Prince Edward County declares state of emergency
Prince Edward County has declared a state of emergency after contaminants from a partially submerged barge at Picton Terminals seeped into the town’s water intake supply system Tuesday.
Mayor Robert Quaiff declared the water emergency Tuesday night stating at 4:30 p.m., the contaminants entered the Picton intake protection Zone 1, but didn’t flow into the intake pipe.
On Friday, an empty barge owned by Galcon Marine partially sank while docked at Picton Terminals on the Picton Harbour. There were no injuries and no loss of pollutants except for two five gallon buckets which were on the barge deck at the time. Approximately 30 litres of oil released was said to be contained however Tuesday night Mayor Quaiff said it had leaked into the water supply intake. There is believed to be approximately 1,200 litres of diesel and 100 litres of hydraulic fluid. Both tanks are self-contained and inside the machinery space. The cause of the incident is still unknown,” said Transportation Safety Board Regional Senior Investigator-Marine Captain Steven Neatt in a previous interview with Quinte News. “We are in constant contact with the owner of the barge and continue to follow the situation closely.”
The mayor said due to the proximity of the contaminates and unfavourable wind conditions overnight the County has decided to halt water processing at the Bloomfield-Picton water plant until the safety of the water can be confirmed.
Picton and Bloomfield residents are being urged to conserve water intake.
In a follow up interview with mayor Quaiff, he stated there is approximately 48 hours of water in the reservoirs at the facility however residents are still urged to conserve water.
An earlier statement by McKeil Marine, the company that chartered the barge, said it was expanding a protective pollution boom to encapsulate a larger area after a small amount of sheen became present on the water between the dock and the barge, which is positioned about 50 feet (15 metres) offshore.
Mayor Quaiff said by virtue of this announcement, 600 feet of new containment boom has been deployed and 4,000 feet more of containment boom is on its way to the scene at Picton Terminals.
The mayor said the County’s emergency control group which was activated Tuesday will be meeting Wednesday morning at 9 a.m. to access the situation.
The group has been on high alert since Friday and is made up of Mayor Robert Quaiff, CAO James Hepburn, Commission of Engineering, Development and Works Robert McAuley, Fire Chief Scott Manlow, the Ontario Provincial Police, public health representative and councillor Barry Turpin, County clerk Kim Whyte, social services and communications coordinator Lisa McLennan.
It’s anticipated the barge will be recovered Wednesday weather permitting.
The Department of Fisheries and Oceans, the Canadian Coast Guard, the Eastern Canada Response Corporation Ltd., the Ministry of Operation and McKeil Marine are on scene overseeing and monitoring the situation.
County activates Emergency Control Group
Recovery efforts of a partially submerged barge in the Picton Harbour continue Tuesday with a comprehensive focus on containment of pollutants including the activation of the municipality’s Emergency Control Group.
On Friday, a barge owned by Galcon Marine partially sank while docked at Picton Terminals. According to McKeil Marine, the company that chartered the barge, it was intended to be used as a temporary dock and work platform. There were no injuries and no loss of pollutants except for two five gallon (19 litre) buckets which were on the barge deck at the time. Approximately 30 litres of substance released is being contained by pollution control equipment, and is expected to evaporate. There is believed to be approximately 1,200 litres of diesel and 100 litres of hydraulic fluid. Both tanks are self-contained and inside the machinery space.
In a press release on Tuesday, the County of Prince Edward stated in response to the recovery efforts mayor Robert Quaiff has activated the municipality’s Emergency Control Group as a precautionary measure. The group has been on high alert since Friday and is made up of mayor Robert Quaiff, CAO James Hepburn, Commission of Engineering, Development and Works Robert McAuley, Fire Chief Scott Manlow, the Ontario Provincial Police, public health representative and councillor Barry Turpin, County clerk Kim Whyte, social services and communications coordinator Lisa McLennan.
“According to the County’s Emergency Plan and provincial regulation, the emergency Control Group can be activated when there is heightened threat to the well-being of the community,” said mayor Quaiff. “Given the proximity of the submerged vessel to the Picton-Bloomfield water intake, and the potential for contaminants to enter the water during the upcoming salvage phase, the risk— although believed to be quite low—was deemed sufficiently high to engage the emergency Control Group.”
Quaiff said at this moment in time, the municipality’s primary concern is for the protection of the Picton-Bloomfield drinking water system. Since Friday, precautionary measures in accordance with the municipality’s water Operations Contingency Plan was put in effect at the Picton-Bloomfield Water Treatment Plant. In accordance with the Contingency Plan, the water system reservoirs have been filled in order to maximize the system’s ability to sustain any potential treatment plant shutdown. Water operators are monitoring the plant regularly for any evidence of contamination approaching the intake, and the municipality is prepared to stop taking water from the Bay if the situation requires it.
“Should additional contaminants enter the Bay, the municipality is prepared to declare a state of emergency and implement further procedures to protect the safety of the Picton-Bloomfield drinking water system,” said Quaiff.
In an earlier statement by McKeil Maine on Tuesday, it stated a protective pollution boom has been deployed around the barge since Friday and will be expanded Tuesday to encapsulate a larger area. It will remain in place for the duration of the salvage operation.
“Salvage is a complex process, requiring meticulous planning and often a series of preparatory actions,” said Chris Kirby, Director of Project Management at McKeil Marine Ltd., and Salvage Master for the operation. “Today we are taking additional precautions to protect the environment and contain pollutants. We continue to work in close collaboration with the Coast Guard, Transport Canada and the Eastern Canada Response Corporation Ltd.”
The statement goes on to say that with the breaking up and melting of ice in the area, there is a small amount of sheen present on the water between dock and the barge, which is positioned about 50 feet (15 metres) offshore. This area will be captured in the expanded pollution boom. It is believed that this sheen is comprised of the small amount of pollutants that were released when the bow of the barge initially became submerged. There is no evidence of leakage from the barge.
“McKeil continues to work closely with the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, the Canadian Coast Guard ECRC to mitigate environmental impact. While the barge is owned by Galcon Marine, McKeil is leading the effort with respect to environmental protection. McKeil is working closely with Galcon Marine on the recovery of their barge, which will be returned to Galcon Marine in Toronto once the salvage operation is complete,” said Kirby
Barge recovery is set for Wednesday, weather permitting.
“The cause of the incident is still unknown,” said Transportation Safety Board Regional Senior Investigator-Marine Captain Steven Neatt. “We are in constant contact with the owner of the barge and continue to follow the situation closely.”
Picton Terminals supports councillor’s move for second opinion
While efforts continue this week to remove a partially submerged barge that sank at Picton Terminals Friday, more issues related to Picton Bay and the port are moving to the Committee of the Whole’s meeting on Thursday.
Listed on the agenda is a motion to consider differing correspondence from Eric Gillespie the environmental lawyer representing the group Save Picton Bay and the County’s Solicitor Wayne Fairbrother on Picton Terminals. Fairbrother is of the opinion that ‘transshipment operations’ at Picton Terminals constitute a continuing legal nonconforming use and as such are legally permitted to continue in accordance with and subject to the provisions of the Planning Act. Gillespie on the other hand said “the previous zoning which (if a legal nonconforming use did exist) would apply is the former MX-1 zoning, which restricted the subject lands to be used for no purpose other than an existing ore storage and transshipment operation.”
Also in the works is a motion by Picton Councillor Lenny Epstein who stated in a post on Facebook Sunday night he hopes the horseshoe will rescind its 2016 vote of support for a government grant application for the company’s paused multi-million dollar expansion that could see nearly 100 ships per season. The motion has missed the deadline for inclusion, however if Epstein gets two thirds of committee support on Thursday he can add it to the agenda.
In December 2016, the company announced it cancelled a rezoning application that was filed with the municipality earlier in the year, requesting a portion of its property be reverted from a mixed use/quarry to a port. At that time, co-owner Ben Doornekamp said they decided to pull the application because after speaking with their lawyers and planning department they felt addressing the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change’s concerns was more imperative than the rezoning matters that could take years to clean up. In November 2016, the MOE ordered Picton Terminals to compliance dates throughout November and December surrounding the covering of storage piles of salt and its stormwater runoff; dust and spills from petroleum coke; plans and measures to prevent discharge and removal of contaminants and drainage.
Since then Doornekamp and the MOE have been working to correct the issues with only a pair of studies remaining in regards to salt piles and stormwater runoff. Doornekamp has submitted a plan to construct a storm water management system that the MOE confirmed is still awaiting approval.
In January, a large group of Save the Picton Bay members came to council voicing their concerns about the terminal’s plans to expand, the effects of large trucks driving on an already crumbling County Road 49 and environmental impacts on the town’s drinking water supply. The group urged council to retract a motion from May 2016, where it voted to support the revitalization at Picton Terminals.
Sunday night, Epstein posted plans to do just that.
It comes as The Canadian Coast Guard, the Ministry of Environment and Picton Terminals work to remove a Mckeil Marine spud sectional barge by Wednesday that partially sank and spilled 30 litres of oil that has proved to be no real threat to the town’s water supply.
“As far as the original motion to support the grant application – that occurred before the MOECC orders, before the withdrawal of the zoning application by PT,” he wrote. “What reason for suspicion did we have then? And the motions took no action beyond supporting a grant app – largely a symbolic motion. Of course, we were assured, if they were to actually get the grant, they would go through all needed processes and get permits, go through rezoning as/if necessary. They then withdrew their grant app so the motions have no practical effect at this time, other than that they can be taken as indication of political support.”
At the time when council was asked to show its support, Councillor Janice Maynard voiced her opposition and was quick to call for a recorded vote.
Maynard and Steve Graham were the only two opposed to supporting the company.
“It will be interesting to see how many councillors have, like myself, changed their opinion of the merits and impacts of the original motions,” Epstein continued. “I admit, I chose at the time to be trusting, to support the mayor’s resolution, and while I did voice concerns at the time, I still voted with the majority. Hindsight is 20/20. Sorry. I am always learning. I will continue to do what I can to improve our community and grow and protect our common assets.” Our newsroom has reached out to Councillor Epstein for comment.
On Monday, Doornekamp said he spoke with Councillor Epstein and he supports the motion to be considered.
Mayor Robert Quaiff said he won’t be attending Thursday’s meeting as he has board meetings with the Association of Municipalities of Ontario in Toronto, but said rest assured he will continue to monitor the situation.
The Committee of the whole meets at 1 p.m. on Thursday at Shire Hall.
Update on submerged barge in Picton Bay
Efforts continue Monday to remove a partially submerged barge that sank in the Picton Bay late last week.
Early Friday morning, staff at Picton Terminals noticed an empty Mckeil Marine spud sectional barge was submerged in the Bay. There weren’t any contaminats onboard however a five gallon pail of oil sitting on top of the barge spilled and leaked approximately 30 litres. It was contained with floating environmental booms. It’s suspected ice on the Bay acted as sandpaper, wearing down weaker portions of the outside of the barge causing a hole. The incident did happen close to water intake pipes, but thankfully for County residents, there has been no real threat to the Picton water supply.
Ben Doorenkamp co-owner of Picton Terminals explained to Quinte News the Canadian Coast Guard and Ministry of Environment (who remain onsite investigating and monitoring the situation) were quick to contain what County mayor Robert Quaiff previously agreed was a the low risk spill. He said work continues to today to have the barge removed by Wednesday.
Over the weekend, social media was lit up with Facebook posts from the group Save Picton Bay in relation to ongoing environmental cleanup measures at the Picton Port and a cancelled rezoning application that was filed with the municipality in 2016. At that time, the Terminals now operating under a legal-non conforming use, had requested a portion of its property be reverted from a mixed use/quarry to a port. Doorenkamp said he cancelled the request stating the company wanted to focus on tackling a MOE clean up order first before moving on to a planned multi-million dollar expansion. In November 2016, the MOE ordered Picton Terminals to compliance dates throughout November and December surrounding the covering of storage piles of salt and its stormwater runoff; dust and spills from petroleum coke; plans and measures to prevent discharge and removal of contaminants and drainage.
As for the stormwater runoff issues that have been ongoing for decades, Doornekamp echoed previous statements to Quinte News that they are continuing to work with the MOE to construct a storm water management system.
Previously, MOE officials stated Picton Terminals submitted two work plans to address items included in that order and those work plans are being reviewed by the ministry. It was confirmed the company had secured an engineering consultant to undertake design modifications of the storm water system.
Our newsroom has made contact with the MOE officials.
We have also reached out to Mayor Robert Quaiff and Picton councillor Lenny Epstein who in a post on Facebook Sunday night said he plans to table a motion at Thursday’s Committee of the Whole meeting in relation to the Picton port.
More to come.
Marijuana could be legal by Canada Day 2018
The Liberal government will announce legislation next month that will legalize marijuana in Canada by July 1, 2018.
The CBC and various major media outlets are reporting the legislation will be announced during the week of April 10 and will broadly follow the recommendation of a federally appointed task force that was chaired by former liberal Justice Minister Anne McLellan.
The CBC reports the federal government will be in charge of making sure the country’s marijuana supply is safe and secure and Ottawa will license producers.
The minimum age to buy pot will be 18, but provinces could set a higher limit. It’s also up to the provinces to control distribution and sales. Also, four marijuana plants will be allowed in each household.
The Liberals had promised to introduce legislation by the Spring of 2017. Announcing the legislation the week of April 10 will allow the party to hit that deadline.
OPP investigating theft from Bay Marine
Quinte West OPP are investigating a report of a theft from Bay Marine on Old Highway 2.
According to police on March 23 around 2:45 a.m., unknown suspects entered Bay Marine and took a 2017 side-by-side Can-Am Defender XT C red in colour as well as Miska trailer with ON LP N7744K on it.
Anyone with information about this theft is asked to contact Quinte West OPP or crime stoppers where you may be eligible to receive a cash reward of up to $2,000.
Reporter & Loyalist grad’s tip helps nab bank robber
A reporter and Loyalist College journalism graduate is being credited for providing information that led to the capture of an armed bank robber.
According to a report in the Kingston Whig Standard penned by Mike Norris, their own reporter Steph Croiser played an instrumental role in the apprehension of 30-year-old Tristan Drouin of Gatineau, Quebec.
In the report, Kingston Police Detective Blair Watt said he believes Croiser ‘is the reason why the case got solved so quickly’ and he is going to recommend her for a civilian police award. The award is presented annually to members of the public whose actions have assisted police or the community.
On March 17, Drouin, known as the “Blue Jays Bandit” was sentenced in a Belleville courtroom to serve four years in a penitentiary for robbing eight banks including ones in Trenton, Napanee and Kingston. A total of $12,000 in cash was stolen, $500 from the RBC in downtown Trenton.
It would be following the robbery in Trenton on November 15 that Croiser spotted Drouin heading west in a gold Cadillac sedan.
The report illustrated how Croiser said she thought she recognized him from surveillance video of the robbery in Kingston.’ Moments later, the same Cadillac passed in front of her and she headed west.
When she learned about the Trenton robbery, Croiser said she contacted Quinte West OPP and gave a description of the suspect’s vehicle.
“Without Croiser’s tip about the vehicle, there was not a lot to go on,” Watt told the Whig. “With that information, we were able to focus the investigation on that vehicle.”
On December 16, Drouin was arrested at the Trenton On Route along Highway 401 following robberies the same day in Cobourg and Bowmanville.
“When he was arrested, I was so relieved when I saw the gold Cadillac,” Croiser admitted to the Whig. “The last thing you want to do is send officers in the wrong direction.”
Croiser was later called into the Quinte West detachment by investigators for an interview.
“It was a unique experience,” she said. “You write about crime every day, but it was interesting to be on the other end of it; from an observing journalist to personally being invested in the story.”
Croiser said she also received a call from Quinte West OPP lead investigator Det. Kevin Postma following the arrest thanking her. Something she called a nice gesture.
Croiser graduated Loyalist College’s Advanced Journalism Online, Print and Broadcast program in 2013.
Our newsroom has reached out to reporter Steph Croiser, Det. Kevin Postma and Det. Blair Watt for comment.
Quinte Home and Lifestyle show next month
It’s all about home next month as the Quinte Home Builder’s Association gets set to host its annual Quinte Home and Lifestyle Show.
The two day event runs from April 7 to 9 at the Quinte Sports and Wellness in Belleville and has something for everyone including hundreds of exhibits and presentations by home and lifestyle experts.
Live on the Cambria stage guests will be treated to talks with home and design expert Ramsin Khachi who was featured on the Marilyn Denis Show; culinary expert Chef Devan Rajkumar from CityLine on City TV and outdoor and gardening expert Owen Reeves, also featured on the Marilyn Denis Show.
Returning again this year to give a dynamic live cooking demonstration, Chef Rajkumar said he has been touring local shops for fare these past few days.
“I love coming out here,” he smiled. “The products, the quality of ingredients that I get out here are amazing. I love using the different foods from suppliers to make these really cool meals.”
Rajkumar did say show goers can expect audience participation again this year.
Quinte Home Builder’s Association executive officer Ruth Eastwick said the event is ‘going to be amazing.’
She encouraged everyone to bring their dreams for their homes with them.
The event runs Friday April 7 from 12 p.m. – 9 p.m., Saturday April 8, from 10 a.m. – 6 p.m. and on Sunday April 9 from 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.
Get full event details by clicking here.
UPDATE: Drive delivers over 12,000 diapers
A fundraiser for a program that is proving to be a lifesaver for families within Hastings and Prince Edward Counties has surpassed its goal bringing in 12,535 diapers.
On Wednesday afternoon, the Community Development of Quinte kicked off its first ever diaper drive in Belleville for the Good Baby Box program with the mission of bringing in 10,000 diapers.
In 2016, the program that is a cost-effective way to purchase baby food, formula, diapers and many other specialty care items for their children – provided 52,000 diapers to local families. Last year, 6,924 Good Baby Boxes were purchased for 1,179 children. The CDC estimates families are saving $1,200 annually by using the program. The CDC relies solely on grants and community donations with the diapers being purchased by the agency from a local distributor.
Good Baby Box co-ordinator Bev Heuving shared a touching story of a single dad who now uses the program weekly.
Heuving explained how expensive it is getting for parents and caregivers especially those working minimum wage jobs.
“If you’re a mom working a minimum wage job trying to have full-time employment, knowing you have to provide your little one with diapers at daycare it’s expensive,” she said.
“I have heard stories from moms who didn’t know the Good Baby Box program was available to them that were cleaning the diapers to best of their ability and then putting it back on their little one because they thought it was only available to a certain clientele, which it is not. We are available to everyone.”
You can find much more detail on the CDC’s programs by clicking here.
Policing decision in the hands of Stirling-Rawdon council
Concerns about costing, service and response times took centre stage at a public meeting on the future of policing in Stirling-Rawdon Wednesday night.
Nearly 200 people packed the Stirling Festival Theatre for the meeting aimed at conveying the results of a recent Ontario Provincial Police costing.
“We are facing a very real budget crisis,” explained Mayor Rodney Cooney illustrating the municipality is $3 million over compared to other municipal budgets. Pointing to an estimated 20% tax increase he said there are two ways the municipality can fix it – “raise taxes or cut expenses.”
Currently the municipality is paying $1.8 million a year for policing however Mayor Rodney Cooney projected that will increase to $2.4 million by 2018.
It works out to on average $355 per property with OPP, where right now Stirling Rawdon is sitting around $850.
If council decides to go with the OPP service, it would cost $1.564 million over three years. Also year one of transitional costs would equate to $217,015. Year four costing would be based on Stirling-Rawdon property count and similar to neighbouring municipalities: Centre Hastings paid $757,624, Marmora and Lake $879,672 and Tweed $1.081 million. Stirling-Rawdon would then come under the Central Hastings OPP umbrella which covers the aforementioned municipalities along with Madoc.
While Cooney wouldn’t give a definite total on how much the municipality would save with OPP, when pressed by the audience and Quinte News, he stated it’s roughly $300,000 in savings for the first three years.
To resident Edith Ray, the choice was simple.
“We cannot afford this police force,”she said when she stepped up to the mic calling the move to OPP inevitable.
Former Stirling-Rawdon police officer Tom Andrews wasn’t so sure the switch to OPP would benefit the municipality, asking if there will be 24-hour coverage and what response times will look like, especially in the event of a serious occurrence.
Centre Hastings OPP detachment Commander Scott Semple said there is a chance Stirling-Rawdon will have round the clock coverage and sometimes with two or three officers. At present, Centre Hastings OPP has 35 uniformed members and if combined with Stirling-Rawdon’s nine, Scott said he would have 44 in total.
Liane Spong, case manager with the Municipal Policing Bureau, explained to the crowd that while the OPP tracks many forms of data they don’t track response times because police calls aren’t based on a ‘from point A to point B’ like other emergency response teams. She said the data wouldn’t be conclusive because officers are sometimes close to the call and other times they are coming from other areas.
Within the municipality, officers receive about 2.3 calls for service per 12-hour shift or 1.5 calls if traffic cases are subtracted explained Mayor Cooney. Police Chief Dario Cecchin said the police service handles about 1,700 cases per year and they are looking at bringing four more officers on.
Council has six months, with the due date now July 23, to make a decision on the proposal. Ultimately the Ontario Civilian Police Commission will have the final decision on whether or not to grant council’s request if they decide to go the OPP route explained Mayor Cooney.
Loyalist College to celebrate 50 years
Loyalist College is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year.
Belleville’s college first opened its doors in 1967 to 162 students. The Pioneer building opened a year later.
Over the past 50 years, the Wallbridge-Loyalist Road campus has had over 40,000 students graduate from a variety of 65 full-time and continuing education programs.
College president and CEO Dr. Ann Marie Vaughn told Quinte West council Monday night the anniversary will be recognized throughout 2017 and at convocation in June.
“This is a very special year for the province, the college and the country,” Vaughn beamed.
She said they will be celebrating with alumni ‘here and far.’
She also asked that council recognize April 3 to the 9 as College’s week.
Sarah Scott first female to become full-time QW fire fighter
The Quinte West fire department made history this week with the hiring of its first full-time female fire fighter.
At Monday’s night’s council meeting it was announced former volunteer fire fighter Sarah Scott has been hired and will begin working with the fire prevention bureau on April 17.
Fire Chief John Whalen said the competition was tough and out of 18 applicants, Scott was the successful candidate. He added he’s pleased Scott is coming on board full-time.
Fellow volunteer fire fighter councillor David McCue echoed Chief Whalen’s sentiments saying since Scott came to Station 2, two and a half years ago she has studied day and night.