Prince Edward County’s Newspaper of Record
July 23, 2024
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Letters June 19

Defend the Democratic Process

It took Save Picton Bay and the voices of concerned County citizens five years to convince a Council that was initially fully supportive of the story Picton Terminals was attempting to float, to pass a unanimous vote in opposition, particularly to container ships, cruise ships and an expansion to PT’s site. That effort cost those concerned residents $150,000 of hard-earned money in non-tax-deductible voluntary donations.

That “no” vote was a victory for the democratic process, clearly again under threat from an in-camera Council meeting and an 8-to-4 vote. That vote appears to hinge upon the question of additional short- term projected legal costs versus the longer term exposure to County residents, in the event Council re-addresses a settlement offer which it has already rejected. 

What can be done? It seems to me that the courageous minority vote requires assistance in several ways, including: full disclosure to the public of what is at stake; an open and factual public meeting to allow Council to share their position; encouragement for citizens to share their views with their Councillors; consultation with Chief Maracle to understand the concerns of his constituency —particularly as I do not believe the MOBQ has been consulted on this most recent Council position (again). And finally, a better understanding of the cost and veracity of the legal advice retained by Council.

The Gazette has been and can continue to be a strong advocate for the democratic process. For this, many, including this writer, are extremely grateful.

Brian Etherington, Picton

Follow the Rules

The County is considering settling with Picton Terminals. What is there to gain? What are the benefits to the County? Employment and taxes? Highly unlikely. Pollution risks in the form of prop wash disturbance to the contaminants on the floor of the Bay. And a huge increase in noise and light pollution to neighbours on White Chapel and across the Bay.

The average sound level of a conversation is around 60db. Levels at containers ports (they vary depending on size) can run as high as 80-100db for cranes, loading/unloading containers 80-100db, ships and tugs 85-120db, and the list goes on. And this could be 24/7. Containers are used for human trafficking. The Mohawks of the Bay of Quinte have already raised this as a major concern of theirs.

Given their past history of toxic chemical spills on site, a barge sinking at their dock which shut down Picton’s drinking water system for 10 days, and numerous charges by the Provincial Environment Ministry for mishandling of salt storage, can any reasonable person believe that PT would adhere to any conditions to protect the neighbourhood in a settlement agreement?

We believe that the best strategy is to stay the course and force them to Court this fall. If there is waning support on Council for that, then perhaps it would be best to withdraw the County’s injunction request (and stop the legal bleeding) and leave things where they are.

The current zoning of the White Chapel Road site allows for loading and unloading of bulk goods at the dock. This does not include containers or the storage of same. The Ontario Superior Court has already ruled on this. If PT brings in more containers, the County must charge them with violating the zoning bylaw just as they have before, and let the lower courts decide. In other words, treat Picton Terminals like any other business in the County. You want to work here, you abide by the rules!

Victor Lind, Picton

Zoning Matters

I am very concerned by the news that the County is considering jettisoning its three-year court case against Picton Terminals and its plans to become a container port. 

After incurring hundreds of thousands of dollars over the past five years to review PT’s application to change its zoning to allow containers; after responding to PT’s appeal of the County’s denial of that application, which PT withdrew at the last minute;  and now, after three years of PT claiming that it is a federal port subject to exclusive federal jurisdiction, the County has decided to waste all that money. PT is now claiming not only that it can ship whatever it wants, but that the County is interfering with its shipping activities by limiting what it can ship and store.

As a matter of fact, there is nothing at all impeding Picton Terminals’ shipping operations and loading, unloading, and storage of products.  They have been doing so for years as they load, unload, and store bulk products consistent with their legal nonconforming use approved by the Save Picton Bay court decision.  

The only thing the County has regulated is what can be loaded and unloaded by a crane on County property, and stored on County property; land that is and always has been zoned and regulated by the County.  

If Picton Terminals is arguing now that County zoning does not apply to the locations where products are shipped to and from, then every single landowner that has waterfront property can start inviting ships to load and unload and store cargo on their properties without County or QCA approval.  

Picton Terminals cannot claim that it is a port because it is on County land that allows for a port and then say that the County cannot then regulate what it does on that land.  

Ryan Wallach, Picton

This text is from the Volume 194 No. 25 edition of The Picton Gazette
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