Frontenac Islands solicitor Tim Wilkin (Cunningham Swan) attended the second meeting of the newly elected Frontenac Islands Township council. He came to review for council, and for the public, the details of the amenities agreement, a contract between Canadian Hydro Developers (CREC), now TransAlta, and the township with regards to Wolfe Islands wind power project which according to Mayor Doyle was never that clear.
“It is important in the debate you are having around the use of amenities money, to understand the nature of the agreement,” solicitor Wilkin began. “It was basically an agreement between CREC, Canadian Hydro, and the township. Its purpose was to make provisions for compensation or benefits to be paid to the township to compensate for any perceived adverse effect of having the wind farm in the municipality specifically on Wolfe Island,” he said.
The agreement provides a number of benefits, infrastructure rehabilitation (roads) and an ongoing compensation payment to be made according to a negotiated formula over the life of their agreement with the power authority. “This agreement does not speak to what the township is to do with the money,” Wilkin said. “That’s up to the township to decide on its own. In fact that wouldn’t have been anticipated or have been appropriate for that agreement to contemplate what the benefiting corporation (township) would do with the money, any more than if 2 parties decided to buy a piece of property, you wouldn’t expect in an agreement how the purchaser was to use the money. And the same would apply to this contract with Canadian Hydro.” There is nothing in the agreement that would be the basis for a legal obligation for the municipality to use the money one way or another.
Councillor Barb Springgay noted two issues, about where the money is spent and how. From the agreement she read, “whereas the parties have agreed that the nature and the size of the Wolfe Island Wind Plant and its construction, operation and maintenance will have significant long term impact on Wolfe Island and its residents. There has been pain on Wolfe Island and people want it (the money)to remain on Wolfe Island,” Springgay said. “ And in terms of hardship, although not concluded yet, one might be if anyone should go to MPAC and say their property value has gone down due to towers and have their taxes reduced based on a lower assessment, the Township would receive less. Wolfe has the problem, not Howe” she continued.
Mayor Doyle mentioned that after the project started the province changed the rules for taxation on wind farms. “Originally the township was looking a quite a sizable industrial tax income,” he said. Doyle commented that with a major reduction in the assessment base to $45,000 (later modified to $85,000) compared to the cost of each tower at some $5 million , “ had the higher figure been used the township would have received $1.3 million in revenue instead of the $22,000 it does receive. That’s the dilemma and that’s why the contract was discussed in the first place to offset the lower taxes.”
Wilkin confirmed what Mayor Doyle said as some of the motivation for the agreement, noting that the taxes on an industrial assessment at $4 or $5 million a tower would have been very substantial. “The province had capped the assessment on towers effectively making the municipalities bear the brunt of having wind towers in their communities.” Councillor Grant added that the council of the day worked hard on the agreement so that everyone on Wolfe Island would benefit, not just the landowners with towers.
In other business: council passed bylaws: one to regulate the use of ATV’s on Municipal Highways; and another for a Lease and Facility sharing agreement with Frontenac County regarding the Wolfe Island Ambulance/ Fire Hall.
After much discussion regarding a bylaw to accept reduced general municipal insurance coverage by Frank Cowen and Company at a higher cost, the bylaw was deferred until the February 15th council meeting. Deputy M ayor Jones wanted to know how much it would have cost to have the same coverage as the prior year.
Council approved a resolution for the submission of an application to the Ontario Municipal Internship program. It was noted there are only six but it is important to apply. *Sydney Eves bid for snow removal on municipal roads on Simcoe Island was approved.
Councillor Wayne Grant, Frontenac Islands (FI rep.) representative : WI Recycle & Waste Disposal committee; the WI Community Policing Association; the WI Volunteer Fire; WI Community Medical Clinic.
Councillor Pat Norris, FI representative: Howe Island Fire & Rescue; Howe Island Social & Recreational Ctte.;
Councillor Barb Springgay, FI rep.: WI Business & Tourism Assoc.; WI Historical ctte.;
Dep. Mayor David Jones, FI rep.: Howe Island School House ctte.; Cataraqui Source protection Board.
Appointed to the Marysville Waterworks Class EA steering ctte. : Councillors Grant & Springgay and CAO O’Shea. Grant and Springgay were both appointed to the Community Centre Board.
* A resolution was passed by council to receive the petition sent to MPP John Gerretso, to rescind the amalgamation agreement (Wolfe& Howe) submitted by John O’Shea be received by the township as information.*It was announced that a grant is being sought for a “Local Food Festival” in July. *Council is still waiting for a date to meet with MTO about many things regarding ferry transportation (water levels, etc.)requested some time ago (not specifically about the ongoing MTO ferry study.) He noted also that Intern Jeremy Neff has been asking WI residents for ideas about what they can do for themselves to improve island transportation and will meet with a group in late January.
* Council passed a “Good News” resolution in support of W Islands nomination to Kraft Hockeyville 2011.
And finally, before closing the meeting, Mayor Doyle requested a question period with the public. And there were many questions: received , responded to, and to be responded to.. concerning snow plowing; ferry line up violations; a public amenities meeting; need for more lights, tree trimming and widening of winter dock road for parking including culverts; need for more lights in Marysville; heard information about Healthy Communities; question about how many names on the petition (237); request for official opening date of Wind project. The meeting ended at 7:50 p.m. Council meets in next: Mon. Feb. 14th on Howe Island at 6:30 pm.
Memories of Christmas 2010
With winter finally here and before the good feelings that come with Christmas become a thing of the past it is important to remember a couple of Christmas 2010 events that occurred on Frontenac Islands, specifically Wolfe Island.
The Island’s small United Church community has, with little advertising or fanfare been presenting the Christmas Nativity Story outside on the church grounds enacted by church member, adults and children for a number of years.
It was a small enthusiastic crowd that gathered this year in the early evening darkness brightened by one shining light to watch as Mary & Joseph accompanied by their (Llama) donkey made their way to Bethlehem to be counted in the census called for by Caesar Augustus and the subsequent birth of Jesus in a stable. And so it was that the children acting the part of the angels presented the ‘Good News of great Joy’ to startled shepherds urging them to go and see the child lying in a manger and singing them on their way to the words, ‘Glory to God in the Highest’.
With a star to guide them, three wise men carrying gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh and their and camels (Llamas) found the baby with Mary and Joseph and presented their gifts as the angels, the shepherds and the gathered community jubilantly sang ‘The ‘ First Noel’, bringing to an end the simply told story that IS Christmas.
A few days later at Sacred Heart of Mary church, at the end of Christmas Eve Mass , Wolfe Islander Bobby Pyke walked resolutely up the long aisle of the church to the podium. There in a voice filled with emotion, he thanked the people of the parish for their prayers during his long months of an illness, an illness that had brought him close to death on a number of occasions and from which he has survived. “I was overwhelmed and will be forever thankful for the prayers you offered on my behalf. . That is what Wolfe Island is all about ,” he said. “A believing community that cares for each other and I will never forget.” Wishing all a Joyful Christmas and a Happy New Year, Bobby made his way back down aisle to the sound of clapping hands and smiles and tears on every side as Fr. De Souza concluded the Mass and the congregation joined the choir in singing… Oh Come All Ye Faithful…. There is much to think about, much to ponder, and much to remember about Christmas 2010.
The tendency by the press at this time as a new year begins is to review the news and events of the past year.. After much thought and the recent election, now a thing of the past, it seems to me it is time to look to the Future of Frontenac Islands. What will 2011 bring?
*I cannot predict the future but it can be assumed that 2011 is the year when the most recent Wolfe Island Transportation Study undertaken by the MTO (Ministry of Transportation) to look at long and short term requirements of the Wolfe Island ferry service to year 2029 will be completed. The study is being done as part of a review of the province’s transportation system to determine a long term sustainable transportation plan. The study team is presently assessing the options: alternative ferry routes, fixed link options, ferry design changes etc., all of which were outlined at information centres in 2010. Also included was a long list of possible improvements like public transit access, expand marshalling areas, dual vessel, faster vessel, and incentives such as carpooling, fares etc.
Islanders were urged at the time to submit their comments and concerns about the identified alternatives. One can only hope they did. The Township was not asked to evaluate or access the alternatives and their impact on the island in advance of the projected second round of Info Centres to be held this year. The 2nd Round could include the presentation of a draft transportation plan bringing us a step closer to the final Wolfe Island transportation alternative. By the way, it should be remembered that a stand-by alternative is always “ to do nothing.” Considering the province’s deficit and debt that might end up being the alternative.
*Wolfe Island’s Community Centre Board expects the funded, new NHL sized rink to be operational with a chiller, a building to house it and power very soon. How much further will the Board’s plan for a covered rink, large community facility with a hall and community kitchen proceed in 2011? Will any funding be available for this larger project?
*It is anticipated that Frontenac Islands will deal with the distribution of the monies received from the Wolfe Island Wind Power project at the January meeting of council. It is a delicate problem. Wolfe Islanders see the money as theirs. Some, because they see it as tax revenues they did not receive once the province froze the assessments for each tower at $80,000 each. Others because they, and some members of the community feel they have been affected by the project. Howe Islanders are asking for clarification of the (amenities) agreement since they are part of Frontenac Islands.
*In Jan 2010 the question was: Is there going to be a phase two Wind Power project on Wolfe Island? Trans Alta emphatically said no… However one can not help but wonder about the first Ontario approved off shore Feed-in Tariff contract wind power project. The “Wolfe Island” Shoals project is to be located west of Wolfe Island in the waters of Lake Ontario one of the windiest areas of the province. Will Ian Baines president of Windstream Energy Inc. succeed in getting the project underway? What effect could it have, if any, on Wolfe Island? The proposed site is up wind from the WI Wind Power Centre. While “Wolfe Island” is part of the name of this project, in reality the power from it would be fed directly to the Lennox Power Centre.
*As the rules and regulations governing water and sewage in the province of Ontario become more and more stringent, I can’t help wondering whether the XCG Marysville Waterworks EA, slowed down for whatever reason will be completed in the coming year. The preferred option identified in the EA was to acquire water from the City of Kingston and have it piped across A ‘walk-thru’ tour of the City of Belleville’s ‘Gerry O’Connor’ Water Treatment Plant (from the water input (Bay of Quinte) to distribution), confirmed that water can be piped long distances . Belleville water is pumped under the Bay of Quinte to Prince Edward County. The township area served receives a steady flow of potable water. Water from the Trenton water plant is piped to Consecon. It was stated during the tour as well that the experience of providing water and services to the adjoining municipality had not been difficult for the city. It was the political and legal issues that required the most effort in order to bring it all about. Of concern to the Township of course is who would bear the cost of bringing water to Marysville and installing a distribution system. On the other hand can Marysville develop or must it be contained at its present size? Can Marysville support a seniors facility without it? While water did not rank high on the priority list at a first meeting of what to do with Wind power money, those who favoured water also wanted sewerage services.
*There are quite a number of Frontenac Islands issues that will come to the forefront in the next weeks and months. Ferry issues are always there for both Howe and Wolfe, but right at the moment Islanders are dreaming about Wolfe Island becoming this year’s Kraft Hockeyville 2011. If Wolfe Island wins, the prize money will go towards the Wolfe Island rink. To get involved or for more information contact Paul Hogan 613-328-5832. Also visit www.wolfeisland.com to participate. Writing a story and….. VIGOROUS on line or by telephone Audience voting, will be the key to success.
Around Town: * Community Euchre Thursdays, Wolfe Island United Church Hall 7 pm. * In an effort for more open communication the Frontenac Islands Council meeting agendas will be posted on the ferry and on the Wolfe Island website at www.wolfeisland.com.. * Family Fun day – In a bid for Hockeyville 2011, a Family Fun Day will be held at the WI rink- Sunday January 16th beginning at 11:00, with a COMMUNITY PHOTO SHOOT at 11:15. Bring your skates- Wear a Hockey jersey if you have one. Come out for hot dogs, hot chocolate, music and skating to promote the island’s community spirit, and passion for hockey. A hockey games is in the works…