All County, All the Time Since 2010 MAKE THIS YOUR PRINCE EDWARD COUNTY HOME...PAGE!  Thursday, November 30th, 2023

Neighbours express concerns for expanded, year-round East Lake resort

By Sharon Harrison
A modest but vocal crowd indicated all was not well at a public information meeting Monday evening for the proposed Allswell Resort (The Hideout) re-development on the shores of East Lake.

The 70 or so people in attendance, many of whom identified themselves as close neighbours to the proposed resort – either from Willow Lane or in the immediate vicinity on County Road 18 – were forthcoming and expressive with their concerns, with an almost continuous parade of detailed, intelligent questions posed, lots and lots of them, directed to the planning and engineering consultants, over the course of the three-hour meeting.

Questions raised by members of the public varied considerably and included concerns about increased traffic and traffic safety, noise, environmental impacts to the shoreland, the lake and wildlife, how effluent would be pumped into East Lake, a significant increase of day-use patrons, and the loss of dark skies.

The one piece of information that stood out was how the proposed resort re-development would become a year-round establishment, something many in the audience found dismaying, noting that the many tourist resorts around East Lake were seasonal (usually operational from May to October) giving local residents some relief in the off-season.

One resident asked whether this was merely phase one of a bigger project.

Held at the Waring Hall, the meeting was intended to inform the public on a revised application submitted by property owner Toronto-based Connor Paddon of Tens of East Lake Realty Inc. which includes a zoning bylaw amendment to permit the re-development of 41 Willow Lane in Cherry Valley.

The application would amend the existing special tourist commercial (TC-19) zoning to permit a two-storey 10-bedroom tourist inn plus 12 tourist cabins, a gift shop and mobile restaurant, and non-motorized boat rentals, docks and boat launch.

If approved, the application would bring a resort establishment with a maximum of 100 additional guests, as well as accessory uses, such as a swimming pool, bar and washrooms, and a barn for dry storage.

A total of 61 parking spaces would be sought, four of which would be accessible. The application would recognize the existing lot frontage and locations of existing buildings that will remain on site.

Planner Ray Essiambre of Ray Essiambre and Associates representing the proponent provided a brief presentation, which was followed presentations from the engineering consultants.

County mayor Steve Ferguson and Athol ward councillor Sam Branderhorst were also in attendance.

Several residents noted how the 100 additional guests capacity didn’t mean just 100 additional maximum guests once per day (i.e. not 100 day passes issued), but the hundred could repeat itself throughout the day as more cars are allowed in as cars leave, meaning the 100 additional guests in reality could translate into many hundreds in any given day, in peak season.

“Qualifying, realistically, your capacity for 100 guests could rotate, and it will fluctuate and can be re-filled when three or four cars leave because they’ve come for lunch, had their hour break and now they are leaving,” said one neighbour. “That is an increase of traffic on that property with an increase of use; now, there isn’t just going to be the cabins with people vacationing, now there is the day-use which has more potential to impact the rural lifestyle there, not to mention the mobile restaurant.”

Purchased in 2019 by the current owner, the property, designated as shore land (in a designated tourist corridor), spans 1.5 hectares, with 28.35 metres of frontage. It is noted the property is on a designated flood plain, and that flood plain is also within 500 metres of the property.

Essiamabre confirmed the existing cabins would be demolished (due to their age and condition) and re-built in a similar orientation in a horseshoe pattern, surrounding a new swimming pool.

He made it clear that it is not a new development, as has been suggested in recent local media, but a re-development of an existing resort.

He also noted that the proposal is bordered by residential properties on two sides. “The task of the planners, the team, and municipal staff is to find a balance between residential and tourist uses that are permitted within the shoreland designation. Here we have a resort with residential designations on both sides”, something he described as a “balancing act”.

Several residents disagreed with aspects of the traffic study findings, which concluded the anticipated small increase in traffic did not warrant any changes or a left-turn lane, as one neighbour who has lived on the road for about 20 years said, “Over that period of time, I have seen the traffic in peak seasons increase dramatically. Your statistics suggest four cars a minute at maximum. I would argue that that is probably very old data.”

Engineer with Greer Galloway, Matthew McIntosh, added that “It [County Road 18] is not a high volume road”, as another resident noted the dangerous S-bend in the road, and poor sightlines, especially with those vehicles with trailers and RVs.

Another audience member raised the issue of inadequate infrastructure in the County, calling it an “abomination”.

“There is no way the roads can take an extra resort, but the road systems in our County cannot accommodate so much traffic,” she said. “I object to the entire thing because we are already a tourist attraction and there is already too much going on at this lane, but adding all these people will complicate our overloaded infrastructure on the roadways.”

She noted how there were already too many STAs (short-term accommodations) and “the council should be addressing this issue of our infrastructure, our supplies, and so on,” noting the balancing act between residents and tourists.

“How can we accommodate both without insulting each other? she asked , “And I think it is an insult to bring tourists to drive over pot-holed roads and say ‘do your best’.”

“We are a growing population, but we don’t need to keep opening up the doors and not taking care of business; let’s grab the taxes, it’s okay to do all of this, but not fix the infrastructure to accommodate new incoming development, that’s where I’m still stuck,” she said. “I’m very much stuck on this, and it will drive us poor residents out, I really am sad about it because I love this place.”

Concern was also expressed by some about the process for treating the wastewater and the noise the treatment plant would make, where it was noted a pipe extending more than 150 metres would take the treated (liquid) effluent to the middle of the lake. The solids component will be hauled away on a regular basis.

Another resident noted how the lake freezes in winter, where the consultant said the discharge line will run along the bottom of the lake with a manifold at the end of it, as someone else was concerned about how the discharge would affect marine life.

“It is a mud puddle November to February; there is no egress into Lake Ontario; it is a lagoon,” stated another audience member. “What applies to Lake Ontario, which has the flush of Niagara Falls, does not apply to East Lake.”

East Lake resident Sarah Crawford, noting the shallow depth of East Lake at around 25-feet, was concerned about the environmental impacts of the wastewater.

“In the summer, if you are out on your platform boat and you are jumping in for a swim, you’re basically swimming within a couple of metres, maybe one metre, of this effluent,” said Crawford. “Not only does this seem an issue for wildlife, but also the humankind splashing around in the lake.”

She also addressed the winter conditions, where she said the lake is covered with ice fishing huts, which also presents a concern with an effluent discharge.

Addressing the climate emergency and the impact of a large resort, Crawford said she would have thought the developers would have a sustainability plan and a climate emergency addressing plan, and she was dismayed the issues hadn’t been addressed upfront.

She also spoke to maintaining the dark skies, saying “Right now, what we in this rural community value is, we actually have dark night-time skies.”

Several residents expressed disappointment and annoyance the property owner was not present, and despite Pordham, indicating he was joining the meeting virtually, there was no evidence of his presence, although Essiambre later confirmed he was listening in.

One County Road 18 resident asked “why the owners think it’s okay not to be here tonight, because they are upsetting a lot of lives”.

Essiambre confirmed Paddon was working in the United States, had issues with his work visa and couldn’t get back in time for the meeting.

The property at 41 Willow Lane, formerly known as Four Winds Cottages and Cribs on East Lake, has operated as a short-term rental cottage property for many years. The existing property historically has included 10 cottage rental buildings.

Access to the site is via County Road 18 and Willow Lane which is a dead-end, narrow gravel laneway providing access to a small number of properties, including the subject property. County Road 18 is a rural two-lane road travelling east to west between County Road 10 and County Road 12, following the south shore of East Lake.

According to the consulting engineers report undertaken by Greer Galloway, Willow Lane is a single lane gravel road with an existing, shared intersection with County Road 18.

“From the intersection, Willow Lane winds its way from County Road 18 past the driveway to 18 Willow Lane where a former single-family home appears to also serve as the headquarters to Stone Temple Coffees. A second driveway provides access to 19 Willow Lane for a private residence. As you travel along Willow Lane, it narrows from a generous paved width at the intersection to a narrow single lane gravel laneway.”

The planning consultants report conducted by Ray Essiambre and Associates notes that Allswell Resort does not have frontage on a public road allowance as “Willow Lane is the closest public road that is owned and maintained by the County”.

The report also states that “Allswell is separated from Willow Lane by a parcel that is owned by a neighbour, Allswell has access to Willow Lane by an easement. Since Allswell does not have access to a public road, an amendment to the site specific zoning bylaw will be required.”

Allswell Resort consists of 10 existing cabins and a house that provides accommodation to guests. The existing cabins will be demolished and replaced with new cabins that will meet current market demand for modern unit types. The current tourist accommodation market prefers cabins with fewer bedrooms according to Essiambre, so the cabins will be one-bedroom, rather than the four or five bedrooms they each have now.

East Lake resident Helen Findlay raised concern how allowing a four-season resort could be precedent setting for all other resorts “because that precedent could be horrendous”.

She also addressed the consultants by suggesting while they focused on quantitative research and presenting numbers, they have “completely missed the qualitative aspect when what happens to the quality of life with hundreds more cars going by”.

“Maybe you don’t need a left-turn lane, but maybe you do need some quiet, maybe you don’t need yahoos throwing garbage all over your property all the time, maybe you don’t need people speeding,” she said. “The qualitative stuff has been completely missed and you have managed to find some numbers that match other criteria, but I think a lot of that is missing the point of why everybody came out here tonight.”

Essimabre said it is hoped to have shovels in the ground in one to one-and-a-half years’ time, assuming the project is approved.

No decisions were made at this meeting and Pordham noted the planning application for Allswell Resort will come before council for decision, with recommendations made by planning staff, at a later date (yet to be determined).

While he noted the meeting was the first opportunity for the public to learn about the proposed re-development and provide input as per the planning act, several members of the public suggested a further public meeting be held to answer some of the questions which couldn’t be answered. Others endorsed a further meeting be held at the Athol Town Hall, given the confusion of the last-minute change of venue which some may have not been aware, where more may have attended had they known about the meeting.

Any further public meetings (other than the statutory planning meeting yet to come) would be at the discretion of the proponent and is not a obligation under the planning act.

Planning documents relating to the Allswell Resort can be found on the County’s website.

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  1. Dianne says:

    Very accurately reported. This property is too small for this proposal. An article about Connor Paddon’s view on building your real estate portfolio by purchasing property in Prince Edward County identifies the true purpose behind the project.

  2. Lou says:

    Thank you. Perfectly presented FACTS.

  3. Pam Snyder says:

    According to the Canadian Home Inspection Site, daily waste water per person per day is 227- 1600 ltrs (50-350 gals).

    This is only a 3.7 acre piece of land.

    Using the minimum of 227 ltrs (50 gals), FOR ONLY 100 PEOPLE, this means 22,700 ltrs (5,000 gals) per day being pumped into East Lake, OR put into a leaching bed (if council does not approve the pipe into the lake). And is there room for a leaching bed what with all the proposed surface area use?
    That’s already DOUBLE what the existing 10 cabins (with families of 5 people) put out.

    With people using the bar, mobile restaurant, pool and boats – not to mention the existing house (which they may also rent out later) – the waste water amount will be MUCH higher.

    At only HALF AS MUCH HIGHER, that’s 34,050 ltrs (7,500 gals) OR 300 gals MORE than the equivalent of a 10×12 ft. bedroom FULL of water – DAILY.

    AND is the county going to monitor the “technician” who will be monitoring the “new waste water treatment system” located in the shipping container? And what about power outages?

    And planner Ray Essiambre states that traffic issues fall well short of requiring a major infrastructure improvement – HOWEVER – a big increase in traffic would warrant the County to undertake a master plan to study and prioritize Cty Rd 18 for improvement.

    What about all the other pothole filled roads that can’t be repaired now?

  4. Chuck says:

    Removing the non native swans from this lake would be a great start point. They drive out historiacal native ducks, geese, Loons and terns from their former breeding grounds. They destroy natural lake growth as well, ripping it out by the roots. Some believe the Swans are pretty and majestic but the truth is they are a demon. Time for an open hunt on the unwanted Swans.

  5. Mark Woodward says:

    The north side of East Lake some 40 years ago had cattails 30 yards on shore extending out into the length of the lake meeting the marshes at both ends. They are all gone now. I am not certain as to the exact cause but I do know when development started on the South side particularly all of the trailers on the point by the old Stelmacks beach, the cattails and rushes started to disappear. I cannot scientificaly prove that was the cause but I am certainly suspicious. Having grown up on this beautiful Lake, I know it is sensitive to environmental pressures. Just my two cents,

  6. Bruce Nicholson says:

    A lake capacity study is long overdue. A lake of this size can only handle a certain level of development and the environmental impact is critical.

  7. Fed up Fred says:

    Here we go again. Can we just please stop commercializing the County? Push back, send a message. Purchasing properties doesn’t mean an open ticket to do whatever they want – as long as they follow the procedures and file the documents according to process. When does it end? This County, my permanent home, has turned into a dog and pony show.

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