by Margaret Knott
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Annual Archives
Margaret Knott's What's New on Frontenac Islands articles appear with the kind permission of the The Kingston Heritage Newspaper.

December 27, 2012
t's on the record... A vote of non confidence

That's right, a motion of non confidence in the Warden of Frontenac County Janet Gutowski, passed (7 to 2) at the Frontenac County December council meeting. Even she acknowledged embarrassment to have this (non binding resolution), and request for immediate resignation, recorded on the county records. It needn't have happened when all that was required was for the Central Frontenac Township Mayor Gutowski to immediately relinquish her seat as warden to another , as has been done traditionally for many years. The motion would have been withdrawn. But she would not, citing continuity in the position (on committees/functions) as an imperative. Warden Gutowski and John Purdon, both from Central Frontenac, opposed the motion.

The current procedural by-law indicates the warden is elected by county council for a 4 year term.. However South Frontenac Township Mayor Gary Davison , who served as warden in 2011, resigned after one year, following a tradition which acknowledges that each mayor has something unique to offer the position. Frontenac Islands Mayor Denis Doyle has resigned his position as the county's deputy warden respecting the same principle. Normally the deputy warden would then be elected warden.

The non confidence motion reads that ” the council has lost confidence in the Warden's ability to lead,” includes references to the need for team work, respect and co-operation and states that ” by not following the long-standing tradition of stepping down from the Warden's position, after one year, (Warden Gutowski) has affirmed her duplicity and deception, shown disrespect for Council.” She refused the request to immediately resign. Words like a dysfunctional council came up in the brief discussion and it was Mayor Davison who suggested that the situation has made a farce of the strategic planning process the county has been involved in.

“It's total disrespect for a 146-year-old tradition of county council where the chair of county council sat at the pleasure of the council itself,” South Frontenac Township Mayor Gary Davison.said.. It flies in the face of democracy. In the resolving grace of history dictators don't last that long..”

Warden Gutowski was adamant in her decision to remain as warden citing research, homework and exceptions to tradition and the meeting continued moving through many issues

However when it came to receiving and accepting the recommendations of the Strategic Plan Report presentation in a recoded vote, 7 to 2, council would not receive the Strategic Plan report presentation or accept its recommendations. “I think without total co-operation we should cut our losses and spend no more time on this. Frontenac Islands Mayor Doyle said. “As councillor Davison says,we should put it on the shelf and maybe dust it off when things get resolved. Mayor Doyle also noted that Wolfe Island (often identified in the report) was named for the General ,not the wolf animal as listed in the report. At the end of the meeting, Mayor Davison called upon Warden Gutowski to declare her position for the record and she declared, . No, iI am not resigning as Warden at this time

The question now becomes 'How Can County Council Continue To Be Effective', if 6 persons (with 7 votes) are opposed to the person sitting in the Warden's Chair.

Posted by M Knott at 09:22 AM
December 20, 2012
Frontenac Islands remuneration way out of line

In May of 2012 Frontenac Islands council commissioned Frontenac County Human Resources to undertake a policy review of municipality's current remuneration (staff and council) against other comparable municipalities. At the same time of Frontenac Islands 2012 budget discussions, $20,000 was set aside as a contingency for the remuneration outcomes, if any were identified and approved.

Deputy Mayor Jones was the lead councillor on this township file working with Frontenac County's labour relations specialist Colleen Hickey. “I thought it was appropriate that this report be tabled at a public meeting,” he said as he welcomed Ms Hickey to the Frontenac Islands December council meeting there to provide the outcomes of the study report.

The report focused on criteria such as population, operating budgets/expenses, number of full time equivalent staff , municipal by-laws, compensation review, committee policies, web sites, etc. According to Ms Hickey the study identified eight suitable comparators including Central and North Frontenac and Tweed among others.

As it turned out , she said “remuneration for Frontenac Islands is significantly lower than the other similar sized townships” as identified in the breakdown of the data. Her review summarized incremental increases up to the median for council to consider. She also reminded council that “considering remuneration periodically to ensure fair and equitable remuneration is the responsible thing for a council to do.” Deputy Mayor Jones noted tabulations of incremental increases up to the median, $55,000.

'This review brings it all together,” Councillor Springgay noted. “And includes certain parameters ( extra meetings, mileage, per diems etc.) that also needed to be considered. Based on 60 % of the average would get you close to Tweed,” she said. “I'm not sure about 50%.”

Deputy Mayor Jones identified present remuneration for a councillor as 18 % of the average. As the discussion proceeded it was agreed that the $20,000 set aside would be used (pro rated) to adjust council members remuneration although it was also noted that that amount was only enough to bring it up to 50% of comparable municipalities,(“still a big gap,” Mayor Doyle said.) The resolution passed by council noted that council had acted responsibly in undertaking the review of HR policy, procedures and equity, and its resulting report which illustrates the lower remuneration of Frontenac Islands council. As stated above council will appropriate the $20,000, 2012 budget allocation pro rata across the mayor and councillors present compensation. There was some hesitation about 100 % in one jump. “If we vote on it we may not vote on the average.. ,” Springgay said. ” We all want to feel comfortable with what we are doing,” Mayor Doyle said.

Council amended the original resolution postponing the discussion to increase its mayor and council remuneration in 2013 to the average of the comparators, to a budget meeting to be held in January 2013.

Council will also establish a compensation review committee for the purpose of reviewing all staff and council remuneration on a regular basis.

While remuneration remains far below that of similar sized townships, the decisions taken thus far means council members will receive 50% of what members in those township's receive annually. Presently the Mayor of Frontenac Islands receives $5,644.00, the Deputy Mayor $4,154.00 and Councillors $2,122.00.

In other business: HIRA“s Edward Beseau presented a number of concens with regard to the Baseline Trail on Howe Island. “Maybe we moved into this too quickly,” He said. “Lots of grey areas., Not everyone happy. People worried about safety, ATV's and snow mobiles Councillor Norris asked that HIRA keep an open mind. “The trail is going as far as the marsh, a quarter mile from the lower side road, will open and there is insurance,” he said. “Everyone will be notified about where we are working and signs are going up identifying the trail. Anywhere else is private highway.”

A further HIRA concern was an alert system for the ferry. “We are not happy with Frontenac County's Paul Charbonneau.” Beseau said. “When the ferry is out of service we need an alert system and we can help make that happen.” Councillor Norris assured him that council would follow up with the county.

Council approved a Christmas bonus of $50. for permanent staff and $25. for part time staff., Passed a motion that a roof over the rink on Wolfe Island is a priority, established a tentative date for an Official Plan review of changes with Planner Joe Gallivan.

Concerns were raised about speed limits particularly on Howe Island Drive. The suggestion being those posted are wrong and too high. HI resident Terry Botten suggested that the Christmas bonuses need to be looked at.”That's not a lot of cash.” Botten thanked council for their efforts and wished them a Happy Christmas. “What! no cookies this year.”

Around Town:

The Church Athletic League (CAL) has chosen OUR Wolfe Island rink to host the BATH ROAD RANGERS WINTER CLASSIC 2013 on Sun. Jan. 6th, beginning at 1 pm. Plan to attend. Info: Jim 613-545-5309

Posted by M Knott at 09:17 AM
December 13, 2012
Budget talk with the Mayor of Frontenac Islands

At budget time every community regardless of size face similar decision- making processes. How much must be raised in taxes to fulfill the requirements, in this instance of Frontenac (Wolfe & Howe) Islands, municipal operating and capital budgets for the coming year and the needs of its 1,800 1,900 permanent residents. Needs much the same as those of its largest neighbours, i.e..roads-fire -police- ambulance-transportation -social services - garbage (landfill) parks-recreation, etc, etc. Islanders are inclined to ask: “what do we get for our tax dollar other than ploughed roads and the landfill site…

In conversation with Mayor Doyle he said budget talks began earlier this year, with a look at last year's expenditures and departmental plans for 2013. “There is always a need to replace one or another of our aging fleet of fire and roads vehicles but now we must reserve money for these purchases. Now each municipality must have an Asset Management Plan in place by 2013, and determine the life of each of its assets, whether that be equipment, roads or buildings. By 2014 we have to use the plan's information to start reserving money, enough to buy a replacement at the end of the life of that asset.” Doyle, offering an example, said th at to replace “a snow plow/dump truck purchased this year for $175,000, estimated to last 10 years, a replacement truck price estimated at $200,000 in 2022, we would then have to set aside $20,000 a year to have the money to buy a vehicle at the end of it's useful life.” This approach (long used in private business) is new to municipalities and will be closely monitored by the province to ensure a plan is in place, without which the township will not be awarded any Provincial grant money that might arise for infrastructure programs. The township did submit a successful application for funding available for outside assistance receiving ($21,990.18) to prepare/complete the islands Asset Management Plan

” But Wolfe Island roads are the biggest, most difficult budget item,” Doyle said, adding “that independent ward discussions will be held to consider needs, wish lists and then meet to discuss, prioritize and determine just what we can afford.” He noted that the Wolfe Island winter dock road needs improvement, better organized parking on west side of the line up closer to the fence, shoulder surface treating, parking line painting, etc. south from the dock to Whitmarsh gate. “Of course, we also need estimates of what it will cost to re-do the entire length of the road, and see what can be done to make it safer for bicycles.

Further, he said, “we want to continue to surface treat gravel roads on WI that service a high number of tax payers, per kilometre of road, that needs to be paved. This is the cheapest option, but takes a lot of money up front to get it done. Some Municipalities have set targets on what percentage of roads will be surface treated at the end of each year.” Most high use roads on Howe Island are already hard surface treated, according to Doyle

Another topic for budget discussion centered around what can be done with the Simcoe Island and Howe Foot Ferry docks because of the very low water levels, a subject that would not have come up if water levels had remained normal.. Ministry of Transportation engineers have already visited the sites. No plan is in place as yet although the feeling is the ramps need to be rebuilt at a lower angle and go out much further into the water and could be an another expensive budget item according to Mayor Doyle.

Thus far, other high priority budget items discussed were some paving requirements in Marysville and the need for more boat launching ramps at the end of public roads, (one was recently done on Howe Island.)

And, finally, WI residents will have seen by now the notices posted locally that Council wants to further discuss cyclists safety primarily on the Wolfe Island's winter dock road, at the Jan. 14th meeting on Wolfe Island . “Public concerns have been raised regarding near misses of bicycles now that it gets dark so early, especially at the corners just south of the ferry line-up area. We would like public feed back and hope people will offer some some good, constructive ideas,” Mayor Doyle said.

For your information: To be included on the agenda of the Jan 14th Council Meeting, and to speak, please advise the Wolfe Island Township Office by Jan. 8th and provide an outline of what you want to discuss.

Around Town: *Families are eagerly waiting to welcome absent members home for Christmas. *The Community Centre Board hopes the weather settles so that winter skating can begin at the rink before Christmas. *Official Learn to Skate, Mixed Adult Recreational Hockey, Broomball all beginning of January 4th-6th-8th. ( Call Lesley 385-1671 *The General Wolfe Hotel has closed for the season.

Coming Events: *Nine Lessons and Carols Annual Ecumenical Christmas Service at Trinity Anglican Church Sunday, Dec. 23rd at 7pm. *Community Euchre Thus.7 pm WI United Church

Posted by M Knott at 09:13 AM
December 06, 2012
Odds and ends from the Frontenac Islands November meeting

Very few Frontenac Islands council meetings are ever concluded without some issue surrounding ferry service. The November meeting saw the establishment of Howe Island ferry fees . HI resident Terry Botten reminded council they need also to revisit commercial vehicles, motorcycles, including sticker and pricing policies.

A further discussion came up initiated by Councillor Springgay regarding bicycle unloading off the ferry at Wolfe Island's Dawson Point winter dock and the dangers that arise with cyclists leaving the ferry first in the dark and the safety issues that result as automobiles must pass the bicycles on the very dark narrow road. (There have been complaints). The proposed resolution asking MTO to establish a policy of unloading the cyclists was lost. Council will be looking for input from cyclists. Public notices have already been posted indicating that the issue will be on the agenda of the January 14th council meeting on Wolfe Island.

While a resolution to a establish a Municipal Employee Policy Manual, a first for the township, was lost because certain areas of the manual have to be further clarified and added to, Deputy Mayor Jones wanted it made perfectly clear that the day a bylaw IS passed that any/all previous policies are repealed .

Deputy Mayor Jones had concerns about a budget over expediture that had not come before council although controls have been put in place.” I believe there is a weakness. However rationalized, this expenditure, well over budget, never came before us..,” he said. Councillor Springgay referred to the situation as “communications issue”.. that need not have happened.

Councillor Grant who was adamant that the desire expressed by the WI community for a Seniors residence not get lost simply because the Frontenac County report seems to focus on Sharbot Lake. He said, “we cannot let it drop.”

Music Fest organizers are expected for a meeting early in the new year.

FYI: Budget meetings are now underway with further meetings in early December and in January when, according to Mayor Doyle, the municipality hopes to finalize their household target for maximum tax increase, (an approach used by Kingston) “We talked about this concept, and said we should pick a number some place between 2 and 4 %. Then we know what we can afford to do, as we will have our total township revenue.”

Council meets next: Mon. Dec. 10th , Howe Island at 6:30 pm

Wolfe Island Post Office a treasure for Islanders

The 'Christmas Elves' on Wolfe Island have been busy decorating Marysville in time for the Santa Claus Parade and Christmas. Not to be outdone, Islanders Janice Frost and Doris Eves joined Catherine Crowe (acting postmaster) in decorating the island's rural Post Office for the Holiday Season.. The Post Office is recognized as one of, (maybe) the busiest of the smaller offices in the region. Not surprising really. Anything available at the Kingston Post Office is available on the island. It is a lovely size, accessible , brightly painted and full of light. It has a well controlled bulletin board and most importantly, wonderful staff including those who come in to sort the rural mail, and deliver it, those who fill the lock and key boxes, serve at the counter and those deliver the mail to the city for the rest of its journey. But the Post Office is even more than that.. Here I go again remembering…. this time about the late Clifton Fargo who provided much sage (kind and wise) advice following our decision to live on the island. “It is good to get out every day,” he said. “Come in to Fargo's to pick up the paper and go to the Post Office to pick up the mail, great places to meet people and to catch up on the news, or to break the dreariness of a dark day.” Clifton said. And he was right. The Post Office as well as fulfilling all postal needs, including gift purchases (unique stamps etc), has provided many happy/sad moments to stay in touch with people locally, to hear what's going on, offered opportunities for lively discussion, and of course to meet new residents . So it is no surprise as the Island prepares for Christmas that the Post Office would get ready too.. It's a community event…

Around Town:*The WI Community Hall, for too long without heat, now new quiet heater, was the perfect place to be following the Remembrance Day event and for the Christmas Market… Lovely , lovely….. *The HI County Ferry has been undergoing regulated shut downs for repairs. An unscheduled shutdown caused Kim Nossal (HIRA) to call for a (County) Alert for Ferry Outages involving a residential 'listserv' to be used by operators to immediately announce a ferry outage (also for back in service). “an email can be sent to a 'listserv' from any smartphone -” he noted. *Frontenac County has chosen a logo for its 150th Anniversary. Check it out.

Coming events: WI Santa Claus Parade, Saturday, Dec. 8th at 4:30 pm. *Fundraiser Yoga Class Sunday, December 9th St. Margarets Hall cost: $10.00 * Nine Lessons and Carols (Ecumenical service) Sunday Dec. 23rd at 7 pm Trinity Anglican.

Posted by M Knott at 09:09 AM