Did anything happen during the year 2004 of any real significance to the people of Wolfe and Howe Islands? In fact there were a number.
Howe Island has a new ferry. While there are some technical difficulties which need to be dealt with the ferry is a tremendous asset to the island cutting waiting times and making island living much easier for the residents. But in spite of a new ferry Deputy Mayor Pat Norris insists that the island’s plans for a bridge at the Narrows will continue as the only permanent solution for Howe Island transportation.
On Wolfe Island a natural treasure, Big Sandy Bay, was officially opened by Municipal Council for islanders and the public as a conservation area. Big Sandy Bay is a 404 hectare beach/ dune environmentally sensitive area with a coastal ecology rare in Ontario with many unusual birds trees and rare plants.
The sand beach/dune complex ( as it is described) can now be reached by paying a fee and walking a 1.3km long trail into the magnificent site. The province bought the property in 1967 and it was managed by the Ministry of Natural Resources since 1975.
A further 57 hectares was added in 2000 through the Eastern Habitat Joint Venture Program with a number of agencies including MNR which gave over the management of the entire area to the Township of Frontenac Islands in 2003.
The township has many plans for the area including making it more accessible for ambulance services.
Also on Wolfe Island much has been done at the Landfill Site to lengthen its lifespan. Recycling of all kinds of materials (glass, plastic, paper) is happening with compacting of plastic and cardboard as a further space and money saver. Many more islanders are participating.
The relationship between the Ministry of Transportation, Frontenac County and Frontenac Islands is at a new high with communication and co-operation the order of the day. Simcoe Island has rebuilt ferry. Howe Island has a new ferry.
MTO Regional Director Kathie Moore recently acknowledged Mayor Vanden Hoek’s letter proposing short and long-term solutions regarding Wolfe Island’s ferry service. She indicated consideration had been given to a passenger boat while the Frontenac II was in service but instead MTO established a 5 am run which certainly alleviated some of the early morning commuter crunch. One can only have high praise for the crews who worked diligently to get the full complement of cars on the Frontenac, (The Wolfe Islander returned in time for Christmas).
Ms Moore noted with respect to long term ferry service capacity that MTO has completed a Ferry Service Traffic Study and plans are moving forward to assess the feasibility of lengthening the existing ferry.
She goes on to say that the information from both those studies will greatly assist in making decisions with respect to undertaking a full environmental assessment study regarding capacity improvement to the Wolfe Island ferry service.
What that probably means, although I don’t know for certain, is that MTO will determine whether lengthening the Wolfe Islander and making all the changes required for the ferry to dock (Marshalling, road changes, traffic lights, waiting room, land acquisition etc. etc.) in Marysville are possible before doing a full capacity improvement EA which might include other options.
Wind Power was big news on Wolfe Island throughout 2004 as CREC (Canadian Renewable Energy Corporation) and GAIA Power went about acquiring more land options and zoning approvals and continued with environmental screening requirements. Both companies submitted bids in the province’s first round to purchase alternative energy but did not make the cut.
In a recent message from CREC, Ian Baines notes that while their bid was not a winner a second RFP is anticipated as early as January. “Our proposal though technically and financially complete suffered the disadvantage of a high cost underwater connection to the mainland and the final decision on what will be built was based on cost. CREC has spent more than $1 million to date on the Wolfe Island development and will continue its island focus and try to find ways to offset the transmission disadvantage.” Baines said. GAIA Power has also indicated their intention to re-bid their project.
Historic Hitchcock House and Woodman House have been sold to American families. Hi-Low Hickory campground closed, due to among other things, the costs involved in the new very stringent water regulations. A number of new homes and cottage conversions happened on the islands.
Frontenac Islands was the scene of many successful events and festivals including “The Scene of the Crime” which brings well known mystery authors to the island for readings and workshops and island hospitality; an Art in the Garden Tour; the annual Music Festival; the annual 5k-10k Run (400 runners this year); the Bizarre Bazaar; Plowing Match; Horse Shows; Santa Clause Parade, church suppers, pumpkin weigh-in’s among others..
The Stone Heron Art Gallery opened for the summer in the Wolfe Island Community Hall next door to the Summer Dock Studio.
Some 10,000 visitors passed through the doors of Wolfe Island’s Information Centre. Many others passed through on their way to the US via Horne’s Ferry. The island populations doubled as cottagers returned. The Island Grill has become a very popular place. The Wolfe Island Business Centre continues to look for tenants.
So What’s Coming Up You Ask?
Why not celebrate winter at the annual Wolfe Island CHILI Fest on Saturday, February 5th.
The Chili contest runs from 1 to 5 PM. with fun for the whole family. Bring skates (weather permitting). Sleigh rides, maybe some hockey and other fun activities are all part of the event.
According to the Chili Fest committee, “the goal is to make a little chili, taste a little chili, and have a whole lot of fun regardless of how chilly it might be outside.”
Chefs from across the island vie for the title of best chili cook. Recipes include fire-engine hot to wild-game, vegetarian and bison chili. There are hot dogs for the less adventurous and the ever popular wolfe-tails (deep-fried sugary goodness). All proceeds go to provide funds for recreation facilities on the island.
1. Weekly Euchre begins at St. Margaret’s Hall Mon. Jan. 10th at 7 p.m.
2. Community Euchre continues at the U.C. Hall Thursdays at 8 p.m.
3. Wolfe Island’s Chili Fest Sat. Feb. 5th begins at 1p.m.
Beautiful weather was the order of the day for Wolfe Island’s annual Santa Clause parade sponsored by the Wolfe Island Volunteer Fire Department.
More than a dozen floats, (many horse drawn) including vintage cars and farm vehicles decorated by Island businesses, services and families wended their way from the Wolfe Island Fire Hall through Marysville and back to the hall where hot dogs and hot chocolate were available to all in attendance.
The W.I Dancing group, Marysville Public School and Pyke Farms llamas were also part of the parade as were the Fire Department vehicles and the ambulance.
The parade was led by the ROC Pipe Band, kilts, bare knees and all. Of course Santa ended the parade, waving, greeting and HO HO HO’ing to a large, happy crowd of spectators and excited children who eagerly gathered up the candy thrown to them from the passing parade members.
An added feature of this year’s parade was the collection of toys for needy children by Frontenac County Paramedic Services, (a volunteer service on Wolfe Island) who along with other paramedic services in the county are supporting the CHUM Radio Christmas toys for kids program.
Wolfe Island's Santa Clause parade is a real example of small community closeness and just keeps getting better from year to year.
Frontenac Islands is continuing its overview of the wind farm projects in the planning stages by CREC (Canadian Renewable Energy Corporation) and GAIA Power, their advantages and disadvantages to the township. Bob Clark of Clark Consulting Services was present at the December council meeting to review the Wind Farm Economic Impact analysis.
Clark found that the CREC estimates of tax revenue were excessively high This was due to CREC using full value assessment values while provincial restrictions have capped assessment at $40,000 per megawatt for wind towers and, Clark also noted an error in their calculations.
CREC estimated some $18,000 tax revenue (1.8MW) per turbine while the township figures are $485 per turbine. Clark said that the Township’s calculations are correct. Thus based on 80 turbines the actual tax revenue would be some $40,000 rather than the CREC calculation of $1.5million.
He also noted that there are many schools of thought as to whether wind farms are a net gain to a community or if health, environmental and social impacts exceed the benefits of wind turbines.
“What we have are two applications, you can defer, turn them down or proceed with the applications. Council needs to meet and have a discussion with the applicants in order to address certain concerns related to the process,” he said.
He recommends that all concerned agencies, ministries and the public review the development proposals and applications for a 30 day period and that council convene a public information meeting.
There followed a discussion about revenue streams, possible land value increases where turbines are located, the island’s low industrial tax and assessment rates and the official plan amendment process.
Good Financial Statements for 2003: Brent J. Burns CA presented his review of the accounts of the Township of Frontenac Islands commending staff and council that, as in 2002, the township ended 2003 in a healthy financial position with operating expenditures well within budget and total revenues exceeding budget.
Burns encouraged council to develop a long term capital plan which would project capital expenditures and proposed financing for at least the next 5-years. He also suggested the establishment of a treasury account as well as an investment policy and noted that tax arrears which remain high should be dealt with. Burns noted that tax receivables were up, with accounts receivable much the same as in 2002. He also noted that the estimated closure costs for the landfill site are up. Other major expenses included new tile drain, ferry hull repair and Big Sandy Bay much of which was offset by grants. Any area rated surpluses went into reserves to cover any area rated department deficits in the future.
Fire Hall for Howe Island: Fire Chief Mike Quinn is not happy with the process that has unfolded regarding a new fire hall infrastructure funding application noting that the Fire Service committee made a presentation to council on July 12th. “We celebrated that council viewed it as a high priority project and would proceed with an application and passed a resolution to go forward.”
Quinn said that after that however the application process did not do forward as a result of direction from a ministry. Quinn believes that based on the work of the volunteer committee they should have been formally notified that the process was taking a different direction.
Mayor Vanden Hoek in accepting the criticism noted that in the future council should not meet with groups “until the information comes in and the rules are out” but also said there has been no attempt by council to block the application but a telephone call following the AMO conference indicated the application would go no where based on the COMRIF criteria.
Chief Quinn is anxious to work cooperatively with the township but insists there needs to be better communication. Later in the meeting mayor said that the COMRIF criteria now lists Health & Safety and he is prepared to ask if that could mean revisiting Howe Island Fire Hall request.
In Other Business: After some discussion and some fine tuning, Council passed a By-Law to adopt a hiring policy.
Frontenac Islands will enter into an agreement with Frontenac County to lease space to the Frontenac Paramedic Services in Wolfe Island Emergency Services building.
Council adopted 2005 Howe Island ferry fees. ( Pass $280.One way trip $2.00) with a 10% discount for those 65 years and older. Complete cost schedule available.
Council wants the County to provide council with the results of periodic fare collection audits to eliminate fare shrinkage and to ensure fare collection on the County ferry.
An MOU with the county will address the distribution and collection of 2005 fares.
Another MOU with the township, the county and MTO will see the Howe Township ferry out of service for 3 months commencing Jan. 1-March 31,2005.
Mayor Vanden Hoek agreed with Councillors’ Norris and Hobbs that if the county does not meet its budgeted ferry revenues and shrinkage occurs it could be a problem for the township.
Council will ask MTO to allow delivery of diesel and furnace oil on regular Howe Island ferry trips including those carrying vehicles.
A $50. Christmas bonus approved for permanent staff and $25. for part time employees.
In other business: Councillor Grant noted need for step at Simcoe Island ferry. He also spoke of insecurity of landowners regarding canal project at this time.
Council supported resolutions from other municipalities related to gas tax revenues; a deposit system for all metal, glass,plastic beverage containers; and dairy herd improvement funding.
Around Town: *Sacred Heart School Senior Boys (all of them) Volley Ball team won the B division championship in the Algonquin& Lakeshore Catholic District School Board *It was a beautiful day for a wonderful Chrismas Parade (check wolfeisland.com). * CREC has installed 6 anemometers on the CKWS tower to further measure wind.
1. Sacred Heart of Mary Church Services Christmas Eve 5:00 p.m., Christmas Day 10:00 a.m.; New Year’s Eve 5:00 p.m. New Year’s Day 10:00 a.m.
2. No Sunday Service at the Wolfe Island United Church on Sunday Dec. 26th
3. New Year’s Eve at The Island Grill Tickets $40 ea (incl. taxes and gratuity) Smoke free dining till 10 pm. Call 385-2157 email firstname.lastname@example.org to reserve. Ask about Party to follow.
4. Wolfe Island’s CHILIFEST will be held Saturday Feb.5th. A Wonderful Community Celebration.
Although Wolfe Island was touted as the ideal location for wind farms when the words, “clean renewable energy” began to be heard across the province, it was not one of the 10 locations given the go-ahead to provide power in the Ontario Government’s FIRST Request for Proposals. (RFP)
The government issued its request to provide 300 megawatts of renewable energy in June of 2003 to be available no later than 2007. Neither Canadian Renewable Energy Corporation (CREC) nor GAIA Power received a thumbs-up for their proposed Wolfe Island wind farm projects in this first round.
GAIA Power’s Samit Sharma said that the cost of a transmission line which would increase the cost of per kilowatt energy was probably the reason for Wolfe Island being left out. “Ours was a good project,” he said. “We had completed all the permits, and so on but in an RFP process the lowest price is the winner. But Wolfe Island is still a good site. It has a connection to the Gardner Station in Kingston and we will bid again in the next round of RFP.”
Sharma noted that when one looks at the transmission lines and all the infra structure costs required the project cost was more than what was in the RFP as compared with other successful wind projects close to transmission stations. “So a project on Wolfe Island is not competing with other Wolfe Island projects but with projects elsewhere in Ontario and we want to make sure we are price comparative to be successful,” he said.
While Sharma is disappointed he said, “that is the nature of things. We hope for the next RFP we are better prepared. Both CREC and GAIA Power have spent a lot of money on the projects so this first round definitely impacts both of us.”
According to Sharma the way the process was directed it prevented both companies from working together because of an anti collusion clause but he hopes that in the next round there will be relaxation in the rules in terms of the proponents working together since there are interconnection costs and certain common problems that could be shared. “We are hoping to secure a contract with either the Ontario Government or large users of electricity but there are elements (transmission lines, logistics) unique to the island projects. Projects on the mainland are able to put a better price forward but one way or another we will work hard to have an island project in place.”
It is anticipated that that there will be a second RFP early in the new year. The province received 41 proposals this round for 1100 mega watts and approved 10, five of which are wind farms. There are presently no wind farms on Lake Ontario.
Frontenac Islands Mayor Vanden Hoek when contacted noted that the proposed island wind farm projects have different problems primarily the transmission lines across the water which increase overall costs and the price per kilowatt. However he expects based on the work already done, the proponents will continue in their efforts.
Opposition to Big Sandy Bay Development: Frontenac Islands is in receipt of a formal letter addressed to Mayor Vanden Hoek and signed by island resident Claire Muller which cites concerns regarding the Big Sandy Bay development process.
Muller claims that the development of the Bay goes against the stated objectives of the Ministry of Natural Resources. She raises concerns about increasing disturbance to wild-life, litter, collection of fees, etc and about the stress on the ferry because of the traffic coming to Big Sandy Bay resulting in long line ups and excessive waiting times.
Muller is calling upon the township to listen to the concerns of islanders and to present the public assessments from the Big Sandy Bay Development partners naming Ducks Unlimited, MNR, Nature Conservancy and the Canadian Wildlife Service. The letter will come up at the December meeting of Council.
New WIBTA Executive: The Wolfe Island Business & Tourism Association Executive includes: Pres. Cindy Day; Vice President David Colburn; Secretary Cecelia Ellis; Treasurer Linda Thomas; Directors: Linda Van Hal, Liz Crothers, Cathie Heroun.
The association wants people to be engaged in it and is holding future planning meetings to meet community needs.
Christmas Initiative: Nine year old Katie Norris, daughter of Clair& Paul Norris, Howe Island, heard about the 96.3JoeFM “Clothes for Kids Campaign and took it upon herself to do something on her own. She made, painted, and sold Christmas ornaments sending out her own ad about the ornaments to relatives, friends, neighbours etc. and in the process raised $335. Katie was able to purchase seven snow suits (sizes 6 months to 12).to be distributed to those in need. Congratulations Katie.
Around Town: * A joyful Ecumenical Advent Service was held at the W.I. United Church bringing together members of the 3 island congregations. *It seems as if the 5am ferry has indeed alleviated some of the stress for early morning commuters to Kingston. * MTO Wolfe Island Ferry crew member Janet Gaylord is at KGH with injuries resulting from being struck by a car in Gananoque. Janet, a very lovely lady, is the mother of three and offers her time as a girl guide leader and member of the volunteer ambulance service. We wish her well.*Attendance was down for the Christmas in the Factory exhibition and sale which can be attributed to the difficulty of coming to Wolfe Island on the small ferry. The event brought together the islands many talented artists and crafts people. Beautiful work beautifully displayed. Perhaps the event could be repeated when the Wolfe Islander returns. *The Island Grill just celebrated its 1st Anniversary and continues its Friday live entertainment nights. New winter hours posted. * St. Margaret’s Guild extends thanks, appreciation and God’s blessing to all the volunteers who helped them make Trinity Anglican’s Turkey Supper such a success, a time of good food and good fellowship.
1.Note changes in Service Times at Sacred Heart of Mary Church Christmas Eve 5:00 p.m., Christmas Day 10:00 a.m.; New Year’s Eve 5:00 p.m. New Year’s Day 10:00 a.m.
2.Watch for Date of Chili Fest in the New Year. Watch for Euchre Dates
3.WIBTA”s “Planning the Future” meeting (with Pizza) 5:30 p.m. Tue. Dec. 14th followed by regular WIBTA meeting (7p.m.) at the Wolfe Island United Church Hall