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Picton Terminals floats plan for cruise ship docking

By Sharon Harrison
Picton Terminals’ application for a re-zoning request, revealed at a public meeting Tuesday, shows, among other things, a proposed cruise ship docking concept for the facility, as well as open storage for goods and materials.

Hosted by the municipality, two back-to-back public information meetings Tuesday outlined details of zoning bylaw amendment and site plan control applications made by Ben Doornekamp, owner of Picton Terminals, an industrial deep-water port located on an 80-acre site off White Chapel Road (off County Road 49) on Picton Bay.

The in-person sessions were held at the Prince Edward Community Centre, with attendees pre-registering so attendance could be controlled under COVID-19 safety protocols.

Display boards provided an outline of the revised expansion plans. There was no formal meeting or presentation. However, the sessions provided an opportunity for the public to review and to provide feedback on the proposed re-zoning bylaw application, which includes the construction of two 120-foot long floating docks to accommodate large vessels, such as cruise ships and cargo ships. These docks are in addition to an existing 800-foot dock situated on the site.

One floating dock would be located to the north of the existing docking facilities for tour boats, tourist vessels and cruise ships. The second floating dock is to be located to the south of the existing docking facilities for tug boats which will haul barges.

The Official Plan currently allows for the transshipment (the shipment of goods or containers from one destination to another) at the site, but is not reflected in the permitted uses of the current zoning.

One of the final steps in the process is to seek re-zoning approval from the municipality to have the site plan amended to accommodate cruise ships.

The subject lands are currently zoned Environmental Protection (EP), Extractive Industrial (MX) and Rural 1 (RU1). The request for a zoning by-law amendment is from RU1 to MX-X (Special Extractive Industrial) to reflect existing and proposed uses. The Environmental Protection (EP) lands remain unchanged.

Picton Terminals states it has received full approval from Transport Canada, allowing it to begin operations as a port for Great Lakes cruise ships.

The plan is to have the town of Picton, population 4,500, become a Great Lakes cruise ship port destination every summer, beginning summer 2021.

The intention is cruise ship passengers to take day visits only, where they will be bused to local beaches, restaurants, wineries, art galleries, etc. Doornekamp expects 5-10 buses, with roughly 40-50 passengers, will be used to accommodate the approximately 300-500 passengers each cruise ship would bring to Prince Edward County.

It is unclear which County businesses would be able accommodate bus loads of cruise ship passengers, especially given the small boutique nature of many local operations. It is also not known if the public would be advised of the destination of the cruise ship buses in advance, so as to avoid certain establishments, or if those businesses will have to close to the public on those days.

Doornekamp, the only representative of Picton Terminals appointed to talk to media, was not available during the meeting to answer questions as he was surrounded by members of the public asking questions.

Some people who wanted to ask questions about significant additional shipping traffic, the quality of water and potential damage to the ecology of the bay, along with the impact to the local economy, noise and light implications and why begin a cruise ship operation during a global pandemic, were not able to ask their questions.

The port plan would start with 10 cruise ships next summer, even during the COVID-19 global pandemic, and that number is expected to reach 20 cruise ships per summer going forward

Further, Picton Terminals, operating under another new company, Doornekamp Shipping, plans to expand its container shipping and receiving hub by buying two cargo freighters, to be operational by spring 2021.

The facility will also be retrofitted to store up to 2,300 sea containers.

As the next step in the process, municipal staff will provide recommendations to council.

The public can find all official planning documents for the Picton Terminals re-zoning request, and make comments, at

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  1. Dennis Fox says:

    What is happening right now with the Terminal is what has happened on far too many occasions with the port development – no planning for the future.

    Right now anyone can drive through our downtown – go along 49 or take Bridge St. and never know they are in a waterfront community with a harbour that could look very pretty. Year after year, public lands were sold and now I’m not sure if the public have any right of way down there. What happened to the marina plan – was that sold off or rented out?

    The fact that Picton’s water supply comes from a pipe not far from the Terminal should be a concern with all the sediment that is stirred up by these bigger ships. All levels of government have ignored the potential health impacts – I’m glad I’m not on town water – but I do care about my friend who are. This PIcton Terminal is a sad joke being played on this community.

  2. R. Charlie Campbell says:

    I am not versed in anyway about the PT, but what caught my attention was water quality. And where our water inlet is. PRIORITIES to PEH’s closing, they had “repaired” their waste water system and clean water lines. Prior to that, each and every time it rained, the “settling pond” found in the bush across from the airport office, would overflow. This effluent flowed down the creek where cattle grazed and pooped, on towards the cemetery (nothing ever leached from there) continuing through the old leaching landfill site and of course Pictons old water treatment site.. and finally running into the bay. Oh yeah, right! Flowing back into the intake pipe. Easy to tell the quality of the water by how much chlorine you tasted. I so wonder (in print) how these few hundred more homes being built and being added to our already too small water treatment plant will impact our down stream drinking water. You can only dump so much into the swamp Charlie

  3. Janet says:

    How can this even be considered? This is terrifying and pure poison to our waterways and to Picton itself!

  4. Susan says:

    Agreeable except for “our beautiful Picton Bay”. The Bay is a terrible sludge mess and has been for well over 100 years, long before Picton Terminals. A huge former dumpsite leaching, old wastewater plant, a former coal yard at the head are just a few of the causes.

  5. Leslie Stewart says:

    I also had the displeasure of speaking to the Doornekamp’s about their rezoning application. The cruise ship is all smoke and mirrors. What the Doornekamp’s really want is approval for the cargo ships and shipping container storage. They plan on having the capacity to store 2,300 shipping containers on the site. Great, a big garbage dump of excess global shipping containers on our beautiful Picton Bay. Who knows what will be stored in these containers and who will be monitoring it. He is also already advertising free 24/7 on and off loading of container ships. Picton Bay is 1km wide where Picton Terminals is located and the deep water port that he keeps referring is very questionable. He has carved away at the precious rock face and transported tons of rock to the Ashbridges Bay project in Toronto to stop erosion and protect fish habitat. What about Picton’s fish habitat. PEC is not receiving a for a dime for the rock as he is excavating. Council it is in your hands to protect our resources, our environment and our residents.

  6. Kim says:

    I was at the Aug 25th meeting @ 5pm and I asked the Doornekamps a number of questions. I sent a detailed email to Matt Coffey and the entire council and mayor and have had only one reply. I am very disappointed. I agree with Liz Jones, Cruise Ship tourism is a red herring, trying to distract residents from the true objective. The goal of Picton Terminals is to expand their shipping industry.

  7. Marie Powell says:

    Regarding the point about cargo ships, I had an opportunity to speak to someone this morning who has worked on large ships all over the world. This is what he had to say:

    1. Spills are an extremely high probability. We’re talking about fuel spills, sewage spills and lubricating oil spills.

    2. Hazardous materials as cargo will always pose a great risk to the environment and the community.

    3. Mechanical breakdowns are an absolute certainty. If they occur in or near ports, they can cause millions of dollars worth of damage.

    4. There’s no such thing as a dry bilge. Bilge water consists of dirty water, fuel and lubricating oil, and EVERY ship has leaks.

    5. Ballast tanks, as they use up their fuel, take on sea water to maintain stability. They can bring contamination into our Harbour, as well as aquatic life which is not indigenous to this area, putting people and ecosystems at extreme risk.

    We do not have the money or the resources to manage these types of hazards, which, according to my source, will absolutely occur. Please, do not jeopardize our health and well being, and that of our natural environment, by agreeing to this plan.

  8. angela says:

    Cruise ships unloading up to 500 people to descend on the county is the proverbial icing on the cake. Just what we need in addition to the hordes of tourists we already must endure. It is unthinkable. Why don’t we just erect a sign that reads ‘Prince Edward County – Playground of Ontario (and points distant.)The last local left please turn out the lights.” Soon there will be no place for us here.

  9. Dennis Fox says:

    I listened to Mr. Doornekamp being interviewed on the radio about “his” plan. His responses were very unsatisfactory. When asked about the outdoor storage of materials – his response was, “I don’t have the numbers, but I think those who ask the questions should research the answers themselves.” This man is far too comfortable with half answers. I think our council should be demanding far more – let’s hope they get it. Without proper planning and restrictions, the Terminal will become a bigger disaster than it already is.

  10. Marie Powell says:

    I’m shaking my head in disbelief. We experienced the summer from hell this year, and have barely begun to discuss remedies to the many horrendous effects of the past few months. We’re still in the middle of a pandemic. Both residents and tourist attractions in the County suffered devastating behaviour from visitors (eg. Waupoos Estates, as mentioned in the National Post last week). Can we please take the time to address the problems we have before exacerbating this situation with cruise ships? Stop putting the lives of taxpaying residents and the preservation of vulnerable areas at the bottom of your priorities. This is a COMMUNITY, and our quality of life is rapidly deteriorating.

  11. Liz Jones says:

    I did get an opportunity to speak to the company representative at the 6pm meeting on Tuesday. He acknowledged that currently there are NO Passenger cruise ships on the Great Lakes. But he said Viking “is building one”.
    He also told me Picton Terminals does not have a contract or even an agreement to bring cruise ships to PT.
    PT talks about cruise ships but in my opinion that is just a shiny object, a benign target for them to use as a talking point. The real reason they want the municipality to grant them rezoning is to create a port where large ships, from all over the world with who knows what inside. They want to be able to offload and store on site. They have talked about transporting garbage and liquid fertilizers in the past.
    Remember the last spill, remember the boil water advisory. The more ships the more likelihood of another spill. The water intake for Picton and west to Bloomfield is about 1 mile from PT in Picton Harbour.
    This rezoning is a bad idea for our community. I just hope this Council, unlike the last, has the courage to oppose the rezoning.

  12. JennyD says:

    What they didn’t mention is how they will address the additional wear and tear on roads by large trucks, used to transport containers, aggregate and road salt. These trucks are dangerous on hwy 49, particularly in the winter months, driving above the speed limit, crossing over lanes, in all kinds of bad weather. Additionally, where exactly will these “cruise ship tourists” go to? And how? PEC can’t even manage the crisis it’s in right now, let along another herd of toursim, all for the benefit of lining pockets.Fix my roads. Fix my sewer. Fix the speed issue and enforce tourism restrictions. I’m tired of flipping the bill so everyone else can take a vacation and disrespect this place I call home.

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