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Motions withdrawing support for Picton Terminals split

Prince Edward County Council unanimously agreed to support a motion to seek a report from staff on municipal options related to the activities of Picton Terminals but was opposed (10-5) to withdrawing support of its revitalization.

Councillor Lenny Epstein’s full motions to withdraw support of Picton Terminals were approved at the March 30 Committee of the Whole meeting. At council’s regular meeting Tuesday night, his motions were split into two votes.

The motion that was supported, requested a report from staff on municipal options related to the activities of the business “in order to ensure the intent of municipal land use regulations and municipal and public interest, including obligations to our drinking water system, are being protected to the full extent of the law.”

Also supported to withdraw was the section of last year’s motion related to support of $10 million in provincial and federal funding for cranes as it was declared moot since Picton Terminals pulled its applications in December saying it would self-fund.

The motion that fell: “That Council Motion 2016-242 adopted on May 10, 2016, supporting the revitalization of Picton Terminals be withdrawn.”

Councillor Gord Fox referred to Save Picton Bay director Brian Etherington’s deputation earlier in the evening. Etherington had stated the group exists “not to fight this one property owner, but to promote proper stewardship” of the bay and that the group is “respectful of anybody’s right to work and grow a commercial enterprise – that is what built this country.”

Fox expressed concern that a vote to withdraw last year’s motion to support Picton Terminals’ revitalization might be interpreted “as not wanting anything to happen there.”

Councillor Brad Nieman also supported “some kind of business going on there” and said three local workers were just hired, with the promise of three more. “That’s six families that will stay here, at a time when we’re fighting for our schools here. I support revitalization.”


Zoning remains the boondoggle. Picton Terminals also pulled its zoning application noting receipt of legal and professional planning opinions indicating that between the current zoning, and the pre-2006 zoning, they can operate as “legal non-conforming”.

The County’s solicitor, for the most part, agrees, but the Save the Bay lawyer considers Picton Terminal’s use of land and dock to be illegal and contrary to the existing zoning. Etherington said recently retired Superior Court Judge Richard Byers was in agreement on illegal land use.

“We believe every effort should be made to overcome these legal differences to avoid potentially costly and time consuming legal disputes,” said Etherington.

Concerns, he said, are “much larger than Picton Terminals.

“Job one is proper rezoning and regulatory control assurance in order to guarantee that one day the sum of recent “smaller ” issues do not add up to an enormous environmental disaster to the detriment of all who are privileged to work and play in the bay.”

He suggested asking a sitting Superior Court Judge to interpret the zoning bylaw and ask which opinion is correct without asking for an injunction.

“If we are right, then the bylaw needs to be enforced as extractive industrial and if a re-zoning is needed, then let them re-apply and let the community at large express their desire as to what uses can operate on this land.”

He said the group also wants council to study and review long-standing threats to the bay related to leaching into Marsh Creek from the former dump at Delhi, and several former businesses.

“In our view, it is time for all parties to pull together. In the words of Martin Luther King: ‘We may have come in different ships – but we are all in the same boat now.”

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  1. wevil says:

    Paintman what good is the road if trucks can not travel it many of those trucks bring in supplies for the rest of us

  2. hockeynan says:

    That’s too bad painterman,that isn’t the truckers fault or pictorial terminal either.

  3. painterman says:

    @ hockeynan,, yes trucks pay heavy licence fees to operate their vehicles and every penny of that money goes to the province. The county owns a large section of roadway that those trucks will be destroying and you can only guess who is going to pay for that. So far there is no money forth coming from the province to fix any part on 49

  4. hockeynan says:

    Dennis,trucks pay big money for there licence plates and that entitles them to drive on any highway. If they are loaded over there license they have to get a permit to do so.That is why they have scales on the highway. If trucks can run the highway to,the cement plant what’s another 2 kilometers.

  5. Fred says:

    We do not have a new water plant in fact far from it. We have a new white elephant waste water plant. I do not know if salt runoff has affected the Bay. Haven’t seen any factual info on that. I believe two thirds of Council are awaiting more information from the staff report they supported prior to making a rash decision.

  6. Dennis Fox says:

    I agree with Gary Mooney on every point. PT has been given every chance to establish themselves as being a credible business, but due to their own game plan they have failed to convince many and any discomfort they are feeling is self-inflicted. At first, they claimed to be in compliance with the zoning and just started up their terminal business without any planning process in place to keep this operation clean, then they applied for a re-zoning (which signals that they are not zoned for a terminal), then they withdraw their zoning application – causing more attention and confusion to be focused on them. Then PT was found GUILTY by the MOE for a great number of violations, plus their salt storage has badly polluted the harbour, their operations has also infringed on the privacy and rights of surrounding neighbours by covering their homes and property in some kind of black powder – not to forget the stink from the sediment being dragged up by huge ships – also causing water quality problems for our new water plant. The water quality of Picton Harbour has been compromised by PT and the barge incident will not be the last of it. Our council (in my opinion) should not have approved anything related to this operation until a thorough risk management plan and environmental study of its use has been completed and agreed to by the owners. Anything less is simply not good enough.

    The question to ask is – why has the conversation on “countylive” generated more questions and debate than what our politicians have. It is time for them to step up to the plate and to start asking the tough questions (and there are many) – but even more importantly, they need to demand answers and accurate information from both PT and upper levels of government to be shared with the public. The political silence around this PT operation is not a good sign for local taxpayers – who will pay for the road repairs from the heavy trucks, who pays for the ongoing mess from PT? Why are residents having to fight this without the help of our local council? Don’t give me this nonsense about job creation and improving the local economy – PT doesn’t help either!

  7. wevil says:

    Gary Mooney PT has not been given a chance since residents found out the property was sold nothing more than hasselling from day 1

  8. Gary Mooney says:

    Fred, I don’t know if I agree with your comment on this business being targeted. But local response has been less than enthusiastic for three reasons.

    This is a business:
    * That offers few benefits locally — i.e. jobs, taxes, economic activity;
    * That represents significant risks — pollution of Picton Bay, damage to Hwy 49;
    * Where the owners have failed to endear themselves to the community.

    There are similarities here to wind developers — few benefits, significant risks, poor community relations.

    Contrast this with the developers of Summer Village in Athol, which has increased economic activity in PEC (up to 1000 additional seasonal residents each year), and is offering ancillary services to nearby residents. (See April 12 article in The Times).

    When a business wanting to establish itself in the County will have significant negative impacts here, residents want something significant in return.

  9. Fred says:

    Never seen a business so targeted especially in a harbour with such shipping history. The Save Picton Bay website is really over the top. Big homes, big money,big agenda. Hopefully Council don’t succumb.

  10. Paul Cole says:

    And oddly enough Emily, Prince Edward County is as beautiful a place now as it was back then. Almost every single person who comments on the County Live site wants what is best for Prince Edward County and although our opinions differ on how to maintain the beauty yet encourage growth we do want basically the same things we’re just not sure how to get there…..

  11. Emily says:

    Had I been a potential buyer of Picton harbour land I would have researched or had an agent research the water quality and past uses. Or talk to locals. We had a coal yard at the head of the Harbour run by the Hepburns. We have 2 cemeteries and a toxic huge dump and a former waste water plant leaching and running off of Marsh Creek into the Bay as we speak. This is not NEW news to most.

  12. Gary says:

    Newbies that live on the Bay that are totally unaware that the harbour was a shipping port for 200 years. The fine homes were built on cement from the plant on the Bay. Their driveways and roofs are petroleum based. Wealth and the want for peaceful serenity can cloud many motives.

  13. Fred says:

    People should really read the targeting of PT and of the 10 Councilors who opposed withdrawal of support, on the Save Picton Bay website. Much is either over the top, uninformed and unreasonable. It is true targeting of one business, and calling into question the integrity of two thirds of our Council without an ounce of fact.

  14. Paul Cole says:

    I agree Hockeynan just another witch hunt to keep industry out of the County and further drive it into the ground as a retirement/tourist attraction. We need good jobs to keep young families here and be viable in the future with a mix of retiree’s tourists and industry here in The County. Hopefully Picton Terminals will comply with Ministry orders and prove they can be a environmentally responsible industry and open the doors for other industries to move into The County as well..

  15. hockeynan says:

    Look at the retired lawyers who were trying to convince the county about WPD road use agreement and the county lawyer said they were wrong.Same ones in this case

  16. Paul Cole says:

    Picton Terminals IS zoned properly. No if and or buts otherwise Mr. Gillespie would have had them shut down already..

  17. wevil says:

    Dennis you can not always take the word of the retired lawyer all things may not be as they appear

  18. Dennis Fox says:

    Facts sometimes confuse people. Read the letter in today’s Times. The writer is a retired lawyer (QC) – he has a lot of credibility and would never liable himself. What he describes is not an honest government process, nor is the public’s best interest being served. We all should be concerned abut this.

  19. Gary says:

    Not quite seen such hysteria. I read Save Picton Bay website and I see “Shame” being used towards Council and some calling for an investigation of the 10 Councilors that voted against the motion, to look for vested interests with PT! Then I read on here where a regular poster puts forth that all levels of government are misleading us on this issue! This is not logical discussion.

  20. Emily says:

    Save Picton Bay want to unseat two thirds of Council because they didn’t support their wishes last night and represent constituents. Perhaps Council did represent the broader base of constituents. The groups message at deputation was unclear.

  21. Susan says:

    How have governments misled the public on this issue?

  22. Dennis Fox says:

    There is a very interesting letter in this weeks Times – pg 15 entitled “Many Questions Remain” by Garth Manning. It is not just my opinion that different levels of government are not doing their job – they are in fact misleading the public on this issue. This involves far more than “just local politics,” but they too need a serious wake up call.

  23. Susan says:

    Now if the Mayor who fully supported PT initially, then didn’t at Committee of Whole, had flip flopped again last night the suspicions might be warranted. I doubt any cloak and dagger is going on. Just local politics.

  24. Dennis Fox says:

    What theory? it doesn’t make any sense. First it is approved, then it isn’t, then it is again. First they claim it complies with the old zoning, despite this they apply for re-zoning, then they withdraw the re-zoning application. The premier praises local efforts for the clean up, then the municipality receives over $700K for water treatment. 12 hours after the state of emergency is lifted, council reverses the previous decision not to support PT and now supports it. If I’m suspicious of such actions, maybe I have good reasons. More people should be pushing for answers.

  25. Susan says:

    Please expand upon this conspiracy theory.

  26. Dennis Fox says:

    The point of the PT being legal non-conforming is at best debatable. If people can recall, the County went through a very lengthy and expensive process after amalgamation, called the “Consolidation By-law.” This process brought all the by-laws from the 10 municipalities into one – the zoning for PT was CHANGED through that process. This is the reason why the current owners of PT requested a RE-zoning of the site. As we know, they withdrew that application months later. This was nothing but a legal ploy to delay the process – allowing them to continue under a cloud of confusion. A cloud our council and legal opinion are only too ready to comply with, because pressure is being applied from upper levels of government. The concept of a proper planning process has been conveniently forgotten – with public safety being sacrificed. Sorry but this whole thing begins to stink of political corruption.

  27. Emily says:

    PT continues to operate because it has a legal non-forming use zoning. I think when the Save Picton Bay spokesman stated that the group exists not to fight this one property owner and the group is respectful of anybody’s right to work and grow a commercial enterprise, that was key to Council’s mindset moving forward. They were cautious not to make a withdrawal of support knowing that their unanswered questions were to be forthcoming in a staff report at a later date. Important decisions are best not made in haste one might say.

  28. Dennis Fox says:

    It is premature for council to agree to anything that (as we have experienced) would place both people and our environment into jeopardy. What is need is an in-depth environmental impact study of the harbour. What kind of business can it accommodate safely and what it can’t and what is needed to clean it up. The fact is thousands of people drink the water from the harbour – the intake pipe has to be moved before any further development takes place. Any business wanting to set up on the harbour should have to pay towards the cost of this pipe. Right now, Council is drowning in its own confusion. But what we do know is that PT has withdrawn its re-zoning application. So just how it is still operating is a mystery.

  29. Barney Rubble says:

    You do not agree with Council’s decision to support revitalization of the Terminal?

  30. Dennis Fox says:

    So once again our illustrious council back-peddles and leaves the situation in total confusion.

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