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Neighbours voice concerns about proposed eco-resort on CR7 ‘tourist corridor’

Story by Sharon Harrison
Lakeside noise, insufficient parking, lack of staff accommodation, and worry that County Road 7 will become too busy were a sampling of concerns highlighted during a virtual public meeting for a proposed eco-cabin resort.

Planned for 2353 County Road 7 in North Marysburgh, Trae Resort would consist of 21 free-standing cabins and 12 quad units (formerly referred as studio cabins) to provide a mix of one- two- and three-bedroom accommodations.

The development plan also include a clubhouse, an event space, several spa facilities and a sauna, a pool house together with a naturalized swimming pool which would double as a reservoir for fire protection.

It is expected the resort would operate at least on a three-season basis for both visitors and locals.

In the zoning bylaw amendment filed by the applicant in December 2022, the applicant is looking to have the property re-zoned from Rural 1 (RU1) zone to Special Tourist Commercial (TC-XX) zone to permit a tourist establishment. In addition, they propose the Environmental Protection (EP) zone be re-zoned to Special Environmental Protection (EP-XX) to permit recreational uses.

The land is designated as shoreland which, according to the official plan, is intended for tourism and recreation development, as well as providing public access to the waterfront, and in this case, is subject to re-zoning.

It was noted that according to the County’s tourism and recreation map in the official plan, County Road 7 is designated as a municipal tourism corridor, meaning it is a focus for tourism-related development.

The first open house for the project took place in June 2022 prior to the formal zoning bylaw amendment being filed, where initial thoughts were received from members of the public about the proposal, read more here:

Eco-cabin resort proposal for County Road 7

Environment planner Kelly Graham with Toronto-based SvN Architects and Planners gave an overview of the proposed development, addressing concerns and answering questions.

Graham noted they have taken into consideration, and have implemented some of the comments made by the public as well as County staff from the first meeting into the current design to include increased building setbacks from the side property lines, moving the waterfront docks to a more central location, as well as looking at further configuration of shoreline activities.

Another provision they have been asked to consider as a result of input is for staff accommodations, where Graham acknowledged the great need for affordable housing and said options were being worked on.

There were around two dozen attendees interested in hearing more about the proposed eco-cabin resort, including councillor John Hirsch, as well as one of the property owners, Alan Hirschfield (former owner of Fields of Wellington proposed sub-division) who fielded comments and answered questions on the project.

It was indicated the other owners of the property are a group of investors from Toronto and the GTA.

It was noted the property has a woodland under 40 hectares in size, where Graham noted it is intended to leave as much of the natural area untouched, and to focus the site development “on areas that currently do not have strong ecological functions”.

Graham also spoke to “regenerative tourism” noting it was buzz word right now, but also a big component of the County’s tourism development strategy.

“With regenerative tourism, we want to use that opportunity to showcase construction methods and site strategies, access by non-automobile modes, and cool features such as natural, using plants for water filtration,” explained Graham. “Most important of all, is making sure we enhance ecological connectivity through this site, making it a more productive landscape for the species that live there and just increasing overall biodiversity.”

She described Trae Resort as embracing a vision of Prince Edward County as a “future facing, low-carbon tourism destination where the tourism industry has a synergistic relationship with its host community and with the eco-system”.

The south end of the site is a forested area proposed to be restored and enhanced with a regenerative approach to landscape design, introducing a publicly-accessible walking trail that anyone driving along County Road 7 can stop to enjoy the looping path before continuing their journey.

The proposed cabins are designed to be energy efficient and low-carbon using locally-sourced materials wherever possible.

“The client has also been looking at pre-fabrication methods which will also reduce waste and limit site disturbance as they can be brought to the site either partially or wholly completed,” said Graham.

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  1. B Wilder says:

    The Official Plan designates this area as Shoreline. This type of development is recognized and encouraged within the Shoreline designation (as this article indicates). The current zoning is RU1. This zone already allows for some commercial activity and example of which is a wayside pit or quarry. The article goes on to note that this area is considered a ‘tourism corridor’. All policies point to an intention to allow development of tourism activities on this land. Rezoning is required to permit the type and scale of operation as is being proposed. The existing RU1 zone allows for a broader set of uses than will likely be allowed once this land is rezoned for tourism use. Hopefully this will explain to Mr Gillispie why a rezoning is required.

  2. Teena says:

    KB – I agree with you. I had/have no intention of bringing the CITY here. We don’t need new resorts that actually produce nothing, or more wineries/brewers etc. We require industry that will provide full time, benefit and pension plan providing jobs to attract and keep the families children who are here and on-county. We don’t need any more low paying jobs that no-one can survive on. School closures will not help attract families either. I don’t know what the answer is. I do my shopping at the farm gates where the farmers have been born and raised here – I check. That includes meat and not just vegetables and fruit. If I can’t get it at the shops in the County where local work, I do without. I’ve no interest in going off-county to shop unless it is simply not available here. The farmers need all the support they can get, as do the people who are born and raised here. The house we bought years ago had been up for sale for about two years and was probably affordable then. It is an old farm house. We changed from oil to propane and replaced an aging furnace. The house hasn’t been changed. I don’t need a new kitchen/bathroom. The damned things work just fine as is. Monster homes being built and looking like they don’t fit here. Starbucks … really? Big City thinking – bring it with you. Geeez. Why move here at all? And I agree with Roland. As the saying goes, KB, I’m sorry for your loss. We all lose.

  3. Roland Gillespie says:

    Response to Gary: If it complies with The Official Plan then one wonders why the application for two re-zonings?

  4. Michelle says:

    Time doesn’t stop still and Prince Edward is not immune. This land is ideal for development and may be far better environmentally than thick Buckthorn takeovers.

  5. kb says:

    Teena, I was born and raised here as my ancestors, when they landed here. I too, did not anticipate this in any way. And what I believe may have started it, was the influx of new residents who believed they could come here and control everything….they brought their old mind sets with them…….many who moved here to retire. Sorry but us locals need jobs and need to survive because we can’t afford to retire. There are many who may have to find another place to retire to. I love this place, it’s the only home I want.

  6. Teena says:

    I have a question for those of you who think this is a wonderful idea. Do any of you actually live beside or within hearing distance, of a resort? I’d really like to hear the opinions from those who do. I didn’t move rural to find my retirement years beside a resort. If anything, I anticipated a few more houses being built. Not this. I also don’t see a house going up for someone to actually live full time, as a primary residence, on the premises for this resort, so would the owner and/or investors like to live there? I expect our councillor for North Marysburgh to be able to represent us at all times.

  7. John Flaherty says:

    Prince Edward County has always been a busy tourist destination and all indications point to a continuation of its popularity. This latest development has many interesting and desirable features and should be given the go ahead. The challenge however, is for our local government, with the financial support of the Federal and especially the Provincial government to maintain our ageing infrastructure to support this increase in both permanent and transient population. Change is inevitable and it must be properly managed and adequately supported.

  8. Gary says:

    This development meets the Official Plan requirements. Love it or hate it, it complies,

  9. Sharon McAlpine says:

    sounds like a well thought out plan that will also increase job opportunities for the locals though I would like to hear more about the affordable housing for the staff because affordable housing can’t be found anywhere in The County anymore

  10. Billy Cache says:

    It’s about money. Tourism? Green? How does any of this benefit the folks of Prince Edward County? Investors from the GTA couldn’t care less about affecting everyday life of people 3 hours distant. Imagine another hundred-plus people and maybe 50 more cars shopping in Picton week to week. Not something I’d be grateful for. I’ve been reading about how the infrastructure is already stressed, and still this development gets consideration. Hello??

  11. ChrisW says:

    Big fan. A well thought-out development for sure. Best of luck, will follow the progress.

  12. Alan Hirschfield says:

    Sharon,

    This is a fair, well written and thorough article.

    Thanks

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