Frontenac Islands Council passed a standard bylaw to regulate the Township’s Fire and Rescue Services at the March regular meeting. Not unusual, but a first for the township. What is unusual is the make up of the of the Township itself, comprised of two islands, Howe and Wolfe, and their populations of 400 and 1400 respectively, separated by two ferries and over twenty kilometres of highway. Each has a Fire Station. Each has a service, fire on Wolfe and fire and rescue on Howe. The Howe Island Service established in 1977, is also classified as a Certified Emergency Response Team under the authority of the Ontario Ministry of Health, and is able to provide rapid response and offer some medical assistance. (Howe Island does not have a Volunteer Para Medic Service locally, as does Wolfe Island.)
The regulating bylaw, as passed is a consolidated Frontenac Islands bylaw setting parameters for the emergency services they can provide. Councillors Natalie Nossal and Councillor Wayne Grant, Fire Chiefs Mike Quinn (Howe) and Tim Hawkins (Wolfe), both in attendance at the meeting, will serve on a joint Committee of Council.
Regarding the Fire Chiefs’ report on radio frequency, presented to council, the question was “Is the issue of radio frequency critical?” To which Chief Quinn replied that present equipment was now programmed with frequency authorized by former Pittsburgh Township to Howe, initially for use to alert firefighters over that frequency, then broadened to include Wolfe Island. “Originally we alerted firefighters by phone or by siren on the WI Fire Hall. Pagers, mobile radios were programmed with the frequency.” Quinn said that with amalgamation the frequency was absorbed by Kingston but the licensing agreement was not renewed. Realizing the problem, chiefs Quinn& Hawkins have been working with Industry Canada to obtain a frequency of its own for the township, as noted in a report to council.
Industry Canada authorized the Fire Services to continue with business as usual, in the short term, and as of January 2014 they have been granted a new frequency. The issue now is to bring back a technician to test the present equipment, to determine what is programmable or not, digital versus crystal, replacement costs, yearly (frequency) licensing costs and if approved by council, be ready when Industry Canada says it is time to immediately move over to the new frequency. “This is really about Frontenac Islands here and now, how we go forward, how we communicate in the future, ” Quinn said. “This is not about the frightening county wide communications discussion. We looked at the county project as an opportunity, but if it doesn’t fly we have to deal with our own problems.”
Chief Quinn and Chief Hawkins were authorized to further participate in information sessions offered by the Fire Chiefs, Joint Fire Committee etc., regarding the Frontenac county Communications Study.
Frontenac Islands is in the midst of budget deliberations, so many of the questions following the discussion referred to costs, equipment longevity, further infrastructure requests , value etc.
AECOM’s Guy Laporte presented his 20th annual Wolfe Island Waste Disposal site report, commenting that he had presented his first in 1994. Laporte noted that many changes had taken place particularly over the last few years, adding that “it is such a good dump I built a house on the island,” he said. He did say that there had been problems with covering the site often enough but that too has improved, looking better than it ever did. Mayor Doyle said, “with the time left, we can make up for past sins.”
Twenty thousand five hundred vehicles visited the site in 2013, averaging 25 visits per household and those using the recycling facility remained as in 2012 at 89%. Based on capacity the waste site it will close in six years (2020), at $155,000 (estimated) and a $8,500 yearly post closure monitoring cost.
Golder Associates Caitlin presented their report on the groundwater and surface water monitoring program, recommending a continuation of it into 2014. There were some difficulties, and negotiations are on going for bit of extra land. “The site is doing okay right now,” she said. We will continue working with AECOM to resolve any difficulties. The question becomes what do we do in six years? Truck it Off? If so, where to?
Around Town: *WI’s Blooming Gardeners are thinking Spring. REALLY!. They love to garden, come with all levels of knowledge , and are willing to learn from each other. You will have noticed their handiwork around the island, the Library; with pots and plantings at the Post Office, and Mosier’s Garage. The Gardeners will to take on areas at the Town Hall, Information Centre, and Community Hall. Another ..the Old House Museum… Interested in JOINING Blooming Gardeners ? They would love to have you. Call Linda at 613-385-1947. Your commitment can match the time you have to give. *Hundreds (no exaggeration) of deer roaming the island. * Ice boaters enjoying most recent weather. *But it is still slip, sliding away weather. Watch where you walk.! * Mosier’s Store has re-opened. * Euchre St. Margaret’s Hall Thursdays 7 pm.
Howe Islanders turned out to hear from Frontenac Islands Township council, Frontenac County representatives, and members of their own Howe Island Ratepayers Association (HIRA), about the island’s ferry system and its future. This winter has been tough on the system and tough for travellers. It has been a winter of heavy winds, extremely cold temperatures, thick ice and a non functional bubbler system, all of which resulted in the Frontenac Howe Island ferry experiencing shutdowns and delays, causing much frustration and concern for Howe Island residents . HIRA called for the meeting particularly in light of Mayor Denis Doyle’s recent meeting with the Ontario Minister of Transportation, Glen Murray, to talk about island transportation,(Howe and Wolfe) and to present the results of a HIRA transportation survey. There to meet the public from the county: Acting CAO Marian VanBruinessen, Transportation Services Paul Charbonneau; Frontenac Islands Mayor Doyle, Deputy Mayor David Jones, Councillor Natalie Nossal, CAO Darlene Lumley, and HIRA’s Ed Besseau, Brian Humphries, and Jim Mills.
Mayor Doyle brought Islanders up to date regarding events that led to the ferry shut down crisis. “ Safety however is always been our main concern and thanks to Chief Quinn and Chief Charbonneau we had contingency plans in place for ambulance service,” he said. “We also have a township emergency plan (recently rehearsed) we were prepared to activate in a moments notice.”
The bubbler system that worked originally, failed in the extreme weather conditions that finally led to a shut down of the for a few days. MTO is monitoring the system’s performance, and repairs will be made before next winter and/or alternative technology will be considered..
Early on, Mayor Doyle and Councillor Jones met with MTO officials, and MPP John Gerretsen, about the problems. Later, Doyle, along with Marian VanBruinessen, met with Transportation Minister Glen Murray who wants to see action on the ferry file and a plan to solve immediate and long term issues facing Howe and Wolfe Islands. The Mayor and CAO Darlene Lumley also met MTO’s Kathy Moore and staff officials about the issues including repairs to the bubbler system. “Technicalities prevent the latter happening immediately but an excavator will remain in place to move ice at Howe Island. A long range plan will follow,” Doyle said.
Deputy Mayor Jones said many residents had expressed their appreciation for the great efforts made by the County, the Township and the ferry operators, as well as volunteers “who saw the situation with the ferry as crisis and stepped up to help.”
Chief Charbonneau acknowledged and thanked ferry staff for their efforts to keep to keep the Frontenac Howe Island ferry operating. “But lost to Mother Nature.” Explaining the relationship between MTO, the County and the township, he said, ” MTO owns it all., docks, assets, bubble system, and all costs. Local staff monitor the system. We deal with the issues we can; forward those we cannot to MTO They shut down the bubbler system,” he said. “ County responsibilities include staffing the ferry, providing for their health and safety, to collect fees and fares for the township, and look after the safe operation of the vessel “. Charbonneau acknowledged HIRA’s suggestions for more communication with the public regarding the ferry service, alerts, etc., noting twitter and email accounts., ( accessed by 550 residents) where county and township formation about the ferry system is posted. “Our role is to operate to the best of our ability for staff and residents. We will shut it down if we have to,” he said. Wearing his other hat Chief Charbonneau noted Howe Island has the finest First Response team in Ontario, adding that they and Chief Quinn are working with ‘Ornge’ and OPP Search and Rescue preparing now for what might be a difficult spring breakup.
CAO Lumley invited the public to present input and ideas for a contingency plan in the event of an emergency. Jim Mills, following up on the Dec. 2013 Howe Island Ferry Service survey, noted general satisfaction with the county and township ferry services and ‘great’ satisfaction with the staff operators of the vessels. Survey returns represent 120 residents. While certain frustrations with the service still exist, since the last survey in 2007, the ferry now makes 4 trips an hour and the foot ferry now operates all year round.
A lively Q&A period followed. Nearly every comment was prefaced with great satisfaction for ferry staff, no matter the statement, question or concern expressed . All were noted and will be considered. by the County.
Around Town: *Roof on the WI rink continues to progress. * WI Artist Debra Krakow Art Show at Studio 22, March 22-April 27th. *Shanti Retreat announces spring programs. * 2014 WI Fiber Fest date announced: Sept. 13/14th wolfeisland.com
FYI- Last weeks column was in the Frontenac Gazette (papers can be found on line)
Visibly moved, Fr. Ray de Souza pastor of Wolfe Island’s Sacred Heart of Mary Church, celebrated the Funeral Mass for young wife and mother, Debra Anne (Greenwood) Knox (37) . Perhaps it was the sight of Debra’s large extended family, mother, father, brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles, nieces and nephews, her in-laws, and her many cousins seeking comfort through their faith at the church where Debra was baptized, that bought that lump to his voice. Or was it the sight of Debra Anne’s husband Shane , tears freely flowing, holding their children Caleb and Jocelyn in his arms?
The church was filled to capacity with so many friends, neighbours and saddened islanders. All had come to be healed of their raw immediate grief, to hear a message of hope, to draw comfort from the Liturgy of the Mass, the words of Scripture, the music, and shared prayer and to support the family as they carried the body of their beloved daughter, wife ,mother and sister to the cemetery.
In his homily, Fr. de Souza drew from the scripture reading of Saint Paul to Timothy, read at the Mass, which says “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith.” He reminded us that when you enter a race you enter to win and to finish it. “Debra won her race but finished the race too soon.” Father de Souza spoke too of the prayer group that got together to pray for the sick and the positive impact of their prayers on the community, and especially for families of the sick.
Fr. Granger from Kingston and Rev. Canon Chris Carr from WI’s Trinity Anglican were also in the sanctuary.
Any one who knew Debra Anne loved her enthusiasm for life. Anyone who frequented her beauty shop heard only good things. And every story told about her speaks of her faith, her kindness, generous nature, love of family, sense of humour and pure heart. Her happiness revolved around husband and children, her large, extended island family of Greenwood’s and O’Shea’s, and Wolfe Island’s closely knit community. She will be missed. She will be remembered. But as one island resident put it, “We have had so many deaths and funerals this last while but, this one is going to take a long time to get over.”
Loss of Gas Pumps on Wolfe Island a problem
Following the removal of the gas pumps at Mosier’s Garage on Wolfe Island due to their age, cost of replacement and environmental concerns, problems arose for gas and diesel users. Farmers, the Township, WI Wind Farm, Hulton’s, Roly’s and a number of individuals now have key lock tanks on their properties. The biggest losers are those who regularly bought gas at Mosier’s, and summer residents who want to fill up or buy gas for their equipment (lawn, tractors equipment, generators, etc.) and for their boats.. A community meeting was organized by FCFDC with guest speaker Ross Christenson who brought ideas about solving the problem through the CO-OP approach, key lock options, commercial enterprise etc. etc.
“ This is an opportunity for a community to solve its own problems but you have to make sure the economics of moving forward makes sense, (capital, investment,), and there is enough long term interest” A committee was formed to further examine possibilities.
The Committee (Jarda Zborobsky, Denis Chercuitte, Dave Woodman, absent Liz Crothers) reported to the community at a second meeting directed by Anne Pritchard. Jarda presented the results of a survey of 500 people which indicated that 57% bought gas where convenient spending $50.-$200, per month, then outlined certain options who have their own systems. Options included : * A full CO-OP with a convenience store; full CO-OP with attendant; a card-lock system, all with significant costs. Issues such as funding , EA’s, safety, insurance, municipal code make even the latter option difficult to consider. Another suggestion was to mix a gas outlet with other small enterprises. The Township was also suggested as best suited to sell gas to the public . Mayor Doyle said no other Ontario municipality does this; there are different environmental laws. He added that consideration might be given to use of township land but no involvement in distribution.
After much discussion, a new committee will gather to further study options to bring gas for the public back to the island.
Around town: Shore birds ,small birds and even swans are suffering in this cold weather . Raptors venture to feeding outlets to pluck up a small bird now and again. * The WI ferry is keeping well to its regular schedule in spite of heavy ice and ambulance calls. * Thanks to the WIPP for staying Open all winter. * The rink schedule continues. * Spring Will Come! * And once again we say good bye, and Thank You to Gordon Burns who filled in as CAO for Frontenac Islands these last few months. Its been a pleasure..
“In 2009 Wolfe Island had the opportunity to build an outdoor skating rink. The entire community pitched in and the project was completed in 13 days. BUT that was just the beginning! “ That is what it says on the WI Community Centre Face Book site where many, many pictures of the evolving rink from its beginning to now are posted. Even images envisioning what it will look like when it reopens for its 2014/2015 are there to excite your imagination. Take a peek, to see how the project has developed since the excitement of the early days which the site suggests.
Just last week, during Spring Break, in the midst of what has been a very active rink schedule the steel framing for the roof arrived. The roof is going to happen. Perhaps later than what was hoped for, or anticipated, or for that matter what might have been rumoured.
But none of that matters… It was on its way up like a well planned “ Make Dreams Come True” Meccano Set” with cherry pickers and cranes on site, and qualified workers set to take on the task of setting the steel frame in place on the completed cement base around the rink. All in preparation for the trusses and steel roof and skirting expected to arrive next week that will (as weather permits) complete the project. The rink, for those who have not seen it, is situated in front of the building that houses the artificial ice machine.
And you can be sure Project Manager Patrick Thompson and Paul Hogan , chair of the WI Community Centre Board, were on hand at the rink to cheer and watch this newest phase of construction.
At meetings held in September 2013 with Frontenac Islands council Hogan spoke of the need to find savings: to the proposed cost of $73,650 for the concrete framework, and the request to bidders for the arena’s structural steel roof to submit revised quotations based on a revised scope of work, also to reduce costs. (The township submitted an application for a capital works grant for the roof to Ontario Infrastructure and Lands Corporation as well as a FIT (rooftop solar) Application). At its November 1st Special meeting Council accepted the Sydenham Welding bid for the WI arena structural steel roof in the amount of $444,650.00 plus HST..
“It’s hard to believe this is really happening,” Hogan said at the site where a few people had come to watch as the framing was completed. “ Such an exciting time for the community.”
2. March Frontenac Islands Council Meeting Mayor Denis Doyle introduced the Township’s new CAO Darlene Lumley to the public at the meeting of council. Bringing more than 20 years experience to the task CAO Lumley expressed thanks for the opportunity. “I look forward to working with you all. I have a number of ideas and suggestions regarding rules and procedures to share with you,” she said.
3. Sarah Greenwood representing the Wolfe Island Early Years Centre (WIEYC), a non profit, non government funded organization for children 0-6 years, their parents and caregivers, in a request for funding from the township spoke of the good things the program accomplishes for the isolated island community. “We are having the highest attendance on record . It is up over 39 percent with between seven and 10 children every day. Eleven children are leaving but eleven are coming in,” she said. “And I believe you are providing one of them! ” Mayor Doyle said.
Which of course drew a laugh from Sarah (because it is true) who went on to say that Early years offers an opportunity for housebound parents and caregivers to get out, to meet others in the community, to discuss and share issues and provides a wonderful opportunity for kids to meet, play and learn. Sarah pointed out that the WIEYC board and friends hold many fund raisers through out the year to support the one, hired coordinator and the many costs, (snacks, supplies, toys, educational games, etc.) around the program offered 5 days a week, Mon.-Friday from 9 am -12pm. at no cost.. “But it is not enough. We need money to continue,” she said. The request for $10,000 will be added for consideration in township budget deliberations.
There are Early Years centres and programs throughout KFL&A . Having Early Years on the island means, no ferry ride to the city, greater ease of participation, and opportunities to meet friends and neighbours and for the children, a program geared to their needs offering play, arts and crafts, story time, physical activities and educational sessions for parents. We are very lucky.
Around Town: WI Artist and Architect Debra Krakow has announced her Solo Art Show in Acrylic and Mixed Media at Studio 22, March 22-April 27th. Debra has charmed us all over the years as she continues to hone and expand and surprise us with her incredible skill and talent as an artist. Visit her website: debrakrakow.com It is wonderful. *Lots of activity at Vinnie’s property on Main Street in the village. Exciting!. * Changes happening at Fargo’s as well. It must mean, Spring will Come!
With Easter here, I will keep this rant short. But with Easter, comes spring, comes summer, comes BUSY, Busy, Busy Wolfe Island. It will be welcomed by businesses, event planners and tourism operators, and families all over the island, and specifically in Marysville.
Just in the last week with temperatures up, our own island cyclists, walkers and runners are already being joined by cyclists and walking visitors from Kingston. As well, the inevitable spring time increase in the number of cars and business vehicles coming to the island also has started. And while all this is welcomed by most, the reality is that the ferry Wolfe Islander III needs company to handle the traffic and provide the required extra capacity to accommodate the ever increasing influx of visitors and tourists. A new 75 car ferry for Wolfe Island was recommended in the most recent ferry services study undertaken by the MTO.
When Mayor Doyle met with the Minister of Transportation Glen Murray, and later with MTO’s Kathy Moore, his request on behalf of Frontenac Islands, specifically Wolfe Island, was for increased ferry capacity in the form of a 2nd ferry. But we all know the likelihood of a 2nd ferry, old or new, to join the Wolfe Islander at this time is very remote. Used fresh-water car ferries are hard to come by, and planning for a new one is just an idea at this time.
Minister Murray urged MTO to look at the situation. On the other hand, he couldn’t understand why the bridge option has been put off so often, and now again.
Yet here we are, with the ice just barely out of the bay, already seeing a steady increase in traffic. And with seasonal business and tourism so important to Wolfe Island, Islanders are sprucing up the village, getting tourist areas ready for visitors, activities announced and events posted. They will also be looking for ways to reduce their own (vehicular) ferry trips to the city.
But what to do about long ferry waits, long line ups, diminishing ferry capacity aggravated even more with the new dangerous goods regulations? Islanders are committed ferry riders. On the one hand , they love the isolation it brings. They wait patiently for it, are ardent readers on it, and delight in meeting friends and neighbours. On the other hand they know tourism is important to the economic development of the island. They are concerned about the ferry’s diminishing capacity, the long line ups, the increased wait times, growing need for more toilet facilities etc. They wonder about ways to organize regular transport for visitors to Big Sandy Bay? For Metal Craft workers? To the Community Centre grounds? All to reduce the number of vehicles on the ferry! What can MTO do to help.
Is MTO able to provide more Wolfe Island ‘Park and Ride’ parking in Kingston? Could MTO summer students take on the task of encouraging visitors going only to Marysville, to walk on the ferry? Is it possible for MTO to organize with the City of Kingston transport for visitors to Big Sandy Bay?
While Kingston sees it as another Kingston tourists’ attraction, the Wolfe Islander 111 is a lifeline for islanders first and foremost . I wonder if MTO could, or would, engage and financially support (that’s the key) the services of one of Kingston’s Tour Boat operators to have a ‘ Passenger Only’ vessel travel from Kingston to Wolfe Island at peak summer hours to accommodate the tourist aspirations of both Kingston and Wolfe Island?
Around Town: The Township has encouraged Islanders to get Ice storm tree, brush debris to the edge of Township roads for pickup by township. *Visit Community Centre on Facebook to see progress of Rink Roof. CC Spring Programs are posted. *Register on line for WI Classic Road Race (Running Room) Check wolfeisland.com
Coming Events: No Specimen Collection Good Friday. Next date May 2nd. *Easter Egg Hunt April 19th Community Centre 11 am. Babes to 12 years. * Easter Vigil Sat. 8:30 pm Sacred Heart of Mary Sun. 9:30 am.
For the third year in a row, Frontenac Islands Mayor Denis Doyle met with the Ontario Minister of Transportation to discuss transportation to the islands and the urgent need for an increase in ferry capacity. The first time in 2012 he and former Howe Island councillor Pat Norris met with the then Minister Bob Chiarelli at the ROMA/OGRA conference in Ottawa. “His message was that if we wanted a new ferry we best find $30 million or so ourselves,” Mayor Doyle said at the time. The second and third year meetings have been with the present Minister of Transportation Glen Murray.
Following the 2013 meeting, Mayor Doyle returned home pretty happy. He felt Minister Murray had come to the meeting well briefed on the islands transportation file including the 2011 Wolfe Island Ferry study which recommended a 2nd, new 75 car vessel maybe within 4 years if all else, (EA’s ,dock design boat design, contracts, construction etc.) was completed to join the Wolfe Islander III. There was no mention of an immediate, (temporary fix ) at the time such as finding another ferry somewhere. Mayor Doyle said it was obvious that Minister Murray wanted to do something. He questioned why the bridge option identified as the best long term solution was dropped in favour of the 75 car ferry option. (The answer rests with what comes of Kingston’s 3rd Crossing agenda.)
The Minister directed his staff to look at all options including the bridge option and MTO’s Eastern region to reactivate the discussion around both Howe and Wolfe Island’s transportation issues to make something happen. Between then and now of course budget and financial issues in Ontario stalled provincial decisions regarding infrastructure.
So what about the 2014 meeting with Minister Murray? Mayor Doyle said it was a good meeting with the minister. “I also had opportunities to talk with him further on a number of occasions throughout the conference and he has directed his staff to work with Frontenac Islands and MTO locally. MTO’s Eastern Regional Director Kathy Moore also had some comments to make about on our request for a second ferry on Wolfe Island for this coming summer, a service they have at Glenora in recognition of tourism,. She said it is very difficult to find a “fresh water” ferry to fill the need but the looking continues… Salt water ferries rust away….. ( It’s 1 ferry in the off season- 2 in summer at Glenora)
Regarding the Frontenac Howe Island ferry, Doyle noted the bubbler system can be repaired if using the same footprint. “However if there was to be a major change like laying a new pipe, making it wider etc., it would require approval from fisheries and oceans, environment, and natural resources and, of course a lot money and time to get it done.
Doyle said Kingston’s Mayor Mark Gerretsen also had a meeting with Transportation Minister Murray looking for 3rd crossing support. “It seems all Glen Murray wanted to talk about was bridges to the islands and suggested that Mayor Gerretsen get together with the local MTO office and US to develop a regional plan. The Minister strongly supports the importance of planning, maintaining and building new infrastructure.. not just for solving problems but for the economy generally, commenting that Infrastructure spending is down from 5% of GDP in the past to 2%,” Mayor Doyle said, According to Doyle, in a speech Minister Murray touted Sir John A. MacDonald as an example of one who went ahead with the railroad at a time when there was no money and no Canada..
2. In January Frontenac Islands council supported a resolution requesting the Association of Municipalities of Ontario (AMO) to petition the Province of Ontario to recognize the December 2013 ice storm as an emergency and provide special funding to municipalities affected to offset some of the costs incurred. “ It may not help but there is no harm in asking,” Mayor Doyle said at the time. And he was right! At the ROMA/OGRA conference he and Mrs. Doyle met Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing MPP Linda Jeffrey, MPP at a casual event where in conversation she said there would be some funding available for clean-up as a result of the storm. A press release on Feb. 26th confirmed her comments. It states that Ontario is helping municipalities affected by the December 2013 ice storm by working with the federal government to fund 100 per cent of their eligible recovery costs through a one-time Ice Storm Assistance Program with eligible costs as much as $190 million based on estimates from municipalities related to immediate emergency response and the subsequent cleanup of debris. “ Frontenac Islands is one of the 30 municipalities listed thus far requesting assistance. It is nice to see our request did not fall on deaf ears and we now have a chance to get some money to help with the cleanup,” Mayor Doyle concluded.
3. Island Heroes: The township was made aware of the many island winter heroes who helped others with the snow and drifting in January from a resident who names in particular Allen Hulton “ who kept the 9th line , Carpenter Point open, sometimes Baseline, often in time for me to make the 5:45 boat. Allan was not the only person helping neighbours but rather he was probably typical,” he said. Mayor Doyle (who sent me the note) had this to say: “We as a community have a lot of unsung heroes out there that have pitched in to help neighbours during the worst winter in recent history. You have Kelly Fawcett down your way, go further east we have Dave Woodman, and Donald Eves and others on Simcoe. I am sure the same happens on Howe Island, “Neighbours helping Neighbours”. My “Thanks” to you all and especially to the Roads crew who have been working around the clock these past months.”
4. The new Chief Administrative Office/Clerk/Treasurer Darlene Plumley assumes her position for the Township effective March 3, 2014. Council Meeting March 10th Wolfe Island
Coming Events: Euchre Thursdays 7 pm ST. Margaret’s Hall. * WI Medical Clinic -Specimen Collection March 7 & 21st * wolfeisland.com