Early findings in the Picton Master Servicing Plan were unveiled at last week’s PIC at the Picton Town Hall. The theme is planning for growth.
The combined population of Picton and Bloomfield is 5,122. Picton is home to 4508 residents, and Bloomfield about 600. In ten years, those numbers are expected to double, to at least 10,000 people.
New development is coming to both sides of Picton Bay and to the areas surrounding the old Camp Picton, at Macaulay Village, Base31, along Sandy Hook Road and along County Road 10. Together, Picton and Bloomfield, connected by a beautiful sweep of the Loyalist Parkway and its bordering farms, will compose this island’s central residential, retail, and health care corridor.
Projections of another 5,000 people between these two towns over the next ten years are not unrealistic. Planning applications currently in the works for Picton, as listed under the “active applications” tab of the County’s planning portal, suggest, in fact, that the estimates are conservative.
Picton Heights Ltd.’s Vineridge proposes a self-contained community of 450 new homes for Macaulay Village.
Hilden Homes’ Tulip Estates, near Port Picton, could see up to 350 new homes of a variety of types.
A development called Loyalist Heights, at Sandy Hook Road, would build 396 units, including apartments, townhouses, detached and semi-detached housing.
At Folkard Lane, next to the Picton Golf and Country Club, 166 townhouse units could soon overlook Picton Bay.
Ongoing development at Port Picton and at West Meadows, at Talbot Street, adds another 545 homes.
PEC Community Partners has ambitious plans for Base31. The consortium proposes 5,000 to 10,000 homes over the next 30 years. Their first planned neighbourhood, Harbour Overlook, near Macaulay Village, could be here in five years.
Altogether, these developments — a fraction of the 210 active planning applications on the portal — mean more than 2000 new homes. That means about 5000 new residents — not over the next ten years, but in five.
If just half of these projects come to fruition, that is 2500 new residents.
Even a conservative estimate, in other words, suggests a 50 per cent population increase for Picton over the next five years. Enough to warrant serious planning.
If you build it they will come
Developers and council must be assured the infrastructure will be in place to support new housing before approvals can be issued and building can start. That means water.
Council has spent one million dollars on three Environmental Assessments to study its options. A Regional Water Supply Master Plan, assessing costs, best practices, and environmental impacts for a servicing plan for the whole County, will be presented next week in Bloomfield.
Last month, Wellington held a Public Information Center, with an overview of the options for water treatment and expansion in the village. It is two years further along in the process than Picton and Bloomfield, and closer to building a new water treatment plant.
Picton, meanwhile, has three options: build a new WTP, retrofit the existing one, or obtain all required water through a connection to a new regional water treatment plant. Wellington’s.
It’s an open secret that the preferred option is the third. Speaking at the Wellington PIC in June, project manager Garret Osborne noted, “It’s a great solution because there would only be the one water treatment plant, not two.”
The Picton WTP was built in 1928. Many of the system’s pipes are lead, and so thickly encrusted inside it is difficult to get water through them. That limits capacity. The whole system needs to be replaced.
According to David MacPherson, Manager of Engineering, the Wellington WTP could be purpose-built to be extendable as demand increases for water over the next three decades.
Its trunk lines could also carry water pulled from of Lake Ontario east along the Millennium Trail through Bloomfield, up to Base31, and into Picton.
The plans are expensive – current estimates sit at about $100 million for Wellington’s system, and at least half as much again to pipe drinking water to Picton.
Deputation from Wellington questions waterworks expansion
About ten Wellington residents attended the Picton PIC, worried they would be on the hook for massive development charges. They have valid concerns about Kaitlin Corporation, and about the expense of running water across the County.
A town meeting held at Wellington on the Lake two weeks ago attracted 320 residents. Mainly retired, fixed-income ratepayers, they are concerned about the tab for waterworks development should the sole builder available to Wellington, Kaitlin, fail to come to the table.
Kaitlin has been both acquiring land north of Wellington and failing to develop it for 17 years. Residents said the company could sit for another 17 years, while their village is on the hook for an expensive water treatment plant to service what they see as the other side of the County.
“It will bankrupt Wellington. Those development charges are not going to come through,” said Kevin Hanbury. “It’s all prophecies for now. It’s only real once it happens.”
“Show me the money. Then we’ll talk,” said Charlotte Nott. “People are talking about leaving Wellington over this.”
Along with “Let’s press pause,” a common refrain was, “Wellington does not want to have to pay for Picton and Bloomfield.”
The phrase suggests waterworks expenses are not shared equally by all ratepayers. Wellington is not building a new WTP. The County is.
“They are relying on Rick’s editorials for most of their information,” said Councillor Corey Engelsdorfer, referring to longstanding Times newspaper columnist Rick Conroy.
The Councillor also publishes the Wellington newspaper. He attended the residents’ meeting along with Mr. Conroy.
Even if Kaitlin fails to develop a single townhouse — an unlikely scenario; its website is advertising new homes at Cork and Vine in 2024 — population projections for Picton alone suggest it, or, to be clear, its developers, will be paying for the lion’s share of any County waterworks projects. Development charges pay for about 80 per cent of the costs for infrastructure new development requires.
County Staff are convinced there is enough development afoot to get the municipality’s portion of such costs paid, and to convince upper levels of government, provincial and federal, to pay the rest.
-With files from Jason Parks