The County of Prince Edward had a meeting with its legal counsel Thursday to discuss two highly controversial topics – operations at Picton Terminals and an impending Ontario Municipal Board hearing over ward boundaries.
Picton Terminals, still working to comply with a handful of Ministry of Environment orders, recently pulled out of an application to be rezoned from a quarry to a port to address those concerns. Since then they have been operating under a legal nonconforming use.
The committee of the whole wasted no time Thursday afternoon moving directly behind closed doors to obtain information and legal analysis on the two issues at hand from county solicitor Wayne Fairbrother.
When the committee returned it was revealed that Fairbrother is of the opinion that ‘transshipment operations’ at Picton Terminals constitute a continuing legal nonconforming use and such are legally permitted to continue in accordance with and subject to the provisions of Section 34 (9) of the Planning Act.
Chief Administrative Officer James Hepburn told Quinte News Fairbrother will be putting his full opinion in writing and it will be made public at a later date.
Two weeks ago, dozens of members from the group Save the Picton Bay appeared before the committee of the whole 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.
The group presented a letter from its lawyer Eric Gillespie stating, “there is no law or evidence supporting the current non-extractive uses of the subject property. Therefore they appear to be illegal.”
The County voted to receive the deputations and obtain Fairbrother’s opinion. The matter isn’t moving to a future council date.
Meanwhile, there was no mention of the looming OMB hearing involving the County and resident Pierre Klein when the committee resumed Thursday.
On March 4 2016, Pierre Klein filed his appeal accusing council of violating Charter Rights in their decision to reduce to nine wards from 10. The bylaw also states the horseshoe will downsize from a total of 16 members to 13 councillors plus a mayor at large.
At the time Klein said an OMB decision could affect council size.
Staying mum on the details of what was disclosed during closed session, CAO Hepburn said Klein’s lawyer and Fairbrother are working on setting a hearing date.