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County will ask province to download portion of Hwy 33

Usually, municipalities complain when the province downloads responsibilities for roads but on Thursday Prince Edward County Council will discuss making a formal request to have a portion of Highway 33 transferred.

Hwy 33 near the traffic circle. Google Image

At the committee of the whole meeting, council is expected to approve a report requesting the Province of Ontario transfer ownership of about 1,800 metres of Highway 33 from the traffic circle to the outskirts of Picton near Cold Storage Road.

The transfer is to assist with development at the west end of Picton as land use, construction and development activity on land adjacent to provincial highways is controlled by the province.

The report to council indicates that municipal activities such as installing new infrastructure, land division and re-designation, lot development or subdivision design approval are all examples of areas where difficulties can arise having a provincial highway within the Picton urban boundary.

By having that portion of highway within the Picton urban area, the County also assumes road maintenance and upgrades, approving property access to the highway and development decisions or approvals abutting or accessing the highway.

The recommendation must be approved by the Minister of Transportation. Council meets at 1 p.m. at Shire Hall.

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  1. Dennis Fox says:

    Gary – Assuming your numbers are correct, showing an increase in population of Picton and Wellington – how does this account for the declining enrollment in our schools in both of these urban centers – forcing schools there to face the same demise as their country cousins? If anything, it proves my concerns are valid – meaning families are not being attracted to PEC – possibly some maybe moving out because of the lack of employment opportunities – and then having the older generation moving from the country into town. I suppose there could be several possible scenarios explaining the population shift – but unfortunately it changes nothing. Our community is declining in our total population, losing kids and families and we still are not any closer to attracting business nor industry. If it appears that I grow impatient with our council it is due to witnessing them for years wasting huge amounts of time and money on issues that could have and should have been resolved far more efficiently. But to see this “any business is good enough” mentality(like this Disney North idea) -well I believe it could become dangerous for the well being of our community. But like I said before – it is just an opinion. Thanks for the discussion and debate.

  2. Gary Mooney says:

    Before taking account of births and deaths, the population of Picton and Wellington grew by 6% between 2011 and 2016, while the population of the rest of the County declined by 3%.

    Despite high water and sewer charges, there was good growth in the two urban centres, while the decline was in the rural areas.

    So, the more significant question is: why are people moving out of the rural areas?

    The answer may be simply that it’s the same trend as everywhere else for the last century: urban centres are growing, while rural areas are declining.

  3. Dennis Fox says:

    Gary – thanks for clarifying your position. Just like you never mentioned Disney North, I never said I was opposed to any of the housing developments you mentioned. So I am confused as to why you think I had “dismissed the value of 350 new homes.” I told people very clearly not to expect an instant fix to high taxes and water rates if this development occurs – and yet you claim I wanted an instant fix. I believe you need to read more closely, before criticizing others.

    What I am concerned about is the lack of real business and industry in PEC – which results in very few decent paying jobs. While the housing development is hopeful – just who will fill those homes is still unclear. As it stands now (even if Disney North becomes a reality), the only ones who will be able to afford them are out of town retirees. Without available good jobs and a growing economy, young families will not be attracted to PEC. If you recall, some of this discussion started over the school closing situation and the discussion we had around that – as far as I can see nothing that is being reported now in the way of possible new housing starts or in the entire area of municipal Economic Development goes towards solving this community’s long term needs and providing a stable and sustainable economy. And finally – yes I am definitely opposed to this community being tagged with the name Disney North and even more opposed to seeing such a concept promoted by our council. I would hope that if such an endeavor was to be taken, there would be in-depth community consultations first. But to be clear, I am supportive of new development, provided that t pays its own way and is a benefit to he community.

  4. Susan says:

    And why would you think people would run to buy within a new subdivision in Picton? Would the ballooning connection charges and unsustainable water & wastewater charges be the attraction? Add to this a 4.5% annual property tax increase that has become the norm. Perhaps for the rich but not young families.

  5. Gary Mooney says:

    Dennis, I said nothing about Disney North.

    In my view, what the County needs most of all is an increase in population every year, both young families and older folk.

    Without this population growth, we’ll continue to lose schools and healthcare services. We’ll be less and less able to maintain roads and other infrastructure.

    A necessary condition for the required population growth is substantial additions to the County’s housing stock, including affordable housing. If we build it, they will come.

  6. Dennis Fox says:

    Gary Mooney – I know that you are close to our Council and will defend them, but this latest defense of them is odd. If you had read my comments from the beginning, you would know that I am not against this development nor any other that you mentioned, but I did caution some of the readers not to expect an instant fix to their high taxes and water rates. I believe you also agreed with this assessment of the situation, just last week. But now you don’t – hmm? This latest idea of becoming “Disney North” (as The Times named it) is one that I believe will not attract a solid business sector to this community nor will it provide good paying jobs. This is just my opinion of course, but it is just as valid as yours and likely more accurate. Do you really want our economy based on tourism and entertainment? I don’t.

    Gary – I believe you need to find out what people in this community need to do just to pay their bills. Tourism hasn’t brought them the wages they need to live properly and neither will Disney North. I’m surprised that you would support such a position.

  7. Gary Mooney says:

    OK, Dennis. You’re dismissing the value of a 350-unit development in Picton, in part because it could take 10 years for the buildout. I presume that you would have the same opinion of an already-approved 460-unit in development in Wellington (Kailtlin). A total of 810 new tax-paying households.

    You want an instant solution to our problems. Criticism is easy; ideas and implementation are hard. Do you have anything positive to offer?

  8. Emily says:

    I agree Dennis. I am not at all certain that taking on 2 km’s of a 4 lane highway for a subdivision will reduce astronomical water rates 10 years from now.

  9. Dennis Fox says:

    No, I’m not opposed to development, but lets be clear the positive aspects that we are hoping for will be years away yet and this one development alone will not solve the high taxes nor the high water rates. Yes it may help – but who knows until we know more of the details.

    What I am losing is my trust right now in our decision-makers – I just read in The Times that our Mayor expressed the idea that PEC can become “Disney North” and the rest of the Quinte region is compared to Orlando!!? I don’t know about you people, but I am not prepared to pay taxes nor take seriously municipal leaders who dream of making our home into Disneyland! Compound this with the comments reported in the same article from our Economic Department and the council rep who think that they are doing a great job for PEC. Are we wasting time and effort on Hwy 33 just to bring in entertainment seekers? What a waste of our time, work and money if everyone at Shire Hall thinks this is just dandy. I think it is time for the community to start making their voices heard.

  10. Fred says:

    If you charge all 350 homes $18,000 connection charges you can throw $6,300,000 on the $30,000,000 poop plant with a view debt.

  11. CE says:

    The best way to make the County’s water/sewer rates affordable is to build those 350 homes, plus many more.

  12. JIM says:

    Seems to me instead of building 350 homes council needs to find ways to reduce th cost of water and make Picton a more affordable place to live.

    The property area in question is a very busy part of hwy 33 do we want yet another entrance not controlled by a traffic light or center turning lane .
    HH Canadian Tire and NoFrills are already a result of poor planning . Do we want more

  13. Dennis Fox says:

    Gary – I have to admit that I am not sure of how long ago the Picton Secondary Plan was created. But like all plans, it is only a plan and the developer can ask for changes to it, at any time – which is a major reason why the public need to be involved. Secondly, if I am correct there are homes bordering this building site, those homeowners have a right to find out what is being planned as to what will adjoin their property. Their input is need during the site plan approval process. I have not seen the parameters of the current secondary plan, but if it is like most others it will have a range of proposed population densities and where they are located within the study area – again given the time from when the secondary plan was created to now and then extend this for another 5-10 years until construction completion (we hope) – this is more than enough reason for the public to be involved in this process now – to know what is being planned for their town. After all, the public paid for the Official Plan/Secondary Plan, they are being asked to take on the permanent additional cost for the assumption of part of Hwy 33, and will have to live with whatever ends up being built long after the developer and builder leave.

    Gary, as you have pointed out re: the Wellington development – a very long time has passed since approvals were given. I believe the developer was the Kaitlin Group – a very experienced developer. Don’t be surprised to see them come back and ask for changes to what was approved previously – it is an old game and one designed by the development industry to get what they need approved, and then wait long enough until they can get more. Remember this is not the only development they have going. They are driven by profits – an dour municipality needs to be just as eager to get as much as possible fro them.

    What we need to be concerned about is that our municipality does not get so eager for the short term gain, that they give the store away. My concern is that the connection fees have got to be better than what they gave Sand Banks Homes – with an 85% reduction, the question needs to be asked – Who then is paying for the connections? If the developer goes bankrupt, what is the liability exposure for the taxpayers? This is why the public need to be part of the process – to keep some measure of reality involved in the process. Perhaps council might want to consider placing a time frame on how long the developer has to complete the job??

  14. Chris Keen says:

    @Emily – Yes but you are turning into the centre not the far lane (or should be) so that is the one you need to worry about. Either way you cannot have two lanes lead into a single lane roundabout.

  15. Emily says:

    When turning left from HH one has to track two lanes of east bound traffic.

  16. Chris Keen says:

    Hwy. 33 is funneled into one lane before Home Hardware for two obvious reasons. Safety – anyone exiting left from H.H. only has to track one lane of westbound and one lane of eastbound traffic before making their turn. Traffic flow – the roundabout is one lane, therefore each entrance point can only be one lane. No schooling required to understand this.

  17. Gary Mooney says:

    Dennis, the 5- to 10-year scenario seems about right. The 460-unit Kaitlin subdivision in Wellington is supposed to be built over 10 years … If they ever get started. It’s more than 5 years since they got final County approval.

    Re the Picton subdivision, I’m not sure why public oonsultation is appropriate at this time. We have a secondary plan, which provided major opportunities for public input when it was being planned. Now, what developers should be doing is meeting the secondary plan requirements.

  18. Dennis Fox says:

    Let’s assume that the municipality obtains this part of HWY 33 and the developer comes through – in other words everything works out the way Council is hoping it does. So where does this leave our community?

    I think it would take somewhere around a year or two to get the road entrances in and for building and subdivision approvals to be in place before construction can begin. Not knowing anything about who the developer and builder are – I would guess it would take another 5 to 10 years to build 350 housing units – based on the speed of sales. So with luck, it would be “about” 7-10 years before full occupancy would be achieved – if everything goes well.

    So just how will this translate into helping water users now or in the near future? How will it help to defray taxes, what will the up front costs be to the current taxpayers, how will this development help our current school closing situation? What I am trying to point out here is that even in the best of scenarios, it will take some time before any benefit from this development is felt. So I hope that our council will start explaining the realities to the taxpayers NOW and to plan this development properly and not rush it through because an election is coming next year. This development could be a real boast for PEC, but it has t be planned properly, which means taking the time to consult with the community – which hasn’t happened yet. The last thing we want to see is Picton’s version of urban sprawl with ugly architecture and poorly planned streets and a neighbourhood without services. There is a lot for council to do before the first shovel goes in the ground. Here’s hoping!

  19. Susan says:

    Even more dangerous is sitting trying to turn left into Canadian Tire and near misses with traffic barrelling down behind you before they make a sudden shift to the right.

  20. james says:

    Perhaps at the same time, the north-side right-hand “lane to no-where” could be removed so that west-bound drivers on 33 have a safer option either to turn right into Home Hardware, continue west on 33 toward Bloomfield, or remain north on Cty 1.

    If people are not already aware of current options, they are suddenly funnelled into an “accident-waiting-to-happen” situation that causes them to cut off Bloomfield west-bound 33 traffic, or come full stop before the Home Hardware entrance. Whatever MTO engineer dreamed up the current design needs to return to studies.

  21. Emily says:

    The Jenkins property already has 1 if not 2 entrances to the Highway. Is the sale final? Is the Municipality orchestrating a sale? Is the Municipality involved in a private sale? Why is this information not public prior to any consideration of a download on ratepayers. We need facts and how our Municipality is involved.

  22. Chuck says:

    It seems the public have to once again speak up and provide Council the common sense approach for them to be able to make reasonable decisions. The vast majority of Council were supporting the downloading of farm taxes onto residential until the public got them thinking and reading the staff report that did not support it. Other municipalities negotiate Highway entrance/exits all the time and don’t make grandeous gestures to the media asking for a download on the ratepayers. And who is the developer and where is their role and responsibility in this? Let’s stop the grandstanding and get thinking smart.

  23. Paul Cole says:

    It seems ridiculous to be asking for more roads to maintain when they can’t maintain the roads they already have.

  24. Gary says:

    The last I heard they were trying to negotiate an entrance/exit with MTO. That would make a whole lot more sense than downloading that stretch of highway on the Municipality. I don’t get it. How did all the homes on Hwy 62 north of Ben Gill road get entrances? Sit down with MTO and work it out. Get Smith on it.

  25. Dennis Fox says:

    Does anyone know how the Mayor’s meeting with the Province went re: negotiating Hwy 33 into municipal ownership? Does anyone know who the developer is?

  26. wevil says:

    who is the developer interested building 350 homes on the jenkins farm good farm land will our water and waste water plants handle this or will it fall back on the current users coucil how about some answers

  27. Fred says:

    I really hope they know what they are doing unlike the farm tax circus. Is there a firm subdivision deal in place? Who is going to buy these 350 homes with the water rate crisis and talk of ballooning connection charges. I am hard pressed to support taking on more roads when we can’t manage what we have.

  28. ADJ says:

    I think the County would welcome a Tent City right about now if it meant a sewer/water hookup fee. Desperate to pay down the debt on the “pea-U with a view” plant.
    That proposed redeveloped farmland won’t be paying the increased tax rate either as it will be rezoned. The Council must be expecting a big influx of newbies.Retirees? Snowbirds? Good bet it won’t be working families!

  29. hockeynan says:

    Why not let the developer look after the entrance on to the highway

  30. Sue3 says:

    Just curious, but is there actually a demand for another 350 homes? Didn’t we just hear about the county population decreasing?

  31. Susan says:

    You then like taking over those road maintenance costs? Like we don’t have a enough

  32. Snowman says:

    Any one who followed the Round-a-bout build and the Home Hardware build at the same time would be well aware of how a
    couple of suits from MTO can ” make a career” out of an issue that should be looked after in a few months.
    The simplest request for these guys can take months,and they will do everything in their power to slow it down, including silly design changes on “their” roadway that make sense only to them.. It’s like watching paint dry.
    Good move by the county.

  33. Marnie says:

    Lots of complaints about the lack of housing in Picton as well as the lack of development needed to attract new residents. A project to create 350 housing units is proposed and now we complain once again. How can council win? It’s important to get the facts but equally necessary to be positive.

  34. Chuck says:

    So persons who bought homes on the “Loyalist Parkway” in this stretch being asked to be downloaded will no longer be located on the Parkway. Interesting implications. The Mayor is reported as being excited about shovels being ready to break ground for a 350 home subdivision. Why are we not aware of this or the issues the present Highway presents?

  35. Susan says:

    We do need a whole lot more transparency on this. Taxpayers need to be able to provide input. We just had a Council that did not understand the downloading of farm land taxes on residential until the public got them up to speed. The Wellington Times thankfully is providing some pertinent information on things that many would not be aware of. Such things as the Council Chair of the Water Wastewater Committee shutting down questions by a community member. The possibility of water & wastewater connections jumping to $18,000. Let’s get the whole package of information on this proposed Highway downloading out to the ratepayers. Too much secrecy here!

  36. Gary says:

    An idea Paul. I just don’t why we would have to download a 4 lane highway onto the taxpayer in order to get an entrance to a subdivision. Dennis mentions Home Hardware and wondering how that happened. Something is amiss here and the constituents should be provided more information on this. Has to be more than an entrance/exit issue as that happens off of Highways all the time. Why can’t we have all the info on this prior to being saddled with a major road takeover. Things can be negotiated just like the OPP being allowed to build on prime agriculture land while County residents cannot.

  37. Paul Cole says:

    Extending Rogers St. could be an option as well couldn’t it ?

  38. Gary says:

    I want to know why an entrance/exit and provision of services is an issue with the present Highway 33 designation?

  39. Dennis Fox says:

    The numbers don’t tell the story – not if they strike the same deal as they have with Sandbanks Homes. Didn’t they get an 85% reduction in their connection fees – and who is paying for those connections? What I am asking for is for the public to be told what the financial aspects are around this request to take over that portion of the provincial highway, including who pays for what. I can support such a development, provided that the cost benefit is for the taxpayer – which at this point we can only hope for. It would also be helpful if the public were told who the developer is. Why is this announcement being made without explaining the basics to the public? It just doesn’t inspire one to feel part of what could be a good news story.

    The obvious question that needs to be answered is – as explained on the Quinte News site, if our Mayor has already been refused by the province for this request – why is he announcing this request after the fact? I don’t understand what process is being followed and maybe that is the problem – the public need more information than what they have now.

  40. Gary Mooney says:

    The County is working with a developer on a 350-unit subdivision behind Stormy’s. This would increase the population of Picton by as much as 20%, resulting in a significant increase in the tax base and a reduction in water and sewer rates.

  41. Dennis Fox says:

    I just read on another local news site that our mayor explained that they are working with a developer who would like to build a 350 unit subdivision on the Jenkins farm behind Stormy’s. Admittedly, no one knows the details nor what commitments have been made by this developer – but we should be cautious. Why would a developer pick a building site with no road access and no doubt difficult infrastructure access as well – and then expect the province to turn over their property to do it? But bottom line – what will this cost the taxpayers and who will pay the bill to connect to water and sewer?

  42. Dennis Fox says:

    Let’s hope that whatever development is being planned, that it will pay for itself for the next 50 years or more. The potential cost of maintaining approximately another 2km of road with the infrastructure, could be quite a large bill. So how did Home Hardware manage to build without having to buy the road from the province?

  43. Gary says:

    How does a Provincial Hwy as in 33 present obstacles for the development of a subdivision? I would just like to understand. All kinds of homes were built on Hwy 62 just north of Ben Gill with many road entrances. How is this different? Curious.

  44. Emily says:

    What are the proposed developments on this stretch of highway which is primarily residential and prime ag land?

  45. Chuck says:

    Perhaps the MTO will look at this as an opportunity to dump all of Hwy 33 upon the County. Then we have another Cty Rd. 49 nightmare. We need to really be careful with this and understand the associated costs beyond.

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