Over past months residents of Howe and Wolfe Islands have argued passionately against the sale of any publicly owned lands or the closure or sale of road allowances under any circumstance.
Again Wolfe Island residents attended the recent Frontenac Islands Council meeting where the disposition of an unopened road allowance (Lot 6 Concession 7& 8) running through the Baynes/Smith Ferguson Point property was to be finalised. In January Baynes requested a road closure bylaw and indicated willingness to pay a nominal fee and legal expenses. A notice of the proposed sale was posted.
Before hearing the concerns of Wolfe Island citizens, council held an “in camera” session to discuss municipal property security, selling off of land, and price. Following the “in camera” a resolution to close the road allowance was read a first time. The price agreed upon was $50,000.( $33,784 per acre).
Councillor Fiene noted the issue was before council because it is a road that starts and ends nowhere while Deputy Mayor Norris said a barn has existed on it for many years. Councillor Doyle opposed the sale and the price. Council also was in receipt of letters opposing the sale.
Islander Sarah Balant said that Wolfe and Howe islands have very little public land and these road ends don’t seem to matter much when sold off individually but collectively they represent a shared heritage. “Road allowances represent the very few means of access to the water, a defining feature of an island. A bylaw is needed to protect all road allowances and public lands and prohibit their sale.”
She noted shore wells placed in a village road allowance compromised its use for swimming, another road is gated, and had council sold the right of way to Big Sandy Bay there wouldn’t be public access.
Nancy Steele pointed out there is no public access to the water, no place for a picnic, or to swim or to land. “If you take away it all that you wont be able to draw people to live on the island’s interior lands.”
“What public interest are you serving with this road closure,” Ruth Bryson asked. You will just increase the value of the property for the applicant. If you are determined to sell it, sell it at the going rate of $800. per linear foot, that is 66’ plus 66’ ($105,600) and use that money for a community project.”
There were comments about council’s failure to communicate and decisions not in the best interest of the community from Clare Muller. For Maggie Crothers it was her third occasion to ask that waterfront and public lands not be sold.
Baynes was given an opportunity to speak. “This was not a land grab or for monetary gain,” he said.
Mayor Vanden Hoek left the chair to talk about Big Sandy Bay, boat slips, a public dock, a property inventory, use of money to enhance a property.
Councillor Doyle remained opposed to its sale and the price.
In a recorded vote the motion passed with one nay.
Earlier in the meeting, the sale of a Howe Island waterfront property was debated. HIRA’s (Howe Island Ratepayer’s Association) Brian Humphries presented survey poll results of indicating 59% opposed, 41% in favour. “Council has priorities but selling the lot is irreversible,” Humphries said. He would like council to look at all public lands before making a decision.
Deputy Mayor Norris said Howe had a number of pieces of land and side roads dead ending at the water which will remain in perpetuity noting the the “Garden Buds” efforts. “Using this lot located in the area of million dollar homes for beach or public access could create a liability situation while revenue (all or part) from its sale could go towards to paying for the new $600,000 Fire Hall,” he said.
Councillors Fiene and Doyle both opposed its sale. “Once sold its gone. It is for recreation not for development,” according to Fiene while Doyle said “Howe indicated parks as a priority” to OMAFRA’s Brian Ritchie and suggested a decision be made with him when next they meet.
Mayor Vanden Hoek acknowledged that people would be unhappy either way and suggested council follow Doyle’s lead and wait to make a decision until after a second meeting with Ritchie. The decision to sell or not was deferred until the March council meeting.
In other Business: * Following a compelling presentation regarding the proposed Medical Assist Response program agreement by Howe Island’s Fire Chief Mike Quinn, “What you have before you are parameters for an absolutely necessary program which makes it absolutely clear whether we should be there.” Council authorized its signing.
Paul Charbonneau Director of Frontenac County Emergency Services commended the Howe Island Fire Department for their efforts.
*Council directed staff to continue the operation of the Howe Island Township ferry effective Jan. 1, 2008 and to secure the provincial subsidy to operate it through negotiation with Frontenac County, because the County ferry is not operating according to the specifications.
*At the request of the W.I. Wildlife Association the Township will ask the Ministry of Natural Resources to reinstate 18 days of goose hunting in December and January.
*Following a presentation by Bill Henderson (Wolfe Island Action Group) regarding recreation grant opportunities, (broom ball, badminton, sailing,rowing,floating dock, etc.), the Township will submit a request for a Communities in Action Fund grant for $20,000 in support of a $25,000 program in co-operation with the community group.
*Council heard Mrs. Rozanne Moizer’s (HI) request for better communication with residents.
*The township will retain Thompson Construction Management Services to provide estimates for the 3 Wolfe Island Community Centre Board arena proposals and Allan Partners to analyze and assess them.
*Howe Island resident J. French has to restore township property he ditched to its original condition or the work will be done at his expense.
*The application for a second level on a garage was denied.
* The Bolton application was approved.
*The Township will collect and issue tax receipts (over $25.00) for the WI Historical Society with donations kept in a reserve fund for the procurement of a statue of General James Wolfe by the Society.
*If satisfied with the inspection of a 1990 Fire Truck WI Chief James White is directed to acquire it ($20,000) by the WI Fire Association with taxes paid by the municipality.
Frontenac Islands Council meets March 12th on Wolfe Island.