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Picton Terminals pulling zoning application, solving stormwater issues, cleaning up

UPDATE: The following is an email from Ben Doornekamp sent to the County Council, shared, with permission, by councillor Lenny Epstein to the Save Picton Bay Facebook page today. (Name changed to XXXX to protect privacy).

Our Family wanted your team to be the second to know – on Tuesday Dec 6, 2016 we will be pulling our zoning application. Your planning team has already been notified.
There is only one small area (approx. 0.25 acres) of our property that is considered a non-legal, non-conforming area. A corner of a salt pile (approx. 2000 tonnes) is sitting in an RU1 zoned area and will be removed by Christmas. The rock pile (unusable quality rock) that is along the Taylor property (bought in 2013) has been in place since 1981 and serves as a perfect berm. The rock we added to the west end of the pile is outside the 30 m set back from their property. We are not going to argue if the rock pile is a berm or not, it will be removed by early spring 2017 (removal commenced already).
We have received numerous legal opinions and professional planning opinions and between the current zoning and the pre 2006 zoning, we can operate our business as legal non-conforming forever. Our goal is to clean up all the pre Picton Terminals environmental issues with MOE dating back to 1991. We have been working very closely with MOE for the past 2 years and our goal is to solve all the stormwater management issues within the next year. Once the stormwater plans are complete, we may consider re-submitting our zoning application in an effort to cleanup the zoning on our property.
If you would like to communicate with our zoning team, please let me know. It will be at Picton Terminals expense and we can setup a Q&A in person or via email.
On the infrastructure funding front, we are also pulling our application. In our business plan, we mentioned, the more kilometers we take off Ontario roads and put on vessels, the more successful we will be. To date, we have removed millions of kilometers off Ontario’s highway. Our plan is to self-fund the cranes and the next phases of infrastructure construction. We greatly appreciate the County’s support to this point and hope it continues.

Doornekamp Family
P.S. XXXXXXX rock pile: We met with them last spring and explained our plan. We propose removing the rock pile in an unknown time frame (max 5yrs., now moving within 1 yr.) and replacing it with vegetated berms. We did renderings showing different berm and tree options and agreed on a finished product.

* * *

Environmental lawyer Eric Gillespie addresses the meeting at the Picton Town Hall.

Environmental lawyer Eric Gillespie addresses the meeting at the Picton Town Hall.

Save Picton Bay meeting focus on pollution and Picton Terminals

NOV. 26 – More than 120 people came to hear what the newly-formed citizens group ‘Save Picton Bay’ had to say about pollution and Picton Terminals, a deep marine dockage on White Chapel Road, that earlier this month was issued more than a dozen work orders by the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change related to contamination of water, air and land.

The orders followed complaints by neighbours and other members of the new group and seek compliance related to storage piles of salt and stormwater runoff, dust and spills from petroleum coke, (‘petcoke’) plans and measures to prevent discharge and removal of contaminants.

The deep marine dockage for shipping and receiving bulk cargo is located at 62 White Chapel Road. It was purchased by the Doornekamp family in 2014 following decades of non-use and is working to expand to load and unload 100 ships per year. It’s cargo usually includes road salt, aggregates, farming products, steel, biomass and wine barrels.

“Our mission statement does not say to close down Picton Terminals,” said Bob Bird, director of the group, noting the statement’s approval of a safe and responsible port to ship PEC agriculture products and aggregates. “We want to ensure good stewardship of Picton Bay and will strongly advocate for Picton Bay water quality through the elimination and prevention of negative environmental impacts.”

Still, the first thunderous applause of the Saturday afternoon’s meeting in the Picton Town Hall followed environmental lawyer Eric Gillespie’s comment that since “the County now is turbine-free, it should also be terminal-free, because it’s just not the right place.”

Gillespie, who is known for his work in the County over the past decade with opponents to industrial wind turbines, said there’s some parallels with the two issues but noted there is opportunity to do more due diligence now – before anything gets approved and before anything goes any further. He has been retained by the Save Picton Bay group.

“When this idea of taking the Picton Terminals site and expanding it first came up, it looked like a good idea to a lot of people. And we’re all aware that there was some municipal support, and looking into provincial support,” he said. “If you go back into the history in the wind situation, turbines looked great to a lot of people too. Green is good and people really embraced turbines initially as well. Problem was, people may have got a little ahead of themselves on the turbine issue and certainly the provincial government entered into a lot of agreements and contracts and made a lot of promises to people before they did their due diligence and homework and we now know how that story turned out.”

He stated that at the heart of the concern is the facility is being used for increased amounts of road salt.

“We all need road salt when it snows in Canada. Nothing wrong with that, except for the fact that a few years ago now, the federal and provincial governments picked up on the fact that road salt actually creates problems. As a result, the federal government a few years ago now, put it on the list for consideration for the ‘priorities substances list’ – that’s the stuff that the government is concerned about getting into the natural environment because it causes harm. On that same list is lead, and mercury and PCBs. Anybody who is in road salt should know that, and frankly, shouldn’t need to be told by anybody, there’s some basic best management practices of how to handle that type of substance.”

The orders from the provincial ministry, he said is “a huge red flag about where things are at, from a lawyer’s perspective and from a community’s perspective.

“You can do what you want on your own land, pretty much, but when it starts affecting the people of your community and community resources like drinking water, that’s going to be an issue. Not a lot seemed to be happening without a lot of people jumping up and down and even then, it hasn’t all quite worked itself out yet.”

Dave McKay and Anne Taylor, both nearby residents, told of their experiences.

“If you really want to know what’s happening, don’t listen to what people say, watch what they do,” said McKay, who wrote his first letter on the subject about two years ago.

He explained a neighbour to the property expressed concern about the salt in his pond, so they engaged the help of a university environmental student to complete an experiment that determined a high level of salt in the water, along with cyanide, included as a non-caking agent.

“I’ve lived there for 30 years. There’s been three piles of salt a year there, every year. Covered, contained, and no problems,” said MacKay. “Go by there now, there are five piles of salt. Hundreds of thousands of tons of salt sitting up there and much of the time, uncovered. Yes they covered it, due to complaints. The minute you say they are polluting the bay, what do they do? Two weeks ago they brought in another 35,000 tons of salt. It’s not what they say, it’s what they do. That’s the key. When I wrote that letter two years ago, I never realized what a problem we had but the problem is significant and it’s growing. If they follow through with plans to bring in garbage from all over Ontario, that problem will be exacerbated.”

Anne Taylor unfolded the story of her century summer home next door on White Chapel Road being covered with a mystery fine black soot they later learned was “petcoke”; the ever increasing rock pile getting closer to the edge of their property, and the clear-cutting of trees between the two properties.

“Really, what we are concerned about along the journey and wonder, is what is next?,” she said. Following a call to the MOECC hotline, the house was investigated and Picton Terminals, apologized and cleaned the petcoke soot from inside and out. Taylor noted lingering dismay about what it might have done to her family and pets, and notes some petcoke remains in various areas of the house.

She said there was no communication with the County to a letter sent in August requesting enforcement of a 30 metre setback bylaw, but they did receive a response this month to a second letter sent in October. She said it stated that since the owner was attempting to comply with a zoning bylaw amendment, no enforcement would be taken.

Picton Terminals is in the process of re-zoning from quarry to shipyard.

Gillespie said that when it goes to the municipality for a vote, he expects the councillors will have done their due diligence.

So far, he said the experts are saying “this type of operation does not appear to be compatible for drinking water and it’s not the stuff you want to be breathing in, either. This is also a land use planning decision. Anybody who has driven on Highway 49 knows it’s not built for the kind of truck traffic that a major port is going to require and there hasn’t been rail service to Picton for a long, long time.

“What is coming to light is concerns that are not only legal, but on the scientific side of things so one of the initiatives that we’re engaged in as common practice in the kind of work we do is to start retaining expert witnesses. Experts have been a huge part in how the turbine story has played out in the County and once the Environmental Review Tribunal started hearing from expert witnesses, they agreed there were problems. That’s why there are no turbines in Ostrander Point, and so far, at the White Pines location either.”

Kirsteen Etherington and Veronica Cluett with the new Save Picton Bay campaign t-shirts.

Kirsteen Etherington and Veronica Cluett with the new Save Picton Bay campaign t-shirts.

Brian Etherington spoke of the fundraising challenges the process could bring.

“The price of anything is the amount of life you exchange for it,” he said, quoting David Thoreau. “It seems to me we’re being asked to pay a significant price.”

“Our mandate is not to put anybody out of business, or take anybody’s right to earn a living. But sometimes the price of democracy is significant.”

Funds raised would go toward communications, legal, printing, t-shirts, hats, research studies and advertising. If a trip to the Ontario Municipal Board is required, he said it could cost $50,000 to $100,000.

He stated they have had meetings with councillors and the mayor and hope for more to get the re-zoning addressed and the bylaws enforced, but want to respect the democratic process. Concerns have also been taken to MP Neil Ellis and MPP Todd Smith.

“From time to time if we have mis-spoke, or have represented something that isn’t correct, we want to be corrected. We asked for a direct link to the mayor, who has been the receipient of some hurtful commentary, motivated by the Save the Picton Bay group. We don’t want that to happen.”

Hank Doornekamp was in the audience with two sons. They declined to address the crowd but Hank did, for a few moments, holding the Save Picton Bay t-shirt he had purchased.

“I will tell you we are very conscious of the environment. I sat here and listened to a lot of things that weren’t true, but I’m not here for rebuttal. I do believe in compromise. We will listen. We have spoken and have had conversations. It’s escalated beyond that and I regret that. And when I hear that you will now spend x-millions of dollars for an OMB and all, sorry, Mr. Gillespie, but the wrong time is when you hire a lawyer. Let’s not spend money on lawyers. I’m willing to talk to anybody. I’m willing to talk to reasonable people though. There have been some people who have been very unreasonable and again, I’m not going to rebut what they say today. I’m not here to do that.”

He noted the family organization employs about 80 people.

“We have people who have worked for us for over 35 years. I wish you’d speak to them to see how bad we are. Regardless of what you hear, or say, listen to me closely. We are not here to make a dollar at the compromise of the environment. I don’t need to work anymore. I’m not being cocky. I’m here only because I am passionate about working. I’m as passionate as you are to talk about this today, as I am about working with my two sons on the business. We will work with you, but I’ll only work with reasonable people.”

Victor Lind gave a summary of the meeting and directed questions.

“We’re not a bunch of angry white guys who live on Glenora Road,” said Lind. “Even if the Doornekamps left tomorrow, we still have a problem with pollution in the bay,” he said, noting the long-standing designation of the Bay of Quine as a area of concern – one of 10 in Canada; the former dump at Delhi leaching into Picton Bay, runoff from the sewage treatment plant, salt and chemicals in the drinking water and locations of the intake pipes.

“There are overlapping jurisdictions and it’s very complex. The MNR’s jurisdiction is fish, the department of fisheries and oceans looks after fish habitat while the MNR is about pits and quarries and some fish related issues. The municipality deals with land and Picton Terminals has a certificate from Transport Canada.

“The problem is bigger than Picton Terminals but it happens to be the lightning rod,” he said.

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  1. hockeynan says:

    Why didn’t you concerned citizens stop Foley years ago instead of waiting for Doornakamps to spend a fortune in it and then try to stop it.In other words NIMBY

  2. Fred says:

    Shouldn’t misrepresent what concerned citizens are trying to achieve here. Protection of a natural resource “Picton Bay” and assurance that no further contamination of our waters or neighbouring properties will occur.

  3. kevin says:

    There was fly in the ointment long before the Doornekamps’ showed up. Is it necessary to create a villain without first considering it’s predeceasor? I commend the cooperation displayed. Quick and decisive.
    I support the Doornekamps’ AND the remedial clean up plans. These groups need a leader who is going to look at the whole picture before painting villains against vigilantes.
    Kudos Doornekamp. Thanks for not packing up and leaving. Not all County folk are tarred with the same brush.

  4. Paul says:

    Picton Terminals is operating legally. The MOE must allow Picton Terminals time to comply with (infractions)or orders . Good luck with that zoning challenge Chuck..

  5. hockeynan says:

    Paul,it seems these other guys can’t understand plain English

  6. Chuck says:

    That is not accurate information. A challenge can soon change that particularly with the long list of infractions.

  7. Paul says:

    As long as they comply with Ministry orders there’s no need for rezoning with non-conforming rights as described in The Ontario Planning Act,

  8. Gary Mooney says:

    In his letter to Council referencing withdrawal of the rezoning application, Mr. Doornekamp’s states his belief that by making some modest alterations to what is stored on the site “we can operate our business as legal non-conforming forever.”

    It is possible that his contention of “legal, non-conforming” will be challenged.

  9. Susan says:

    I suspect that the MOE will be a big factor in that decision.

  10. hockeynan says:

    Susan,I wouldn’t hold my breath waiting for them to shut down

  11. Susan says:

    It is great news. I think they realized a rezoning wouldn’t fly and with all the MOE orders outstanding that no infrastructure $$ would come forth. Getting the house in order or shutting down.

  12. hockeynan says:

    Great news. Glad to hear

  13. wevil says:

    it is sad to see that only a few speak for so many in this county maybe if you don’t like what goes on or think goes on you should move away if i hated everything like some people do i would move

  14. Fred Flinstone says:

    Barney and I have great difficulty understanding why anyone would ignore or dispute the ultimate importance of a clean non-contaminated water supply.

  15. Emily says:

    Start that PT support group Paul. Please let us know how that works out for you.

  16. Mark says:

    I support the health & safety of residents and our water systems. That should be a given.

  17. hockeynan says:

    I support Paul

  18. Chuck says:

    How does environmentally friendly endeavors result in a dozen MOE infractions prior to a rezoning that would permit more toxic substances? Window dressing does not alter facts.

  19. Paul says:

    Maybe we should form a group to support Picton Terminals in their environmentally friendly endeavors..

  20. hockeynan says:

    Paul A. —- very well said

  21. Paul says:

    As is usual another poster has construed my comments to suit his purposes. My reference to Walkerton was to point out how Safe water regulations have been tightened since those incidents in Walkerton.

    As well ” For anyone to believe that government and business don’t cut deals in order to benefit them both, and often at the public’s expense,”
    Conspiracy:1. the act of conspiring. evil, unlawful, treacherous, or surreptitious plan formulated in secret by two or more persons; plot.
    3.a combination of persons for a secret, unlawful, or evil purpose:He joined the conspiracy to overthrow the government.
    4.Law. an agreement by two or more persons to commit a crime, fraud, or other wrongful act.
    5.any concurrence in action; combination in bringing about a given result.

    Theory: 1.a proposed explanation whose status is still conjectural and subject to experimentation, in contrast to well-established propositions that are regarded as reporting matters of actual fact.

  22. Paul A. says:

    I hesitated to get involved, but might point out that:
    – the history of our harbour as a shipping port goes back some 200 years (including the rail link, now our “millenium trail”, and Bethlehem Steel.) Are we prepared to trash our heritage?
    – perhaps some additional tarps could prevent some (a few kilos?) salt run-off. However, all — thousands of tons — of this salt is spread on our winter roads and eventually ends up in Lake Ontario. Are road accidents not important?
    – ship transport produces at least fifteen times less CO2 (tons per mile) than road transport. We (or at least the “green” people) should probably be inspired?

  23. hockeynan says:

    Chuvk,I have been to many wind turbine meetingsand there aren’t many 5th generation people there aposing wind turbines. Also in the area I live in the people with your green signs sure are not 5th generation either.

  24. Chuck says:

    Hey Hockeynan, drive a little further. Hundreds of long time County residents with signs telling you a white pine is not an Industrial Wind Turbine! I guess our 5th generation folks in the County are nimbies.

  25. hockeynan says:

    Wl Fed all the signs I saw are on lawns of newcomers.If it is windturbines,solar projects,port picton the same group are complaining.

  26. Fred Flinstone says:

    Haha. Moving here from elsewhere doesn’t make one a Nimby. As well you do not have to have moved here from elsewhere to have real concerns for the health & well being of our environment. I think a lot of people want to know that further pollution to property and community waters will not occur. That leaves the disturbing of contaminated sediment as a real issue to figure out.

  27. hockeynan says:

    I went for a drive today from Picton to Cressy.I counted 16 save the harbour signs.Most of these signs are on properties of people who have moved here from the city.I would be surprised if any are on a proprty owned by someone who has lived here all there life.So don’t tell me your not nimby,s.It seems this group of people are against everything in this county.I am against pollution but don’t try to shut down this man,s bussiness. I am sure a lot of you were bussiness owners and wouldn’t have liked people interfering in your bussiness

  28. Susan says:

    Good businesses looking for grants and applying for a rezoning do not typically get hit with a dozen environmental infractions prior to being approved. This is not a case of not wanting new business, it is a case of citizens taking up due diligence which should have been undertaken by our Municipal Government.

  29. Gary says:

    One should not have to hope a business complies with environmental regulation. We should be confident that they do. As for fighting off business here, that is not the case. Appropriate business, appropriate locations and ones that do not threaten our health & safety or the surrounding environment. That’s just good common sense.

  30. Dennis Fox says:

    One of the comments referred to Walkerton. Remember that our “government” under Mike Harris created the system that allowed Walkerton to happen – by eliminating established environmental safeguards and by getting rid of the people who upheld them. Harris felt that by retraining Zamboni drivers to be waterworks attendants to save money, would work. DUH! This is no conspiracy theory – it is fact. Our government of the day, werr directly responsible for the Walkerton tragedy.

    For anyone to believe that government and business don’t cut deals in order to benefit them both, and often at the public’s expense, is being simply naive. If any business refuses to come to the County (as was stated by another comment) because they believe they should be able to harm the environment and people, without a word being said – then great, who wants that kind of business anywhere?

  31. Paul says:

    I hope Picton Terminals can comply with Ministry orders and maintain a environmentally conscience operation. All conspiracy theories aside with all three levels of government involved if any laws were being blatantly contravened surely Picton Terminals would have been shut down especially if there was an imminent danger to the health and welfare of local residents (Walkerton).

    I agree with Hockeynan industrial operations and businesses think twice when considering opening up shop here in The County because of the fight they will certainly face…

  32. Dennis Fox says:

    With the science that is out there and with what the public know about pollution – I am surprised that there is any debate at all about the safety (or lack of) of this operation. The fact that the water supply for thousands of people is in this same approximate location – and in only 8 feet of water should sound the warning bell. What compounds this situation is the FACT that the operation is in violation of the by-laws AND in contravention of the MOECC regulations. Residents should not have to demand that their government impose standards to protect their drinking water and their health – that is why we elected them – that is their job. Those protections are already there. The questions that need to be asked are – why isn’t any level of government doing their job? And why do residents have to pay more out of their own pockets for lawyers to get government to enforce laws that already exist? At times like this the voters need a recall system – the system is not working for the benefit of anyone, except for those with big bucks.

  33. Tired says:

    “I will tell you we are very conscious of the environment. I sat here and listened to a lot of things that weren’t true, but I’m not here for rebuttal. I do believe in compromise. We will listen.
    These are the words of Ben Doornekamp. What is needed is for them to explain is if they are conscious of the environment then why are there environmental orders for them to straighten up
    What is needed is for them to explain what is not true, they did not pollute?
    What is needed is for them to explain there belief in compromise
    maybe I will pay a couple of T shirts tell how I am an excellent employer and employee people but by the way rules are only for you people I can do what I want and have already proved it by running a business here with out proper zoning and no one stopped me.I ignored MOEE.
    Responsible corporate neighbours are what everyone wants at the end of the day not people who push their way to what they want with no consideration for their surroundings.The Doornekamp clan as much as they like to say they are, they are not this type of good corporate neighbour, they have in a short time proved this.

  34. Dave S says:

    Hockeyman: 2 jobs. That’s all. Just 2 jobs. Foley covered the salt soon after it arrived. These guys wait months before covering it. They will do better now. The Order gives them 3 weeks. Their plan to import municipal waste is a worry given their track record.

  35. hockeynan says:

    Nobody complained when Foley had the salt storage since the early 90,s.Now someone wants to do something with it you start complaining.Maybe the ships didn,the stir up the water LOL.As far as I am concernd you people are a joke.I don’t know how the zoning got changed because a company in the early 90,s wanted to crush the rock that is piled there and they got turned down because it wasn’t a guarry.

  36. Chuck says:

    Between 1962 and 1970 the Dryden Paper Mill dumped 10 tonnes of mercury into the English-Wabigoon River. The result has been devastating with the local residents suffering from mercury poisoning as their river which supplied food and drinking water was left as a chemical dump. We need people to speak out and speak loudly when they are concerned about the negative impacts on our water systems. When turtles and fish die or are poisoned in the water chain and people are severely poisoned by the drinking water,we have an issue. We must learn from past mistakes and never put money or jobs ahead of our environmental well being.

  37. Marnie says:

    Certain things should NOT be happening in our county Hockeynan. Industry at any cost is foolhardy. It needs to be the right industry. Thank goodness for the people who stand up for turtles and clean air and water. They have their priorities straight.

  38. hockeynan says:

    No wonder there are no jobs in the county because every time someone wants to do something the same group of people stick there noses in and try to stop it.It is either saving the turtles,saving the water.Just admit it that you don’t want anything happening in the county

  39. Gary says:

    The County Gov’t is now in a tenuous position. They have allowed PT to operate outside of proper zoning and now are fully aware of the issues,neighbouring polluting as well as the Bay. There will be huge liability on the County if rezoning is approved given that they are already aware of the infractions and potential risks.

  40. Emily says:

    The mercury bottom sediment being disturbed is most concerning. Life threatening. It would place the Municipal water supply in peril.

  41. Dave S says:

    Yes, hockeyman, we know that road salt washes via the storm sewer system into the bay. However, it’s a matter of degree. Last winter PT had over 100,000 tons of salt uncovered on site. That’s all the salt used by all the roads in this area of Ontario. A lot washed into our small bay. A lot more from PT than from all the streets of Picton. The Ministry of Environment and Climate Change has ordered PT to change its practices because, by their assessment, PT is polluting the bay whether you think they are or not. PT has also be cited my MOECC for poor management of petroleum coke and other dust sources on the site. You’ve also missed the fact that Picton may relocate its water intake closer to PT where it may be vulnerable to mercury-containing bottom sediment prop wash.

  42. wevil says:

    Dennis we should be more concerned about what is going on now many of the things that went on in the past are still going on today

  43. wevil says:

    good idea hockeyman

  44. hockeynan says:

    Maybe we should get everyone’s septic tank dye tested for leakage for those on septic near Picton harbour

  45. Chuck says:

    Terrible things were done in the past to our waters. Dumping in Picton Harbour of everything under the sun. I guess we blame it on ignorance, but we are not ignorant now and very much aware of the need to sustain a quality water system. It’s not just here but many places. Belleville had a huge dump (now Zwick’s Park) right on the Bay by the bridge. Back then everything was dumped no matter how dangerous. It is still leaching into the Bay and will for thousands of years unless dug up and removed. That would be a mammoth task. We have a chance to get it right moving forward. No more contaminating everyone’s waters.

  46. Dennis Fox says:

    I’m with you Chuck! Now as for “wevil and the hockeyman” – they sound like characters from a Travelling Wilburys song – have you ever heard such two grumpy old men that go on the way they do? Everything is blamed on the “newbies” – too bad those two didn’t take more interest in keeping the County and the people healthy. Just because unhealthy things took place before, doesn’t mean we have to live with them forever. It is called learning from past mistakes. Hear that :wevil and the hockeyman?” One and a two and a three…..

  47. Chuck says:

    Pure water is necessary for every form of life. It is a must. I am pleased this group are doing their best to ensure that the harbour is not further contaminated.

  48. hockeynan says:

    Right Wevil.They should be more concerned about what comes into our harbour from the town.Another point is 49 was built as a highway and was built for truck traffic.If it wasn’t downloaded by the concervatives it would probably be in better shape now.Pretty soon these nimbys will try to stop farmers from working there land as it is too dusty.They want it there way or no way and I am getting sick of it.

  49. wevil says:

    you are so right hockeyman many of the complainers do not think about how much of the salt goes into the bay from salting the streets of Picton they do not care about that as long as they can get around the streets in their cars or walk on salt covered sidewalks

  50. hockeynan says:

    Where do you people think the road salt on the Picton streets ends up.Right down the storm sewer and into the bay along with the sand it is mixed with. I am sure a lot more than Picton terminal might put there.Don’t lay all the blame on Mr Doornekamp

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