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Sandbanks “undervalued”; County asks MNR to help out

Mayor Robert Quaiff

Mayor Robert Quaiff

Mayor Robert Quaiff is concerned the Sandbanks Provincial Park is “undervalued” and that affects cash-in-lieu tax payments from the province.

Quaiff and County representatives met with the Bill Mauro, Minister of Natural Resources and Forestry (MNR), while attending a combined meetings of the Goods Roads Association and Rural Ontario Municipal Association.

“The unusually low assessment values of MNR properties and increased wear and tear on municipal roads from the 600,000-plus annual visitors travelling to Sandbanks Provincial Park are setting the municipality on an unsustainable path,” said Quaiff.

The County, MNR and Municipal Property Assessment Corporation (MPAC) are involved in Assessment Review Board mediation for the Sandbanks Park and three smaller provincial parks in the County. Sandbanks is currently assessed at $36,496,000. The municipal estimate is $72,754,000.

Ideas to generate revenue included a “Gateway Plaza” on County Road 33 at Carrying Place that would be a tourist hub featuring municipal, provincial, retail and private services. (See photo below). The old Lakeshore Lodge site is also considered a suitable location for a resort development project.

Another idea discussed was a $2 vehicle surcharge fees to directly pay for road work.

“With more than 600,000 vehicles coming to and from the Sandbanks each year, the roads see heavy usage and tremendous wear and tear,” said Quaiff. “A road needs study completed in 2014 shows County Roads 11 and 12 (East Lake and West Lake roads leading to the park) require $4 million in rehabilitation over the next five years and an additional $6.3 million in five to 10 years.”

Quaiff says the municipality doesn’t have the means or tax base to fund the work.

“While the province continues to receive a net profit of nearly $2 million per year from the Sandbanks Provincial Park alone, the municipality is solely footing the bill to maintain roads essential to the park’s accessibility. The MNR is not paying its fair share… and the planned expansion of the park will only compound the situation.”

It is proposed that 75 new recreational vehicle campsites be added to the park.

The County also requested the acquisition of Wellington Beach and Glendon Green Boat Launch, and to work with the MNR on widening the part of County Road 12 that runs through the park.

The one kilometre Wellington Beach is crown waterfront managed and maintained by the municipality under an agreement with the MNR for the past 25 years. The agreement expired at the end of 2014 and has not been renewed.

“Over the years the municipality and local service clubs have invested heavily in the beach with the installation of a boardwalk, boat launch, docks, washrooms and ongoing maintenance,” said Quaiff. “The County wishes to acquire the property from the MNR for an administrative fee to maintain public access to Wellington harbour, Lake Ontario and the boat ”

The Glendon Green Boat Launch in Athol was believed to have been transferred to the municipality, but it is still technically owned by the MNR.

In a final ask, the County requested the province to cancel the MNR land leases within the municipality where wind turbine development is under way or proposed.

“The County is one of 90 municipalities in Ontario that passed a resolution indicating that they are ‘not willing host communities’ for industrial wind turbines,” Quaiff said. “This declaration directly opposed the MNR entering into a lease for nine wind turbines (Gilead) on provincially protected lands in Prince Edward County.

“In addition to not being a willing host to industrial wind turbines, the apparent industrialization by the province of a provincially protected wildlife area is not supported by the municipality and we believe is contrary to MNR’s mandate.”


Filed Under: Local News


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