Raspberry Point Oyster rezoning on P.E.I. draws criticism

Nigel Armstrong NArmstrong@TheGuardian.pe.ca
Published on January 18, 2016

This past summer is the first time in decades Arnold Smith wasn't tending to his Bay Vista motel, but Monday night he was still fighting with the neighbour, Raspberry Point Oysters.

Raspberry Point wants to expand its business by adding education and interpretive tours on site, offer an on-the-water oyster experience for tourists, and put up a retail shop.

He said dust and unsightly heaps of equipment were constantly bothering the vacation experience of his motel guests.

That went on for years and requests for improvement never brought any change.

He said he dreamed of the oyster plant burning down.

"My prayer every night as I went to bed was that the fire that consumed it didn't destroy my trees," Smith told the meeting.

"Very little, if anything, was ever done," he said. "For years we suffered negative effects."

He sold the hotel in the spring of 2015 to Asian investors who were not comfortable attending the meeting, said Smith.

The motel in Bayview, just west of Cavendish, used to include a dancehall and lounge called the Bayview Yacht Club until Scott Linkletter bought the property in the early 1970s, divided the property and sold the motel to Smith in 1977.

Linkletter turned the dancehall into a restaurant called Fiddles and Vittles, also adding a few tourist rooms.

In the years 1999 and 2000 the tourism operation closed at that location and slowly, the building turned into its present use, a wash and pack plant for Raspberry Point Oyster Company.

It also includes storage for that aquaculture company, said Smith.

Now Raspberry Point wants to expand  but that requires rezoning, which was the subject of the public meeting Monday. Council will take comments from the public under consideration before the matter comes to the February council meeting, said municipality chairman Matthew Jelley. Written comments will still be accepted until Jan.25, he said.

Smith was one of five members of the public at the meeting. He was the only one to speak and had many sharp words of criticism.

Sheela Brennan, a marketing and sales manager with the Linkletter group of companies told the meeting that a fence will be put up between the motel and oyster plant.

Not much good, said Smith. Piles of oyster crates are smelly and will only grow as the company grows, Smith told the meeting.

"There needs to be some serious thought to the effect on the property next door," Smith told the council.

The tours are just evolving from the arrival of more curious tourists, said James Power, manager of Raspberry Point.

"More and more people were just stopping in, asking what we were doing," he said. "This year we are going to do  more formal tours."

The retail shop and on-water tours will come next year, he said.