View from a plane of the historic Loch Sloy site in PEC

HISTORY

Base31 has a rich and multi-layered history including the following highlights:
  • Prince Edward County lies on the traditional lands of the St. Lawrence Iroquoians, Wendat, Haudenosaunee, and Mississauga nations. Indigenous peoples continue to live in PEC. Base 31 recognizes that we make, work, live, meet, grow and create on the traditional territory of the Anishnaabeg, Wendat and Haudenosaunee Peoples and adjacent to the Kanien’keha:ka (Mohawk) community of Tyendinaga. All non-Indigenous people are visitors to this land, and embrace our Treaty obligation to take care of this land.
  • The 70-acre site includes more than 40 former barracks, mess halls, hangars and administrative buildings. It is part of an approximately 700-acre property.
  • The site was built by the Canadian government and originally operated by the British Royal Airforce as No. 31 Bombing and Gunnery School – RAF Station Picton. It was built in 1940 as part of the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan that trained aircrews from the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand during World War II.
  •  After the war, the RCAF took over command.  In 1946, the Royal School of Artillery (Anti-Aircraft) used it as a training base and renamed it Camp Picton.  In 1962, the First Battalion of the Canadian Guards utilized the base and the site was renamed Canadian Forces Base (CFB) Picton.
  • The site was decommissioned as a military base in 1969 and sold to former Mayor of Picton, H. J. McFarland. He renamed it Loch-Sloy Business Park in honour of his Scottish heritage.
  • The site transferred ownership again in 1999 but the name was adapted to Loch-Sloy Business Park and Airport. Loch Sloy Holdings Inc. under the management of Jacqui Burley is credited with preserving many of the site’s heritage buildings and adapting them for flexible industrial and commercial spaces.
  • Today the site is home to 75 tenants and is used for a wide range of business activities including commercial and industrial operations as well as a functioning space for makers, artists and galleries.
  • PEC Community Partners Inc. finalized the purchase of the property on December 16, 2021.

To learn more about the site’s history and its impact in the County, please click here for more information about site tours.

SITE DEVELOPMENT

Upon acquiring the site in December 2021, PEC Community Partners determined that its first priority would be to revitalize the 70-acre site now known as Base31. Rather than starting with a pre-determined vision, the partners committed to building the vision from the ground up alongside input from the PEC community. Base31 will be brought to life using the strategies and principles of ‘creative placemaking’ to catalyze the revitalization, a practice that involves leveraging the power of arts and culture to generate positive change. Individuals, businesses, organizations and government to co-create an evolving fusion of art, ecology, heritage, industry and innovation.

Terrific work was done by the site’s previous owners to preserve the buildings by installing metal roofs on many of the 50+ structures. Base31 committed to honouring existing leases with tenants and is seeking out opportunities to engage them in collaborations and procurement. As the project advances, Base31 will prioritize uses that involve active businesses, particularly those that will contribute to the vision and attract public visitation.

Base31 is continuing to advance the adaptive re-use of the site’s heritage and plans to preserve as many buildings as possible. Among the first capital projects undertaken by Base31 are three event venues: The Drill Hall, The Sergeants Mess Hall and The Lecture Hall that will start to bring new life to the site through concerts, festivals and events beginning in July of 2022.

LANDSCAPE TRANSFORMATION

Base31, located on the ridge of a steep escarpment overlooking the town of Picton, lies within an Alvar ecology, a unique and endangered landscape environment characterized by shallow soils, wide variances in precipitation, and rare plants and wildlife species atop a limestone plain.

In partnership with Victoria Taylor Landscape Architect | VTLA Studio, we are undertaking a long term effort to regenerate the site’s natural ecology, through a focus on enriching biodiversity, reintroducing native plant species, and reusing organic materials already onsite.

Visitors and nature lovers of all kinds are invited to follow along and participate as we embark on a process of transformation that will unfold at the speed of nature over the many years to come.

People gather for a walking tour of the Base31 site in Picton Ontario
VTLA Studio
Snow and wild plants outside of unrestored building at Base31
VTLA Studio
Person in red coat walks between historic buildings at Base31
VTLA Studio
Natural plants in the cold snow Base31
VTLA Studio