Legacy of Scott family shouldn’t be lost in Loch-Sloy sale

Loch Sloy Business Park
JASON PARKS

STAFF WRITER

A new day dawned upon the former No. 31 Bombing and Gunnery School south west of Picton last week.

But the very fact there is a thriving business park, airport, storage hangers and ancillary buildings is a testament to the dedication and vision of the late Vivian Scott and the Scott family.

On Friday PEC Community Partners Inc., an Ontario-based group, announced it had finalized the purchase of the approximately 700-acre property which includes the former Loch-Sloy Business Park and Picton Airport lands. 

In a statement, PEC Community Partners said the revitalization of the 70-acre business park is the “first priority for the group” and “community engagement and collaboration will be central to shaping the future of the site.”

TOUGH TRAINING- Members of the Canadian Armed Forces patrol an area at Loch Sloy Business Park during a training exercise in 2014. (Adam Bramburger/Gazette file photo)

“The group will be launching a community consultation series in 2022. The group looks forward to engaging with residents and businesses to reimagine, revitalize, and honour the heritage of this landmark property in the heart of Prince Edward County,” the statement continued.

That’s encouraging news to Dr. Jamie Scott who spoke to the Gazette following the close on the sale of the property his father, the late Vivian Leonard Scott purchased from the McFarland family in 1999.

“It got to be where we couldn’t advance any further without a massive investment and we are very satisfied with PEC Community Partners and what their vision is for the future of this heritage property,” Scott said.

Maintaining and preserving one of the last World War II-era British Commonwealth Air Training Plan bases in Canada and fostering its transformation into a commercial hub of a host of private businesses, studio spaces, storage units, etc. over the span of 22 years has been a passion project for Dr. Scott and the York University professor was thankful to Loch-Sloy staff members for their dedication over the last two decades.

“We’ve been very fortunate to have had Jacqui Burley and Steve Everall involved and overseeing the day-to-day operations and my family thanks them so much for their efforts,” Scott said. “We’ve never actually taken anything out of the business over the last two decades. Any profit has always been reinvested into the renovation and preservation of the site and over the last 22 years.”

A native Brit, Vivian Leonard Scott trained as a bombing navigator at a BCTP site in Paulson, Manitoba in 1942 that mirrored No. 31 and told his son upon his initial visit to Prince Edward County in 1999 it was like he was back in the Canadian Prairies in war time.

“When he first visited, my father was amazed and said it was like going back in time,” Scott remarked.

The late Scott decided to invest in the former base and push it into the future. He addressed security issues and started the hefty financial lifting of fixing the roofs of the hangers and the buildings that could be saved and rehabilitated.

“It was a matter of inspiration and nostalgia,” his son said. “In a number of cases, it looked worse than it was.”

Vivian passed away in April, 2001 and his son took up the mission of slowly restoring the base and buildings and developing a viable commercial entity. As other BCTP bases across Canada were scrapped and demolished, the former Camp Picton survived. The former base hosted Royal Canadian Air Cadet Gliding Schools each summer. The airport and the Picton Flying Club continued its operations. Community events such as drag races, tractor pulls, community culinary events were hosted there and the business compliment maintained critical mass.

While WWII heritage died or was long dead in places like Paulson, it continued to live and breathe in Prince Edward County thanks to the Scott family.

Upon closure of the sale, Dr. Scott admitted he had a quiet, celestial conversation with his father.

“ ‘You did good son’, is what he told me. I know we are leaving it much better than we found it, the heritage has been preserved and we hope that inspiration and nostalgia transfers to the new owners,” he added.

According to the news release, PEC Community Partners Inc. consists of a group of community builders including Tercot Communities, DECO Communities, PEC Placemaking, and Rockport Group. 

“The Ontario-based partnership brings together expertise in mixed-use residential, affordable housing and commercial space, adaptive re-use of heritage sites, and complete community development with a specific focus on creative placemaking.”