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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. Emily says:

    Things are way far from free sailing on this. Words are cheap, actions speak much louder. It has not been a good start at all so many eyes from the MOE and beyond will be ensuring no further pollution or risk to everyone’s fresh water is not compromised.

  2. Paul says:

    I’ve heard some talk in regards to Picton Terminals I hope someone can confirm these possible rumors. Picton Terminals has been given until Dec 2017 to comply with outstanding MOE orders also Picton Terminals is operating completely legal under the non-conforming clause of the Ontario Planning Act and is not required to rezone. Good luck to Picton Terminals I hope they succeed in being a environmentally responsible business and provide some much needed jobs for local folk as well as contributing the tax base here in The County..

  3. Mark R says:

    Wow are we ever lucky to be blessed with all the knowledge from the civil engineers, freighter captains, ecologists and scientists that use these comment sections.

  4. Mark says:

    Actually along shore currents move counter clockwise moving water out of the Bay. The several natural springs primarily off the yacht club and golf course and more prior to the cement plant run in reverse due to temperature and pressure moving them inland where they eventually collect to the along shore current. Nature’s way of naturally flushing the Bay otherwise we would have stagnant water.

  5. wevil says:

    Mark i find that a little difficult to believe Picton Terminals have not had enough big boats in yet to cause the heavy metals and sediment on the bottom Hockeyman is right as well the current flows out of the bay not into it

  6. hockeynan says:

    Mark,Port Picton is over a mile out from the pump house.The current flows to the north east.If it is that bad why not stop the Roman front coming in.Also I believe we have a filtration plant to protect our drinking water

  7. Mark says:

    No they do not. Not anyways in comparison.

  8. wevil says:

    Mark what about all the larger boats that come into the docks during the summer do they not disturb the sediment on the bottom

  9. Mark says:

    Any disturbance of the floor sediment in the Bay will put the entire water system particularly drinking water at a severe risk.

  10. wevil says:

    Emily it is clear you did not get the meaning of what i said i did not mention the coke that problem has been taken care of

  11. Emily says:

    Oh! Someone else left the black coke all over the neighbors property.

  12. wevil says:

    i agree Kevin we are not all painted with the same brush give Doornekamp a chance to clean up the mess some others left behind

  13. hockeynan says:

    A lot of them with signs up live down by the bay.I hope they don’t use salt on their driveway in the winter.Wouldn’t want salt in the bay from spring run off

  14. Paul says:

    It would be interesting to see on garbage day how full recycle bins and green bins are down Glenora way with all the environmentalists down that way..

  15. hockeynan says:

    Funny it took 30 plus years

  16. Fred says:

    I would think that they have become aware through water testing and or having their properties impacted by contamination. Knowledge is a wonderful thing.

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