All County, All the Time Since 2010 MAKE THIS YOUR PRINCE EDWARD COUNTY HOME...PAGE!  Thursday, September 21st, 2023

Quinte Isle Campark expansion receives approval to go ahead

By Sharon Harrison
A 337 site expansion to Quinte Isle Campark will go ahead following approval at a special council meeting Wednesday evening. Council agreed extensive scrutiny and comments from the public over the years have resulted in amendments and adjustments to the application.

The application includes Official Plan and bylaw amendment applications made by the Ward family and Fourward Holdings Inc., owners of the park at 558 Welbanks Road.

The proposed application would essentially add 337 trailer park sites to the existing 619.

The five-and-a-half hour meeting, where about 100 people tuned in virtually, included 14 deputations and 12 comments made by members of the public.

Comments included the voices of local environmental and naturalist groups, such as the South Shore, Prince Edward County Field Naturalists, Save our Heritage Lands among them who voiced opinion on environmental issues, concerns over wetlands, wildlife disturbance and habitat loss, and more.

All 26 comments made to council were against the expansion application where reasons cited included concerns over inadequate infrastructure and public road access, water well concerns, loss of rare farmland, road safety, density issues and the size of the proposed expansion. Many concerns spoke to the trailer park sites being turned into permanent residences.

Alan Young’s deputation indicated any decision to proceed would have “numerous immitigable longtime impacts on the surrounding ecosystems, as well as the safety, health and quality of life for existing communities.”

He said the area is rich, undisturbed and unique and plays a role in local, regional and international ecosystems. Young’s core concerns included irrevocable loss of rare farmland and shoreland, and the absence of adequate infrastructure.

“To make an exception of this magnitude anticipating irreversible impacts associated with inserting development that will have the population of Wellington imposed on our natural undeveloped shoreline and valuable link system sets a very deleterious precedent from a governance point of view, let alone an ecological or community point of view and would be an abdication of the County’s responsibility and commitment to wisely steward its extraordinary legacy of land and shore,” stated Young.

Don MacLean expressed concern about road safety, saying the issue is about common sense and safety.

“Salmon Point Road is already a dangerous road and busy in the summer,” said MacLean. “The density of use is going up and is projected to go up 70 per cent, maybe more, and that’s a big expansion.”

He said it is an unsafe situation for a single artery to have so many vehicles, including big vehicles.

“A second access is needed through Welbanks Road, but it could also come via Kelly as well, so at least three different ways traffic can move down Welbanks Road in addition to Salmon Point Road.”

Geoffrey Burt reminded the South Shore is an area of global biological significance, a migratory path to birds and endangered butterflies and home to more than 40 species at risk. His concerns included light and noise pollution, garbage and sewage.

“Whether or not it’s possible to have this large number of people without having an impact on the animals that live there, I’m skeptical,” he said. “This is a planning decision with tremendous consequences; we are the stewards of an area of global biological significance.”

Murray Smith represented 75 members of Save our Heritage Lands and said the application seeks a significant change of land use along the South Shore at Soup Harbour and expressed concerns for habitat loss.

“It will forever change these natural heritage features by developing them for tourist commercial purposes,” said Smith. “Ownership does not provide the assumed right to then permanently change the characteristics of a protected area simply upon request to amend the parameters of what can be done with the land.”

“Too many people are not good for wetlands and the endangered species that inhabit them,” added Smith.

“I am shocked that somebody would close off wetlands and build things on top of them that have cement bases and not take care of the environment,” said Sandra Goranson, who said the area boasts wetlands, migratory bird layovers and farmland. “This will be a loss of natural habitat and our unusual wildlife,” she said.

Nina-Marie Lister said the proposed application does not conform to the vision in the official plan and is not in the public interest.

“The density and the scale of the development is too large in an area which is not planned for settlement. There will be many negative impacts on environmental and cultural heritage which are irreversible and permanent,” said Lister.

She said this development is called a campark, but noted it was not for summer camping only.

“It is a settlement, which by any other name is a town. In practical terms, the combined project will accommodate over 3,000 people, almost double the population of Wellington, and it will rival Picton as the largest settlement in the County.”

“Disregard the label ‘seasonal” and the study area is no different to a residential sub-division in Prince Edward County during the summer,” Lister said.

She questioned the seasonality of the operation because Quinte Isle Campark already operates as a year-round residential community.

“That four-season community contravenes the Official Plan already for permitted uses for shoreland designation,” added Lister.

Alan Wallace voiced strong opposition to the amendment. As a resident of Welbanks Road, he expressed great concern about something he saw recently while riding his bicycle down Welbanks Road to Soup Harbour, something he says he does often.

“The wetlands are being ruined as we speak,” said Wallace. “I was mortified to see that someone had dug the rock berm down right to the ground below the water level and there is literally a five-foot wide rushing river in place, so the wetlands are currently draining out into Lake Ontario,” he said. “It is very upsetting seeing water rushing out of wetlands right now and the environmental damage is already happening.”

Gerry Jenkison reminded, “Once an environmentally-sensitive area has been destroyed, it can never be restored to its previous state.”

Ryan Wallach said allowing the application risks “moving too far, too fast” and would overwhelm existing infrastructure.

He said re-zoning rural property adjacent to wetlands to allow a seasonal campark to increase its capacity from 600 trailers to over 900 trailers appears to set a risky precedent.

“Waterfront wetlands are a finite resource in the County and turning them into parking lots for trailers and out-of-town tourists could lead to a gold rush of developers rushing to apply for similar zoning,” Wallach said.

Representatives for the applicants, led by Ruth Ferguson Aulthouse, spoke extensively providing a detailed presentation on the site and the proposed application, where she noted the application goes back to December 2016. Ken Ursic and counsel Patrick Harrington also spoke at great length on behalf of their clients.

Municipal planner Matthew Coffey provided a summary review to council conducted by staff and peer review with background on the proposed application which he recommended be approved by council.

He noted 148 written comments had been received from members of the public during the process: 136 was unsupportive, two were supportive, and 10 were neutral.

Traffic and road access were shown to be the areas of most concern.

“Natural heritage and the environment and cultural heritage, servicing and infrastructure, size and density were areas we wanted to focus on,” Coffey said.

He said the application is to amend the Official Plan and rezoning bylaw to re-designate the site from a rural designation to a shoreland designation, as well as to amend the zoning bylaw from the RU2 zone to the special trailer park commercial zone (TPC-13)

Coffey confirmed the existing campark is designated shoreland.

The existing entrance to Quinte Isle Campark is on Salmon Point Road and it would remain the main entrance for the campark with the expansion.

“The trigger for an Official Plan Amendment in this case is because it is a trailer park expansion, “he said. “The expansion of shoreland designations are permitted in the Official Plan when they are justified.”

“The campark is for seasonal use. This is not a settlement area that is being proposed, this is a tourist commercial development, and is approved from May to November,” Coffey said.

He said the proposal is for a tourist-commercial development which is seasonal.

Coffey also said that the Mohawks of the Bay of Quinte (MBQ) and the Huron-Wendat Nation became part of the consultation that included additional discussions and a site visit with MBQ staff on Feb. 10, 2021.

He said the level of public consultation in this matter has been adequate.

“Even though we have heard a lot of negativity towards the project, we are pretty confident we have engaged in public consultation to the fullest extent possible.”

Coffey stated staff recommend the Official Plan amendment and zoning bylaw by approved.

Prince Edward County mayor Steve Ferguson, who said he was in favour of the application moving forward, said he could not recall another application that has gone through so much scrutiny over the course of many years.

“It has had unbelievable scrutiny and comment from members of the public,” said Ferguson. “Their comments and concerns ultimately led to additional measures. The proponents have willingly and generously made amendments and adjustment to the application to make it better.”

In supporting the application, Ferguson said, “We have got an obligation to make to allow Prince Edward County to be enjoyed by others.”

This meeting can be viewed on the County’s YouTube channel.

Filed Under: Local News

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  1. Teena says:

    Thank you County Proud. What a sad state of affairs. I am sickened by our Council – I’d mistakenly hoped for so much better. Silly me. All this mess. And to top it off, I came across a Blandings Turtle in the middle of the road on Rock Cross Road on April 9th around 2pm just before the Lost Lake Barn. Sadly, I hadn’t any way to take a photo, but I did manage to get it off the road and that’s something at least. And this is where the massive new IRTH resort is proposing to build their Empire. Hope Council does better deterring that fiasco.

  2. CountyProud says:

    TEENA I meant to post this the other day and forgot. There was only ONE Councillor who elected NOT to support the request.

  3. CountyProud says:

    A really good read on the Friends of South Shore website. I encourage you all to read it, especially if you did not have the chance to listen to the actual Council meeting that led to this decision.

  4. Emily says:

    Unfortunately the way our voting system is set up you can only vote for the one(s) in your ward although all the others directly affect your life.

  5. Teena says:

    I want the names of the people on Council who approved this fiasco. I will not be voting for them again.

  6. JennyD says:

    This is sickening. I can find nothing positive about this – destruction of habitat, taking over shorelines from animals, species, and TAX PAYERS, and for what?.. for financial gain. I’d thought we finally had a progressive council and mayor. Too bad for us, and our precious County ecosystem.

  7. Fred says:

    The fact that Council asked the Deputants no questions and had no debate amongst themselves can only lead one to determine the decision to approve had been made prior to the special meeting, making everyone’s efforts meaningless and a complete waste of time.

  8. Mike Rodgers says:

    I need this explained to me, we spend thousands of dollars to develop an Official Plan just to go against it every time someone wants to go against what the plan suggests, and they win. I for one will not vote for any person that currently is sitting on council. Last election I though that the new elected blood, even not experienced would stand up to some of what has been destroying PEC over the last 10 to 20 years. It appears they are no better that their co-members that continue to go against what the permanent residents wish. Do not tell me tourism is good because if you think it is you are looking through rose coloured glasses.

  9. CountyProud says:

    SM in fact you would not be allowed to rent a site and place a trailer there. You must buy the 3 season park model trailer. Additionally you must use certain services provided by the park you cannot bring certain items and services in from outside.

    Contrary to what one Councillor suggested, these are not weekly or even monthly rentals for the folks from the County who couldn’t afford a home or cottage elsewhere. You buy the trailer outright, just not the land beneath it.

  10. Dennis Fox says:

    I find the planning process to be very inadequate. One would think that during a pandemic, with the public not being able to fully participate, would be reason enough to place all applications on hold or to at least slow things down to give the public more opportunity for input. The approval of this application is ridiculous – it does not serve this community well at any level – this needs to be remembered when candidates come knocking next year, all claiming they have you at heart. Really?

    I have suggested on a number of occasions that our Council should hold public round table discussions with the community in order to find what our priorities are – so far they have ignored us. Some councillors might claim that the recent Official Plan served this purpose – but it did not – it lacked public input too. Sound familiar?

  11. Emily says:

    Marie, our obligation may lead to leaving a roll of toilet paper out for those visitors that are in need.

  12. Chuck says:

    26 deputants in opposition, not one question from Councilors and quickly approved unanimously I believe. Was not a recorded vote.

  13. Marie says:

    Can someone please explain the so-called “obligation” we have to make the County available to others? Especially after the disaster we witnessed last summer? What about stewardship and obligation to the environment, the wildlife, and to our tax-paying residents, all of which suffer from devastating decisions like this one? Disgraceful.

  14. SM says:

    Permanent residents would be more than welcome to rent one of the lots and place a seasonal ‘trailer’ dwelling on that lot. Frankly it is probably the only way that one could obtain a recreational property in the County these days.

  15. Don Payne says:

    It seems council is not placing any value in public comment on proposed developments. The Quinte Isle project was opposed by many reputable local organizations including the Mohawks of Quinte and only 2 of the 148 comments to Have Your Say were in support of the expansion of the park. This would seem to be a rather clear indication that County residents do not want the expansion to proceed. Council members need to pay attention to the people who elect them and who pay their taxes here. My fear is that they will soon give the green light to several other applications for tourism development development projects regardless of what their constituents might say.

  16. Argyle says:

    It appears council is tone deaf to issues that concern year-round residents by going all in to approve this expansion. It’s all about tourism and the environment and residents lose again !

  17. Mike Rodgers says:

    A sad day for the county of Prince Edward.

  18. angela says:

    Does Mayor Ferguson feel that we have an obligation to allow Prince Edward County be enjoyed by others at the expense of those of us who are permanent residents? Perhaps he should stop to think that he was elected to represent county residents first and foremost.

  19. Hedy says:

    Disaster! The community, the population, now only has one option to stop it: to band together, form a ratepayers group, hire a capable lawyer, and repeal this disastrous decision with it’s dire and lasting consequences for everyone!

    Who gains in this expansion happening? that is the question; or maybe who loses? The losses are too big!

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