The boiling point of the Picton Harbour could be measured in council chambers this past Tuesday when the issue of subleasing the Picton Marina to Tenacity Capital was brought before the horseshoe. Tensions rose by way of a Report from the Community Services, Programs and Initiatives Department wherein staff recommended council approve a draft sublease.
Ultimately, the sublease was approved in a recorded vote of nine to five.
The draft sublease was written to include considerations put forth by council at the September 4th Committee of the Whole Meeting and was revised to include: landlord responsibilities, tenant responsibilities, a map of capital assets, servicing the travelling public and meaningful public access. Further considerations were also addressed pertaining to docks and slips, for example the tenant’s responsibility for obtaining the required permits or authorizations in compliance with Quinte Conservation Authority (QCA), the Ministry of Natural Resources, Forestry and Municipal Bylaws.
In a lengthy and detailed report, municipal staff also provided legal descriptions of the Picton Marina, along with Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry water lots included in the sublease.
Included in the revisions was a “head lease map” of designated Plan and Field Notes allocation of Picton Beach Management Agreement indicating Part 1 and Part 2 water lots as the only water lots included in the sublease.
Any reference to the Wellington Marina was removed from the sublease. However, apart from recommending that council approve the draft sublease in question, staff also recommended, should the Wellington Marina be available to sublease to a third party, council allow staff to enter into conversation about this with Tenacity Capital.
Staff has also recommended a $1 per year rent for the first five years of the sublease and the first year of a sublease renewal.
Potential risks identified include complaints by users and residents. To mitigate this issue, the staff report states service levels will be monitored and that complaints will be addressed.
“Dealing with complaints is outlined in the lease as an important factor in the P3 relationship (public, private partnership) and in terms of possible sub-lease renewal,” the report reads.
The report also details risks to equipment and capital assets, such as property.
“The sub-lease allows for annual inspection of all equipment and capital assets and 24-hour notice for municipal staff to visit the site. The sublease also outlines training and third-party inspections on specific assets at the Picton Marina.” staff wrote.
For the purpose of the supplemental report, staff consulted with CJ Thompson, CEO and Founder of Tenacity Capital, Jeremiah McKenzie of Tenacity Capital and Elizabeth Lowe, Planning and Regulations Technician at QCA.
Council also received a deputation from Thompson.
Highlights from Thompson’s deputation include his company’s objective to create what he referred to as rural opportunity and revitalization.
“100 per cent of what we do is in rural. We have successful partnerships with the federal government and Canadian universities, such as a university in Toronto that has the number one incubator in the world,” said Thompson. “This is a pipeline where we can facilitate connections about inter-rural Canada and again, Prince Edward County.”
Thompson also stressed the importance of communication and expressed that this is something he hopes to “carry forward” into his relationship with the municipality.
“Communication is key in all of our partnerships and that’s something we will carry forth, hopefully, in our partnership with Prince Edward County, focusing on the municipality, key staff and focusing on the community and what’s best for the community needs,” he noted.
Thompson declared the community needs the marina revitalization to move forward, with the municipality having been-and continuing to be-operating the marina with a deficit.
“Tenacity is essentially removing this annual deficit that occurs through attempting to operate this property and, in turn, not only are we alleviating that financial pain, we are also moving forward and creating a vibrant community while capitalizing the entire project That shouldn’t go unnoticed simply for the fact that the community needs it,” Thompson expressed.
Thompson detailed the varied ways in which Tenacity displays good stewardship, from their stewardship of investor capital to their property at 35 Bridge Street. He highlighted their responsibility as stewards of the land, and how a close relationship with QCA would guide their revitalization work.
“What we do is essentially going to be guided and governed by Quinte Conservation Authority,” said Thompson. “We will utilize that to make this a vibrant place for the entire community and meet their standards.”
Councillor Janice Maynard took issue with the reference to stewardship, questioning Thompson as to whether or not he had already pursued a partnership with QCA, as some of what is detailed in the report is outside their purview.
“You talk a a lot about partnership with QCA to ensure public access to shoreline is optimized, that amenities respect natural heritage and environmental measures are guided by the conservation authority,” said Maynard. “Some of these stewardship measures you talk about are really outside of QCA, although they do have expertise in some of those areas.”
“So, have you formally engaged with QCA to discuss a partnership or them working with you in concert to make the best stewardship use of that property? Or are you just talking about applying for necessary permits when required,” Maynard inquired.
Thompson stated that Tenacity had not only engaged QCA but they have approved the full plans for the waterfront and are “very pleased”. He added Tenacity has gone to extra lengths to hire a marine construction company that has won numerous environmental and sustainability awards.
“I would suggest that is not the case. Although there was a permit requested for some docking and boardwalks in years past, there has been none on this particular proposal. It is my understanding that there hasn’t been any conversation or request for review,” replied Maynard. “QCA is always happy to work with any developer to provide review and comments or development proposals. But I find it somewhat disingenuous that you’re using their name under stewardship when that consultation has yet to occur.”
According to Thompson, Tenacity Capital does not intend to greatly affect the municipal shoreline, therefore have not engaged QCA regarding this.
“It’s a wonderful observation and I could see your concerns. We do not have any direct plans to affect the water from shoreline up the municipal property,” Thompson stated. “Everything we have planned for our property we own has been run through QCA, but no we have no plans currently to affect the direct shoreline of the municipal property so that’s why we have not taken that to the conservation authority.”
Maynard also inquired as to what would become of the trees on the property and whether or not those could be protected as an asset. Echoing these concerns, Councillor Kate MacNaughton stated there needs to be more explicit detail of natural assets pertaining to the property in order to protect them.
“I believe more explicit language would be important here to maintain the natural assets we might want to preserve and to be quite specific about what is and is not allowed,” MacNaughton stated.
Todd Davis, Director of the Community Programs, Services and Initiatives brought up the forthcoming tree policy bylaw
“Council has asked for a tree bylaw to come forward and I believe one is coming in the near future that would ensconce the requirement to get a permit in order to take a tree off a municipal property, so that would be handled in a tree bylaw,” Davis confirmed
Councillor Andreas Bolik inquired as to why environmental issues, not only those pertaining to trees, was not brought before the Environmental Advisory Committee (EAC).
“I believe the environmental impacts were beyond the trees on the property…we also declared a climate emergency and now, we’re at the point where we are going to approve something that will put more boats, many of which will be motor boats, in the County without any input from the EAC,” decried Bolik.
Davis responded by intimating that given the nature of marinas, use of motor boats should be expected.
“This did not go to the EAC, although I believe there is a clause relating to the environment. The point is, this is a marina, it would service sail and motor boats.”
Davis further iterated that use use of motor boats is a “traditional activity” in the County.
Though environmental concerns were brought forward by members of council, given the amount of time the proponent has invested in pursuing a sublease, as well as the financial sense it makes to divest themselves of the marina, several councillors spoke in support of the proposal.
Councillor Bill Roberts echoed the historical narrative put forth by Davis, as well as citing the financial advantage of subleasing the marina.
“This contract saves the municipality hundreds of thousands of dollars and, at the end, we have millions of dollars worth of asset,” said Roberts. “The contract itself is tight and specific around reassurances about enhanced pedestrian amenities, public access and respecting natural habitat. It looks to me, on the face, as a good win-win for the community, given the history Picton has with regard to the marina and harbourfront.”
Mayor Steve Ferguson was in agreement, citing Thompson’s enthusiasm and his own eagerness to recover the financial losses incurred by the municipality trying to operate the marina.
“Shortly after the election last year, I had a meeting with Thompson, who came into the office and was incredibly passionate about a couple things, first of all the fact that he was coming back here as a ‘County boy’ as Councillor St. Jean referred to him,” said Ferguson. “He shared his vision, his desire, to make this asset a going concern and we’ve gone through this entire process for months. A lot of hard work and effort has gone into coming up with the agreement and then refining it… I am most appreciative that Thompson has stuck with us.”
Ferguson was adamant that, even should the report go back to staff several times, there would still be imperfections and the time to act is now.
“I’m supportive of moving forward with this. If we’d got this thing through four or five more iterations, we’d still find things we thought weren’t perfect…I want to get this guy going and get this off our plate, deal responsibly with the losses we’ve incurred and get the marina up to the jewel I think previous councils, and this council, thinks it can be,” commented Ferguson.
The motion to accept the report and recommendations put forward by staff was passed as a Bailey/McMahon motion.