Frontenac Islands council meetings are never dull, and the January meeting was no exception.
Among many items of interest, Mayor Denis Doyle's updated council on a meeting he and Howe Island Councillor Pat Norris had with the Minister of Transportation Bob Chiarelli and Attorney General MPP John Gerretsen, regarding island ferry services: i. e. the MTO recommended WI (75 car) ferry and a rebuild of the County's Howe Island Ferry. ( “Re-Drive Project).
” Instead, we heard that the Province is in dire straits financially, and will cut expenditures and budgets,” Mayor Doyle said. ” The Minister suggested that if the Township wanted to proceed with a new ferry that the matter be dealt though our Official Plan, and with our planner, to determine what we can do locally to raise the money for a ferry ourselves . Improvements for Wolfe Island are in the future unless we chose to keep the pressure on. We will stay current and we will be in touch with our planner,” Councillor Norris added that in his view, “Minister Chiraelli was reinforcing what Mike Harris said pre-amalgamation, basically there was no more free ride. Its status quo, but anything beyond that, you pay.”
Regarding the Howe ferry refit, Doyle said the Minister was not happy that the MTO plan had progressed so far without public input. “The County will be in touch with MTO, but we will let them know our concerns, the risk being that the service could get worse instead of better. The plan is ferry dust to me,” he said. Councillor Norris added that “MTO wants to spend $500,000 on a battery pack. There are no costs savings to the plan, no consideration for heat under the deck.”
PRESENTATIONS TO COUNCIL:
*Anne Prichard, Exec. Dir. of Frontenac CFDC was on hand to update Council on the Eastern Ontario Development Program (EODP changes to the program, and opportunities available for funding, noting that the township can apply. “It's all about sustainable long term job creation, innovation and collaboration, with time lines to March 31st 2014.” The first round will be February 6, 2012 for projects with a start date of April 1st. EODP information is available at the township offices and at, www.frontenaccfdc.com (Non profits, municipal groups, corporations, economic development groups, commercial enterprises etc. may apply)
- Cataraqui Source Protection Committee members Karla Maki-Esdon and (WI resident) Rick Lindgren came to update council on the Draft Source Protection Plan and the approach for Frontenac Islands, including times lines for 2012. The plan highlights the protection of drinking water, an initiative under the Ontario Clean water Act. Lindgren advised that it is important for council to examine the draft policies for Kingston as well for Frontenac Islands, and to inform the committee “if the Kingston policies do not go far enough to protect your municipality from combined sewer overflows.” It was noted that some policies are mandatory for some municipalities. Most of the policies for Frontenac Islands at this time are categorized as strategic action policies. There will be a Public Comment period, and Public Meetings will be held in March. For information: www.cleanwatercataraqui.ca
- After nine years of service Linda Thomas, president of the Wolfe Island Business and Tourism Association (WIBTA), announced that she was stepping down as a member of the board of directors. Citing fatigue and certain frustrations, Thomas made the announcement following her presentation of WIBTA's 2011 year end review of activities (WI Road Race, Photo Contest, Food to Table Dinner, etc), a budget for 2012, and a ($4500.) funding request for certain fixed coasts. “We expect further costs will be covered by the Classic Road Race although its numbers are down” she said. Speaking for the board of directors Thomas asked that the Township to take over responsibility for the Porta-potties on Victoria St and the operation of Tourist Information Centre “I have worked hard for WITA because I value the village but fewer businesses are involved. It is time to ask where do we go from here,” she concluded citing a Business Improvement Area (BIA) model under the Township as a structure for organizations that promote local business and tourism. “The more we able offer locally, the more people will stay around and use the boat far less.”
Mayor Doyle thanked Linda for her service to the community and took her report under advisement. At the same time he indicated the township will support ($500) a new regional promotion initiative by KEDCO with Cape Vincent and Wolfe Island.
In other business: 1.The Wolfe Island Community Medical Clinic was be rezoned from Residential to Community Facility. 2. December Council minutes amended to also include OPP Constable K. Lamacraft's suggestion for rubber traffic calming humps, further that Council did not support the LOON group regarding the Windstream Wolfe Island Shoals Project. 3. The Procedural By-Law as requested by Councillor Norris will be amended to include that a council representative from each district make up the quorum for a meeting unless agreed upon by the council. 4. Accumulated surpluses or deficits in any area rated department will be transferred to area rated reserves, and the $50,000 for Howe Island roads/ferry from Frontenac County be put in a reserve for Howe Island Transportation. 5. No decision yet on council committee representatives.
There were questions about payment vouchers, trucks and truck safety, culverts and roads, as well as recreation costs, separate budgets, policing estimates etc., etc. all to come up in budget deliberations. (The first meeting was held January 18th ).
*One issue came up at the end of the meeting. Mayor Doyle said that a land owner is creating roads up at the eastern end of the village, “too narrow, not ditched, culverts too small, poor drainage, etc. And now a Quonset type building is going up. Was there a permit? We should have addressed this before,” he said. “Is that what's causing flooding on some of the streets? A letter will be sent to the developer outlining minimum township road standards. Council meets NEXT on Howe Island, Mon, Feb. 13, 2012 at 6,30 pm.
Around Town: Please take note that a CFB Kingston (10 person) military team will set up at the Big Sandy Bay parking lot Feb. 7th through 8th to conduct a simulation program.
*Chili Fest Feb. 19th at the Community Centre and Rink Begins at 1pm.
“Come on Margaret, you of all people should know it is not going to happen” were the words directed to me by a fellow Frontenac Islands taxpayer, a Wolfe Islander. His words were in reference to the results of the Wolfe Island ferry study recommending a new 75 car ferry operating from the winter dock in conjunction with the Wolfe Islander III. I had said that based on the depth of the study, the oversight by MTO, the urgency of the situation for increased service, and the lack of complaint by Wolfe Islanders, indeed satisfaction with the study results, along with the ongoing improvements around the docks etc., that this time, the project WOULD move forward. That happened in September. *The idea of a bridge to Wolfe Island was set aside at this time (20) years as Kingston awaits approval for a bridge over the Cataraqui River referred to most often as “the 3rd crossing.”
More recently Frontenac Islands Mayor Denis Doyle sought and received the support of the City of Kingston for the WI ferry project, and its fast tracking . As we all know, the WI Ferry Service is the life line for islanders to work, education, health care, etc., as well an important tourist attraction for Kingston. Travelling on it also provides access to Cape Vincent NY, from Wolfe Island via Horne's Ferry. Interesting to note that Cape Vincent is also a 'US- Metal Craft Marine-Canada' location across the river from Metal Craft Marine's active Kingston facility. So what now?
With the way things are going in Ontario at this time, perhaps I was wrong to be hopeful, to dream in colour…. The news is that that the province has an incredible debt and deficit, that must be reduced and that Ontarians had better get ready for slash, cut and burn, suggesting that “only hope based on need” remains that a new ferry will come our way. On a theory of creating jobs in the ship building industry, maybe that could happen. .but who knows, and that who is Premier Dalton McGuinty (and maybe our Kingston and the Islands MPP John Gerretsen).
However he, John, was not very forthcoming when asked about the ferry study and MTO's recommendation at the City of Kingston's New Year's Levee. “Well, the study is done isn't it,” he said , while to another he said, “You have a ferry that gives you hourly service now.” A lot was left unsaid and unexplained as he moved quickly to perhaps friendlier visitors to the levee.
Perhaps it was not a good place to ask about the future of the WI ferry service but after reading news statements by Ontario's Minister Duncan and most recently by Don Drummond, an economist, enlisted by Premier McGuinty to report on the finances of the Ontario Government, I couldn't help myself.
In advance of his report, Drummond is reported to have said that most government ministries face cuts, as much as 30 per cent. And things will have to be done in a different way to get more value for every taxpayer's dollar. (Will it be NDP 'Ray Days'? 'Draconian Mike' Harris cuts? Status quo? )
Statements carry me back to past governments, different ministers, and past ferry studies and presentations on how things could happen on Wolfe Island, (shorter routes/bridges): Public Private partnerships was one way, contracting out another, Chanel Crossing Joint Ventures, a casino on the island to support improvements etc, etc. But then all for naught.
So here we are, Wolfe Islanders remembering the 2011 MTO presentations acknowledging the island's need for improved transportation and recommendation for a new 75- car ferry. (Was money been set aside, a shipbuilder selected, a date of delivery confirmed?) Faced with possible cuts in all provincial ministries what will MTO do, how will they do it or can they do it at all? Could all MTO's plans to make it happen be confined to the shelf as just another study? Will this to have been, once again all for naught?
Around Town: Due to higher water levels and very little ice in Barrett's Bay the Wolfe Islander continues to operate from Marysville. * The Wolfe Island Network (WIN) has set up a new series of presentations on Hobbies.* Check out dates and times for' Hobby Talks' as well as the new Skating Schedule at the island's (incredible) rink at : www.wolfeisland.com * Community Euchre at the WI United Church Hall Thursday evenings at 7 pm. * Euchre at St. Margaret's Hall, Monday evenings at 7:30 pm sponsored by WI's Trinity Anglican Parish, prizes, lunch, etc.
Following a Ministry of Transportation (MTO) presentation to Frontenac County Council in November with regard to upgrading the Frontenac-Howe Island Ferry's propulsion system, MTO's Stuart Jones and Paul Papps, attended the December meeting of Frontenac Islands Council to outline what was supposed to be a good news story, about sustainable improvements to the county ferry as designed by a marine architect. The MTO project however, has left Frontenac Islands councillors surprised and perplexed instead.
In summary, the project includes the replacement of the diesel engine with high efficiency batteries (20 year life spans) to power an electric motor and the replacement of the single drum hydraulic winch system with a double bull wheel drive, requiring a change only once a year. The ferry would have a backup generator to charge battery if required. Battery charging would go on overnight and two regular half hour periods will also be required during the day to ensure adequate charge. The changes would effectively eliminate direct diesel emissions, result in a quieter operation, reduce ferry downtime and save some $50,000 annually in fuel costs. “An increase deck width at drive house by 4-6 inches might be achievable,” Stuart Jones said, noting that MTO assumes 80% of the operating costs as well as fuel costs, ramp, and land based moving parts of the ferry. “The major costs are for fuel and power for hydraulics and the province is looking for efficiencies,” Jones said. “The changes will mirror what is in place,” he said.
Councillor Pat Norris was not happy. “Has this concept been tested in ice conditions,” he asked. “Are we to be guinea pigs once again? This is not what we asked for. The on demand nature of the ferry particularly through the summer does not allow for down time. Save money fine,” Norris said , “but don't cut back on service.” Deputy Mayor Jones saw much uncertainty in what was being gained from “such a dramatic change”.
In general council opinion was that the changes would offer little reduction in operational costs, no improvement in speed, and would simply be (as was stated), a mirror of what they have now rather than reducing the problems that confront the community regarding transportation. Council will further consult on this project together and with the public . Council will also meet with the operator of the ferry ,Frontenac County.
In other Business: 1. Constable K. Lamacraft of the Ontario Provincial Police was present to discuss in particular speeding on Township roads. Constable Lamacraft said little could be done if proper signage was not in place. “You might also need to change speed limit , but until signs are properly posted at right distances etc., I can do nothing .,” he said . “Public education is another measure. There has to be an attitudinal change regarding speed, the safety of residents, particularly the children.”
Measures talked about which could be taken by the Township include a review of all signage to ensure compliance with MTO regulations, public consultation on speed limits, changes to school bus pick up stops as required, sign purchase or rental showing rates of speed, maybe local citizens committees. A request by WI resident Claire Muller requesting speed bumps in Marysville was considered. Since the speed limit in Marysville was recently changed to 40 km/h and signs posted,no further action will be taken at this time to see change is acknowledged. Howe Island speeding concerns suggest formation of a community committee
2. Frontenac County Planner Joe Gallivan attended the meeting to enlighten council members regarding the County's stated priority to establish a Official Plan for Frontenac County. Gallivan has submitted reports to County Council citing what a plan would look like, its advantages and type either detailed or more high level crossing every boundary i.e. environment, natural heritage, transportation. “Because council mandates end in 2014 it is important that all councils be involved in the process from start to finish,” Galivan said . “We hope to have a plan finalized and approved by the province within your term of office.”
3. In response to a letter from the WI Community Medical Clinic a zone change application “institutional or community facility” will be prepared. Council will seek legal advice on designating the property as a 'municipal capital facility' as allowed by the Municipal Code. This was because of the change in assessment from an exempt status to 'residence' and taxable.
4. The domestic waste collection (tendered) contract for Howe Island went to Stark Battams. The Township will advertise for Howe Island residents interested in serving on a waste management committee.
5. Council formalised a Reserve for the Wolfe Island Historical Society and Old House Museum to receive donations for either group. A letter from the National Wall of Remembrance Association will be forwarded to the WI Historical Society.
6. Council supported, Town of Richmond Hill resolution concerning chronic lyme disease, and by Huron County related to restrictions on use of farm buildings.
7. Many thanks to the City of Kingston, Downtown Kingston Business Association and KEDCO for their support of the Wolfe Island Transportation Study following a presentation by Mayor Denis Doyle. Further thanks to Theresa James for a beautiful Christmas tree and Roly Jansen for its installation, beautifully lighted, at the Wolfe Island Town Hall.
8. A Christmas Bonus for staff, permanent employees ($50.) and part time ($ 25.) were approved.
9. Council held an In Camera session concerning a municipal property matter and potential litigation.
And finally, due to a lack of planning time, the custom of a New Year's Levy Mayor Doyle hoped to establish for Frontenac Islands was set aside for this year. Perhaps next year?
So on that note let me say that It has been my privilege to keep you informed of at least some of the 'Goings On' in Frontenac Islands. I wish a Happy New Year to All!