At a special meeting of Frontenac Islands Council held to continue budget deliberations, it was revealed that members of council are underpaid as compared to townships of comparable budgets and population. According to Dep. Mayor David Jones the results of the HR review undertaken for the township by Frontenac County illustrated numerous deficiencies in HR administration. “None the least being remuneration of its Councillors,” Jones said. The results, including a table indicating remuneration for mayor/councillor positions in townships, were presented to council at this meeting. Frontenac Islands numbers now are: Mayor $5,644; Dep. Mayor $4,15; Councillor $2,122. For the other 7 townships, the remuneration ranges were: for Mayor $9,331 to $23,073; Deputy Mayor $8,087 to $19,612; and Councillors $6,843 to $17,305. The averages for those 7 townships were: Mayor $18,085; Dep.Mayor $14,028; and Councillors $12,023.
“It’s easy to see the inequity I’m talking about,” Jones said. “I’m suggesting that we be fully transparent, discuss it today, include it in the minutes, and encourage commentary. He presented 3 scenarios for resolving the inequities and the affects on the township budget of any of a 100%, 75% or 50% increase to the averages. “I think if this inequity requires a rationale, the rationale is there. If not addressed now, someone will at a later date.”
“A good approach,” according to Mayor Doyle, ”might be to determine at what level we want to be as compared with other townships. He suggested setting up a committee of residents to look at it and determine an appropriate level increase. “But I wouldn’t be opposed to minimal increase of up to 50% of what is paid in comparable townships to get it on the table. I don’t think many people know what we earn. Until the County provided the chart, I had no idea we were so far behind.” Councillor Grant saw value in a committee of residents, two from each island to look over the review options. Councillor Springgay noted that the township had paid for the County review,” so it would be a matter of looking it over, not doing it over.” Councillor Norris expressed some concern about the vibrations through the Volunteer Fire associations who are making minimal amounts as compared to others. “This could have quite an impact ,” he said. Council members will ponder options and the issue will be on the agenda of the next budget meeting.
Dep. Mayor Jones also spoke to the rationale behind a $15,000 budget request for a proposed Howe Island Transportation Impact Study (as estimated by Frontenac County Planner Gallivan). The study could involve a traffic engineer to consider the impact of island growth (vehicles, houses) on the ferry service and working with MTO on existing and future capacity and possible mitigation strategies. This proposal stems out the Official Plan review that identified increasing island growth and comments made by Howe Island Ratepayers Associations (HIRA) that ferry service had not been looked at the same time. The Deputy Mayor invited HIRA’s Brian Humphreys to comment. “HIRA expressed to the planner at the time that there should be a correlation between growth and ferry capacity,” Humphrey’s said. “We also determined that a study would be Council’s opportunity to say what would be a reasonable service and that Council should be armed with the information to determine what growth will do.. It would be unrealistic to say no growth. The study would ensure that with whatever growth there is, an off setting strategy or adequate funding is available to address the problem, whether it be through more ferry capacity or more efficiencies. “While the Howe Island ferry service is adequate now, Howe does not want to be in a situation Wolfe Island now has,” he said. Also present from HIRA, Jim Mills & Terry Botten. Mayor Doyle concurred . “Growth and capacity must go hand in hand. A study was done to get the present Howe ferry,” he added. The $15,000 was left in the budget for the Transportation study to be lead by the County Planner with the general agreement of council that iyt should go ahead, but the decision will not be finalized until the budget is passed.
Council continued with budget decisions line by line, area by area, including a $300 “Pat Norris” sign for the Howe Island Ball Park. The next budget meeting will be held May 2nd on Wolfe Island .
Around Town: “Louie” our friendly Wolfe Island postmaster has left us for Bath…He will be missed. * Horne’s Ferry Service opens for the season May 1st * Mother’s Day Walk Big Sandy Bay, May 13.
Frontenac Islands council meetings can be full of surprises. The April meeting, held on Howe Island, was no exception when, during the regular course of business, Deputy Mayor David Jones credited Mayor Denis Doyle for his efforts at Frontenac County council, where both represent the islands.
“The Mayor has been leading the charge at the county table to recognize that not all townships are the same and that a number of (county) programs are mainland centric, like the KP Trail,” Jones announced. “We’ve won a small battle whereby the islands and North Frontenac can apply for like funding for programs like the KP Trail considered mainland centric for a similar eco tourism project, with the money (potentially $26,00) coming to us out of the Federal Gas Tax bucket.”
Jones noted that another small victory was achieved following a rather heated debate when Mayor Doyle and he, along with North Frontenac, challenged the county bylaw of accruing and storing any year end surpluses of taxes raised over expenses into a ‘working fund account.’ “The stockpile equals a working capital ratio of one to two meaning that the county could operate for an entire half year without having any income, and Mayor Doyle is doing an exceptional job in stopping the spending at the county where very little net tangible benefit is received on the islands,” Jones said. “ The argument being we would like to see that surplus going into something like infrastructure.”
Mayor Doyle added that a county finance committee which includes two county council members has been formed to come up with better ways of managing reserves which have grown to about $15 million, with a first report due in mid May. “But this year is a net on the levy. It will be reduced by 0.3% over last year,” he said.
*Another surprise came by way of Councillor Barbara Springgay, who expressed concerns about Marysville. “We have talked about this before but there are so many places in the village now that are getting out of control in terms of the way they look. If we really care about maintaining the village we have a responsibility for trying to get people to clean up their properties (in breach of bylaws, & even safety standards). I’m just raising it here, but we need to have a special meeting or some real thinking on this . We have had the Bylaw Enforcement Officer before and I don’t need to mention properties, but it’s not getting better, it’s getting worse. I know it’s ‘opening a can of worms’ but we need to open it,” she said. “We say we want to keep the boat in the village, to keep the village alive, but you know it is slowly dying with the way some people keep their homes. I think this needs to be addressed. I know it needs to be addressed.” Property safety standards will be raised at April 17th Special meeting. (With regard to construction going on without a building permit, the protocol is to notify township staff who will notify the Building Inspector.)
In other business ,*Council acting as a Committee of Adjustment confirmed the recommendation of the Planner , Peter Young, and rejected a zoning variance request to construct of an architecturally designed eight metre boat house on a vacant Howe Island property owned by Robert Rashotte. The height of the boat house would violate the township zoning bylaw as would building the boathouse in advance of building a home. “Even if we did approve it,” Mayor Doyle commented,” OMB would throw it back as it clearly violates our zoning bylaw and is way beyond a minor variance.”
*Howe Island’s Lindy Howlings confirmed the permanent locations for 8 turtle signs to be installed 3 metres from the edge of the road and maintained according to the sign bylaw
* Council: Dealt with the payment voucher which led to a series of questions around specific items requiring clarification; Approved lottery licenses (Marysville School; WI Horse Association); Approved appointment of Big Sandy Bay Management & Stewardship Committee; Approved large livestock damage payments (recoverable from the province, and fyi, MNR is not in favour of a bounty on coyotes); Will meet with XCG Water Services in May; Will consider procurement and fencing bylaws and submit changes, suggestions before May meeting.
Before adjourning to an In Camera meeting, council heard questions from the floor. Howe Islands Terry Botten asked about the monitoring of load restrictions, noting heavily loaded trucks coming from the quarry. He also applauded Councillor Springgay’s initiative. “I think it should go further because we need a trailer by law with many more containers coming on the island for storage to properties without a house.
WI resident W. Knott reminded council that the township had assumed a “Passive” position with regard to the By Law Officer rather than an “Active” one where he could roam and make judgments, (trailers, 10×10 buildings.. etc. ) “The decision was it would be on Complaint basis. If you want things done differently, you need to move away from that approach.” Council meets next May 14th on Wolfe Island .
Around Town: *Dawson Point dock parking area has been repaired. * Horne’s , Wolfe Island- Cape Vincent ferry returns to service May 1st; *Student Applications being received for employment at the WI Information Centre opening weekends beginning May 24th (www.wolfeisland.com ); *The Island Grill is also now staffing for the season. *Metal Craft Marine on Wolfe Island busier and busier. *It sure would be wonderful to see water flowing through the WI Canal. *On a personal note, our granddaughter, Violet Stafford (16) who sails at KYC and RCYC in Toronto , winner of last year’s Canadian Youth Nationals (under 17) in a Laser Radial, will represent Canada at the World Youth Sailing Championships in Dublin, Ireland in July. Violet who spends summers with us, began sailing at KYC at age 7.
Coming Events : Wolfe Island Boat Club Open House, St. Margaret’s Hall Thurs. April 19th, 5:30-8:30 pm Registration for many summer programs. (www.wolfeislandboatclub.ca ) The popular children’s Learn to Sail programs still have a few openings. Kids can now register for multiple weeks,
Frontenac County CAO Liz Savill was surprised at the turn out on Wolfe Island Town Hall for the next to last public meeting held to find out from seniors what they would identify as a preferred senior community housing project in the county. (The last of 8 was held on Howe Island).
“We have done this before through a well documented Island study and amore than 200 person survey about the needs of Island Seniors,” Frontenac Islands Mayor Denis Doyle said in his words of welcome to the County team and the islanders in attendance. “There is a keen interest in seniors housing on Wolfe Island. There was then. There is now.” Present from the county, Joe Galivan, Planning; Anne Marie Young ,sustainability and Allison.
CAO Savill went on to describe what the county study was all about: firstly looking at what makes a strong community( ie. strong social cultural and strong economic elements), Within our planning seniors needs have been identified and more importantly the need to look at seniors housing and identify a seniors housing project and we have began looking at this in the fall, recommend a preferred option and a best fit location for a county pilot project including a financial assessment (funding,costs).
Everyone listened patiently as CAO Savill presented the statistics that indicate an increase in the number of seniors, lower senior household incomes in the county with most spending over 30% on housing (mostly owned) low vacancy rate for rental ($500-$1200). She noted retirement homes, seniors housing and long term care homes, are much more expensive with options range from independent, semi-independent to dependent living and offer differing levels of care and support. The meetings have identified increased housing affordability issues and the need for increased support services which could allow seniors in remain in their homes. Ms. Savill identified some existing models Adair in Tamworth, Abbeyfield, the Sharbot Lake model, (five private one-bedroom rental units for independent living.) Opinions were expressed, questions asked and concerns identified. Everyone had something to say and to add to the discussion
What was clear on Wolfe Island was that islanders want independence and assistance in whatever ways that makes that independence possible. There seemed to be a preference for a privately owned facility located in a (well sidewalked) Marysville, (maybe in two distinct forms): smaller bed sitting rooms within a unit with common room and some amenities(exercise space, kitchenette, garden space, etc.); another with small apartment sized units and common room, other amenities etc. added. Islanders want choices. …
With the public meetings now over, County staff will be looking over the information they have. They then will be come up with a proposed pilot project location for seniors housing with a draft document to be presented to County Council which includes the needs of seniors as identified by them. Wolfe Island with its well established community believes it would be the perfect place for a pilot project. What do you think?
Circle of Life Ceremony Remembers Victoria Stewart
By M. Knott
A Circle of Life Ceremony, Honouring the Life of Victoria Stewart was held at the Katarokwi Native Friendship Centre recently attended by friends and co-workers. Victoria was the founding member of the Wolfe Island Historical Society. Vicki died March 5th at the age of 64 after a short illness.
In a written tribute to MS. Stewart, her friend Captain Brian Johnson reminded us that she was born and raised in Pointe Claire, Quebec, was the daughter of Montreal philanthropist the late David Macdonald Stewart and his wife Rita McMenemy, and followed her father’s passion for Canadian and aboriginal history and heritage and eventually while raising her own 2 children joined her father at the Macdonald Stewart Foundation where she became “a tireless workhorse” responsible for many conferences, many historical writings, clarifying Scottish heritage, First Nations etc. as well as guardian of North American fur Trade Conferences. Captain Johnson added that her road to the island had been a rocky one.
Victoria Stewart came to Wolfe Island in 2005 where she bought and moved into the Armstrong house on Button Bay, painted it yellow, named it Buttercup, created a very beautiful garden and immersed herself into the Wolfe Island Community and its history. Through the Historical Society which she founded, the Old House Museum she pushed for, and into the many historical events she encouraged, Islanders now more than ever proudly share their heritage and their stories, all unique, all part of Canada’s vibrant history. Thank you Victoria.