Its budget time on Frontenac Islands. That time when our elected representatives determine how much money must be collected in taxes from rate payers to keep the islands operational and to pay the bills. There are also tax obligations (30 % of our total tax bill) to Frontenac County for specific services and to school boards (a similar %) and also obligations to “set aside” for those things that will require replacement in the near future, like a truck for instance.
Budget deliberations offer a time to look at essential needs. For Frontenac Islands its all about roads, the landfill site, administration, policing, by-law enforcement, Simcoe Ferry and Howe Island foot ferry, and everything related to all of the above. Council does listen to concerns, and works hard to control spending locally and at Frontenac County,
Council also acknowledges the continuing efforts of volunteer groups, organizations and local businesses to the community, including the financial requests made by them. Also, it is taking over the operation of the WI Information Centre and maintenance of public toilet facilities at the Victoria Street location.
A committee of Council, the Community Centre Board, has been the recipient of major funding (available as a result of the TransAlta Wind Power amenities agreement) to complete the rink. Fund raising for a roof and the further development of the grounds is ongoing. A Wolfe Island Ward Community Fund has also been established with monies from the wind agreement.
It is important to note that before the wind plant amenities agreement with Trans Alta ($645,000. annually), and after the transfer of money for the maintenance of the downloaded Provincial highways #96 & #96 was used up, Frontenac Islands (specifically Wolfe Island) could have been faced with bankruptcy.
What has happened instead is that roads are being built-up and maintained, some for the first time. The island is not bankrupt. New homes are being built. New businesses are looking at Wolfe Island as a place to come to perhaps acknowledging it as a summer venue for tourists. Metal Craft Marine & the WI Wind Plant offer employment.
But there is not much time or money left for Dreaming at Budget Time…
How many times have islanders been invited to contribute their thoughts and dreams for the future and how many times has nothing come of it… Most recently at a meeting on Wolfe Island, organized by Frontenac County to look at village improvements and island priorities, it was concluded (not for the 1st time) that a senior housing project is needed, and that a part time community development officer should be hired (by the township) to search out business and funding opportunities.
Senior housing in Marysville has been on Wolfe Island's wish list for years, the dream of island seniors, spearheaded by Councillor Grant.. and continues to be a priority for him. And, for awhile it looked like Frontenac County might consider the island for a pilot project……..
No doubt every islander has at least one item to add to the wish list…. What's Yours?
Mine, is that the Township continue to upgrade the Wolfe Island Community Hall, (long recognized as the hub of the community), ONE project at a time. Now that a new heating system has been installed, how about accessible washrooms so that it can be open and available to more people, on a regular basis for community programs.
Budget deliberations continue….
Coming events: Children's Karate ages 4-7, 8-12 February 25 - April 29 Registration: Tuesday February 5th, 5:30-7:30pm, at Community Centre Rink. * FREE CPR & AED (defibrillator) Training, Feb. 9, at 10am, St Margaret Hall. Pre-register at IslandAidFirstAid@gmail.com or call Wilma Sjonger at 385 2672.*WI Business & Tourism Assoc. Mtg. Feb. 12th WI United hurch Hall 7 pm.* Wolfe Island's Chilifest 2013 Saturday, February 23rd Wolfe Island Community Centre Rink grounds. 12:30 - 4:00 pm There will also be public skating, hayrides, hot dogs
and of course the ever anticipated Wolf(e) Tails! *Community Euchre WI United Church Hall Thursdays 7pm.
Cycling on Wolfe Island was major agenda concern at the Frontenac Islands January meeting. In this instance, not the cyclists who come to the island during the tourist season, but the island's own cycling commuters who use island roads all year as a means of transportation, because of environmental concerns and to guarantee a place on the ferry.
Speaking on behalf of island cyclists (many there at the meeting), long time resident and cycling commuter Debra Krakow, presented council with an extensive report outlining concerns for cyclists, pedestrians and motorists related to the winter dock road (#1701) to the ferry ( very curved, very narrow, dark). And at the winter dock itself with cars rushing to park, pull out, line up, drop off, pick up. Also with pedestrians rushing to park, to board, cyclists rushing to board, disembark with no extra lines for any of this activity. And a ferry crew focused on unloading/boarding cars not on holding back cyclists pedestrians etc.
The report offered a number of recommendations including engaging a traffic engineer to recommend improvements (low cost, short term, medium cost, mid term, and higher cost, longer term measures) to the road and parking areas, and they outlined a number of possible initiatives, e.g. paved road shoulders, improved lighting, better signage. A very constructive discussion followed offering further initiatives. Krakow indicated the willingness of the group to remain engaged in the process with the township and MTO. It was agreed that Councillor Grant and Mayor Doyle would set up a meeting with MTO, and representatives from the community to discuss what actions could be implemented to improve the situation. The Cyclists report is available on the Frontenac Islands website.
Following the meeting, Mayor Doyle noted that MTO has already talked about revitalizing the parking area to maximize its use and that extra lighting and road lines were added within the docking area. “But the road is poorly lit with curves that make it dangerous for bicycles rushing off the ferry,” he said. “While the majority of cyclists and motorists are very careful and follow safe practices on the road, it is off islanders, not knowing that they may come upon cyclists around the first corner that could cause an accident. We need to do a better job of managing safety concerns while the ferry is at the winter dock and better integrate pedestrians and Bicycles with the cars coming on and off the Ferry.”
FYI the Winter Dock road along with Roads 95 & 96 were downloaded by the province, circa amalgamation time. The maintenance of roads is Frontenac Islands largest annual expenditure.
Of significant importance to Wolfe Islanders was a presentation by Darrell Niles , owner and operator of Septic Solutions, the island's only local holding and septic tank pump out service. Island waste is transported off the island to Kingston with no guarantees as to how long this arrangement can continue, and takes up needed space on the ferry According to Niles “given the population and the rural nature of the island it is unlikely there will be a near term solution for septic waste save holding and septic tanks and it is important to ensure we have treatment facilities. Noting environmental and community responsibility, as well as an original study with AECOM, Niles said creating a Waste Water Treatment facility would be in the island's best interest, help keep pumping costs at a reasonable level with savings in time and resources. The study indicated a lagoon style system could be developed for $180,000 net of land costs ( which is estimated at $120,000) and offer capacity for years. He referred to new designs for more affordable sewage pits and the possibility of paying off a new facility (net of operating costs) in 10 years.
Mayor Doyle acknowledged, “there is general agreement that to build a new sewage disposal facility is the right thing to do. We ( the township) will look further into how that could be done.”
Frontenac County Planner Joe Gallivan presented an overview of the Seniors Housing Community Pilot Project prepared for the county. Council meets next on Howe Island , Mon., Feb.11, 2013 at 6:30 pm.
*Of interest to Islanders: A next day meeting was held. with Planner Joe Gallivan to review the status of the
township's Official Plan (Jan. 15th) According to Mayor Doyle the township originally had sent requested changes to the Ministry of Municipal Affairs, who in turn, many months later requested changes to 56 clauses in the plan.
“Most were resolved and agreed on fairly quickly,” Mayor Doyle said. “The most difficult is a new rule related to private roads that the Province wants to implement, that unless it is a properly constructed 66 foot wide road, they do not want any more houses built on the road because of emergency vehicle access,” he said. ” Our Planner will go back to the Ministry with request to allow building on lots already severed, but not allow any more severances unless the road is brought up to standard.” It is hoped the Official Plan under review for over 3 years now can be finalized by the end of March.
At a budget meeting on the same day Mayor Doyle said every attempt would be made to try to keep the taxpayer increase “to no more than 3%.” With the additional road crew person and a bigger mower agreed to, side of road grass cutting, garbage can pick up at Big Sandy Bay and in Village, will be undertaken by the township rather than contracting out. A further budget meeting will be held February 21st..
Our township representatives at Frontenac County Council have had a busy few weeks. * Bitterly cold weather does not deter the Wolfe Island's skaters, young and older. * the date of the next Jubilee Medal awards presentations, including our own Dr. George Merry (nominated by DUC) will be held at the Ambassador Hotel on Feb. 9th at 7:30 pm.
- Drop In Program, WI Community Medical Clinic, Friday's 1-3:30 pm. * The Wolfe Island Boat Club will have its AGM on January 31,,2013 time and place to follow. ** FREE CPR & AED (defibrillator) Training, on Saturday, Feb. 9, 2013 at 10am at St Margaret Hall. (space is limited, pre-registration required) Pre-register at IslandAidFirstAid@gmail.com or call Wilma Sjonger at 385 2672.
- Wolfe Island's Dr. George Merry is one of just 30 Ducks Unlimited Canada (DUC) members from across the country awarded the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee medal for their contributions to conservation and their work with DUC. The medal serves to honour contributions and achievements made by Canadians.
Dr. Merry was advised of the award in a letter from DU on behalf of the Right Honourable David Johnston, Governor General of Canada in early December. The letter acknowledged what a privilege it was for the organization to be able to nominate 30 outstanding individuals to receive medals. “You are among these inspiring and remarkable people who DUC is now honouring,”it said.
“I am honoured to have been nominated by Ducks Unlimited and to have been chosen to receive the Jubilee medal,” Dr. Merry said in acknowledging the award.
Anyone who knows George Merry is well aware of his more than 30 year involvement with DUC, Canada's leading wetlands conservation organization. He has been an DU volunteer, a member of many DUC chapters and a fundraiser. Presently he is a member of the Wolfe Island DU Committee and conducts a Sealed Bid auction program. He is also among the first major gift donors to DUC on Wolfe Island where, in 2000 he and his family donated 50 acres of ecologically sensitive land, with 850 ft. of Big Sandy Bay shoreline to the organization (to be upgraded this year). “This land, part of the DU La Salle conservation easement along with 5 other landowner's, is almost a 100 acre wetland,” according to Merry.. “a valuable Great Lakes coastal wetland for years to come.”
Dr. Merry was honoured in 2010 when the DU Collins Creek Project in Kingston was dedicated to him also in recognition of his wetland conservation. George's commitment is evident in the support he receives from his family and the Wolfe Island community. And now Congratulation are in order once again with the awarding of commemorative Jubilee Medal.
- Please take note that the date and location of the award ceremony has yet to be announced.
- The commemorative medal was created to mark the 2012 celebrations of the 60th anniversary of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II's accession to the Throne as Queen of Canada. It serves to honour contributions and achievements made by Canadians. Wolfe Island's Perry Chesney, was awarded the Jubilee medal in September 2012 for his dedicated years of service with the WI Ambulance Service.
Congratulations to Anthony Broeders , U OF Guelph, winner in a pentathlon event. - Thanks to the WIPP for keeping us all in coffee and pizza and conversation as the winter moves on. - A very active skating schedule is now underway at the WI Community Centre rink.
Coming events: WI Historical Society welcomes Ron Beaupre, Marine historian, Jan. 22nd to the WI United Church Hall at 7:30 pm. Plan now to attend.- Euchre, every Thursday. 7pm WI United Church Hall, All welcome.
The vote of non confidence against Warden Janet Gutowski which passed (7-2) at the December meeting of Frontenac County council really happened, at which time she was also asked to vacate the Warden's chair. That vote clearly indicated that there are problems at the County. Mayor Denis Doyle and Deputy Mayor David Jones ( Howe Island) represent Frontenac Islands at the county.
Deputy Mayor David Jones is prepared to do just about anything to expose County problems and resolve them. He is fuming that at the December meeting, Mayor Doyle resigned , “as per tradition” after serving one year as the County's Deputy Warden, and the Warden, Janet Gutowski DID NOT. Gutowkski chose instead to disregard the long held “as per tradition” approach and to remain “In The Chair” until the next election (2014). That decision, while legal according to the county's procedural by-law, effectively prevents Doyle or any of the other three mayors to rotate through the position of warden during their term of office, “as per tradition.” Wardens are elected by their peers, a process that does acknowledge that all are equal as county councillors to serve as Warden. Resigning and vacating the chair would have permitted the next Frontenac Township Mayor to take their place in the rotation (in this instance Denis Doyle). Her decision assumes under the circumstances that only she, Janet Gutowski, can or should hold the position. The requested apology to council and to Mayor Doyle did not happen. Instead the Warden clearly stated her intent to continue in the job. Councillor Clayton, Mayor of North Frontenac replaces Mayor Doyle as Deputy WardenJones does not have kind words for Warden Gutowski, or for the County's CAO E. Savill for that matter.
“Warden Gutowski's dictatorial manner, duplicity and disregard for standing orders has to be stopped or Council will become dysfunctional,” he said, adding that the “other agenda at play” (noted at December meeting)” is that of our CAO who would not want a reformist Warden such as Councillor Doyle or Deputy Warden Clayton in the Chair,” Jones said.
“The fact remains our Procedure By-Law permits an elected Warden to the four year term of Council but “tradition”…speaks to collaboration and cooperation, two of Councillor Gutowski's oft quoted buzz words. Notwithstanding that, Councillor Gutowski has frequently contravened the By-Law and manipulated Council, all transgressions covered in the Motion of non Confidence.”
Jones went on to say that the county bureaucracy continues to grow, despite a decrease in the 2011 census, absorbing taxes with questionable net tangible benefit to the taxpayers of Frontenac County.
“We've inherited this behemoth( large beast)from previous Councils and it's time to take back the farm or before long we'll see an application for expanded premises in Glenburnie! “
“It is my intention As Vice Chair of the County Council Finance Committee to propose that Council commission an independent audit of accounts and assess the very high reserve levels.” ( Councillor Clayton is Chair of the committee )
” I will also ask that council review the vaunted ICSP (Integrated Community Sustainability Program) plans and spending to ensure the Federal Gas Tax money is transferred directly to the Townships (roads, bridge, ferries).
Real Economic Development should remain a high priority but one capable of delivering net tangible benefits to all Frontenac Townships,” he said.
“Further I will ask that County Council commission an independent operational review of all County departments, with the aim to refocus on core functions, their deliverables and, economic accountability.”
According to Jones , many of his views are shared by colleagues on County Council. “That is why I firmly believe, despite Warden Gutowski's antics, there's “another agenda at play here,” he concluded.
Another year is drawing quickly to a close and, as it does my thoughts turn not just to incidents of the last year but to my childhood, growing up years, marriage, children, grandchildren…. And of course I recall the many places where we, (Walter and I), have lived until we finally settled on Wolfe Island. And it is here we have lived the longest, moving here on a wet November day in 1989.
Walter had not yet retired and lived in Ottawa during the week for a number of years, coming home weekends. So I was on my own, learning about sump pumps and wells and roofs and mice, cutting grass and what the previous owner and builder of our home new had done before us.
Much of that first winter was an experience for me, meeting neighbours, driving into Marysville, picking up the mail, going to church, getting used to the ferry, searching out a doctor in the city, trying to meet people and find something I could be involved in.
The wonder of a small community I was soon to discover is that if you are willing to step out the community will welcome you. Caring neighbours, church suppers, school council, church choir, CWL, island events, coffee at Ernie's and a chat at Fargo's, kept one up on the news. If you had a question, you had only to ask. And as for the history and stories of the island…they were there for the taking.. Every one is a neighbour on the island. Everyone is there to help when needed. (e.g.. Ice storm. ) And because the community is small every accident, illness or death is felt with sadness and every wedding, birth, occasion and event is noted with joy.
But perhaps it was at the Town Hall and at council meetings I began to understand what island living really is all about,as one study after another happened with regard to ferry service. There was the long haul over amalgamation, the download of Roads #95 & 96, and the winter dock road with not enough money to maintain them, the big issues around wind towers, Big Sandy Bay, the Land Fill site, the bridge debate, the casino debate, the fares on the ferry debate, a larger ferry, two ferries, official plans, sustainability, etc. etc. And of course there is the ongoing challenge of the new skating rink and how to roof it….
The water has been too high, too low,. Its has been too dry, too wet, not enough snow. Tourism, cyclists, new businesses become more and more important to island. All the while more houses are being built on the island, which means traffic on the ferry is heavier and heavier…
What I have learned over the time, and it has been my privilege to write about it, is that maintaining roads and community services and issues around the MTO ferry service (the same one and no bigger) and water levels, are among the island's greatest issues. Coming up not necessarily in 3rd or 4th place, is how to provide medical services and senior facilities for people so that they remain on the island, maybe not necessarily alone in their homes but within Marysville, where they can walk, be near friends and the services that are there. A lot to think about in 2013.
Happy New Year and Good Health, to Family, Friends and Neighbours…… Thanks to you All… Walter & Margaret Knott
Around Town: The Bath Road Rangers association of the Church Athletic League will be hosting the Bath Road Rangers Winter Classic at 1pm on Jan. 6, 2013 at Wolfe Island's NHL size outdoor rink. Four Ranger teams will compete against invited house league hockey opponents. Opponents include: Kamha Worriors (novice), Loyalist Twp (Atom), KAMHA Public Health (PeeWee), North Frontenac Bantam (Bantam). The games are planned to begin at 1PM sharp with the last game to conclude at 5PM on that date. Bleachers (baseball-type) will be set up alongside the rink. However there is no cover around the bleachers, so dress warmly. It is important to remember that the ferry lands at the winter dock on Wolfe Island when coming from Kingston. *CONTACT PERSON:* Jim Sutherland firstname.lastname@example.org 613-634-3348 (hm) 613-545-5309 (cell) For Further information: www.wolfeisland.com