FOR THE GAZETTE
An application to expand Quinte Isle Campark has been deferred to later date due to concerns from First Nation partners.
An agenda comprised of upwards of 25 deputations and public comments was set heading into Tuesday night’s Special Council meeting. But as the meeting was getting underway, Matt Coffey, the County’s Approval Planning Coordinator, asked to speak privately with Mayor Ferguson.
The planning application calls for an expanded marina, around 300 new seasonal trailer sites and increased roadway access including an access point off Welbanks Road.
After a short recess, Coffey explained that for particularly large and controversial planning applications like this one, part of the process is always to circulate the information to First Nations. In this case, Coffey said staff notified Hiawatha First Nation, Alderville First Nation and the Mohawks of the Bay of Quinte.
He said the first two gave no response. However, early Tuesday staff received a letter from the MBQ indicating that further consultation is still required. Staff also received a letter from Huron-Wendat First Nation that they would like to be consulted on the file as well, Coffey said.
“Based on these two letters, staff are of the opinion that we should defer these applications for the purpose of allowing staff an opportunity to meet with these two groups to see if we can resolve any concerns that they have,” he explained.
Coffey said he estimates it would take about two months for these consultations to be made.
In an almost unanimous vote, councillors agreed to defer based on the procedural by-law that states all deputations made would need to be altered if brought up in a second meeting.
CAO Wallace explained Council had two options to move the meeting forward. The first being the choice to defer the meeting agenda in its entirety, including deputations and public comments, to honour those who put effort and hard work into their comments, which is what Council opted for.
The second option would have been to hear all deputations and public comments, then to vote for deferral at the time the staff report would have been presented. If Council had gone ahead with this, it would have pressed the public to alter their deputations under the procedural by-law.
Mayor Ferguson said those who put so much work into their comments or deputations should be heard.
“We’ve got 27 people who have prepared either comments or deputations,” he said. “I’m sure we’ve all read them and understand how passionate they are,” he said.
Coun. St. Jean agreed, saying he would like to be respectful to those individuals and listen to their comments despite the procedural rules.
Coun. MacNaughton posed a suggestion to move forward with the deputations but give all speakers a choice to either state their comments knowing alternations would need to be made at the future meeting, or to hold their comments until that time.
After discussion, majority of councillors agreed that to be courteous to members of the public, the meeting should be deferred.
“I would suggest that depending on the outcome of the conversations with the First Nations, the deputations may change,” Coun. Maynard said. “if we are going to have a two-month break, deputations that would allow deputants to make changes to their comments and hear them all when it’s relevant and before us for a decision.”
“My biggest concern is, I was always taught you have to strike when the iron is hot, and if we hear the deputations and kind of know the deferral is coming [later in the meeting], no offence to the hard work, they are going to be ahead in two months if they hold off,” Coun. Prinzen added.
Similarly, Coun. Margetson agreed the staff recommendation may change pursuant to further consultation.
“Until we know what the results of that consultation is, then it will put relevance to any comments or deputation we do receive. I do recognize the people and the effort, but I feel that based on the information we have, I support deferral,” Margetson said.
Coun. Bailey also agreed that the information proposed for council tonight on behalf of the public will be “as good in two months, if not better, than it is now.”
Coun. Roberts seconded Coun. Prinzen’s motion to strike the deferral, noting it is out of respect for the people that have prepared material.
“I agree that those deputations and comments may well materially change, given what is coming as a subsequent staff report. So, in terms of efficiency and effectiveness, the right way to go is to defer the entirety of the proceedings this evening and hear all of the deputations and comments when we have the benefit of that two-month consultation,” he said.
The Prinzen-Roberts motion to defer was received and resulted in a 12-1 majority vote.
Municipal Clerk Catalina Blumenberg read the motion stating “the agenda, including all deputations and comments from the audience, be deferred to a future Special Council meeting referring the planning application for Fourward Holdings Inc. and Quinte Isle Campark Inc. be referred to staff to consult with the Mohawks of the Bay of Quinte and Heron-Wendat Nation’s council.”
Mayor Ferguson adjourned the meeting and emphasized the significant public interest and long history the Quinte Isle Campark Expansion Project has had, and apologized for the sudden delay.
“I want to apologize to the members of the public who prepared their comments and were going to come forward with deputations and comments. Obviously, this was last minute information and you can tell that it took me and members of council by surprise,” he said. “Please keep your comments and we will see you when this matter arises.”
No future Council meeting date was announced.