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Save Picton Bay group wants council to support appeal of ruling on Picton Terminals

The Save Picton Bay citizens group attended council Tuesday seeking support for its bid to appeal a Superior court decision on zoning bylaws related to the Picton Terminals shipping port.

Last year, the group challenged the municipality’s old zoning bylaw to examine if the shipping port could continue operating under the County’s current bylaw. Hearing were held in Picton in February, and Belleville, in April.

Picton Terminals and the municipality stated the zoning is correct as legal, non-conforming use. In a decision last June, Justice Wolf Tausendfreund agreed, stating the general historic use of Picton Terminals has not changed from the 1950s to present.

“Initially it was iron ore, then salt, and now includes aggregates, farming and steel products, biomass, scrap steel and barrels. The common denominator remains bulk products,” he said in his decision.

At the same time, Picton Terminals, located at White Chapel Road, overlooking Picton Bay, had been ordered by the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change to work through several contraventions of the provincial Environmental Protection Act, related the discharge of contaminants including road salt and petroleum coke.
Picton Terminals’ is working through ministry requirements to construct two covered storage structures for bulk salt by 2020 to prevent salt stored from mixing with storm or ground water.

Save Picton Bay chair Brian Etherington and member Victor Lind, in deputations to council Tuesday, expressed concern the new council is not supporting its bid to appeal the case.

“We thought that the concerns of SPB’s constituents and our new council were coincidental,” Etherington said. “SPB was stunned to discover, after having asked (in February 2019), the new council to rescind the old council’s opposition to our appeal.

“Notwithstanding our concern that council’s opposition to our appeal would prejudice its chances of moving forward, on June 14, 2019 Madam Justice Benotto released her decision to allow the extension of time to appeal to move forward.”

Etherington noted the County’s solicitors reached out to suggest a three-way settlement negotiation between Picton Terminals, the County and Save Picton Bay, “which in the end consumed much time, but basically went nowhere.”

Etherington stated the group believes Justice Tausendfreund ignored several points in law and “we simply want to have a fair hearing in court and we think every citizen in the County deserves that.”

Lind addressed ongoing concerns with drinking water, environmental issues and more than 80 complaints from neighbours about mishandling of uncovered salt going into Picton Bay, noise and reduced property values.

He said the most recent MOECC directors letter of June 14, 2019 states “the Ministry’s concern is the continued and ongoing discharge of contaminants to the natural environment… While the court has already issued a decision allowing for the trans-shipment operations at the site to continue, I acknowledge that there remains a risk to those activities due to a potential decision that may be rendered by the Court of Appeal.”

“Many of you will recall this phrase from decades ago: ‘The Solution to Pollution is Dilution'”, said Lind, sharing comments from a Ministry of Environment, Conservation and Parks report last month explaining surface water samples collected in the bay are taken from a large water body and represent highly diluted lake water.

“It is absurd to think it would be an acceptable practice in Ontario to allow companies to discharge substances at toxic levels to the Great Lakes simply because they offer vast dilution capacity. If that were the case, the ministry would allow all municipal sewage plants and industrial facilities to discharge their effluents without proper treatment. Obviously, we do not.”

Council received the deputations and posed no questions.

Filed Under: Local News

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