Frontenac Islands Councillor Jim Calvin had high praise for Wolfe Island’s Big Sandy Bay Stewardship committee at a recent two part meeting, first to update the community about Big Sandy Bay’s (BSB) first season and future plans for the site, and secondly to review the work and plans of the island’s Community Centre Board.
Wolfe Island has assumed the day to day operation of Big Sandy Bay Management Area, an island jewel, from the province for a 5-year period. A Friends of Big Sandy Bay group has been established to protect the area and to raise funds.
Councillor Calvin, chair of the Big Sandy Bay Stewardship committee outlined steps taken to open the site including the completion of Concession Road 3 (the one legal access to the site), signage, passage of a parking by-law, the use of a bus on a trial basis for visitors,(cancelled as not cost effective), a fee structure and staff (dune stewards).
There has been no mass marketing of BSB but it has been promoted as an educational resource (birds, wildlife, environment) by the Friends of BSB. The parking lot, controlled access gate, public toilets, buildings and pedestrian trail were all completed by local businesses, residents and committee members. An MNR shore dune (video tape) monitoring program was set and ‘no go’ areas were identified. The season was from May 24- Sept. 15th with 3000 visitors, (the site can handle 200 a day). A financial costing sheet was issued to the community.
“We held a successful Fox Hound trial by coming up with an agreement that respected the area,” Calvin said. “ But there are still problems with ATV use after hours, industrious beavers, and non fee payment by boaters. We lost money this year ($12,131.)” he said. “We need to have a greater control of costs. We need improved facilities at the dunes, benches along the trail, (not handicap accessible) and a service vehicle with trailer for the ambulance for the 1000 metre trail in and out.”
The question period focussed on environment, extra cars on the ferry, money (when will we know it is cost efficient?), and the use of the annual ($40.) community enhancement fund for BSB. One resident felt that tax payers should have the right to choose where their money goes. The BSB committee is looking for feedback. “Friends of BSB” is recruiting members.
COMMUNITY CENTRE BOARD Councillor Calvin was the spokesperson for the Community Centre Board review. He noted that the CCB sponsors the Family Baseball Tournament, Mixed Slow Pitch, Music Festival etc. The Centre has an active Horse Club, youth baseball and hockey/skating at the rink.
They were involved (with the township) in installing a water line from the main street to the school, new lighting at the B Diamond, improved tile drainage at the A diamond, and the Ernie Allen Playground upgrade with the school board.
The CCB hopes to extend the waterline to the rink, then if possible to the fire hall, create a new parking lot, improve the ice rink., create a new playing field.
The long range plans for the rink (if they had the money) would be a concrete pad, new boards and a top 80’ x100’. If pouring cement the CCB would like to install pipes for a year round facility. Because water is the issue this is a 3-5 year plan.
The CCB submits a budget to council each year, is involved in fund raising and donates many, many volunteer hours to their community projects.
Mayor Vanden Hoek commented that CCB projects are developed at half the price because of volunteer labour and contributions. The question of directing where Community Enhancement dollars are spent was raised again.
ASSESSMENTS, TAXES: Its not often a politician dares talk about taxes but at the same meeting Mayor Vanden Hoek gave it a whirl. He spoke about the dramatic changes in government which began 15 years ago and have affected all communities.
“In the 70’s & 80’s we asked for a lot, got a lot and ran deficits,” he said. “I think at the staff level of senior government they recognized this needed to stop. There was $10.00 of demand for every dollar of revenue. Then began the whole downloading process (ferry, highways, grader).
Ten years ago there would have been a grant for just about everything but those days are gone. If we want anything now we have to pay for it through property taxes or user fees, for example the Howe and Simcoe ferries.” The mayor noted that there is an urban/ rural divide and that surprisingly property taxes in Toronto are lower than on Wolfe Island.
Vanden Hoek said that most property assessments are on the rise “ but in the last five years the shift has been to waterfront. Waterfront properties carry the can and drive the municipality in terms of tax dollars with 2.4% coming from agricultural lands Its like a doughnut as to where our revenues come from. There has also been a 10-12% increase in the Frontenac County Budget which makes up a third of what islander’s pay in taxes, (land ambulance, Fairmont Home). Council will be looking for ways of delivering services more efficiently and for tax revenues from other than property taxes,” he concluded.
Around Town: *Ernie’s is now smoke free on the west side. * W.I.’s scene of the Crime Festival 2005 short story contest opens Feb. 24th (birth date of W.I. crime writer Grant Allen) for previously unpublished writers in crime or mystery genre. Deadline for entries is May 15, 2005. For contest rules visit www.sceneofthecrime.ca. Winners announced June 30 with prizes presented at the Scene of the Crime Festival, Aug. 13th. For more information contact: 613-272-3591. * Tickets for “Take the Plunge” (the ‘Can you guess when the old van will sink through the ice?’) draw are on sale Feb. 15th. * The new stretcher (purchased through donations) used by the Howe Island Fire & Rescue Team in their van is a Medical Assist Stair Chair/Stretcher for use in moving critical patients from areas where a regular stretcher won’t fit.
1. Feb. 16th “Stay On Your Feet” (Raising Awareness of Fall Prevention) R.O.S.E. session 1:00 -3:30 p.m. W.I. United Church Hall (Women’s Institute event)
2. Feb. 26th W.I. Snowmobile Poker Run 2 p.m.Contact:385-9958