Housing, trails and restaurants possible for the next phase of Base31




Base31 gave a media update via Zoom, on their next phase of the project for the former Loch-Sloy Business Park, an approximate 750 acre site.

Base31 CEO Tim Jones, Alexandra De Gasperis, Vice President of DECO Communities Inc. and Daniela Kelloway, Head Marketing and Communications at Base31 unveiled the ‘Neighbourhood Plan’ to the media Monday.

The site, which is owned by PEC Community Partners, consists of a group of community builders including Tercot Communities, DECO Communities, Rockport Group and PEC Placemaking Inc.

This Ontario-based partnership brings together expertise in complete community development, affordable housing and commercial space, mixed-use residential, site servicing and infrastructure, and adaptive re-use of heritage sites with a specific focus on creative placemaking. PEC Community Partners Inc. were attracted to the unique and bountiful culture of the County and intrigued by the potential of the site’s heritage. The partnership purchased the former Loch-Sloy Business Park and Airport site in December 2021.

Bedouin Soundclash preformed at Base31 in 2022. (Jason Parks/Gazette Staff)

The partnership’s first priority was to kick off a multi-year revitalization of the 70-acre portion of the site that included the former barracks, mess halls, hangars and other buildings. In May of last year, this portion of the site was renamed Base31 and the Prince Edward County community was invited to help co-create its future.

Over the course of the last year, the site has started to come back to life through investment in the restoration of several heritage buildings onsite, a major landscape transformation effort, public art, programming and site activations. More than 50 collaborations and community investments in local organizations have been made, thousands have attended concerts and events, and the team at Base31 has grown significantly to 35 team members, and is expected to continue to grow. The team at Base31 is operated by a local procurement mandate to create economic opportunities throughout the County.

“Last year we got the ball rolling by removing some fences and beginning to transform the landscape,” said Jones. “We started installing public art projects, hosted a series of eight concerts in the Drill Hall, introduced the amazing Shway Shway Mama Cafe, and we got to work on renovating multiple buildings on the site.”

The next phase in the project for Base31 is developing a Neighbourhood Plan.

“Our community co-creation efforts are extending to the full site as we embark on the next phase of the project by developing a Neighbourhood Plan for the 750-acre site at Base31,” Kelloway said. “This is an opportunity for local residents to get involved and help shape the future of this community as we create the vision for the Neighbourhood Plan together. The Neighbourhood Plan will provide direction for the future vision of the site and is informed by this community visioning process.”

Base31 are working with the community to envision the future of Base31 as a dynamic collection of neighbourhoods with a mix of uses: retail, restaurants, places to work and create, parks, trails and recreation areas, a full complement of community amenities, and a range of housing to suit many needs.

“Together, we are looking to create a County-made community brimming with opportunity,” expressed Kelloway. “A place alive with energy, infused with nature, and where history, the arts, and all things culinary are celebrated. Our aim is to deliver a range of new housing options to help families flourish and bring prosperity through new employment and business opportunities.”

“This year I’m excited to tell you that your going to see a whole different and new level of programming and site activation, more newly renovated buildings opening, more extensive interpretations of the heritage on the site and some amazing new food and drink options,” Jones said. “Our team which now numbers 35 but soon will be 60 people is hard at work on so many fronts and over the coming weeks were going to have a whole lot of information to share with you about the Base31 revitalization. In early April were announcing a concert calendar with more then 40 events and I think it’s really going to blow peoples socks off.”

Base31 understands there is a need for more housing in the County. Their aim is to provide housing solutions to meet the needs of a wide range of income levels, ages, and life stages. They’re looking at a mix of unit types, including affordable rental and ownership opportunities, short-term housing for service workers, family sized homes, and homes for seniors. This will be defined together with the County and the community.

 At the end of March, Base31 will be launching a series of tools and activities to provide opportunities to contribute to the vision for the Neighbourhood Plan. These tools and activities include the launch of a new website and a survey series. Details on how to access and participate in the survey will be made available through the Base31 newsletter, website, print media, and social media channels.

In August 2022, The Department of Illumination presented ALVAR, a festival celebrating this unique and precious ecosystem of the Great Lakes region. (Jason Parks/Gazette Staff)

“We plan to run a series of workshops in April and multiple round tables with special interest groups over the next few months,” said Kelloway. “Workshops and roundtable sessions will cover key topics, case studies and will invite local stakeholder and special interest groups. An Idea Fair is scheduled for May and we will invite the community to join us in-person for idea sharing and discussion surrounding the Neighbourhood Plan. “

Together with the community, their aim is to support discussion and gather feedback on the following topics:

  • Creating new housing solutions for a wide range of income levels, lifestyles, and ages;
  • Connecting people to parks, gardens, trails, and the surrounding natural areas;
  • Expanding opportunities for education, employment, and new business;
  • Providing much-needed community and family amenities to Picton and beyond; and,
  • Delivering new infrastructure, amenities, and a combination of commercial and residential uses to advance the prosperity of local businesses and drive economic growth for the County.

“Community members will be able to visit the site to learn more about the engagement process, key milestones and discover how to participate with online and in-person,” De Gasperis stated. “They can also learn more about the site, our community engagement process and opportunities to engage in the process as they become available.”

How will feedback be incorporated into the Neighbourhood Plan? Base31 will continually gather, assess, and report on feedback received through their various engagement tools and activities. A report will be produced and socialized with the planning team and County Staff as a means to assess opportunities for inclusion in the plan based on site constraints, optimal land use, and priorities outlined by the local community.

The process of planning a community of this size is one that takes a long time and has many iterations. This current phase of engagement will run from April through to September of this year. Base31 will have future engagement for subsequent planning milestones with many community design iterations. The community will have an opportunity to provide feedback before, during, and after the submission is made. Engagement with the local community to help create the vision for the site will be completed in phases and take place over many years, covering a range of topics.

“This is a phased, multi-year project, and will take many decades to complete,” said Kelloway. “Our aim is to create steady growth over the long term. This is just the beginning of the process, and we look forward to continuing to work with the community as the project evolves.”

For more information on Base31 please visit https://base31.ca/