Our favourite port is back in the news. This time, local residents have alerted the MECP of large stockpiles of bauxite and gypsum at the Picton Terminals, at risk of blowing onto neighbouring properties and leaching into groundwater. And our neighbours at Wolfe Island are demanding a review of a Doornekamp Construction proposal to open another shipping port there. Stay tuned for more on both of these stories. In the meantime, we thought perhaps a timeline of some of the highlights in the history of Picton Terminals in the County might inform our friends on Wolfe Island of what they can expect.
November 2014: ABNA Investments/Picton Terminals takes possession of the port at Picton Bay. It applies to Quinte Conservation for a permit to construct a shipping road and to remove 200,000 cubic yards of rock along the shoreline. It begins to use the White Chapel Road property as an in-land port for shipping and receiving dry bulk cargo including road salt, aggregates, farming products, steel products, biomass, recycled scrap steel, wine barrels and other various bulk products.
October 2016: Uncovered Petcoke blows onto neighbouring properties. Petcoke is a toxic bi-product of the petroleum business. Picton Terminals is charged by the MOECC under the Environmental Protection Act.
March 25, 2017: An oil spill originating from a barge docked at Picton Terminals contaminates Picton Bay, shutting down the water supply. There are oil blooms on Picton Bay and Coast Guard Supervision. The cost to the County is in the hundreds of thousands of dollars.
July 7, 2017: ABNA Investments is fined $10,000 for dredging and filling shore lands off Howe Island
November 5, 2017: MOECC take samples of runoff from Picton Terminals that contain high levels of aluminum (1,300 μg/L), chloride (21,400 mg/L), iron (3,660 μg/L), and elevated cyanide (5.69mg/L).
November 21, 2017: MOECC issues a Provincial Officer’s Order and Report detailing environmental concerns with Picton Terminals going back to May 2015, when two unapproved stormwater ponds that discharged onto neighbouring properties, and eventually “directly into Picton Bay,” were discovered. The Order required Picton Terminals to take actions to address the concerns and remediate harms.
December 22, 2017: Environment Canada issues a “direction” to Picton Terminals. It finds the Terminals was in violation of the Fisheries Act for allowing “seepage water from the Picton Terminals site [to enter] the adjacent property and eventually into the Picton Bay.”
March 23, 2018: A report provided by an environmental engineer retained by Picton Terminals observes impacts on a neighbouring property of a kind generally caused by high salt or chloride concentrations in surface and ground water. It notes these probably pre-date 2014.
2018:A local citizens’ group called Save Picton Bay challenges the legal-non-conforming status its existing zoning gives the Port and its operations. An Ontario Superior Court decision confirms the zoning for transshipment and ancillary storage of bulk cargo. Save Picton Bay has to dissolve as a condition of settlement.
2018: In its defense, Picton Terminals informs the Ontario Superior Court that it plans to construct two covered storage structures for bulk salt trans-shipped to the site with construction to be completed by 2021. The purpose is to prevent any salt stored at the site from mixing with storm or ground water.
September 5, 2018: The Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry authorizes Picton Terminals to excavate limestone aggregate “for the sole purpose of constructing structures associated with upgrades to the shipping terminal” but notes that “the excavation will only occur for a limited period of five (5) years while construction of the structures is completed” and “an ARA licence will be required if … additional areas or materials are excavated beyond what is necessary for the purpose of constructing [these] structures.” That permit expired September 5, 2023. According to the PT website, blasting of rock still occurs regularly, and as recently as November X.
2019: PT applies to the County for re-zoning so it can undertake bulk storage, container shipping, and the docking of cruise ships.
2020: PT applies to the MECP under the Environmental Protection Act to establish stormwater management works. The application is approved, but the works are never built. A municipal permit is never applied for. In 2023, the approval expires, and the Terminals applies for an amendment.
April 15, 2020: The Ontario MECP provides a letter indicating that four previously issued orders have been complied with; two outstanding orders relate to 1. Failure of prior notification of shipments arriving on site and 2. the requirement of salt shipments to the site to be stored inside a dry storage facility.
October 6, 2020: The Mohawks of the Bay of Quinte denounce Picton Terminals for failure to safeguard the environment in a letter to County Council.
October 21, 2020: Council unanimously denies the application for re-zoning to permit container shipping and cruise ship docking.
November 2020: PT appeals this decision to the Local Planning Appeal Tribunal, now referred to as the Ontario Land Tribunal.
2021: While this appeal is underway, the County raises concerns about work on the property. Approvals from MNRF concern excavation of aggregrate for the sole purpose of building storage structures on the property, but PT never applied to the municipality for permits to build these structures.
March 2021: “Phase One” of the Doornekamp Lines action plan launches with the acquisition of a 141-metre container ship, Peyton Lynn C. In 2021, the company acquires two more container ships designed for inland shipping. It announces plans in various shipping journals to turn Picton Bay into a Great Lakes container port.
July 2021: Ben Doornekamp, the owner or Picton Terminals, states that the port has been retrofitted to store up to 2,300 containers in the Ottawa Business Journal.
September 2021: Prince Edward County issues a notice that it will inspect the Property for the offloading of shipping containers as there is concern that the port was trying to expand or intensify the legal non-conforming use of the Property. Picton Terminals refuses access.
October 2021: PT withdraws its appeal to the Ontario Land Tribunal.
October 5, 2022: Prince Edward County applies for a permanent injunction against ABNA Investments Ltd. to restrain Picton Terminals from developing its lands without municipal approvals.
April 12, 2023: The County brings by-law enforcement order against the Terminals related to shipping containers stored on its premises. It alleges failure to comply with the 2018 Ontario Superior Court decision which established the permitted grandfathered uses at the site. The parties appear briefly in Municipal court in July and again Sept 15, 2023.
May 2023: The County enters into negotiations with PT in a bid to head off a protracted legal case. These conclude May 29. Staff bring a potential settlement to Council, which embarks on a series of closed sessions to consider its options.
July 25, 2023: Council decides to continue to seek a court ruling in the permanent injunction it seeks against PT acting without municipal approvals. That case will be heard in Ontario Superior Court in October 2024.