Frontenac Islands council was sworn in at the inaugural meeting in December. December meeting. New faces include Councillors Dennis Doyle, Wolfe Island and Mat Fiene, Howe Island. Mayor Vanden Hoek, Councillor Wayne Grant and Pat Norris,now Deputy Mayor for the first two years, complete the roster.
Guests included Frontenac County’s CAO Liz Fulton and Economic Development officer Dianna Bratina.
Addressing council Mayor Vanden Hoek said, “You have unique and exciting opportunities to make a significant contribution to the islands. The islands have punched above their weight in the past and will continue to do so.”
Citing issues important to the community he listed first, transportation and the Wolfe Island ferry service, a ‘priority’ file council has aggressively worked on with MTO and the province. “It is the largest issue facing our community and will take all the talent at this table to bring about positive results,” he said. “No one staff person, mayor, councillor or individual can take the ball and run with this. It is too complicated, emotional, fraught with difficulty and filled with misinformation. But I believe 4 years is sufficient time if we work as a team to see something happen.”
The mayor noted a strong rise in ‘word’ friction. “It has been too easy to pit one word against another, to fault one Ward or the other for issues not being resolved. It is time to begin viewing the islands as one community in spite of our geography.”
He said one way to do that is by eliminating Area Rating. Another is to add to the pending Wolfe Islander III Environmental Assessment a requirement that the next generation of the Howe Island transportation service issues be included. “Planning should begin now,” he said.
According to Vanden Hoek the Wolfe Island wind farm project is in the best position of any to move forward noting the revenue it will bring must be well managed with process and a protocol. “When you put money in the system you must have a mechanism for assessing competing needs such as taxes, recreation, roads, assisted living, water. Local government is challenging, particularly on the islands with no place to hide. People want you to be frank, honest and to make tough decisions. And if you do they will support you,” he concluded.
In other business: Councillor Doyle questioned the clarity of a November resolution relating to the dispersal of funds arising from the amenities agreement. The resolution was rescinded and a resolution passed that council will provide clarification whether or not the wind farm amenities agreement revenues will be deemed as general revenue and thus used for both the Wolfe Island and Howe Island districts, or deemed for the Wolfe Island district only.
Council accepted the 2005 audited financial statements. The Mayor thanked Councillor Doyle for making some minor corrections commenting that next year’s statements will be presented on time.
Much discussion around the 2007-2008 Frank Cowan Company insurance policy for the township was not related to the cost ($68,675 plus taxes) but to the dollar value of some trucks included in the policy. CAO O’Shea will work with the company to clarify some of those numbers.
Council accepted the TriHeat Anglin quote for fuel from Dec. 2006- Dec. 2008. Sydney Eves will continue to plough roads designated as improved public streets on Simcoe Island
The Garden Buds presented their budget ($4620.18 to which they will contribute $2000) for landscaping the Howe waterside park. While a number of prices were high compared to other bids council will provide an offset budget of $2620.00.
CAO O’Shea will determine the criteria for eligibility for provincial volunteer awards with a candidate in mind on Wolfe Island. Deputy Mayor Norris will look into possible awards for Howe.
A Howe waterfront property (one of two) owned by the township which was to be sold with the revenue dedicated to the new fire hall, led to a convoluted process related to resolutions and procedure. Initially the motion was to declare it surplus with the intent to sell. Councillor Fiene felt the community should have input. In the end the original and amended resolutions were lost but another, which declared the property surplus, will initiate an appraisal (for Feb meeting), allow for its posting and finally that it be brought back to council for further discussion (in April) was passed. Notices will be posted around Howe Island declaring the property surplus and YOU are reading it here.
Howe Island has raised $42,000 for their new fire hall (of the 400 dwellings, 45 contributed $42,000). “This is a real testament to the community. They deserve to be congratulated,” Mayor Vanden Hoek said. Councillor Fiene was appointed to Fire Hall committee. Geoff Hobbs will remain a member.
In further business:*Council will attend AMO-ROMA conference Feb. 25-28th. New members will take AMO training course. * Christmas bonuses $50. 00 for permanent & $25.00 for part time staff were approved. There is legal confirmation that lapsed severances cannot be reversed and must again go through the severance process including costs.
Councillor Doyle’s request for a renewal of island glass recycling (some can be used as site cover) was agreed to. ”Wine & liquor bottle deposits will take care of much of it,” he said. A review by staff and the consulting engineer for further initiatives at the WI site will be a January agenda item. Howe’s recycling program will also be considered.
Following a council orientation with MTO, Doyle’s request for a Transportation committee will be considered. For the sake of transparency Doyle also suggested that the township issue information perhaps quarterly on big issues as it comes up noting that if more wind farm information had gone out perhaps an appeal would not have been filed. “Council has been open and transparent on issues but it is at the 11th hour that the public comes to the table, almost too late, but perhaps we can do better,” the Mayor acknowledged.
Roads Superintendent Leo Greenwood will outline department procedures and time lines including snow ploughing, (a concern raised by Doyle) at a meeting with council. Councillor Grant was informed that the township is waiting for a further quote and has set aside $50,000 for the Simcoe Island dock repairs.
OMAFRA’s Brian Ritchie will be invited to the January meeting to help council deal with its “Wish List.” Council meets on Wolfe Island, Mon. Jan. 8, 2007 at 6:30 pm
Today two letters arrived in our mail box. One from Frontenac Islands Mayor Jim Vanden Hoek, and the other from a newly formed ‘Wolfe Island Action Group’ (WAG).
The mayor’s letter to all residents outlines his reasons for supporting the proposed wind plant development on Wolfe Island. The other is based on concerns about setbacks , wetland and transportation with a view “to filing an appeal of the Bylaw 27-2006”, the zoning bylaw approved by council for establishing a wind plant.
The question of island wind plant development has gone on for well over 3 years. The island’s wind brought Ian Banes (CREC), Trade Winds and GAIA Power to the island where the pursuit of optioning land and measuring the wind began.
Both CREC and GAIA submitted bids to the province for island projects. They were denied and it was Canadian Hydro Developers (CHD) who finally moved in earnest to develop a plan for a wind plant, bought CREC as a wholly owned subsidiary, took on the GAIA power options, began a series of public meetings, submitted a bid and received approval from the Ontario Government to pursue their plan for an eighty-six, 2.3 MW wind plant that will generate an estimated 537,000 MW hours/year of renewable electricity.
As stated in the mayor’s letter, a major concern of the township was that the project would not benefit all islanders but only those with optioned land that fits into the stringent environmental screening plan. This concern arose from the capping of the assessment of turbines by the Provincial Government at $40,000 each, which offers little to the township in taxes. Thus the township negotiated and signed a significant amenities agreement with CHD.
I have not been privy to the meetings between individual landowners and CHD regarding remuneration for turbines on their land, but I have attended every meeting of council and every public meeting related to the wind plant development on Wolfe Island. I am aware of the environmental protection measures, the setback concerns that must be addressed and incorporated in the environmental screening process. I have also been to Melancthon and to Maple Ridge (USA) to see wind towers for myself, listened to them and viewed them closeup.
All meetings have been well publicized, open, and transparent. The project has been frequently discussed and any questions have been answered immediately or followed up quickly. Articles by me have been continuous and posted on the internet. The CHD Keating brothers and their team have been available, accessible and open to questions and to solving concerns. They have been at the public meetings, most recently in October where Ross Keating, and John Uliana IBI Group were in attendance to answer questions.
At the same time the township’s planning team, Clark Consulting Services has been there every step of the way refining the Official Plan and the Zoning Bylaw amendments for the project recently signed by Frontenac Islands. For your information Frontenac Islands has full control over the zoning bylaw process. They can approve or disapprove each power siteing as a result.
The environmental screening and siteing process is an attempt by the developer to optimize the wind resources while at the same time minimizing the socio-economic and environmental impact on the island, and is underway by CHD. The environmental impacts being considered include disturbance to terrain, wildlife and their habitat, impact on archaeological, historical and/or cultural resources; noise levels, visual and aesthetic impact among others as part of that screening.
As I understand it, individual land owners with optioned land are being visited by CHD team members to confirm land use for towers and the financial package this will bring. But at the same time they are also rejecting certain optioned land for turbine use because of setbacks, wetlands, or for other environmental reasons. To meet those requirement I am personally surprised at how little of the optioned land can be used for turbines. The team is also out there attempting to allay fears and to satisfy residents concerns regarding setbacks.
At the November council meeting it was clear to me that the issue of setbacks (a concern expressed in the WAG letter) already was of primary concern to the developer who is prepared to make certain changes.
With regard to transportation logistics and ferry use, there are alternatives that may be required but presently CHD is asking to use the winter dock and every attempt will be made to minimize ferry use, never at peak periods, perhaps at night and using barges wherever possible.
I find it difficult to understand the concerns some residents of Wolfe Island have begun to express, and the delay the project might suffer as a result of an appeal to the Ontario Municipal Board (OMB). It is important to note that landowners wanted this project seeing it as a supplement to shrinking farm income and in some cases as retirement income. They also wanted the whole community to benefit which has resulted in the amenities agreement. (see Heritage article Nov. 23rd ). Others see the job opportunities for the island.
I believe CHD has learned many things since its first foray into Ontario to develop a wind plant and have made many changes to the island’s wind plant plan already as a result of new insights and out of respect for Wolfe Island residents. All residents should read the entire amenities agreement, the costs Canadian Hydro Developers are prepared to cover and what this project will mean to the community. After what has been a very honourable process it is disappointing to me that there could be a delay. I believe Frontenac Islands Council has been a good steward thus far, and in the final analysis they will make a final decision on the project based on what is best for Wolfe Island. As an aside, it is interesting that all of those running for council in the recent election were in favour of the project.