prior, what would be the scenario if it was one of the huge tankers that ran into problems in our harbour? This is not an over-reaction, but a basic question our council (including Harrison) should have asked before supporting the terminal – none of them apparently thought about it! From start to finish – our municipality has been exposed in a manner than should never have happened – if our elected reps were doing their job – they collectively decided to turn a blind eye.

  16. Gary Mooney says:

    Assuming that the owners of Picton Terminals bear no responsibility for the accident, this incident is useful as a wake up call of the consequences of a much larger accident, triggering such questions as:
    * Is the County ready and equipped to play its role in another emergency?
    * What about the readiness of agencies that also have responsibilities?
    * Are the inherrent risks worth the benefits?
    * What are the benefits to the County associated with this operation?
    * What is the significance of a port in Picton to serve eastern Ontario?
    * What is the potential for additional jobs in the County?
    * What is the extent of the risk to the Picton / Bloomfield water intake?
    * What are the potential risks relating to marine life?
    * How will an expanded port operation affect development around Picton Bay and the County in general?
    Etc

    What makes sense at this point, and with this case study as input, is to commission a comprehensive study of the benefits and risks of an expanded port facility on Picton Bay.

  17. hockeynan says:

    Out of all the councillors very scary that Dave Harrison is the only one that has knowledge of the situation @ Port Picton in regards to the small oil spill.He has lots of knowledge on the waterways.Maybe everyone else should do a little more homework on the situation.I guess that is the only vessel to leak oil.WRONG think about it!

  18. hockeynan says:

    If ships can’t come into PT then stop them from coming into the cement plant.If they have a spill there it can end up in the same place. JUST because they are a mile farther out doesn’t mean it can’t. You just can’t pick on one and not the other. Also all boat traffic going into the harbour should be stopped as they travel right over the top off the pick up pipe and you never know when they can have a spilland believe me they can.Also what Barney Rubble said about councilor Harrison is true.He has probably forgot more than you ever knew

  19. Paul Cole says:

    Both Essroc and Picton Terminals (Bethlehem Steel Iron ore docks)have been in business since the early 50s and this is the worst environmental incident in those many years. Seems like a pretty good track record to me and this wasn’t even Picton Terminals fault. I do believe Mckeil Marine should be held accountable and responsible for all cleanup costs. And I hope Picton Terminals which is properly zoned will comply with Ministry orders and continue to operate as they have for over 50 years. Hopefully this will bring about better environmental standards and insure the safety of our water supply…

  20. Barney Rubble says:

    Well we disagree. You bring up zoning which was not under discussion and our County solicitor has once again advised is legal for PT. You continue to present this present matter as a major spill when thus far it is not. You give Mr. Harrison far less credit and acknowledgment of experience than he deserves. You are supporting unnecessary hysteria. Your reasoning is weak.

  21. Dennis Fox says:

    Councillor Harrison is a fisherman – that doesn’t make him an expert on municipal water systems nor on dangerous spills and how to handle them. What was before him were motions that required him to think about the appropriate zoning of a business and how to protect the water he fishes out of and for the people who drink it. In my opinion, he failed at both.

  22. Barney Rubble says:

    Come now Dennis. Do you really want to challenge Mr.Harrison’s County water experience? He knows the water systems here and how navigation and industry work far more than you. You need to know what you are talking about. This so far is not a major spill by any means. You are adding to unneeded hysteria that serves no one.

  23. Chuck says:

    Mayor Quaiff states the blackboard is wiped clean on this. Far from it. Council is on record for their support. That does not disappear because of a sudden change of heart under public pressure. Epstein comes late and for suspected political reasons. Bigger question, who’s picking up the tab on this debacle which is really being taken a little over the top.

  24. Dennis Fox says:

    Barney Rubble – please use your real name or what you have to say is meaningless. Councillor Harrison is suppose to know all of the facts, and he has made the wrong decision again about this terminal. My reference to not blaming anyone was in reference to the motions that Harris voted against. Those motions did not lay the blame onto anyone. I am very aware of Save The Bay and I support their position – this incident has proven them to be right. What you claim to be hysteria has turned out to be fact.

    Barney my man, I don’t believe you know what you are talking about.

  25. Barney Rubble says:

    Dennis; Mr.Harrison brings a ton of water ways experience and County history to the table unlike Realtors, campground operators, retired public service workers and media professionals. I give him strong credit for standing by his principles and hard working beliefs. I am taking no stand on this issue until I know all the facts. I do know Mr. Harrison knows his water. Dennis; you say no one has blamed PT for this episode. You might want to check out “Save Picton Bay Facebook ” to see the disparaging comments. Much of it is absolute hysteria. This is not a major spill by any means but is being used craftly to present as such. Harrison unless you are blinded raises many quality points. We are part of the St Lawrence Seaway tanker traffic. Don’t forget our cement plant and it’s traffic and environmental impact. We need terminals and ports but just not here. Not in our perceived paradise! Last but not least, Harrison realizes that a municipal water intake in Picton Harbour is foolish and should be relocated to a safer location. We have large boats & small yachts carrying hundreds of litres of fuel that could accident at anytime. Hysteria should never make small of experience.

  26. Dennis Fox says:

    I think Councillor Harrison is off the mark. No one blamed the owners of the Terminal for this accident, so Harrison has totally misunderstood the reasons for these motions. These motions are finally recognizing that concerns expressed by many residents were true – that being the terminal was the WRONG use for that land and that Picton Harbour is environmentally too sensitive to accommodate it – and it could not safely handle the huge tankers that would use it. Councillor Harrison’s comments show that he neither understands this issue and nor has he placed public safety as his top priority. He needs to think about who he represents and why he is a councillor.

    Council finally made the right decision – but it doesn’t change how blind they have been about this terminal and nor does it excuse the danger they placed this community in. As the person in the audience said – shameful!

  27. Paul says:

    Mr. Epsteins motion is a moot point and a waste of Council time according to this article. http://www.countylive.ca/?p=64178&cpage=1 where the Doornekamps state.
    “On the infrastructure funding front, we are also pulling our application. In our business plan, we mentioned, the more kilometers we take off Ontario roads and put on vessels, the more successful we will be. To date, we have removed millions of kilometers off Ontario’s highway. Our plan is to self-fund the cranes and the next phases of infrastructure construction. We greatly appreciate the County’s support to this point and hope it continues.

  28. GaryW says:

    I also wish to congratulate Councillor Epstein, who when shown the facts is not so thin skinned to revisit the issue and make an informed decision….lets hope the other councillors and Mayor do the same. For those who are commenting about the possibility of new jobs from Picton Terminals, even the owner has admitted it will be primarily automated with only a limited number of new seasonal lower level positions….this pales greatly compared to the possible environmental damage that could hurt our tourism industry and the many jobs in PEC that depend on tourism. PEC is blessed with fantastic beaches, waterfront, harbour and water aesthetics (swimming, boating, fishing) that any other county in Ontario would love to have and look after. Let’s not screw it up by supporting an industry that has clearly demonstrated it does not give a hoot for our county, town and in partcular our Picton Bay.

  29. Julian says:

    You can’t make this stuff up – “I chose at the time to be trusting” is no substitute for due diligence on the part of an elected official particularly when we are talking water safety. Just ask Flint and Walkerton.

  30. Dennis Fox says:

    I’m not sure what the employment opportunities (or lack of) for our youth have to do with this barge situation. If you ask young people, the protection of our environment is far more important to them than it is to most of the older generation. The fact is – if PEC gets the reputation of being an environmentally unsafe place to live., no one will want to live here – young or the not so young. We have to get past this idea of any business is better than no business. If nothing else, this terminal example has shown us that this mentality has back-fired on this community in a very real way. Thanks to greed, and to the lack of proper process and investigation into the impact on public safety, our community is at risk. As unbelievable as it might seem, this terminal wasn’t going to produce many new jobs at all – so what was the point of council’s support?

  31. Dave says:

    you don’t want youth and young people to stay in Prince Edward County.. you want them to grow up, move away, experience new communities, new ideas, gain new perspectives, and then give them a reason to come BACK to Prince Edward County.

    High costs of living, lack of employment, poor housing options, poor and rotting infrastructure, School closings…

    don’t seem like too many reasons to relocate there..

  32. Marnie says:

    For young people who want to stay in the county and work here the lack of job opportunities is regrettable but at the same time it seems that it would be healthy for them to experience a little of life outside the county. For those eager to stay, Belleville is an easy commute.

  33. JIM says:

    Are we moving ahead in this County or not do we want young people to stay here or not I have lived here for 35 years and I’m sorry more more young people move away because there are no real jobs in this community we turn down turbines that her Natural Energy we told people 35 years ago we wanted to use the land for farming we have done that with the wineries if someone wants to open up previous shipping Harriet from even more jobs why not wake up people we need jobs real jobs it’s not just for senior citizens instead our educational system is putting young children in institutions for older children so now the young children can be exposed two things like smoking drink drugs and whatever else goes on in high schools these days which is worse no jobs or no children

  34. Dennis Fox says:

    Snowman – think about it. A business invests a lot of money based on the belief they have council’s support – then a year later the same council decides to change their mind. Do you really think there wouldn’t be a legal challenge? Now what we need to remember is that Councillor Epstein’s motion have not passed nor has council agreed to deal with this issue – so until we know their decision, all of this discussion could go up in smoke.

  35. Fred Flinstone says:

    If we don’t have a Planner on staff that can address the zoning issues, then let’s release the lawyers fees thus far for nothing more than an opinion. I think taxpayers deserve that much.

  36. Snowman says:

    @Dennis Fox : Lawsuit??? really? do you mean to say that every time a Council changes their mind ,there is grounds for a lawsuit. lol!!!
    If that were actually true, there wouldn’t be enough Judges and Lawyers to go around, especially with this bunch, currently sitting at Shire Hall.
    Maybe Lenny will change his mind and come out in support of Agriculture/Food production in this County, now that he’s shown us he can change his mind about P.T.?

  37. Emily says:

    Election October 2018. Clean house for those supporting voter equity. Shire Hall needs a fumigation and makeover!

  38. Gary says:

    I am concerned as well. What has the Terminal brought to the County but grief. We promote as a vacation mecca, reject the stupid unneeded Turbines, but jump on board (pun intended) for an industrial port that could be bringing anything into our harbour. Just makes no common sense. What in h–l is Council thinking. Do we have a Planner on staff that can answer the planning issues or do we have to pay a lawyer? We taxpayers have already been unfairly hit with $125,000 in budget for a Council size review in front of the OMB because you couldn’t give up old outdated townships. Let’s face mistakes and get on with good business sense for the ratepayers.

  39. Chuck says:

    My understanding,the motions in place are the Mayor’s motions that took Council down a road of supporting this Terminal with little home work being done. I wonder what the County’s / Taxpayers legal bill is on this file thus far? Can any County Councilor let us know that? Perhaps Mr.Roberts who is usually forthcoming.

    While we are seeking Council’s ear, on another matter. Our Athol Councilor in Ottawa lobbying for lower taxes on resort and campground owners. Is that not in conflict of interest since he is in that business?

  40. Adam Ant says:

    I still do not see a big boom of jobs if this terminal goes forward with its plans. More traffic on PEC roads. Possible pollution of the bay. It is wonderful that other local governments support this terminal on PEC back. Maybe more jobs for their area and possible traffic reduction on there roads is their reasons for backing it. PEC will never see any of this, only problems.

  41. Dennis Fox says:

    On one hand I too congratulate Councillor Epstein for at least trying to reverse a bad decision. So congratulations Mr. Epstein! However, I wish more thinking on the part of council would take place before such decisions are made. Despite staff reports, the pressure from the Eastern Ont. Wardens Caucus, and the desire to bring in business – why aren’t the tough question posed at the time? Was there any consideration given to the location of the town’s intake pipe, the depth of water and the draft on ocean vessels – or how about the possibility of contaminants in the sediment being disturbed and what impact that might have on water quality? It doesn’t appear so.

    The problem is – now the Terminal has on record our Council’s support. How do they reverse this without another law suit?

    One writer claims that democracy is alive and well in PEC – hardly. Council ignored the public until an embarrassing and dangerous accident occurred. It isn’t democracy we are witnessing, but rather political survival.

  42. Vincent says:

    Bravo Councillor Lenny Epstein, a man with convictions prepared to stand up for the community.

    We appreciate this motion. Democracy is alive and well in Prince Edward County.

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