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Quinte’s Isle Campark planning session unveils revised expansion plans

By Sharon Harrison
Quinte Isle Campark’s proposal for 337 summer cottages has been revised to reduce density and avoid environmental protection areas.

About 80 people attended two planning sessions Wednesday, hosted by the municipality to review details of an extensive planning application for the expansion of Quinte’s Isle Campark in Athol.

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

There was no formal meeting or presentation. However, the sessions provided opportunity for public review and to provide feedback on the proposed development, which includes a proposed re-zoning application and a proposed Official Plan Amendment.

Two of the three owners of Quinte’s Isle Campark, who operate under the name Fourward Holdings, were in attendance to answer questions and address concerns.

Display boards situated throughout the space provided a detailed outline of the revised expansion plans.

This public meeting follows a lively information discussion held in August 2018 at the Athol Town Hall which saw a number of passionate residents come out to hear about, and react to, Quinte’s Isle Campark’s initial proposal.

Quinte’s Isle Campark owners noted they received a lot of positive feedback from the meeting two years ago, then reviewed and revised the initial proposal.

“We have reduced the density, so spread it out over a larger property, and we have avoided the EP (Environmental Protection) areas that we are proposing, and we are avoiding species at risk,” said Tim Ward, co-owner of Quinte’s Isle Campark.

“We are proposing some mitigation areas, we have conducted a wave hazard analysis ensuring the water waves won’t come up over the shoreline and create any damage to any area of the property; these are all things we’ve got from the public meeting back in Cherry Valley.”

Revised details of the project show an unchanged number of proposed units at 337 which will be new park model cottages. They are intended to be a summer cottages, with the season running from May 1 to mid- to late-October, and shutting down in winter.

“It’s meant to be an affordable cottage for families that can come to Prince Edward County and enjoy summer cottages,” says Ward. The cottages are meant to be owned and are not based on a rental program.

“It will be a community-based development, so when a person buys a unit on the property, they are the ones allowed to use it. There is no rental program, there is no rental income. It is designed to be ownership based.”

Present in an informal capacity were PEC CAO Marcia Wallace, PEC mayor Steve Ferguson, Hillier councillor Ernie Margetson, Sophiasburgh councillor Bill Roberts, and North Marysburgh councillor Stewart Bailey.

Members of the Friends of South Shore, who are vehemently against the extension plans to Quinte’s Isle Campark, were also in attendance and were handing out information sheets outlining their concerns with the proposed development.

Nina-Marie Lister, a board member with Friends of South Shore, said what interests them in this project is the request to amend the Official Plan.

“This means it has to be in the public interest and show a reason why we should deviate from the County’s vision,” explains Lister. “The County’s own vision says that small-scale farming, rural farming and agriculture are important, along with the protection of the South Shore.”

Lister reminds that the South Shore is one of the last remaining wild, inland, coastal wetlands. As well, she notes it is one of the least developed areas of the County, something she says they believe is a huge draw for tourism.

“The trick is, of course, as we know from this summer, is that we want to bring people there in a very balanced way that is probably small-scale and probably passive recreation,” says Lister.

“Our organization is committed to ensuring that the County does not simply amend its Official Plan without broad-scale conversation and without dialogue that really asks if these projects are in the public interest.”

She notes the expansion of the trailer park is for an additional 337 units – in addition to the existing 867 units – adding, ‘trailers are not just old-fashioned things you pull behind your small car.”

Further, Lister says the site is on rural land and sits adjacent to not one, but two provincially-significant wetlands that enjoy provincial protection, “and on which private ownership is placed conservation easements or is in the process of protecting further.”

“To open up that South Shore means that the County would have to agree to make the South Shore a tourism corridor and that is not in our Official Plan, either the old one or the new one,” states Lister. “That’s a big change.”

She said the organization is concerned the development will grow to the size of Wellington.

“This community, when it is built out, will be the size of Wellington – with access to a very small hospital with only 11 beds, with incredible dense population on a site that this year, like no other, has shown us is unsafe.”

Quite’s Isle Campark is anticipating the public will have access to the shore with a planned parking area with 14 designated spaces and a turnaround.

Ward also notes the proposal will include an upgrade to Welbanks Road from a seasonal road, an upgrade that would be conducted by Quinte’s Isle Campark.

Ward noted that with the involvement of a consultant, a great deal of environmental work has been considered, including a couple of areas of the park that he said they will preserve.

“Right now, those areas are considered rural designation and part of our proposal is to identify them as EP [Environmental Protection], which will protect them in perpetuity versus agricultural, which is not protected,” explained Ward.

“By developing it, we are going to protect those areas and it’s going to be a fantastic area within the park where people will enjoy the scenery and some of the environmental features of the property.”

Addressing concerns about the close proximity of neighbouring wells, Ward noted the nearest neighbour to their shore well is two kilometres away. He also noted that as part of the development at Pebble Beach, they have readjusted where they take water from.

“We have two water sources with one coming from an aquifer on the north side of Salmon Point Road, and the other source is a shore well off Lake Ontario. That’s where we are taking all the water from the development, but we have also reduced our water take-in from the aquifer,” he said.

Quinte’s Isle Campark has a permit to take almost 300,000 litres per day, but Ward noted they have voluntarily reduced that to 150,000 litres per day.

“We have reduced that again through what we are drawing and we have converted the majority of our water to our shore well, so we are probably taking less water than we have taken in the last 20 years from the aquifer by being allowed to move some of the development down to the waterfront area,” stated Ward.

When Ward was asked if he had any concerns about emergency services being able to reach the large, remote site, he said they have been in discussion with PEC Fire and Rescue.

He explained they have a dry hydrant in the harbour which acts as an access point for emergency services who can hook-up a pumper truck to draw water from Lake Ontario. Ward also confirmed the emergency services can access this whether they are in the park or outside.

“We have actually added features that will help the whole area around not just our property,” Ward said. “Part of the development now with this proposal gives us a second exit or egress, so if there is a emergency in the park, now we have two access points to evacuate people if necessary.“

Addressing concerns surrounding increased traffic along County Roads 18 and 12, Ward noted that a traffic impact study had been undertaken. He said the study covered sight lines, turning volumes, etc. and concluded that Salmon Point Road has ample capacity for the increased traffic flow.

Lister says the Friends of South Shore argue it should be in the public’s broad interest and they are more concerned about how the Official Plan is amended for every development, instead of having a public conversation about what the broader vision is.

“We would really like to ask the County to say no to this project: to re-group, take a pause, let’s get our new Official Plan in place and be united by a vision.”

“We are at a very exciting part right now and we are looking very forward to hearing what the public has to say and coming before council and presenting our final proposal,” said Ward. “And hopefully moving to the point where we can help become a little bit of an economic build here and help people get back to work and help people have a brighter future in Prince Edward County by adding some more opportunities.”

While Ward said he didn’t have an idea of timelines at this stage of the process, it is anticipated the development will take five years to complete and if approved would not begin for at least a year.

The public can find all official planning documents for the Quinte’s Isle Campark expansion at https://haveyoursay.thecounty.ca/planning.

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  1. FOSS E.D. says:

    We commend those who have weighed in with their contributions and comments to this article. Your opinions are shared with the public, but to make it really count with the municipality you have to register your objections with council. It is easy to do. Just cut and paste your comments and email the municipality regarding this application to amend the Official Plan for the expansion of Quinte Isles’ Campark by FourWard Holdings at mwallace@pecounty.on.ca, council@pecounty.on.ca and mcoffey@pecount.on.ca This is how the public gets their opinions heard and on record with the County.

  2. Dennis Fox says:

    The expansion of Quinte Isle is certainly a development – 300+ trailers is not a small venture by any standard. Placing the tourism argument to one side for a brief moment, my real concern is for the long term welfare of the entire community. To me, this kind of development only encourages a transient population – and if they follow the same pattern as most, they will move away in a few years, only to have someone else buy their trailer – and cycle goes on…

    What future does this provide for the young people here and how do year round residents benefit? Having our fire, ambulance and hospitals stretched to the limit because no level of government funds a municipality based on the tourist population – in other words the full time taxpayers pay the full freight. This must be taken into consideration and I bet it doesn’t even get a thought. It is time for our council to lead.

  3. MissP says:

    There are so many passionate and well thought out comments posted here on this proposal. I encourage you all to write your councillor with your thoughts and concerns regarding this rezoning request. Our Councillors need to hear from us on this and many other proposals coming before them at this time.

  4. Teena says:

    Hmmm…more tourists. Let’s just pile on the lovely IRTH proposal being made for a non-tourism corridor in North Marysbugh, shall we? How does another 3-5,000 additional tourists annually strike you? I, for one, am fed up!

  5. County Proud says:

    Julian while I understand the point you are trying to make, Quinte’s Isle is in fact the developer of this ground should this go ahead (including I might add the widening of Welbanks Road, building a parking lot and work on the Provincially Significant wetland.

    Their current operation, while zoned for seasonal occupation has a significant number of full time county residents and has had for as long as I can remember. Those trailers often come up for sale in the real estate section of our local papers.

    Their existing campark is in fact a tourist destination and in the past they have compared themselves to several Disney parks. Have a look at Trip Advisor to see a range of comments from visitors.

    At the end of the day, the use of one word or the other does not matter. The important issue here is the appropriateness of the rezoning request from rural to shore land so this development (or something else) could go ahead. I stand by my earlier comments that this rezoning request should be denied now and in the future.

  6. Mike Rodgers says:

    Quinte Isles is catering to tourists, At one time a majority of their customers were local but Quinte increased the pricing so high that most locals can now not afford to spend time there.

  7. Marie Powell says:

    I don’t understand the comment that Quinte’s Isle Campark doesn’t cater to tourists. Their website advertises trailer rentals and camp site bookings, and their slogan is, “Yes! This is vacation land!” And yes, they are the developers in question, as the article clearly states that this is a development. Let’s not play semantics here. We are talking about destroying a precious and irreplaceable ecosystem to bring more people into an already-overcrowded area. I can’t believe this is even being considered.

  8. Julian says:

    Quintes Isles Campark is family-owned by county residents that have been creating a safe,responsibly managed and maintained community for over 40 years.

    They are NOT a “Developer” or do they cater to “tourists”.

    I’m confident the additional lots on this selfsufficient property will also continue to respect and contribute to the larger County area.

  9. Mike Rodgers says:

    OK lets do some numbers, 337 cottages with 3.5 users per cottage plus 500 person per cruise ship (Picton Terminals draft plan), that equals 1679 persons injected into a community that cannot handle what they are already getting. enough is enough. The little in tax revenue will not even come close to what the cost to us will be, Joe taxpayer. Now if you were talking taxation of $3000 per unit per year in property taxes then maybe the extra $1000000.00 in PEC coffers might make it attractive. But even the extra money will not justify the damage to wild life along with the Eco system. Did we not just go through this with wind mills?

  10. Cris Campbell says:

    I am in total agreement with those that are saying tourism has gotten so out of hand these past few years. The developers have found a gold mine here with obviously no regard for the locals that already are being forced out with rising house prices, and few places to rent.
    The so called advantages to having all these new developments and cottages is only destroying the beautiful natural waterfronts and beaches, and the wildlife it encourages. A town the size of Picton cannot sustain the proposed 4-5 developments of at least 300 to 400 cottages and houses. I do not go in to town now unless absolutely necessary. Sooooo congested!

  11. Ray says:

    Look at traffic now on County road 18. The Sandbanks PP direction is no go already and with new 374 cottages (total 1370ish?) the traffic to Cherry Valley side will be jammed sooner or later. Folks live along the road will be stuck at home. Ask ourselves, whose interesting will this new development serve? Will normal resident of PEC pay a cent less property tax?

  12. County Proud says:

    This proposal to rezone rural ground so it can be covered in concrete pads with trailer, underground sewage and water pipes etc for the sole enjoyment of seasonal visitors, is abhorrent!

    This land connects Point Petre to an existing Provincially Significant Wetland and is part of a known corridor for movement of wildlife to Salmon Point. Already recognized as a significant area for migratory and nesting birds, it has co-existed harmoniously with a rich variety of animals, birds, amphibians etc in this area while being successfully farmed for decades.

    To change the zoning on this land to permit this type of development, or any other form of development, is WRONG and totally at odds with the County’s own vision. The County has stated it wants to retain the rural character and charm we are known for and specially along the South Shore. They have expressed their desire to ensure access to Lake Ontario is available for the community. Any development on this land (trailer park, resorts, homes etc) effectively walls off the public from access to the Lake and removes dwindling parcels of rural land from production (once it’s gone, it’s gone). While the proposal includes a walkway to the Lake, access to the beach will likely not be allowed by the owners in front of the proposed trailers but rather be directed along a sensitive beach in front of the Provincially Significant Wetland. Which brings me to my next point.

    Any development here has a profoundly negative impact on the existing Provincially Significant Wetland through human interference, 365 days of light, smoke from fire pits, a sewage disposal area of almost 10 acres in size plus creating and encouraging interference by sending people into the Wetland area for beach parties, campfires and illegal camping.

    The existing trailer park already has more sites than Sandbanks Provincial Park on fewer acres. The human density of the combined existing trailer park and this proposal would see a potential population LARGER than the population of Wellington and half the size of Picton assuming only 2 people per site – and we know there are certainly more people in most of the sites – so possibly this could become the same population size as Picton. This area of the County cannot continue to sustain this pressure (roads, traffic, wells, loss of community and way of life for existing tax-paying residents – we live here for a reason)

    Council needs to decide what they want the County to be and all they need to do is look at their own document (draft or not) as it clearly articulates that this sort of proposal for rezoning is NOT in keeping with their vision.

    I am not resistant to change or stuck in the past, nor a tourist hater. I believe in gathering facts, researching when necessary and thoughtfully weighing the pros and cons. That’s what I have done, and I’ve reached the conclusion this rezoning request needs to be denied, now and in the future, certainly for this piece of land.

  13. Ray says:

    Just look at how crazy traffic is already. “concluded that Salmon Point Road has ample capacity for the increased traffic flow”? Salmon point road is a dead end road, It is the County road it connects to that has the issue.

  14. angela says:

    Those cottages are never going to provide summer getaways for most young county families. The families who can afford them are already living the dream. The last thing this county needs is more development with more tourists and summer residents. Developers don’t care. They are just chasing the dollar. The county is already overrun with tourists and cottagers. It is simply not big enough to accommodate all of the developments already underway or awaiting approval. Preservation of our wildlife and the natural beauty of our county should trump more cottages and sub-divisions essentially being built for outsiders.

  15. Sandra Gregg says:

    I think the property in question should provide more year round sites as their is a shortage but a great need for this.

  16. Dennis Fox says:

    I find the process lacking – the last meeting took place two years ago and the developer claims they reduced the density because if that meeting – unless I missed it, I didn’t see the final number, plus who remembers what was said? The developer is using all the right “buzzwords” – affordable, environmentally friendly, etc.. – more proof is needed than just words.

    I think the basic question that our community needs to ask is – just how will this development improve PEC? Stuck for a response? Yup, me too.

  17. Argyle says:

    Can you say urban density! Apparently the developer needs to cram every available space with a lot. With the traffic nightmare now occurring at the Provincial Park, let’s just duplicate it at Salmon Pt by adding a few thousand more users and cars. At least the city folk will feel right at home with the congestion, the natural environment and local residents/ taxpayers the losers again.

  18. Abbey says:

    Solve the problems we already have before adding more.We are against changing the zoning . Please look after our wildlife. There was a tree that held nesting herons at the end of welbanks road. not now. even snappers are fewer and smaller in size. Can the county afford upkeep 0f our roads ? Will so much traffic devalue our properties? Is our present situation so bad we need to change. We accept tourism, but with careful planning behind it. Thank you for this opportunity

    craig and paula platt 1306 county rd 18 cherry valley

  19. Dave Thomas says:

    @Ben, Are you saying that the existing campground should be shut down, to keep the South Shore “natural”? It hasn’t been “natural” for years. As a frequent user of Pt. Petre and Soup Harbour, I would love for the South Shore to be completely natural but let’s not kid ourselves: this is not unspoiled wilderness.

    I am impressed by how little impact the Sandbanks Summer Village has had on the area. Reflect back on the opposition concerns prior to that approval. I’ve not personally seen the impacts the fear mongers warned about. I suspect the same will be true of this proposed development. Rather than always reacting to any new developments with “NO!”, why not work towards providing input to guide a development that can be sensitive to its surroundings? “To a hammer, everything looks like a nail”. That’s what the anti-development crowd seem like to me.

    Last comment. Calling these modest cottages trophy homes is completely off the mark. They will provide affordable seasonal accommodations to young families and others who wouldn’t otherwise be able to afford a vacation home. If you want trophies, head up to Muskoka.

  20. Mike Rodgers says:

    Ben
    You have hit the nail on the head. Enough is enough.

  21. JB says:

    Allowing a developer to overturn zoning and pave over a key ecosystem in the County is just wrong. Council should have the conviction to uphold its own zoning rules and, as such, stop this proposal. Lots of other land in the County that is zoned residential and able to be developed instead but the South Shore must be protected.

  22. Marie Powell says:

    We very clearly have an OVERTOURISM problem in the County. What was special about this place is being destroyed, year after year, at a rapid pace. Why, especially after what we’ve seen this summer, are we continuing to pile more people into this area? This is insanity!! Development on the South Shore, developments in Picton and Wellington, Great Lakes cruise ships coming to Picton Bay…..let’s destroy the whole place so a handful of people can fill their pockets. You will never get back what you had….the beautiful, natural spaces, the wildlife, the joy of living in a rural community. Wake up and stop this! Read the petition on change.org. Over 6600 people have signed to limit tourism in the County. Do our voices matter at all?

  23. Ben says:

    The South Shore must not be developed for seasonal trophy housing that will only be used 1/3 of the year. There is precious little natural space relative to the number of tourists the come to the County. Tourists have effectively evicted wildlife from the Sandbanks, keep the South Shore natural!

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