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.