Neighbours push for answers proposed 337-site expansion plan

 

August 8, 2018 

 

Concerns over traffic, environmental protection and adherence to official plan values raised 

during proponent’s public meeting in Cherry Valley Thursday

ADAM BRAMBURGER

STAFF WRITER

An application to amend the County’s official plan and rezone soup  harbour waterfront to allow for an additional 337 camper units at  Quinte’s Isle Campark stirred a passionate discussion in Cherry Valley  Thursday.

The park’s owners, Tim and Steve Ward of Fourwards Holdings Inc.,had  their engineers, land-use planner, and consultants present for an open  house session at the Athol Town Hall but it quickly became clear the  about 40 people in present were collectively looking for a more formal  response to their concerns about the development.

After several moments of confusion about the format, Wellington  native Jane Macdonald climbed up on a table, hollered for attention, and  asked if the proponents might address the audience in a different  manner.

“This isn’t suiting our needs. We need to know why this is  necessitating a change in the official plan,” she said. “I would hope to  see that we can have an actual dialogue here.”

While the Wards’ legal representative Patrick Harrington initially  insisted the forum provided for people asking individual questions, the  family and its team agreed they could work in a group session.

The first query raised was about how the project is in the public interest.

Ruth Ferguson Aulthouse, the Wards’ land-use planning consultant  indicated a planning report was submitted to council on behalf of  Quinte’s Isle in March. The report spoke to the official plan policies  that applied to the application to convert the land from a rural  designation to a shoreland designation. At present, the municipality has  not taken any action with regard to the report.

Ferguson Aulthouse, who was involved in writing the County’s official  plan in 1990-1992 said there’s a focus on promoting tourism  opportunities, particularly in designated tourism corridors. The  existing 619-site Quinte’s Isle sits on one of those corridors, in close  proximity to the Outlet Beach at Sandbanks Provincial Park.

“Why is this in the public interest? There are a lot of tourists who  like homes and properties along the water and a large number of people  who can’t (access it). Not all tourists can own property or want to own  property but they want to have a place to go to the beach,” she said.  “At Quinte’s Isle, all the maintenance is looked after. They like that  community.”

Ferguson Aulthouse said it is becoming increasingly difficult for mom  and pop operations to fulfill the criteria for servicing those  campgrounds, so more often than not, that waterfront is converted to  homes and fewer people have access. That leaves experienced operators  like the Wards to fill the void, she said.

One resident openly questioned when the county will have enough  tourism and who will ultimately make that decision. He said the talk  about people having an opportunity to be on the water is taking away  from the opportunity from people who live in the community to have  access to that same water.

Residents asked questions about the impact of the change on wildlife  along the provincially significant wetland that abuts the proposed  expansion, about traffic increases and services for a self-contained  village they said could accommodate as many people as Wellington, and  the studies provided.

Lynne Rochon said she felt the community really had to address its concerns with the municipality too.

“We could go on arguing or debating this forever. From my  perspective, I’m annoyed I found out about this only a short while ago.  To me, our argument should be with town council. There should be a  public meeting with all of the council,” she said.

“It’s really not your fault, you’re being paid and this is your job.  The problem is we have a plan and it should be adhered to. If it isn’t,  and there’s going to be a change, the community has to be consulted.”

Harrington said once the Wards file a complete application, the  County’s staff will produce an overview report and recommendations for  council to review. The timeline for that, he said, is unclear due to an  election year.

“There’s still going to be a full public process in front of  council,” he said. “And there will be, as far as I know, an opportunity  to make your views known. What we’re trying to do is ensure that when  you do come before council to make your views known you have all the  facts that we can arm you with to make an informed decision about  whether you support it or whether you don’t.”

A traffic study based on modelling on a Friday evening in August  suggests 150 cars travel through the Quinte’s Isle gates off Salmon  Point Road during a peak hour. The modelling estimates that will  increase to 225 if the expansion is approved and assumes an 80 per cent  occupancy rate at that time of year. Some residents felt the traffic  volumes are already too heavy on the road and pose dangerous conditions  for pedestrians and cyclists. Residents requested a broader scope be  considered in the interest of safety. There was also some talk about an  alternate entrance for the development. At present, there is an  alternate emergency entrance down Welbanks Road, but some felt more  consideration was necessary.

Another subject that drew considerable interest was plans for the  wetlands reserve to the south of the project. Upon consultation with  Quinte Conservation, there are plans to develop a modest parking area  off the end of Welbanks Road with the possibility for an observation  tower. There may also be public waterfront access, which is something  developers say the conservation authority was keen on having included.  Proposals for that area still must be vetted by the municipality and  Harrington suggested the municipality could place a hold on development  lands until it was satisfied with the wetland allowance.

Nina-Marie Lister brought the conversation back to economic impact.  She said tax revenue to the County would be about $300,000 a year, which  is less than half a percent of the operating budget. She questioned how  that might compare to the money generated by passive recreation on  rural lands, such as birdwatching.

Ferguson Aulthouse said the proponents’ valuations will be reviewed by the County’s peer reviewer.

Tim Ward said he feels the benefit will be more than tax revenue. The  expansion would provide for the employment of six people and it would  also bring in $800,000 in development fees, which he says will  contribute toward servicing the new units.

“The difference between having a job and not having a job is very  significant,” he said. “When you look at the municipality and the  struggles they have to afford services they have to offer, when they get  additional income, that has to be looked at as something positive.”

Lister also asked if the proponents would consider the County’s new  draft official plan, which would move the tourism corridor away from the  wetland area and wondered if they’d consider setting the bar higher.  Ferguson Aulthouse said they’d consult with County staff about how to  navigate that consideration.

Asked if there were any other considerations for the land, Tim Ward  said camping units was the priority, stressing that his family has a  long history of offering the amenities.

“We run a campground business. It’s what we do,” he said, adding the  family bought the park 35 years ago when it had 30-40 sites and was  “really not a good place.” With a lot of work, they built a business  they could be proud of that’s rated in the top two per cent of parks in  North America, equivalent to Disney’s First Wilderness Park.

“We don’t work at Quinte’s Isle. It is who we are. It is our lives,  It’s everything we do,” he said. “When you ask what other consideration  did we put into the land? I think it’s natural in our DNA that we think  of how we can provide for more people who want to enjoy everything  Prince Edward County has to offer, just as the rest of us have the  ability to do.”

Lister said the meeting was helpful and added the Wards can expect  further questions . “I think you can appreciate that people really  wanted to have this conversation and, frankly, good neighbours have  conversations early in the process…. We want to hear more of this  conversation and we want to give you the opportunity to be the good  citizens we hear so much about,” she said. “I appreciate the opportunity  to ask these questions publicly so that our friends and neighbours can  understand the issues, what is really at issues and what we are going to  have to pay for and what we bear. What do we get from this? That’s the  question a lot of us have.”

Harrington closed on a positive note.

“This has been a very constructive dialogue. Everyone has been  courteous. You’ve had tough questions for us to consider. We’ve got  homework to do and I hope this is constructive for you as well.”

Quinte’s Isle expansion

Quinte’s Isle expansion

  

Passions run high during open meeting at Athol Town Hall

An information session about the proposed expansion of the Quinte’s  Isle Campark devolved into chaos as concerned residents vented their  frustration at the meeting format chosen by the proponents of the  development. When the meeting opened, attendees were encouraged to ask  questions directly to the owners of Quinte’s Isle, Fourward Holdings  represented by Tim and Stephen Ward, or to the project’s planner,  lawyer, ecologist or hydrogeologist on a one-on-one basis. This,  however, proved to be unsatisfactory to many who had come seeking  information about the expansion of the seasonal trailer park, which is  proposing to add 337 new trailer sites on lands that are currently  designated as farmland. Wellington resident Jane Macdonald demanded that  the meeting format be changed. “I’d like to have one person at a time  answer our questions … I’d like to see an actual dialogue here,” she  said, voicing the concern of the majority.

The area marked Forward Holdings (sic) is the site of the proposed trailer park development, and lands subject to rezoning.

At first, Patrick Harrington, lawyer for Fourward Holdings, resisted  the call for change, insisting that the meeting continue as planned. He  eventually relented after facing several minutes of strident opposition,  and project planner Ruth Ferguson Aulthouse began answering questions  from those in attendance. The questions ranged from whether the  project—which requires a zoning change from rural to shoreland  designation— is in the public interest, whether environmental studies  were properly done and available for public inspection, whether traffic  studies were adequate, or what impact the project would have on nearby  wetlands.

Ferguson Aulthouse is well versed in the planning process,  particularly as it concerns Prince Edward County, as she created the  County’s current Official Plan, which has been in place since 1993. This  prompted a comment from resident Nina- Marie Lister, a member of the  Friends of the South Shore group, on how the project complies with the  County’s draft Official Plan, particularly when it comes to  environmental standards. “I’d like to say there is an opportunity to set  the bar higher by following the new draft Official Plan,” said Lister.  “I know you are not legally obligated to follow it. You have done your  due diligence, but the County has actually set a higher bar. So there’s a  major opportunity for this applicant to be really great citizens and to  show your interest in the long-term value of these lands.”

The meeting lasted around 90 minutes and most of the participants  were relatively satisfied that their concerns were being addressed.  Harrington said that all the information regarding traffic or  environmental studies will be made available online, and that people  should leave their contact information to be informed of future  meetings. The project is still in the planning stage, and council will  ultimately have to decide on its fate. After the initial hiccup,  Ferguson Aulthouse thought the meeting went really well. “I was enjoying  the one-on-one situations, but I can appreciate there were a number of  people that were not able to participate because of the numbers,” she  said. “I think the crowd was very reasonable and asked a lot of good  questions, and there was an opportunity for everybody to hear all the  answers. There are a number of requests for information, so that would  be one of the first things we’d do.”

Both Tim and Stephen Ward were pleased with the outcome of the  meeting. Their family has owned Quinte’s Isle for over 35 years, taking  it from a park with 40 or 50 little-used sites to one with 690 sites and  that is rated in the top two per cent of trailer parks in North  America. “We had a lot of people saying they are not opposed to the  development. They’d like something done a little bit different, or some  minor tweaks to it,” said Tim Ward. “We had some people that are not in  favour of the project, but we had a very positive response from the  folks that were here. I think we have an opportunity to improve some of  the natural environment around us, add parkland for the residents of  Prince Edward County, improve access to Lake Ontario, as well as  providing more jobs. I think there’s a winwin option here for the  municipality, for the residents of Prince Edward County and for us to  grow the park.”

Friends of South Shore in the News

Town Hall to discuss PEC South Shore


A town hall meeting is scheduled for Thursday at 4:00 p.m. at the Athol Town Hall in Cherry Valley.

The meeting is about a proposed trailer park expansion that would be placed on thirty-two hectares of rural farm land borders wetlands near Point Petre and Salmon Point.

An amendment to the Official Plan is being requested to County Council to allow for the 337 unit expansion., but there is no plan or timeline for public consultation regarding the application for the amendment.

The South Shore of Prince Edward County is regarded as one of the remaining wild shores on Lake Ontario.

Citizen Group Wants More Done Prior to Decisions

"Public" Meeting

Didn’t get your invitation to the August 2 ‘public’ meeting? You can catch the opening here — and see community members working hard to be heard