Feb. 22nd marked a historic day for Wolfe and Simcoe Islands that after 42 years the Wolfe Island Volunteer Ambulance Service changed from a volunteer operation to a unionized one. The Wolfe Island (Paramedic) Station was the last in Ontario once staffed completely by volunteers 24 hours a day. This was a model for small communities that didn't have government funded ambulance services.
“I am sure that the men and women who have served as volunteers on Wolfe Island for over 40 years are viewing this change with mixed emotion,” said Paul J. Charbonneau, Director of Emergency and Transportation Services and Chief of Paramedic Services for the County of Frontenac. “This marks the end of an era,” he said. “Change is sometimes difficult, however, this is an improvement to the service. “Paramedics bring the hospital to the patients and this change (to a unionized service) means we will bring it sooner,”
Wolfe Island’s volunteer ambulance service, was the last of its kind in Ontario. It began in 1974.through the initiative of Wolfe Island resident Dr. George Merry to provide the safe transfer of patients & accident victims to Kingston’s Hotel Dieu Hospital and from the desperation of residents that came from long waits for a ferry coming from Kingston with an ambulance, that led them to try and improve the situation. It was Dr. Merry who encouraged community fundraising for the purchase of their own island ambulance, (a 1972 Chevy Suburban), previously used in Parham. And it was he who called out for interested volunteers to operate it and as well as take the training required to do so.
Hotel Dieu’s surgeon in chief at the time, Dr. Wm. Ghent, responsible for emergency health services and ambulance attendant training, and Kingston regional ambulance supervisor, A. Astle, assisted in the acquisition of the ambulance. They alerted Emergency Health Services to Wolfe Island’s problem that it could take from two, to as many as five hours to bring an accident victim or patient from the island. Prior to that time Wolfe Islanders would transport their sick or/and injured to the ferry however they were able, and as Dr. Merry is quoted as saying “I was doing emergency transportation off the back of a pickup truck.”
Dr. Merry had previously opened the Island’s first medical Clinic in a mobile trailer at his home property, bought through fundraising etc, and subsequently it was moved, later burned down and replaced with a new permanent building, identified as the Wolfe Island Community Medical Clinic that operates through bequests, donations and with some support from the township and operated by a volunteer board of directors.
The Ministry of Health went on to provide a fully equipped ambulance and offered training for island volunteers. In 1974 volunteer paramedics were paid $2 an hour while on call. The ambulance was originally housed in its own garage beside the WI Town Hall. Over the years the service acquired the ‘Jaws of Life’, developed and instituted a ‘Fast Find House’ numbering system, and volunteers were on call 24 hours a day. The 911 dispatch began October 1990, and an ambulance/fire hall was built. WI resident Paramedic Sally Kane volunteered for the ambulance service beginning in 1991 and has been part of the many changes that have taken place since that time. Bringing forward Sally’s name can’t help but bring to mind the names of so many men and woman who also served.. To all of them, our grateful thanks for their dedicated service.
Training became more rigorous and ongoing for the volunteers. The volunteers in turn offered first aid courses and CPR programs, were on site for events and provided disaster response (Ice storm 1998). In 2004 the Parham, Hotel Dieu and Wolfe Island Ambulances Services merged and became Frontenac Paramedic Services, under operation of the County of Frontenac. As paramedic training requirements were upgraded recruiting volunteers became harder to accomplish, leading to model change from volunteer to unionized paramedics. The importance of the ambulance service to Islanders cannot be underestimated, ranking 2nd only to the importance of safe, timely and efficient ferry service. The WI Station new deployment model will be 8 hours on site and 16 hours on call. A building (June 2012) beside the Fire Hall offers paramedic accommodation. At this time Wolfe Island Fire & Rescue (WIFR) is responding to all calls to assist the paramedics. This will be re-evaluated in 6 months.
Around Town:… Mayor Doyle says the meeting with Minister Del Duca concerning a back up ferry to serve the needs of Wolfe, Amherst and Glenora went well and the need for the design & build project is clearly understood. MPP Kiwala announced that the Province will invest in the purchase of a new ferry for Amherst Island as early as 2018 ensuring a back-up vessel for the Eastern Region (as promised by the Minister Del Duca). ….Mayor Doyle and Deputy Mayor Natalie Nossal attended a meeting with the VON to discuss an” On Call” transportation model that would provide rides to appointments for islanders unable to drive. “It was a very preliminary meeting,” Doyle said adding that such a plan would require many committed volunteers. (VON has a Shuttle Service, a Call Dispatch and many volunteers in Kingston.)
Coming Events: **Annual St. Patrick’s Day Luncheon, Sacred Heart School, March 12th at 12 noon. ** Frontenac Islands Council Meetings March 14th Budget Meeting at 2:00 pm. 2nd Meeting with Joe Gallivan: Unopened Roads at 6pm & Regular Council Meeting 6:30 pm. All at Wolfe Island Municipal Building.
The Frontenac Islands Council meeting held this month on Howe Island consisted of three meetings. First was a budget meeting, followed by a special public meeting with regard to unopened road allowances, and the third, council’s regular monthly meeting.
1 .The 2016 budget meeting: The budget meeting dealt with the Howe and Wolfe Island Fire Department’s numbers with Chief Mike Quinn presenting Howe’s budget overview. One item of interest indicates a $25,000 transfer to reserves for capital equipment replacement . (By setting aside funds in advance, if a used vehicle comes up, it takes only a council motion to release the money.) — A WI Fire Budget change will see $30,000 placed in the WI Fire Capital Equipment Reserve rather than a transfer of $50,00 from the amenities fund. — Council reviewed budgets numbers from Howe Island recycling, (a request for extended hours is to be considered); culture & recreation and the Garden Buds.
—Following a review of an engineer’s report, the HI Township ferry budget will include the cost, yet to be determined, of replacing the ferry’s deck. — Council also reviewed the WI Roads budget including items identified in January, for instance, the Division Street extension; refurbishment of Simcoe Island ferry docks. —Councillors Grant, and Springgay and PWM Dillabough will review the WI Community Centre Board budget prior to the he next budget meeting on March 14th, 2:00 pm at the WI Town Hall. (The budget meeting will include a Budget Recap , Recreation, Amenities Requests, Department summaries and percentage breakdown’s.) Public Works Manager (PWM) Dillabough attended the budget meeting. Also- The Simcoe Island ferry fares bylaw is to be revised, at the March council meeting.
2. “Its all about access….” Unopened Road Allowances: Joe Galivan Frontenac, County Director of Planning and Economic Development, provided council with policy direction for dealing with, and the fair treatment of requests for the purchase or lease of unopened road allowances, and to hear comments on the draft bylaws and policies. He defined an unopened road allowance as a strip of land owned by a municipality where a road may be built in the future, but does not currently exist, a definition included in the Ontario Road Access Act. These are common in rural municipalities,” he said, “due to lack of density & demand.” By-laws and consistent policies for the leasing, closure, selling etc., or giving away of unopened road allowance would provide the township with the tools and documentation to guard against potential liability. Frontenac Islands Official Plan policy is to retain unopened allowances leading to water in public ownership where there is no public point alternative.
Council members and residents gathered round a map outlining unopened allowances, disputing some and adding others. There were many questions and comments with surprise at how many there are, and the fact that there are a couple totally inaccessible. Further input is expected at a 2nd meeting March 14th on Wolfe Island. It seems that to have by-laws and consistent Closure & Conveyance* and *Use of Unopened Road Allowance policies would provide the township with the tools and documentation to guard against potential liability. Councillor Higgs: “we have a trail across the island on an unopened road allowance… Are we liable ?”, he asked. Answer: “yes.” For the present Galivan’s presentation was accepted as information. Township staff will review map discrepancies. Planner Galivan will add information from both public meetings and provide the township with a completed document. Interesting and informative stuff.
3 .Last, but not least, the regular meeting of Council began at 6:30 pm with a busy agenda .
—A Retention Bylaw, to provide a schedule for how long Township records must be kept and maintained (Retention Periods) by the Township was introduced. Following review, comment and confirmation from the Township’s Solicitor, it will be brought back to Council for Third and Final Reading. —The township with a municipal drain will appoint a Drainage Superintendent to check it, a requirement of the Drainage Act. Land owners on each side are responsible for maintenance. — The Township petitions annually for subsidy on the operating costs of the Howe Island Township ferry ($337,567.22) and the Simcoe Island ferry ($238,174.65.) of the previous year. — Council supports the WI Community Garden Initiative to apply to the Community Foundation for a ‘Regina Rosen Food First Fund Grant’ for a School Garden Project. — A report with recommendations from the WI Waste Site Transition Committee was deferred until the March 14th council meeting on Wolfe Island, also a Simcoe/Wolfe Island Ferry Committee report. —Much satisfaction with the card lock outlet on Wolfe Island. All monies received as a percentage of sales & property lease are placed into an asset replacement reserve. — MPP Kiwala will present concerns at meeting with Minister Naquvi (Correctional Services) concerning OPP billing. These were raised by Mayor Doyle and Deputy Mayor Nossal with her. — As of Feb. 22nd, according to Mayor Doyle, there will be two paramedics on Wolfe Island for an 8-hour shift. (time to be determined). Frontenac County C.A.O. Kelly Pender and Chief of Paramedic Services Paul Charbonneau will be attending the March 14th Council meeting. — Councillor Springgay announced the WI Rink will close March 31st.
Around Town: Although it was a heavy snowstorm and hard work to deal with it was wonderful to see the islands looking so beautiful…. and to welcome back to our feeders the many birds who previous had little need for us. *Take note: No Specimen Collection on Friday March 4th at the WI Medical Clinic..
Coming Events: * Council meets March 14th on Wolfe Island 6:30 pm * Special meeting re: Unopened Road Allowances at 6 pm. (WI Town Hall).
It is a pleasure to write about the recent event held to celebrate the ferry , Wolfe Islander III ‘s 40th Anniversary of service to Wolfe Island. The event initiated by the ‘Friends of the Wolfe Island Ferry Service’ (‘Friends’), assisted by on-shore staff including Capt. Bob Woodman and supported by Regional MTO staff bringing together past and present ferry personnel, captains, mates, engineers, & staff from MTO’s Regional Offices, Regional Director Kathy Moore. Also MPP for Kingston and the Islands, Sophie Kiwala, Frontenac Islands Mayor Denis Doyle, interested public from Wolfe Island/ Kingston and islander, Tom Wroe who spoke on behalf of Friends.
Following the arrival of the Wolfe Islander III, horn sounding, special flags flying, greeted by MPP Kiwala, Mayor Doyle, and MTO’s Kathy Moore, the formal event began in the Kingston ferry terminal. “We have a group called Friends of the Wolfe Island Ferry service started last year and we want to encourage events like this. We want to advocate for the ridership of the ferry. So anything we can do to help make the service better that’s what we aim to do,” Tom said at the outset.”
Tom Wroe, MPP Sophie Kiwala, Mayor Denis Doyle
Mayor Doyle followed with congratulations for the Wolfe Islander III long years of successful service. “ Largely due to some of the people here,” he said. “I saw Sherman Niles and Ken White who actually were on the ship when it sailed down from Thunder Bay into this harbour Dec. 16th, . I spoke with my friend Winfield Woodman who said it took hours iof shore work (and short trial runs) to get things working right for the Feb. 5. 1976 inauguration attended by then Mayor Tim O’Shea, Syl Apps, & Minister James Snow.’ Doyle thanked all those past and present who maintain the ferry and captains and crew for the service they provide. .and MTO staff at Counter Street.
MPP Kiwala expressed her delight at being there. She said that when elected in 2014 she was expected to be an expert about everything. “The WI ferry situation last summer was a trial by fire. But I have to say that during that time I began to realize how important that ferry is to islanders. Without it, lives are enormously impacted,” she said adding that sitting near Minister Del Duca in the legislature she was able to bug him about last summer’s ferry delay . “ I do want to tell you that the Minister and I had hoped to come back from Hamilton on the ferry, but it was to be an 18 hour trip. However on that night I woke up at 4 am, messaged the ferry, heard back , viewed pictures, watched the sunrise. It crystallized for me in that moment how much the ferry means to the community.” Kiwala, expressed thanks to the (ferry) staff at Counter Street and particularly to Kathy Moore for all she has learned from her about ferry services, in particular, and also the scope of regional transportation requirements (highways,bridges etc.) in eastern region.
MTO’s Kathy Moore thanked Mayor Doyle and Friends for taking the initiative to remember the 40th Anniversary of the Wolfe Islander 111.”It has been a great opportunity for MTO to be associated with the WI Ferry service since the 1960’s,” she said noting the social and economic changes that were brought about in the lives of islanders 40 years ago with year round service. “These changes were brought about in large part by the former employees captains, crew, shore staff, those who brought the boat down, and those who serve today. This ferry has moved millions of passengers in all kinds of weather and still they remain passionate, concerned and dedicated to their work. Thank you to the generation who has gone before, some of whom are with us today and to those who presently work with the ferry service today. You have made a difference in the lives of the people and the economy of this township”. Director Moore commented also on the commemorative flags on the boat and the flags, and table of mementos , pictures, albums set up by Shore Captain Bob Woodman.
MTO Eastern Regional Director Kathy Moore with them..
Captain Brian Johnson spoke nostalgically about his time on the Wolfe Islander III. “ I was driving in this morning and saw the Islander coming in just as beautiful as ever and I finally accepted her. For years she was a certain size , a certain shape in 1975,” he said. “There are two important dates in my 33.8 years. The first was walking down to the boat Sept. 11, 1981 and the 2nd was June 23rd, 2015 walking off the boat. I never had one bad day on the Wolfe Islander. I had bad weather, hard trips . We all have. But I loved the guys I worked with, loved the people I worked for and loved the people we serve .”
A visual presentation prepared by ‘’Friends’ was ongoing through out the event . The beautiful cake was cut and served, and picture taking, conversation, memory sharing and laughter continued well into the afternoon.
Around Town:*Another Great WinterFest. One again wonderful participation by the Kingston Frontenacs. Delicious Chili and , Wolfe Tails. Good skating. It is amazing how it all comes together. Chili Winners 2016 :- Joy Boatworks &Pest Control.
Coming Events: *‘Shout Sisters (Wolfe Island –Frontenac Refugee Support Committee) Concert Fund Raiser Sun. Feb. 21st First Baptist Church, Kingston 2:30 pm Silent Auction begins at 2pm. Come, support and enjoy.
Health care and education are considered by Canadians to be their most important concerns, along with the economy, of course. No less the citizens of Frontenac Islands. In the case of islanders however, whether on Howe Island or Wolfe, transportation and the ability to access health care in a timely fashion are of major concern.
In the early days people relied on each other, and took incredible risks to get to hospital in Kingston. Over the years island midwives and nurses provided care. A number of doctors eventually took up practice on the island. In 1973 the Wolfe Island Health Clinic opened , in a trailer beside Dr. George Merry’s home. Eight years later it was moved to land donated by Mildred Hawkins-Walton. Then followed Dr. McBride two evenings a week, and the Victorian Order of Nurses. Equipment, a fire hall and a volunteer fire service followed around that time. An island ambulance service, also volunteer, now part of the Frontenac County Paramedics Services, was established. Fire destroyed the Medical Clinic in 2008, With donations and pledges a new WI Community Medical Clinic opened in May of 2010. The Clinic is a provincially incorporated, not-for-profit corporation operated by a board of directors elected annually. Funding is through donations, fund raising, (Classic Road Race) and township assistance. The Clinic Board is looking to extend services. and is seeking input from the community.
“We have been fortunate to receive some additional funding from two local private foundations which will allow us to continue/expand our Nurse Practitioner walk-in clinic and, add other services that clinic users would like to have available on the Island,” president Linda Thomas said. ”If you have used the clinic or are interested we would welcome you input on where to go from here. Call me at 385-1947. During the time Dr. Russell was off we ran a Nurse Practitioner (NP) walk-in clinic Tuesday afternoons and Thursday mornings. These were well received and I believe all who saw NP Bonnie Sparrow were more than satisfied. When Dr Russell returned in September we continued the NP clinic each Thursday morning. However attendance then was sporadic. What to do? Increase the NP clinic hours to one longer day, or two half days? If yes, which days? Morning , afternoon or early evening?”
Do islanders want a NP clinic? Thomas outlined what NP’s can do, noting their expertise in many areas pregnancy, mothers and children, diabetes, arthritis, COPD and chronic diseases. “They can diagnose illness and injuries, perform physical check-up, order and interpret diagnostic tests, provide counselling, education and treatment, order procedures, refer clients to other health care professionals and specialists, prescribe most medications, manage chronic diseases, order blood products and oxygen,” she said. “Attending an NP clinic does not affect the doctor you might be rostered to. With our current medical system, if you see a doctor outside your family team, your doctor is charged for the call. Not the case when you see the NP, nor is there a charge to the patient as the Medical Clinic covers the cost of the service,” Linda said. “Dr. D. Russell comes the island weekly to see her patients and holds a walk-in clinic open to all.” Other services available at the clinic include a monthly Paramedic Wellness Clinic, the Specimen Collection Centre, a Flu Shot Clinic, the NP Walk in Clinic and a VON Foot Clinic - by appointment.
2. Three Island Event: Linda Thomas went on to outline plans for the WI’s Summer Classic Road Race, the Clinic’s major fundraiser. “A few exciting changes are in the works,” she said. “This year our 5k race will be part of the Kingston Road Runners race series. Check their website for the full line up. And, we are joining with Howe and Amherst Islanders as part of a 3 island event. Participate in all 3 races and receive a very special medal,” she said. “Howe's race is scheduled for May, ours is of course July, and the Amherst ‘Wooly-Bully’ is in August. Roots Canada is again on board as a major sponsor for the event. We have added East Side Marios (Division / Weller) and Al Cantley & Runners Choice.” Register by 30 April for the early bird rates. Register at https://events.com/r/en_US/registration/wolfe-island-classic-5k—10k-july-4831 “It is shaping up to be a fun summer.”
Around Town: * A date has been confirmed at which time the Minister of Transportation, the Honourable Steven Del Duca, will meet with our Mayor Denis Doyle, at the ROMA Conference in Toronto.. At the meeting on Feb. 21st Mayor Doyle will follow up on the promise made by Minister Del Duca for a back up ferry. ** Frontenac County Council agreed to work with the union to implement an 8/16 hour shift coverage (24/7/365), that is 8 hours on-site coverage and 16 hours on call model for the Paramedic Services on Wolfe Island . The new model should be in place by Feb. 22nd according to Mayor Doyle. *** The recent rain, warm weather and winds made skating difficult even with a roof. ****The WI- Frontenac Refugee Committee continue planning for their family. Fund raising an on going priority.
Coming Events: *‘Shout Sisters (Wolfe Island –Frontenac Refugee Support Committee) Concert Fund Raiser Sun. Feb. 21st First Baptist Church, Kingston 2:30 pm Silent Auction begins at 2pm. Come, support and enjoy.