A zoning change proposal was the unexpected surprise which Frontenac County Planner Peter Young brought to the second CIP (Community Improvement Plan) meeting held at the Wolfe Island Community Hall in Marysville. The change proposed is that Main Street (in the Village of Marysville) from Road 95 to Rd.#7 be rezoned to “Village Main Street” (a mix of residential/commercial) to allow any current properties to be shifted from being a residence to commercial use,'thus eliminating the current long process of requesting a specific rezoning to commercial. At the present time quite a number of properties on Main Street are zoned commercial while the rest are residential.
At the outset of the meeting, following a welcome by Mayor Doyle, Young reviewed the process reminding the residents and business owners that the Wolfe Island CIP is a project between Frontenac Islands and Frontenac County “The CIP itself is a tool under the Planning Act to stimulate development and allows municipalities to directly fund businesses and property owners to make improvement on their properties,” he said. ” It can also help solve community problems, usually common incentive programs like sidewalks, signage, etc., look at things like heritage ,how you want to see the community grow and develop , and helps residents focus on municipality's projects / issues and clarifies residents concerns to the township.
From the last meeting he outlined some needs expressed were to revitalize the village, create employment opportunities, develop affordable housing, possible senior housing, as well as more parking, parks and green space, for tourists etc. “Looking at it all there are four main areas we have come up with. They are façade improvement, support for more commercial space, seniors housing, and parking,” Young said. He further outlined types of projects (retro fitting, increasing space, etc.), as well as two way grant structures between the residents and the county, along with the possibility of municipal involvement as a third partner.
It was at this point he noted that the township's zoning bylaw is outdated, causing many businesses extra zonings and variances resulting in increased delays in getting approvals. “We are recommending a new zoning bylaw class of 'Village Main Street'. This 'Village Main Street' zone would allow for redevelopment while respecting the character of the existing main street. We also propose within the zone allowing for more residential and commercial uses (art galleries, offices, retail, restaurants. etc.) that fit well into a small community.”
He presented a map, to be made available for viewing at the Town Hall, showing the proposed expanded area of the Village Main Street. “We will be asking what you think about this. We are also proposing site plan control bylaw . We are also proposing some incentives for senior housing, (i.e. waiver of fees, etc. ), possibly retro fittiing.” Young noted the possibility of Township projects. “Because of existing issues, (water sewer) it is premature to do a detailed plan of the village at this time.”
The audience divided into groups to discuss and respond to a series of questions . Present to also participate in the discussion were staff from Municipal Affairs and Housing: Ken Fitzhugh, Andrea Gummo, Susan Krepostman, and from the County: Anne Marie Young and Joe Gallivan. Also present from the Township Councillor Grant, Carol Dwyer and Theresa Quist.
“It was very interesting to listen to the back and forth from the residents”, Peter Young said. “There seems to have been a very good reception to the 'Village Main Street' zone. People appear to be generally okay with it..” Young noted very good feedback from the discussion, adding that he will further discuss the concepts and issues directly with residents and village business owners. “I will bring all the material together in a proposal for presentation to council in the near future..”
Marysville with its commercial activity, pubic facilities, tourist appeal, waterfront made it eligible for the CIP. After all requirements for meetings with the public, stakeholders agencies, and a public workshop are met, to move forward requires a decision by the Township.
Mayor Doyle's County News : The Mayor said that at the most recently County meeting, with regard to the County Budget, the members were given some 500 pages to digest in advance of the meeting- a 6 page agendawith a $40.5 million dollar budget sandwiched inside. He and Councillor Jones said at the meeting it was not possible to give a proper review since this was nearly 6% higher than the previous year. They moved to have a separate meeting, which passed, and is scheduled for May 2nd at 9 a.m. Councillor Jones added ” we have a fiduciary responsibility to fix what we know is broken and passing a budget with so much waste, lack of financial planning and, little social conscience is fundamentally wrong.” He went on to note that “if the matter is so urgent why were no Crisis Budget Meetings convened since March 20th” , and “I wasn't asked to attend any additional meetings but I'm aware other councillors were”. The Mayor noted that he and Councillor Jones will argue for further efficiencies on May 2nd.
Around Town: *Take Note the time of thw WI Community AGM, May 7th has been changed to 6:30 pm. * By the way , a Book Sale is planned for the June 28th weekend
- It was a full house for Captain Brian's presentation at the recent meeting of the Wolfe Island Historical Society, a presentation filled with pictures of ferries of one sort or another that have sailed the waters from Kingston to Wolfe Island, Garden Island, and Simcoe over a long history. It was about lives lived and lives lost along the way in the waters of St. Lawrence. In this instance his stories were about those who began ferry services to and from Wolfe Island and the boats they used to the arrival of the Wolfe Islander III in 1976. Brian is a captain on the Wolfe Islander III.
He spoke of George Kinghorn, of the Hitchcock family, of “Polly” and of Archy Hitchcock who built a new ferry dock in the village and called it Port Mary in 1857. “I don't know when the village became known as Marysville perhaps around 1858, “Brian said.. (The picture shown included the wharf. the ferry house and the Hitchcock Hotel.)
He reminded the audience that the canal, (impassable now) “a thorn in the side of everybody” was built by Angus Cameron in the 1830 to provide an open sea port to New York city by way of Kingston. The Pierrepont 1 and the Watertown for instance were specifically built to use the canal. They also built the 'John Counter' ferry named after the Mayor of Kingston, and the railroad was built to Cape Vincent but the railroad in Kingston was too far away and the venture went bankrupt,” he said
And so it went story after story. But perhaps it was the stories he told about island life, when the ferry was in service and when it was not, or got stuck in the ice and islanders walked the ice the rest of the way home, about the wind, the weather, the ice and the loss of lives because of it, and the many ferries including 2 barges, the Upper Canada, the Wolfe Islander to the present Wolfe Islander III including the ferry crises of 1946 that caught the imagination of the audience.
And even more were the stories that had names attached that provided a snapshot of the realities of island life, not so easy, island transportation, names like John Ferguson, RF Fawcett, Buck Mullin, and so many others who came before .
As Brian moved through the years ,times and incidents and events people in the audience were saying “I heard those stories when I was growing up.”
Audrey Mullin wife of the late Buck Mullin delighted with a picture she and Buck and their very young son Daryl (now a Captain on the WI III) in front of the ferry. “So many memories,” she said. “We all have so many memories.”
Denis Cherquitte president of the WI Historical Society thanked Captain Johnson for coming and his informative presentation. People stayed awhile to talk awhile about the “I remember when's……”
(Captain Johnson's book “Fairy Tales” is now complete and waiting for a publishing date. Many of his wonderful stories, written over the years can be found at: www. thousandislandslife.com)
Around Town: * The ferry is now operating from the Marysville Dock to Kingston. *The Gen. Wolfe Hotel is now open for the season. Coming events: The Wolfe Island Boat Club Annual OPEN HOUSE Thursday, April 4, 5:30- 8:00 pm at the Club House. * Information re: Scene of the Crime Festival, Music Fest and the WI Classic are posted at wolfeisland.com