Bunkhouses and other issues brought before Special Committee of the Whole Meeting

(Gazette file photo)



Prince Edward County Council hosted a Special Committee of the Whole on July 6th. The issues at hand included an application to formally recognize Picton Marina as a marina. The property is currently being leased from the municipality by Tenacity Capital. While this proved to be more a formality than anything, concern was voiced from members of the public at the prospect of a mobile restaurant on the site-an application that was not on the agenda.

Michael Jowett was one resident who uses the marina and expressed concern that those seeking to use the boat launch might have difficulty doing so should a mobile restaurant materialize on the site.

“The one question I have, and I was hoping a representative of Tenacity would be here to respond, but here we go: I’m concerned about the impact of the application on the launching capability at the marina. Specifically, I’m seeking assurance that adequate provision will continue to be made in the future for launching of boats by members of the public and adequate parking for the tow vehicles,” voiced Jowett. “I use the facility regularly and would anticipate that if the business goes ahead, there’ll be a whole lot more people there. I’m concerned about adequate parking and access to the launch facility. The second question is addressed to council. To what extent has this application been discussed by council and has the planning department been consulted regarding this, especially looking down the road at possible ramifications that could arise when the lease expires.

James Griffin, Planner with the County of Prince Edward, fielded some of Jowett’s questions.

Brad Nieman. (Jason Parks/Gazette Staff)

“There are no development building permits proposed. The marina is there now, the parking there will remain and regarding consultation with the lease, it’s already a marina,” explained Griffin. “I will note there is an application for a mobile restaurant, however that is a separate application that is currently in technical circulation.”

Gordon Roberts, a resident of Hill Street-just across the bay from the marina-also voiced concern, citing noise pollution created by a previous restaurant on the site.

“I’m supportive of this, but what if it’s too successful? There was a restaurant in a location nearby that created a lot of problems with noise and late-night activity,” stated Roberts. “The sound carries over the water significantly and was a bit of a problem for Hill Street residents.”

Roberts added he felt the addition of a mobile restaurant to the marina area would strain the existing infrastructure, especially in the likely case that it should draw large volumes of people.

“I understand what the plan for the food truck and Tenacity are, but I think it may put some strain on the infrastructure there, especially if there’s a lot of people there. It’s a fairly confined area,” Roberts said.

While the application for a mobile restaurant, or food truck, was not on the floor for discussion, Councillor Brad Nieman attempted to address the concerns voiced by posing a question to Griffin.

“Is the parking lot there going to remain a parking lot?” asked Nieman.

Griffin replied that the exact location of the food truck had been undecided and that it was understood the boat launching capability of the marina is important.

Having been delegated to staff, Nieman requested the mobile restaurant application be pulled to come before council at a later date.

Another topic of concern was the issue of bunkhouses to alleviate the lack of housing that has rendered many businesses short staffed. The bunkhouses would be created by the employers, on their own property, strictly to house employees. The accommodations would not need to comply with the Landlord and Tenants Act.

Several councillors expressed concern about this proposition, which was discussed by Manager of Planning, Michael Michaud.

Athol Councillor Jamie Forrester. (Jason Parks/Gazette Staff)

“How do we ensure bunkhouses be used for their intended purpose and not become rentals?” queried Councillor Jamie Forrester.

Michaud offered a few possible solutions to this concern, though added there was little the municipality could do to ensure this.

“That’s a function of the building permit application, to ensure that they’re indeed built for that purpose,” reminded Michaud. “Lease agreements could be furnished to the municipality to be sure they’re rented to those working in the business, but ultimately, there’s not a whole lot we could do, except hope people abide by the use of that particular property.”

Councillor Janice Maynard inquired as to the nature of the bunkhouses in relation to the Landlord and Tenant Act.

“When you did your research on this, did you come across any mention of any employment standards concerns regarding bunkhouses for employees?” asked Maynard.

Michaud responded that, in essence, the bunkhouses function as a room for rent. He also added that the employers who are searching for housing for their employees so that they are not short staffed are unlikely to abuse the system.

“If somebody is going through the expense of building one of these, you’d think they’d be using it for their employees,” stated Michaud. “We can put some clauses in there to have greater assurance they’ll be utilized for workers and not as short-term accommodations (STAs).”

A motion to allow bunkhouses in tourism commercial zones was passed by the committee.