That Metal Craft Marine- Wolfe Island, could be on the verge of even further growth on the island , came to light at a recent Township of Frontenac Islands Council meeting. Tom Wroe, President of Metal Craft Marine Incorporated, was in attendance , along with members of his crew, family and friends, to bring council up to date on the increasing activity of the company, how that might affect the Wolfe Island shop, future needs there, and the island itself. Tom had a specific request, that the township assist Metal Craft in pressing the Canadian Border and Security Agency (CBSA) to allow reciprocity for commercial goods, and make Wolfe Island a Commercial Port. (The USA Customs and Border Protection now handle commercial shipments into the USA at Horne's Ferry.)
Metal Craft Marine Incorporated is Canada's largest commercial aluminum boat builder presently employing 140 persons (100 in Kingston, 20 Cape Vincent, NY.), expected to increase to over 170 in 2013.
In addressing council, Tom said the Wolfe Island shop had reached a small milestone when their crew reached 20 people on-site. “Metal Craft Wolfe Island accounts for about $2.0M of our annual turnover, which is presently around $20.0M. Tom reminded council that Metal Craft builds boats (Fire, Police, Patrol, Passenger, Search & Rescue) for government and commercial customers, noting that Cape Vincent has had quick growth because of boat orders “that must be built in the USA. The company has had high growth, some of it landing here on the island. ” Tom noted that the Company has in its employ at this time 11 Wolfe Islanders - 7 of whom work at the island shop and is considered one of the largest private sector firms in Frontenac County. “We are building new boats, refitting existing ones, and tricky jobs get sent to us here. Research and Development was to be a major focus at the WI site, but only 25% can be devoted to it this year.”
Joe Calnan, training coordinator of Metal Craft-WI's Aluminum Boat Building apprenticeship program provided a brief description of the program and the curriculum offered on the island. A 'Certificate in Aluminum Boatbuilding' requires 4-5 years of class room , self study and “hands on” skills development to complete. The program, unique in North America is receiving financial support ($80,000 over 2 years) from Community Futures Development Corporation to build the facility, qualify mentors and revise the curriculum.
“So what about the future?” Tom wondered. “- ferry waits, harder to access services, few opportunities for employment, smaller schools, differing opinions - but with remote living lifestyle advantages. There are many things to consider in maintaining the status quo or expanding here, including public opinion. Is Metal Craft a preferred option for the island?” Wroe would like Council to engage more actively with MTO about ferry issues, support ferry alternate options for commuters, push for the dredging of the Barrett Bay channel and, with regard to social issues, tackle lack of affordable housing, sewer and water in the village, and education deficits. “Metal Craft Marine is very happy to be here and prepared to help resolve some of these concerns,” he concluded.
Council thanked Tom for the update and noted Metal Craft's specific request for support to CBSA for a Wolfe Island Commercial Port designation.
So once again, at the heart of the island's future, it is all about transportation, accessibility and growth (for or against)
2. IN OTHER BUSINESS: 1. There was formal passage of a bylaw confirming the appointment of Gordon M. Burns as Interim Chief Administrative Officer for the Township of Frontenac Island, effective Feb. 25,2013 following the retirement of Terry O'Shea from that position.
3. Frontenac Islands Fire Chiefs' HI's Mike Quinn, HI and WI's Tim Hawkins informed council of the “green light program” of signs, being used to advise and educate the public that they must yield to volunteer firefighters travelling to emergencies in their own vehicles and using dash mounted green flashing lights to identify themselves and received approval for their installation at strategic locations on the islands.
4. In 2012 the township dedicated a (WI) Centre St. piece of land for a community garden, when WIN's Youth Youth Advisory Committee received a”Spark” Heart & Stroke grant to develop a garden as part of youth engaging program.
Jennifer Connell and Donna Ivimey provided council with a progress report (art workshop, Garden Fair, community Garden manual) with garden design/ layouts to be finalized at a Garden Open Day in April/. They were looking for letters of support from council for grant applications to TD Bank.Friends of Environment and a further Spark Community Advocacy grant (physical activity/healthy food). They further questioned where the group fits into the township to be accountable..is it as a sub committee of the Community Centre Board? social development? or, or?
Council meets next: April 8th- Howe Island, 6:30 pm To All, Easter Best wises ….
Frontenac County Catch Up 1. The 2013 County Budget failed 1st reading 6-3. (A request by Mayor Doyle that the Warden Gutowski resign as a result, also failed.) Concern remains with a very small levy reduction according to Mayor Doyle . “Some of us thought that at least $250,000 should go back to the townships out of the infamous $4.5 Working Capital Reserve But No luck on that. Reserves will be a discussed after the budget is passed,” he said. Deputy Mayor Jones added that the Capital reserve fund has no Capital plan nor investment strategy attached to it.
Around Town: * The Wolfe Island Ferry has returned to Marysville,operating from the Summer Dock, much to the joy of business owners. Business wanes during the winter months. Residents are encouraged to Park and Ride with parking available at Sacred Heart Church. Other measures to ease the pressure on the ferry might be cycling, car pooling etc. Visitors to the village of Marysvill are also encouraged to leave their cars behind and walk on.*Easter Best wishes to all.
Coming events: Boat Club Annual OPEN HOUSE, April 4th 5:30- 8:00 pm at the “Boat House”
Frontenac Island's Mayor Denis Doyle welcomed family friends and neighbours an evening held to honour four Wolfe Islanders known to have received the Queen Elizabeth 11 Jubilee Medal.
“Known members” of the community, because perhaps there are others who may have received the medals and have said nothing about it. That's how it was, for instance in the case of Perry Chesney, who was presented with a medal at a large event held in Kingston. Perry was nominated and chosen for his long years of service with the Wolfe Island Volunteer Ambulance Service. Since Perry said little about the honour few would have known, except he was listed as a recipient in a news paper article. Another lately identified recipient was Lynn McAllister recognized for years of committed service within the Penal Services Only a mere mention by a family member brought her name to light when told about other island recipients of the medal. Perhaps most known about was Dr. George Merry, one of 30 members of Ducks Unlimited Canada widely chosen, to receive the medal for his work with them nationally and locally. The fourth was Margaret Knott, who was presented with a medal by Mayor Denis Doyle at the townships February meeting held on Howe Island. Knott was nominated for long dedicated service to communities.
In his opening remarks at the evening honouring all four medalists Mayor Doyle commented that per capita Frontenac Islands had more people recognized than any where else in the province. “We are very proud of their achievements,” he said. Also in attendance were Councillors Barbara Springgay and Wayne Grant. Along with well wishers, a beautiful cake, and flowers, much picture taking highlighted the evening coordinated by Theresa Quist. Proudly displayed were individual certificates and materials pertaining to the Queen's Jubilee Medal.
2. Council questions why a funding grant denied. At the February, Township Council meeting, staff was asked to enquire why a grant requested for assistance in upgrading Wolfe Island's winter dock road was denied by the Municipal Infrastructure Investment Initiative (OMAFRA). The road was originally built, owned and maintained by the Province of Ontario. It was turned over to the township at the time of “The Who Does What? ” by the Province along with Roads 95 & 96, all Provincial Highways at the time, (and a sum of money for upkeep, all used up by now). The road, used during the winter months or until the water level in the village of Marysville is considered high enough for the ferry to operate safely, needs widening, curve build up and cycle paths for island residents who cycle all winter, The road is dangerous at the best of times, but extremely so for cyclists particularly as they travel to work and home again in the dark. The costs for the township to provide everything that is needed are prohibitive. Thus the request to the Infrastructure Initiative for some assistance. One reason stated for the denial of funding was the limitations of the grant money available for projects. But more specifically it was that the township's rationale for why it couldn't pay the amount of money requested itself, was not good enough, as other communities have greater funding needs and fewer resources… Does that mean that whatever extra money we ever have (wind plant) will always end up, for the most part, on the roads of Wolfe Island…. that in spite of having that extra money, inevitably taxes will have to be raised to pay first, the bills continually on the rise, and secondly for whatever the township should have, and does not,. (other than an ongoing roads program) for instance water, sewer, infrastructure, buildings, senior accommodation. etc. etc…?
Frontenac County Update: Mayor Doyle and Deputy Mayor Jones attended the March 8th county budget meeting where it was finally determined that the Fairmount Home Auditorium renovation ( estimated cost $2,175,000) can move forward with the money held in reserves for several years, along with money raised ($200,000). “No new money needs to be raised from the township's in this year's county levy,” Doyle said adding that a resolution was passed to proceed with the project if the City of Kingston, who share the costs of running the facility, agree to approve the funds, and have also set aside funds in reserves over several years. County Staff will seek city approval before tendering the project.
Doyle Noted that Budget discussions will continue at the March 20th County council meeting with 2 significant issues, one that arose under Warden Gutowski's watch, involving the Frontenac Paramedics Service and Fairmount Home staff absentee hours. He said these hours have grown to over 30,000 a year, equal to 15 persons absent on any given day. Staff have been asked to develop strategies to reduce costs, and find ways to handle the work without people working overtime to cover the absences.
The second issue will be county reserve funds, specifically several hundred thousand dollars, levied from the townships and not spent in 2012. “The money was moved to a working fund reserve, to be brought forward to the 2013 budget deliberations, to offset this years operating expenses, thereby lowering the county levies to the townships.” Doyle said.
Commenting on the subject Deputy Mayor Jones said that the county bureaucracy has been allowed to amass a fortune of many millions in Reserves over the years, without approved capital plans or investment strategies. “They certainly don't treat tax dollars like their own. In my view it's unconscionable for the County to levy a tax without need, it's just wrong.” he said.
WI Sailors take note date of the Cape Vincent Charity Cup Sailing Regatta Aug. 23rd-25th
The WI Seniors Irish Luncheon at the WI United Church Hall Sat. March 16th beginning at 12 noon… *WI Historical Society meeting with Captain Brian Johnson, Wed. March 20th WI United Church Hall, 7:30 p.m.
Every once in awhile I have the urge to express an opinion. Most often the urge relates to water levels, health services, water levels, island beautification and the ferry service on Wolfe Island, where I reside.
In this instance I want to express my thanks to the crew of the Wolfe Islander who, for whatever reason, by chance or by design delayed the departure of the 10 pm ferry from Kingston to 10:16 pm. This may (or not) have delayed the 10:40 WI return ferry departure by 5 minutes. The late Kingston departure made “The Tenors” concert we attended, to its very end even better… Why? Because we got to the island at 10:40 pm. If we miss the 10 pm ferry, the next ferry leaves Kingston at 11:20 pm getting us to the island at 11:40 and home after midnight! ….That's the time if islanders risk staying to the end of anything in Kingston, meetings, movies, concerts and even hockey games ( so I'm told). For our first 10-15 years of living on Wolfe Island we would accept the situation , without much thought although falling asleep at the dock can be rather embarrassing. Or coaxing a cab to speed through the city from the bus/train station, or Queens, or from wherever driving too fast to try to get the 10 pm ferry and miss it anyway, just doesn't work very well for us anymore.. So what happens? When we should going out somewhere, to a play, a lecture, a movie, a concert, a meeting ? We don't. We instead join the ranks of the (even further) isolated islanders particularly during the winter months. Not a healthy situation really….. I have not done a survey and I have not questioned those who work shifts, but based on the opinion of fellow concert goers, most of whom had not stayed the extra few minutes to hear the last song sung , (they raced instead from the K Rock Centre to catch the 10 pm ferry to get home at a reasonable hour), a 15minute change to the schedule could make an incredible difference to that scenario…
2. Proposed Federal riding Boundary Changes, while a conundrum for Kingston & The Islands…. changes nothing for Frontenac Islands.
Federal Electoral Boundary changes will still leave Frontenac Islands (Howe & Wolfe) in Frontenac County, but voting with Kingston. We are sitting out there pretty much on our own as the smallest township in Ontario, with Wolfe situated a long way from Howe Island and with very little in common with either South, Central or North Frontenac. Rejected as a partner by Pittsburgh Township during amalgamation discussions, Howe & Wolfe had no place to go… no choices… So while closer by water to the USA, the islands were joined together as one township, one kilometre across water and one hour in apart travel. And yet remain part of Frontenac County! Pittsburgh Township (urban & rural) chose instead to stay together and become part of Kingston.
As an aside Frontenac Islands is most often referred to as an agricultural township and historically that was true but not now, the assessment for both islands is overwhelmingly residential. Wolfe Island collects 92 % of its taxes from residential property, for Howe Island that number is 99%, That's money for the township, schools and the county!
Around Town: * The Simcoe Island ferry has been operating with an on again, off again schedule in tune with the melt/freeze situation so much a part of this winter. * Chilifest was a success in spite of the wetish weather. Sleigh rides and WI Beaver Tails, & skating on the rink . A large well dressed chicken (B.B.) wandering about the grounds and all varieties of chilli.. . This year's winner was once again the 'Hulton Chili' Many thanks for a fun event… * WI Blooming Gardeners will be undertaking planting upgrades around civic buildings in Marysville, the town hall, library, Medical Clinic etc. Rain barrels at these sites would make watering a little easier…… * Please note that the Community Improvement project meeting will be held Wed. March 17th (not the 16th as previously stated) *The WI Boat Club has posted program dates with an Open House scheduled April 4 (5:30-8:30) at the “Boat House” Check : wolfeislandboathouse.com * Fr. DeSouza will be in Rome for a time, commentating for ETWN on a show called “Vatican Daily” as the RC Church awaits a new Shepherd. * And finally, “THE CLOCKS SPRING AHEAD' THIS Saturday… Spring IS coming . Let's hope the water comes back as well.
Coming Events: Frontenac Council Mtg. Monday March 11th, 6:30 PM WI Town Hall. * WI Historical Society Gathers with Capt. Brian Johnson, Wed. March 20th 7:30 pm.. An updated slide presentation of Ferry Service.