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.

February 21, 2014
New CAO for Frontenac Islands

New CAO for Frontenac Islands 1. Mayor Denis Doyle formally introduced Frontenac Islands newly hired Chief Administrative Officer/Clerk/Treasurer (CAO), Darlene Plumley, at a special budget meeting of council on Howe Island.
Plumley, formerly the CAO at Stone Hills Township located in Lennox and Addington County, assumes her new position effective March 3, 2014.
“She brings with her 20 years experience in the municipal field and the skills necessary to meet the challenges faced by our Township in the coming years,” Mayor Doyle said following the meeting. Plumley attended the meeting to meet council members and staff and to get a sense of Frontenac Islands, the issues the township deals with, and its financial situation. Mayor Doyle invites Frontenac Islands ratepayers “to give CAO Plumley a warm welcome as she begins her new career of service with the Township of Frontenac Islands

2. You have heard it before but it bears repeating - Mayor Doyle offered his comments on what has been a very challenging winter with ferry services seriously impacted by the weather. “The Simcoe Ferry closed completely, the Howe Foot Ferry experienced trouble, but kept going most of the time thanks to a dedicated crew, volunteers, and MTO who provided an excavator to keep the dock on the Gananoque side clear of ice. Even the Wolfe Islander was not able to maintain its schedule on the coldest days, but kept going, and to ensure the track doesn’t freeze over during the 2:00 am to 5:45 am shutdown the crew keeps the vessel moving back and forth. We were not so fortunate with the County Howe Island ferry,” he said. “There the track filled with ice that got pushed into the slips as the vessel approached the dock making it impossible to get close enough to lower the ramps.”
According to Doyle, MTO brought in large excavators, scooped out the ice in the slips and across the Howe channel, over several days during which time NO vehicles including ambulances and fuel trucks could be transported. “This became a serious concern. However the Howe Island Fire Fighters marked a safe path across the ice at the east end of the island working with the Paramedic Service to meet at a designated place on the mainland so in the event of a medical emergency a person could be transported across by snowmobile and sled. Had the crisis continued an emergency would have been declared to establish a means of getting fuel oil to Howe Island .”

Following meetings with MTO, and County staff tentative plans to prevent such a crisis from happening again were worked out for the Howe Island ferry. They determined that the bubbler system, installed in the 70’s has deteriorated and is ineffective, was the main cause of Howe Island’s problems, further aggravated when the island’s 9 car ferry was replaced with a wider 15 car ferry in 2004 and the track cleared by the bubbler system was no longer wide enough. As well the ferry’s cable drive system on one side only, does not track in a straight line across the water causing ice to break off. “MTO will come up with a design for a wider path, free of ice, for installation this spring or summer,” according to the Mayor “so that we do not experience this same crisis again. It was counterproductive to spend energy on pointing fingers so we worked hard instead to ensure the root cause of issues are fixed as quickly as possible.” He noted however, that during the crisis rumours were spread that ferry operators allowed the County Ferry to sit at the dock, freezing to the slip while they took long breaks.

Following a full review by Frontenac County Ferry Operations, the township has been assured that it was not true and that the Frontenac Howe ferry makes a crossing every half hour during the night whether cars are waiting or not. “We owe thanks to Township, MTO and County staff for their hard work and dedication to making the best out of a bad situation,” Mayor Doyle concluded. Islanders now wait to hear the outcome of Mayor Doyle’s meeting with Minister of Transportation Glenn Murray regarding ferry services.

3. The Frontenac County budget recently approved increases Frontenac Islands levy slightly by $10,593, or 1.3% over last year's levy of $801,684. All of the 2014 Federal gas tax will be distributed to the townships. ( Nearly $80,000 to Frontenac Islands) In previous years (most of) this money was retained at the County for Sustainability projects.
4. NB- The 2014 Frontenac Islands budget deliberations will continue over the next few weeks. Watch for dates.

Around Town:* WI’s Fire Chief Tim Hawkins extends thanks for the contributions made on behalf of WI’s Fire Service that made it possible to pave the driveways and property around the Emergency Services Buildings and our Fire Hall. Special thanks to the Wolfe Island Ambulance Volunteers of Old who contributed the largest share, Frontenac County Paramedic Services, Cruickshank Construction Ltd. Steve…and many others. Once again- Thank You. * Congratulations to Marysville Public School named among the winners in the 4th annual “Recycle My Cell Student Challenge, Canada’s national recycling program inviting them to collect as many old wireless devices as possible, cell phones, smart phones, batteries. etc. More than 140 Canadian schools participated. Marysville was the Ontario winner. ($500.) Congratulations. How exciting is that! * Does anyone remember the girl who won the Best Sailor trophy at the WI Boat Club’s very first regatta? Violet Stafford (granddaughter) has made it to the Canadian Sailing Team. We are so proud of her efforts. * For events visit

Posted by M Knott at 10:35 AM
February 13, 2014
Ferry Not in Service, Bad Weather delays, No driving on the Ice !

It has been quite a winter for Frontenac Islanders living on Howe and Wolfe Islands especially during the recent severe weather and it is not over yet. The weather actually led to a complete shut down of the MTO owned, Frontenac County operated Howe Island ferry for nearly a week due to high winds and specifically to ice broken off the east side of the narrow channel that is kept open by a bubble system that presently is in need of certain repairs. Fortunately the township’s foot ferry continued to operate during those days
The Wolfe Islander while not shut down, has also experienced slow downs due to heavy winds, high waves and thick ice in the channel . The bubble system has been a problem for Wolfe Island as well and had the ferry route been shut down, there is no alternate route. If the ferry was damaged and out of service there is no second ferry. Resilient Islanders who in days gone by would have ventured across the ice by car or horse and buggy are forbidden to do so. Ice boats ?
Concern of course always remains with the weather and the “what to do” in the event of a medical emergency if the ferry or the route are out of service…The bubble system was installed to keep the Kingston dock, the Howe Island dock and WI’s (winter) docking at Dawson Point and a channel from Kingston free of ice all the way to it, if required). However the Wolfe Islander continues to operate from Marysville to Kingston.

In a communiqué issued to Howe Islanders about the initiatives the Township has undertaken to help remedy the situation in the first instance on Howe Island , it was noted that Mayor Denis Doyle, Deputy Mayor Jones, Frontenac County’s Paul Charbonneau (Transportation Services), MTO’s Stuart Jones had spent a considerable amount of time deliberating the service delivery challenges pertaining to the Howe Island County Ferry, and the bubbler system maintained by MTO. They also met with MPP John Gerretsen.

The communiqué also assures the County and Township that an annual inspection and load testing of the compressors is completed each year by MTO with the bubbler system working well when started December 18th but after that point was unable to manage with the excessive cold and westerly winds. Not much can be done about that at this point but MTO continues to monitor the bubble system’s performance for the remainder of this winter and going forward, with required repairs and widening of the bubbler operation done for Howe Island well before next winter. However the addition of an extra drive on the Howe Island County ferry to lower wind effect is not possible due to dockage constraints limiting the width of the vessel.

Regarding the Wolfe Island service, where the WOLFE islander III continues to operate from Marysville rather than the winter dock at Dawson Point, MTO feels that with the higher powered engines on the ferry that the bubbler across the channel to the usual winter dock at Dawson Point is no longer required, but should be maintained around its docks where pipes were replaced and the system is working well. At this time there is no channel to Dawson Point. MTO however has excavator equipment available to remove ice build up at the Marysville and Kingston docks as needed.

Two resolutions were passed at Frontenac Islands February Council meeting in advance of a meeting arranged to take place with Minister of Transportation Glenn Murray, Mayor Doyle and Deputy Mayor Jones on Sunday Feb. 23rd in Toronto to discuss ferry services, operation and capacity, (not for the first time.)

“While the Wolfe ferry has had some delays this winter we will not have much time with Minister Murray so we will focus on the two resolutions passed at the recent council meeting,” Mayor Doyle said. “One to deal with improving the Howe bubbler system and the reliability of the ferry service there now and in the future; the other lobbying for a second ferry for Wolfe Island, at least for the summer months. We hope MTO will be able to find a used ferry until they get the go ahead on a long term Wolfe Island solution,” he said.
The Howe Island resolution also requests that “MTO review the design and mechanics of the County Ferry service with the prospect of enhancements to decrease the effect of severe weather conditions on its year round operation in the future.” The Wolfe Island resolution notes the public was advised nearly three years ago that the MTO study completed in 2011 recommended a second 85 car ferry running from Dawson Point to Kingston and requests that until a permanent solution is decided upon, and implemented that MTO provide a second ferry (preferably by spring 2014) running on the proposed Dawson Point route. It points out that traffic on Wolfe Island has increased due to the 86 tower wind farm; cycling; Big Sandy Bay; Metal Craft Marine Boat Company; and the international link between Kingston and New York State, etc., resulting in a several hours delay in getting on the ferry. * Interesting to note that at a meeting with Minister Murray in August 2013 he directed (his) staff to look into a bridge option to provide a more permanent and cost effective solution. What do you think? Will it happen? Maybe This Time ?? For events check out

Posted by M Knott at 10:29 AM