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Public expresses concerns about Picton Terminal’s zoning and boat tour operation

Members of the public filled the council chambers at Shire Hall, spilled over into the conference room, spoke up and sent more than 60 letters expressing opinions about changes proposed for Picton Terminals.

The special planning public council meeting was held Thursday night to discuss the deep-water dock shipping facility on Picton Bay seeking a zoning bylaw amendment and site plan control agreement to allow the entire property to be used for trans-shipment operations, and a boat tour operation.

Two 120-foot floating docks are proposed to be located north and south of existing docking facilities. One for docking cruise lines and tourist boats from Lake Ontario with passenger capacities of approximately 450 people. Tourists would then be shuttled by bus or other mode to various destinations throughout the County.

The southern floating dock would be used by tugboats that are to haul barges to and from the site.

The site currently contains a variety of facilities and services including a deep-water dock, conveyors, outdoor stockpiling, packaging and hauling. Shore cranes and mobile conveyors are also used on-site. Products prepared and loaded include dry bulk cargo such as road salt, aggregates, farming products, steel products, biomass, recycled scrap steel, wine barrels and other various bulk products.

Following a presentation from Michael Keene, of FoTenn Consultants, explaining the project, councillor John Hirsch summed up many of the concerns of residents opposed.

“It seems to me that the poor track record that Picton Terminals has in protecting the environment gives me serious reason to seek restrictions on the type of operations allowed and the type of materials that can be trans-shipped into port.

“The application, as presented, contains almost no limitation on the types of materials to be unloaded, stored on site and shipped at the port, with the exception of a just-announced agreement, which was a good one, to not import liquid fertilizer, or handle garbage.

“At the very minimum however, there need to be restrictions on the type of materials that would be hazardous to the water of the Bay, the air, and the land in the vicinity of the port.”

Hirch noted the recent history of excessive pollution of Bay from salt, and cyanide run-off; air pollution from dust blowing off uncovered piles and pollution of neighbouring lands by piles of uncovered product.

Most disturbing, he said, is “the reality of its performance in the respect of environmental regulatory authorities.

“We’re all familiar with the large amount of salt run-off and its effects on the Bay, as well as the oil spill by Picton Terminal’s contracted barge, which caused an expensive shut-down of the Picton water supply.

“Most people are less familiar with the long history of officers’ orders from the Ministry of Environment to fix situations to put plans in place to prevent pollution and Picton Terminal’s aggressive objections to these orders.”

He noted most recently, orders by Ministry of the Environment Officer Shannon Kelly to establish dates for covered storage of salt, among other things.

“Picton Terminals filed a 16-page legal appeal which resulted in a Ministry of Environment Director’s order which completely backed up the officer’s order, essentially castigated Picton Terminals for their ongoing delay tactics; maintained the officer’s finding that Picton Terminals continues to pollute the Bay; but did allow an extension for the construction of the covered salt storage pit.”

Given the documented history, “Why we should we trust Picton Terminals will operate the port in an environmentally safe manner?”

Keene, a land use planner, responded that the combined orders that will result in an environmental compliance approval.

“Having these documents in place and approved, gives everybody clarity on regulation, and assurances that the environment will be protected. So until that environmental compliance approval is approved, the orders are how the site operates. But the compliance approval is submitted. It’s with the ministry. That is the document specifically that regulates the documents you are speaking about.”

Also still to be done is the “peer review” process of reports, studies and letters in which qualified specialists are retained to address and provide advice on matters that the County may not have in-house expertise, and to ultimately defend decisions of council if need be.

Council received the seven deputations speaking against, and two for the changes, during the meeting. It also received 61 items of correspondence on the subject that had been submitted to council.

Following the compilation of public comments and the completion of the peer review, a staff report will be brought back to council.

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  1. Emily says:

    Spot on. They are digging another hole today. Makes one wonder if they know what the issues are. Wonder if the County has someone overseeing this work as it has been far too long and now we are right into winter.

  2. Michelle says:

    Sad state of affairs. We need a CAO without constant political interference. Our roads are crumbling folks. How can Lake St in front of the LCBO be under construction for 6 months and digging a new hole everyday?

  3. Gary says:

    When you dismiss your CAO every change of Council, you are far from an attractive employer to high end talent.

  4. Dennis Fox says:

    Mark – good point! We can all speculate about why this municipality has had difficulty with filling a number of senior staff positions- this is not the first time. The problem is, if we who live here are wondering about it, so is every potential applicant.

  5. Mark says:

    Might be easier if we had a CAO. Bellville replaced theirs in a month. We are now 7 months with no leader!

  6. Susan says:

    How does your report compare to air travel in comparison? Curious.

  7. olmnonthemtn says:

    A 2017 CBC radio report: ” says that a mid-sized cruise ship can use as much as 150 tonnes of fuel each day, which emits as much particulate as one million cars….
    the reason for this is that their engines run 24/7. Even if they’re in the ports, they have to keep running their engines, because it’s not only a transport mode, it’s a hotel facility. They have a spa on board, restaurants … and that needs a lot of energy — more or less the same energy a mid-sized city needs. All of them run on the dirtiest fuel you can imagine. It’s heavy fuel oil, it’s quite toxic. It’s a residual of the petrol industry, and it contains a lot of dirty stuff. And on top of that, nearly all of the cruise ships don’t have a catalyst or a particulate filter, [like] trucks and cars. That, altogether, sums up to really poor environmental situations… the amount of emissions that passengers breathe on board is more than twenty times higher than on a main road with a lot of pollution.”

  8. ADJ says:

    5 min. to Picton?? more like 30–60 passengers make their way from the boat to waiting buses. These could be contracted by a tour bus company. Diesel motors left idling for the AC …not good. Then there’s a parking or unloading zone central for the passengers of these buses, will this take out more main street parking meters? Just what we need more blocked traffic in the downtown core. Who gains from this? I don’t see a lot of jobs created or more taxes paid into the local economy. I’m not against the idea but there are a lot of questions to be answered. Again don’t rush this–make sure the I”s” are dotted and the T”s” are crossed.

  9. Dennis Fox says:

    Until the town’s intake pipe is moved, the less activity in the area the better. Perhaps as one writer pointed out, the view “from” the dock would be quite nice – but what a shock if anyone looks over their shoulder or looks at where the boat is going when ready to dock. For an operation that the public was originally told met the zoning standards, I find it disturbing that recently the request for a rezoning has been made made. Let’s not get sidetracked by this cruise ship nonsense.

  10. Fred says:

    Not sure about Forbes articles, but air travel is the very worst option on Earth. The vast amount of air travel could easily be a leading cause of climate change. Cruise boats wouldd be a meager fraction in comparison.

  11. Chris Keen says:

    Cruise ships are NOT the environmental darlings they’re made out to be. This article from Forbes.

    Google brings up dozens more examples with “cruise ships and pollution”. I’d say we’d be far better off without them,

  12. Fred says:

    Actually the dock would present an excellent sight seeing vantage point for the Picton Bay. And a 5 minute drive to Picton.

  13. Dennis Fox says:

    To Rob Brown – You make some good points and I don’t disagree with your take on boat cruises perhaps being less damaging to the environment. However, what baffles me is the idea of anyone wanting to take a cruise using the dock at the Picton Terminals – obviously pleasant sightseeing is not high on their list.

  14. Rob Brown says:

    Cruise ships are the least environmentally damaging form of tourism- imagine 250 more cars adding to traffic on County roads for every ship that stops.
    They do not burden the accommodation requirements- they come, they spend a fortune and leave the next day.
    Bring on the boats!!!

  15. Michelle says:

    In some matters that are outside of Councils knowledge base they have to rely on recommendations from expertise and legal. Makes sense.

  16. Andy Bowers says:

    “… qualified specialists are retained to address and provide advice on matters that the County may not have in-house expertise, and to ultimately defend decisions of council if need be.”

    No. Council is responsible for Council’s decisions some of which may be indefensible,

  17. Doris lane says:

    Drove by that facility one day it certainly has ruined. The landscape of the area
    Needs to be restricted in its use

  18. Mark says:

    Firewood is far from a friend to our environment,

  19. Angela says:

    Just what we need. More tourists.

  20. Chuck says:

    Natural gas produces 99% fewer emissions than firewood.

  21. Mark says:

    Yeah cut more trees that clean our air. Firewood places mercury, carbon monoxide and green house gasses in the atmosphere.

  22. robert sandfield says:

    Airplanes? The lowest carbon way to travel is as many people on a boat/train as possible, definitely not air. A London to Toronto flight is almost 1000kg of carbon per person, one way. Flying is brutal for the environment. As JT says, it is 2019, and since Canada is contributing 1.6% of the world’s green house gases, we need to buck up…. Keep it just above freezing in your house, stop all air travel, and get out there and cut firewood.

  23. Chris says:

    Cruise ships????
    If you want more tourism, we have a beautiful and historic airport which is severely underused.

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