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Watersport park needs temporary use bylaw while applying for permanent changes

A decision on the Edgewater Park Campground’s application for a temporary use bylaw to continue operating its watersport park, kids camp and food stand – while applying for permanent changes – is to be made at a June 30 planning meeting.

At Thursday’s Committee of the Whole meeting, council heard from residents of Sheba’s Island and Winns Drive seeking answers to complaints made last August about zoning, parking and litter at the nearby seasonal Edgewater Campground on West Lake.

The County’s long-standing complaint-driven process is also something councillor Jamie Forrester would like addressed.

Forrester remarked that over the last couple of years there has been an escalation of complaints about some businesses from residents, where others continue to operate as they like without public scrutiny.

“Now everybody cares about everything and it’s a big problem… ” he said, adding there will need to be discussion by council at budget time regarding more bylaw enforcement and follow-up. He agreed the County’s current policy of giving businesses “time to get their ducks in order” prior to laying charges, is a good one.

Winn’s Drive leads to a community on Sheba’s Island with approximately 110 homes and cottages.

“Apart from the County installing no parking signs (and the new $400 fine) along Winn’s Drive and part of Island Road, County of Prince Edward staff has not addressed any of the other concerns raised at the council meeting of Aug. 4th, 2020,” said Lawrie Ackerman in her deputation.

At that meeting, council had directed staff to file a report on the issues by year-end. Bylaw staff have since investigated, sought legal advice and also sent a letter in February to the operator/owner, making it clear they couldn’t operate without making changes – and that or there could be charges.

The park is seeking a temporary use bylaw for up to one year while the owners seek the appropriate zoning and site plan control approvals.

The report of the Development Services Department regarding a temporary use rezoning application for Edgewater Park was also on Thursday’s agenda.

Matt Coffey, Coordinator, Approvals at the County states that although the subdivision was legally created in 1996, the camp ground has remained in operation as a legal non-conforming use since that time. The operation of the water park, food stand and day camp are not currently permitted.

Several councillors at Thursday’s meeting did note concern the operation has been “creeping” up its intensity extensively over the past few years, far from its former use as mainly just a camping park.

Warren Cole, of the family-owned park, also addressed council about the challenges of maintaining a park all walks of life can enjoy, especially difficult recently due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the onslaught of visitors who arrived because they couldn’t get into the Sandbanks.

He noted some 3,000 local children have attended the summer camp along with kids from around the world, and that a few “little campers are now on our payroll”. With prime business only in two months of the year, Cole noted 2018 was the first year he didn’t have to drive transport trucks in off-season to help make ends meet.

Coffey report confirms “In this situation, the use of the site for a water park, food stand, and a day camp has expanded beyond what was intended and constitutes a difference that has the potential to create problems for the municipality, local authorities and neighbours.”

“Either relief from the zoning bylaw is required in order to continue with the expansion, or the intensified uses must cease,” he states. “While the trailer park may continue to operate under the status of legal non-conforming, the expansion of uses which include the waterpark, food stand and day camp are not protected.”

Two Sheba’s Island deputants, Ackerman and Don Mayne, stated residents are not happy about any temporary use and want answers on outstanding issues brought forward last year – among which include deeded access, parking areas, insurance, garbage disposal area, water testing, and the plan in place to rescue any stranded visitors who have rented their boats or other watercraft, as “many residents of Sheba’s Island have had to do this in the past.”

She states the residents are also concerned about removal of trees, some fencing and other vegetation in open space areas and a plan to provide adequate parking for their visitors.

They are asking that the application not be approved and the West Lake Willy Water Park be closed until necessary changes and approvals have been completed.

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