‘Risky and concerning’: Group opposes proposed industrial site along 1000 Islands Parkway

Kehoe Marine Construction – Photo submitted by Katherine Macklem


A controversial rezoning application by Kehoe Marine Construction has prompted an open letter currently circulating among officials and community members in the Thousand Islands region.

Kehoe Marina, a local staple along the stretch of the 1000 Islands Parkway, has applied to have its waterfront location rezoned into an industrial site.

Concern among some locals is mounting as those who live on or use the parkway for recreation wonder how this proposed rezoning may affect the culture, tourism, and environment within the Thousand Islands.

According to the Planning Justification Report submitted by Fotenn Planning + Design for the Zoning By-Law Amendment on June 6th, 2023:

“The project area…consists of multiple separate legal lots that will be merged through a concurrent process. The purpose of this application is to consolidate the zoning across the subject lands to recognize and allow the continued long-standing rural industrial and marine manufacturing use of the properties and to allow site improvements, open storage, and one new building for indoor storage.”

The Fotenn report outlines that “previous owners operated similar marine manufacturing uses on these lands dating back approximately 65 years. These lands are one of a very limited number of locations in the region that provide an opportunity for loading and off-loading of heavy construction materials for marine purposes.”

As a response to this development, an open letter written by Katherine Macklem and Robert Parson was sent out to elected officials of the Township of Leeds and the Thousand Islands and the Township’s Planning Technician.

The letter calls upon officials directly, stating: “You would put at risk fragile wetland ecosystems that right now contribute to flood control, clean water, and shoreline and storm protection. The potential for damage to these wetlands is dramatic, through noise and light pollution and materials seepage.”

The letter puts forth multiple questions for its recipients to consider, including “Do we want residents and visitors, people walking along the Thousand Islands Parkway path with children, elderly family members, their dogs, cyclists and runners, to encounter such increased truck traffic? Was the Thousand Islands Parkway designed to handle the increased traffic of construction trucks carrying tons of materials? Is that the intent of the Parkway? How safe is it to have increased heavy truck traffic along the Thousand Islands Parkway?”

When Thousand Islands resident Katherine Macklem first heard of these plans at a township meeting in March, she felt immediately concerned and knew she needed to learn more. Brockvilleist spoke with Macklem to understand why she decided to speak up and take action against the rezoning.

“There are two provincially significant wetlands adjacent to this site on either side of the property,” Macklem explained. “A wetland is a very fragile ecosystem. There are chemicals used in their construction work. I’m not a scientist but as a lay person, it seems very risky and concerning to have it so nearby.”

Brockvilleist also spoke with Susan Barton, a longtime business and property owner on the 1000 Islands Parkway. Susan and David Barton were the previous owners of the KAO campground, which is right across the road from the Kehoe site.

Susan and her husband, along with her mother and father, bought their property across from Kehoe in 1987. They lived and worked there for 32 years before selling in 2018.

When the Bartons heard of the prospect of rezoning, they also felt compelled to write a letter of opposition to the township. In the letter provided to Brockvilleist, the couple writes, “We are still local business owners and we do not disagree with progress, only that as progress is made it is mindful of future generations, the health and welfare of our citizens, and with that comes retaining the area’s natural beauty and delicate ecosystems.”

“I sent the letter to all the councillors, except one councillor and the mayor who was recused at the time the letter was sent,” Susan Barton shared. “I also sent the letter to the town planning technician, Megan Shannon, so it became part of the public record. MPP Steve Clark also received a copy.”

The letter explains that “the original industrial zoning change was granted to Williams Marine because it was presented as a small manufacturing business that would employ family mainly during the winter months, with the marina employing during the summer months. Although there were concerns regarding the official plan, area residents did not object because the scope of the business presented was low impact.”

They conclude that “we need to ensure the future of our community is the one we want and that we are not continuing to make bad decisions because of a zoning change made 30 years ago when we could not foresee what the future would bring.”

Screengrab from Fotenn planning bylaw report

Todd Perry, vice president of Kehoe Marine Construction, confirmed with Brockvilleist that an environmental impact assessment was a requirement of the application process, which has now been completed, peer reviewed and accepted. When asked about the potential benefits to rezoning the property, Perry explained that “rezoning will properly address the needs of the business while ensuring that the township has some ability to control what we do on the site.”

Perry explained that “our message to the public is that we’re trying to do everything right. The township and other agencies have been clear in their expectations of us, and we’re working to ensure that all agencies and levels of government are happy with how we’re doing what we’re doing.”

Regardless of the outcome, Katherine Macklem wants to encourage others to speak their mind and share their viewpoints on the ongoing discussion.

“It can be a little daunting at times but I think it’s really important to let the elected officials know what people are feeling,” she said. “Lots of people call this place their special place and whether they live here full-time or not, I think that the township council should hear from them.”

Brockvilleist will continue to report on this story as more information becomes available.

8 thoughts on “‘Risky and concerning’: Group opposes proposed industrial site along 1000 Islands Parkway

  • There have been many submissions to the Council of Leeds and the Thousand Islands against this dangerous re-zoning. Here’s what I sent to Council on March 26, 2024:

    Dear Mayor and Council
    I am writing to object to the Zoning By-Law Amendment requested by Kehoe Development Inc. et al.
    I urge Council to end the Township’s long history of enabling the Kehoes’ business to become an ugly, noisy, full-fledged Class III industry on the waterfront. It is in the wrong place: a blight on the 1000 Islands Parkway, a source of anguish to neighbouring residences, and a destroyer of the beauty and environmental health of McCrea’s Bay.
    In encouraging this, the Township has contravened its own Official Plan (OP) in many very fundamental ways.
    To begin with, the “Township Vision Statement” (OP3.1) says: “The Township of Leeds and the Thousand Islands embraces a mandate to preserve, enhance and celebrate its diverse history, scenic beauty and natural resources in the development of its future.” This is the Township’s fundamental core philosophy – but it has been totally ignored as the mess at Kehoe’s has been allowed to take over McCrea’s Bay.
    The Kehoe industry fundamentally contravenes the Official Plan in many more ways, which include:
    1. It is within the 1000 Islands Area Special Policy Area (OP Sec. 5.9), in which:
    • “care is needed to prevent over-development” (OP 5.9.2.1).
    • Vision: “…ensure that it remains a natural and cultural showpiece for the future” (OP 5.9.2.2).
    • “A key goal is to preserve and enhance the aesthetic value of the area” (OP 5.9.2.2.1.1).
    • “Industrial uses are generally prohibited. However, limited industrial uses may be permitted…if the proposed use requires to be located in proximity to water, subject to the Compatibility and Built Form Section … (OP 5.9.2.2.2.1(a)).
    • Compatibility and Built Form (OP 4.6): Proposed development should be “compatible with the surrounding uses, built form and general character of the area”. The Kehoe Class III industry contravenes this section in many ways. For instance, see separation distances between industrial, residential and other sensitive land uses in OP 4.6.3.
    2. It is on the scenic 1000 Islands Parkway (OP 7.4.5.) Stated SLPC principles include “to provide a safe, well-maintained scenic corridor through the 1000 Islands area as a tourist attraction”, “within a unique and picturesque landscape”, “to protect and enhance the natural areas and scenic vistas along the Parkway”, and “to ensure, in cooperation with the Township, that any new development is compatible with the natural areas”.
    3. It is within the UNESCO Frontenac Arch Biosphere (OP 4.21.1) “When reviewing development applications, the Township shall ensure that the ecological features and functions for which the area is recognized are maintained and/or enhanced.”
    In spite of these basic directives, the Township has enabled the Kehoes to expand, against its own planning and in the face if constant objections. In short: The Kehoe Industry is in the wrong place.
    My property extends over to the west side of McCrae’s Bay. I am concerned about the Kehoes’ impact on my wetlands, which I protect with an environmental easement held by the 1000 Islands Watershed Land Trust. I have lived here since 1962 and I remember the desirable mix of residences, marine construction and docking for boaters which used to exist at the Kehoes’ present site, providing the economic lifeblood of this area.
    The Township could still call a halt to the visual and environmental desecration that the Kehoes have inflicted on the shoreline and on McCrae’s Bay. I urge the Township to turn the tide. It can be done:
    • Refuse the application for Zoning By-Law Amendment No. D14-2023-007.
    • Insist that the Kehoes scale back their waterfront activity to only select elements which must be on water.
    • invest in an industrial park north of the 401, outside the Special Policy Area.
    • Help the Kehoes re-locate their heavy industrial activity there.
    • Encourage other industries to locate in this new industrial park.
    • Restore the wise use of McCrea’s Bay, acknowledging “the area’s global importance in demonstrating a balanced relationship between people and nature”. (OP Sec. 2 Basis of the Official Plan.)
    • Acknowledge that “Ongoing and future development pressure will require increasingly diligent review and assessment of applications to ensure that new development blends in and results in minimal impacts”. (OP 2.8)
    The Township is privileged to have the world-famous 1000 Islands within its borders. But with that comes the responsibility to protect it with good, reliable planning. We have a good Official Plan. We should expect Council to uphold it, with wise decisions producing good long-term effects, far beyond a four-year term of office.
    What is the use of having an Official Plan if it is not followed in the most fundamental ways? Or if newcomers cannot depend on it when they invest in a property? Or if its basic goals are casually and constantly ignored when development applications are made? Or if residents, cottagers and tourists must stand by helplessly as the beauty they cherish is wrecked?
    Yours sincerely,
    Blu Mackintosh

    Reply
  • We are many who have objected to changing the zoning to permit an industrial size expansion of this very sensitive property on this crucial water, the St Lawrence river. The already ongoing traffic with large trucks have been very disturbing
    for permanent residents.
    I am a waterfront owner, spend much time on and in the river, get my drinking water from it. An industrial complex, with storage of toxic chemicals by this river should never be permitted. Harmful to humans and harmful to animal life.

    Reply
  • The Thousand Islands PARKWAY was not intended for industrial use. What kind of precedent is this setting? The good people at Kehoe could expand all they want and continue to support the local economy and offer employment opportunities if they moved their fabrication operations to a dedicated industrial park away from the river, perhaps north of the 401. The dock parts could be built in components.

    Reply
  • Subject: Zoning Bylaw amendment, D14–2 023–007

    Subject: zoning, Bylaw amendment

    Kehoe’s industrial complex, perversely located in an otherwise Special Policy Zone has now clearly outgrown its modest footprint.

    Competent forward planning should have chosen to locate manufacturing to a proper remote and enlarged facility, avoiding the myriad of environmental hazards intrinsic to their present shoreline location.

    CRCA staff suggested that rezoning approval not be granted on that basis, ( politically reversed by the board) .Indeed it would be a travesty of responsible planning on the part of TLTI to once more disregard the hoped for protections of the river, and it’s PSW’s. supposedly decreed by the Special Protection Area.

    The life blood of economic success in TLTI is ecotourism (responsible tourism, where only breaths are taken, and where only footprints are left). Taking away the aesthetics takes away the tourism.

    This proposal conflicts in the most flagrant degree with the universally supported aspiration to designate the St. Lawrence River as a Canadian Heritage River which TIARA is now close to accomplishing.

    Approval of this Industrial Zone designation by TLTI would once again create a worrisome negative precedent that has sadly characterized the recent history of the Special Policy Area. TIARA suggests that this ill conceived proposal be summarily rejected, and proposes that TLTI could even assist relocation of the industrial elements of Kehoe’s business to a proper designated industrial park. This, of course would have the potential to attract other companies, seeking to establish businesses here.
    Long-term prescient planning is required in TLTI and is critical for maintaining both tourism attractiveness and preserving the ecological diversity of this unique area. This ill considered proposal is simply shortsighted and flagrantly irresponsible.
    Yours truly
    MSG, Bell
    (Co-president TIARA)
    Sent from my iPhone

    Reply
  • This is an email tat I sent to the TLTI mayor and council March 22, 2024
    Dear Mayor Smith- Gatcke and council,

    I am writing to oppose the Zoning By-Law Amendment – 507 1000islands Parkway, 515 1000Islands Parkway, 14, 26, 30 and 36 McCrae’s Bay Lane.

    This is the same letter that I sent to you in September of 2023.

    Nothing has changed for the better, and actually the situation is much worse, with the digging and huge earth piles behind the houses on the other side of the Parkway, opposite Kehoe construction.

    There are also increasingly large piles of dock construction materials piled in the yard at Kehoe’s.

    Kehoe Marine Construction is a valuable business that employs a lot of people, but should a class III (3) industrial facility be located on the 1000Islands Parkway?

    At best, expansion should not be allowed onto Provincially Significant wetland!

    It seems that several sections of the TLTI official plan are being ignored.

    5.9.2 Thousand Islands Area (Land South of Highway 401)

    The Thousand Islands Area, as identified on Schedule ‘A1’ and described

    as the area south of Highway 401, continues to be of unique importance to its

    residents and tourists. Some additional policies will apply in this area and

    several specific land use designations have been shown on Schedule ‘A1’ for some of the land south of Highway 401, in order to carefully control residential and various forms of commercial and industrial development.

    5.9.2.1 Basis

    The special character of the Thousand Islands Area is a vital aspect of the

    Township’s economy, and it is recognized that care is needed to prevent

    over-development that could jeopardize its unique natural and cultural environment, waterfront character, and sense of place enjoyed by both existing

    residents and tourists, and future generations

    5.9.2.2 Vision Statement

    The Thousand Islands area, known for its world class natural beauty and

    Special character, will be protected from over-development. Through contextually

    appropriate development, public access and recreation opportunities will be

    improved to ensure that it remains a natural and cultural showpiece for

    the future.

    ———————————————–

    5.9.2.2.2 Commercial, Industrial, and Active Recreation Uses

    Tourist Commercial and Limited Industrial

    a) Industrial uses are generally prohibited. However, limited industrial

    uses may be permitted without the need for an amendment to the Official

    Plan, if the proposed use requires to be located in proximity to water,

    subject to the Compatibility and Built Form Section of this Plan, and any

    other policies of this Plan, as applicable. These uses should be located as

    far in-land as possible from the water and should include natural buffers

    consisting of native vegetation and rock to protect and shield views from

    all sides and from residential areas.

    Section 4 General Land Use Policies

    4.6.2 Design Guidelines

    4.6.3 Industrial Facilities and Sensitive Land Uses

    Class III Industrial Facility: means a place of business for large scale

    manufacturing or processing, characterized by large physical size, outside

    storage of raw and finished products, large production volumes and

    continuous movement of products and employees during daily shift operations. It has frequent outputs of major annoyance and there is high probability of

    fugitive emissions

    In the absence of technical studies which identify an actual influence area,

    separation distances required between industrial uses and residential or

    other sensitive land uses shall reflect the following potential influence

    areas:

    a) Class I Industrial Facilities: 70 m

    b) Class II Industrial Facilities: 300 m

    c) Class III Industrial Facilities: 1,000 m

    In summary, Kehoe Marine Construction needs to re-locate the industrial section of their business to an industrial park.

    Currently many of the docks they manufacture are already transported by truck to areas away from the river.

    Think of the environment!

    Sincerely

    Joyce Medcalf

    Hill Island

    Reply
  • Hi there,
    This is more of a personal story about frustrations we have on top of what Kehoe’s is doing. Weston Island (my cottage island) is all the land to the right of Kehoe’s from a bird’s eye view.

    I am writing this on behalf of all of my relatives on Weston Island, but most of all my immediate family.
    Weston Island will be celebrating our 150th anniversary in 2025. That is 120 years more than Kehoe’s has been around. ¾ of my relatives are older than Kehoe’s.
    Weston Island is my immediate family’s favourite place in the whole world. The minute we turn off the parkway onto our dirt road we discuss the nature and wildlife that is on either side of our little bridge. We discuss any trees that have fallen, and finally, we arrive in front of our cottage. The first thing the kids do is run to the bay to see how high the water is and how calm or rough it is.
    Before we arrive in front of our cottage or see any of the cottages we look to the right where there is a bit of a clearing to see what garbage has floated up onto our land, what if any equipment from Kehoe’s is attached to trees on our land, and what new things is Kehoe working on right in the bay.

    This is the same bay that not too long ago my husband, myself, and my youngest were kayaking in. We wanted to go around to see what trees had fallen (if any) on the property and if there was any wildlife around. We were quickly shouted at from a distance. I thought surely they were not yelling at us, but at the two young workers on the barge. I looked around after the man kept going on to see where it was coming from. He was yelling at us and as I ignored him waving at us he yelled that we were entering a construction zone.
    Construction zones have lots of advance warnings like orange pylons, maybe temporary STOP signs or lights, people in hard hats and construction vest directing traffic, but we saw none of that. Just a man yelling at three people kayaking on the St. Lawrence. If we had docked our kayaks and tied them up on Kehoe’s barges or docks that were being built that wouldn’t be right and I could see why someone wouldn’t like it. It reminds me of what Kehoe’s use to do all the time to our land when they would tie their newest dock to it like it was their property. I guess that is what the man yelling at me was thinking, all of a sudden the bay was Kehoe’s.
    My husband called to me as he knew I was thinking of paddling closer to the person yelling at me. We turned around and spoke to the two young workers on the barge. They explained to us that Kehoe’s was building a fish and turtle habitat at the end of the bay. I had to stop myself from laughing. Now they are worrying about the environment? They couldn’t explain why it was being done or why the man was even shouting at us. I didn’t expect much from them because they were just doing what they were told. My 8-year-old daughter witnessed all of this. How can you create and bird and turtle sanctuary in wetlands that they already live in? Knowing the issues with Kehoe’s she saw right through the habitat building and had numerous questions.

    I can’t even fathom the amount of money Kehoe’s makes each year. It is not an amount I will ever see in my life. We feel the selfishness and arrogance they have shown over the years that they feel they need to continue to build their business right in the St Lawrence is unacceptable. Yes, it is right in the water. Adding docks in the water, attaching materials to other’s property, blocking resident’s views, clogging up the parkway, and building hideous buildings in the beautiful area all for more money.

    This area is not where Kehoe’s should be building more. I didn’t even get into the noise issue. We have over 30 acres of forest between us and Kehoe’s and believe me the banging will wake you from a deep sleep. Kehoe’s has continued to expand and expand in the water, which is no one’s property, but through this act, they essentially make that water their property as they have made clear to us. Further expansion of their business only shows that bullying and money can purchase rights to the water.

    Please keep asking and even knocking on residents doors on the parkway to take into find out what we have all been fighting for at least a couple of years.
    If you want to speak to someone who is thoroughly in the know and has been fighting this for his kids and grandkids future reach out to my dad, John Clement (613)267-4793
    Thank you,

    Torie O’Neill

    Reply
  • Good morning.
    My husband, Charles and I are in total agreement with the above letters from our friends and neighbours.
    We have been sending objections and complaints to our Mayor Corinna Smith-Gatcke, Directors of Planning Marnie Venditti, Councillors and many, many government agencies over the expanse of 8 years.
    We vehemently oppose the application for a zoning by-law amendment by Kehoe Marine Construction.
    The destruction of our tranquility and the tranquility of the environment for our wildlife is unmeasurable.
    Our once gorgeous and admired McCrae’s Bay has become an eyesore full of floating construction equipment.
    Tourists walking on the Bike path stop and ask us what this industry is and why is it here?
    The expansion of Kehoe has been monstrous as our elected officials have just sat by saying, “ all is legally being done, “ or “we’ll talk to Kehoe”.
    Both water fowl, birds and marine life are affected daily.
    We are exhausted by our fight for an equal balance in this protected, wonderful Thousands Islands.
    We will continue to protest the uncontrolled expansion of an industry that needs to be in an industrial area and not on our wetlands and prime tourist area.
    As residents who have this in our sights by looking out our windows and hearing the extremely loud industrial sounds coming from Kehoe we appreciate you hearing us and you seeing us .
    Thank you for this opportunity.
    Regards.
    Roswitha and Charles Baker

    ,

    Reply
  • This article summarizes the feelings of so many people along the St Lawrence who 100% disagree with the expansion of Kehoe’s for many reasons. My family has a cottage next to Kehoe’s and we have been watching and opposing their expanded business for years. It is great that media coverage is happening to put this massive issue in the limelight. They push and push and push without really caring about the impacts on the water, wetlands or people around them. I really feel this is a local issue for a much larger problem. Industries with money have the ability to push through things that are in their best interest but not in the best interest of pretty much everyone else. Thank you for the coverage

    Reply

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