In time for the Victoria Day weekend a mural painted by 3 Wolfe Island artists is now up and on display. A crowed gathered to watch as the 12’ by 8’ painting was hoisted up and put in place on the side of Fargo’s Store Friday morning.
The historically based mural is the first of series planned for Marysville by local artists Pat Sandford, owner and operator of the island’s Stone Heron Gallery, Kim Woodman, creator of large and spectacular oil paintings of Canada and Linda Sutherland, whose work in both glass and oil is well known in the region.
The artists could barely watch as their work was being hoisted up fearing that perhaps it might fall before it was fixed in place and framed.
The sepia coloured mural was developed by putting together a series of old pictures and depicts a view down the street from Fargo’s to the ferry dock and terminal and includes the Steamer Wolfe Islander ferry (1904), a cart and horses among other things and two ladies in period dress.
“This is an exciting day for us,” Pat Sanford said. “ We worked together every step of the way taking each other’s counsel and changing this or that to arrive at this day. It was a labour of love,” she said.
The first mural was sponsored by the Wolfe Island Business & Tourism Association (WIBTA) The artists gave freely of their time talent as a gift to the community. Islander Dave Joy constructed the frame.
While there is no sponsor for the second mural at this time the artists have decided its focus will be “The Scene of the Crime” and Grant Allen, Canada’s first crime writer.
The Province of Ontario intends to increase its supply of new renewable energy by up to 1000 megawatts with projects of between 20 and 200 MW, and released a Request for Proposals (RFP's) on April 22nd www.ontarioelectricityrfp.ca The RFP request is expected to bring an additional $1.5 billion of new investment to Ontario
In the first round last year the two companies (Canadian Hydro Developers Inc and GAIA Power Inc.) bid for wind power projects on Wolfe Island and did not succeed. This time, however, if everything goes ahead Wolfe Island could be generating more than 10% of Ontario's renewable power.
The two developers have applied for a Township Official Plan and Zoning By-Law amendments. The proponents have until August to submit their proposals with successful projects to be announced as early as this fall. The government's decision to shut down coal power generating plants has created some urgencey to get on with it.
Frontenac Islands Council recently released an Information letter to islanders and outlined the impact of the proposed wind farms, noting that 8000 acres of land west of the canal have been optioned through lease agreement between property owners and developers (not the municipality), for approximately 120 plus turbines thus far and that the province is entering into purchase agreements with the developers to buy the more expensive power and they changed land use policy to permit turbines on agricultural land.
The letter noted the environmental benefits of wind power and lease payments to land owners as well as the spin off to local businesses and contractors. But the province has also created a special tax class exempting developers/turbine owners from paying the majority of municipal property taxes and capped (for municipal property tax purposes) turbine assessment at $40,000 per MW. Based on 2004 mill rates for a 1.5 MW turbine the Municipal tax generated each year would net the township $404.40.
“I am concerned about the size of the wind farms in relation to the rest of the island. We've gone from 13 towers to possibly 200, by far the largest proposed project in the country,” Frontenac Islands Mayor Vanden Hoek said. “The total alternative energy anticipated for the whole province is 2700 MW by 2010. If 100 or 200 towers end up on Wolfe Island its conceivable that 10% of the total provincial effort lands right here. I am not saying its bad. I'm saying we have to reflect on it.”
Referring to the revenue the municipality would receive, the mayor said money issues cannot be appealed at the OMB. “You can't argue you're not happy with the revenue, but I am not happy. I don't think that we should reap a windfall just because we are geographically located and have the wind. On the other hand there is an element of fairness,” he said.
Vanden Hoek noted that 97% of municipal tax revenue is residential. “If you want to build a road, buy a grader or a snow plow the residents pick up almost all of the cost and that's generally true in many rural municipalities without a commercial tax base. The frustration here is that the opportunity to land commercial or industrial assessment on Wolfe Island is slim to none. It just doesn't happen. Wind Power is the only significant thing that has come our way from a tax standpoint so it is particularly frustrating that the province has capped revenue We expected fairness and I don't think a $40,000 (assessment) cap per MW is fair. We don't have a road agreement with the developers. We are not even sure that we can charge them for building permits. A potentially very positive thing for the community and land owners has become something less that neutral unless we can bring the partners in this project to the table to make sure we are not the losers in the process.”
Mayor VandenHoek said that each tower base takes many loads of cement. “There is not a road on the island that can take that kind of traffic. There are many issues to be dealt with and we don't have all the information. Until we do we remain in a very guarded frame of mind. Wolfe Island understands environmental issues as well as anyone in the province and we want to contribute but we don't think rural host communities should carry the burden to the extent the province is suggesting. If I can leave one word on wind power its fairness.”
In June of last year the municipality began writing letters to the different ministries; energy, finance and municipal affairs because they could see what was coming. The mayor made a presentation to the standing committee on finance when it toured the province.
“We have made as strong an effort as possible to let the province know what was happening. It has just fallen on deaf ears…,” the mayor said. “We are mature community on how we view these things. But we are frustrated that that the province would disadvantage us with their policies. I feel pretty strongly that the province has stripped out all the revenue on the projects just to dampen the cost that they are going to have to pay when they buy this energy from the developers,” Mayor Vanden Hoek concluded.
The train has left the station, the province has loaded the dice and deep down the mayor knows that. What may be good for the environment, good for the land owners, good for business, good for the developers offers little for the municipality. How fair is that to a rural community?
Around Town: Check out W.I. Mural Project website wolfislandart.net/murals.html * Anglican Services time 9:15 am (summer.) *A Social & Cultural Committee of Council was formed to enhance, promote,coordinate recreational, cultural and social activities on Howe Island.* The W.I.Oral History project received a grant from the Kingston Foundation to continue this exciting process through the summer. Euchre Thursday's Wolfe Island United Church is back to 7 p.m.*The W.I. Classic Road Race celebrates 25th Anniversary this summer.
1.Choral Evensong Pentecost Sunday May 15th 4 p.m. Trinity Anglican
2.Howe Island Fire & Rescue Steak Fry Dinner (6:30-9:00 Fri.May 20th $15.00 per person) St. Philomena Church Hall
3.United Church Fish Fry Sat. May 21st Doors Open at 4:30 p.m.