Frontenac Islands held another marathon day of 3 public meetings (as they had in February): a final budget meeting, a special meeting with County Planner Joe Gallivan regarding unopened road allowances, and the regular March meeting of council. The Council, with members of staff, also had a formal picture taken to add to those of past councils held at the Howe Island and Wolfe Island Town Halls.
With reference to last week’s column and the transition of the Wolfe Island Paramedic Service from a volunteer operation to a regular unionized service by 2018, there was a certain amount of obvious concern from the public, for whom the service provides an important measure of confidence for living on an island, until the transitional process was fully explained . Presently, the island firefighters attend every call in their Emergency Service vehicle, assist the Frontenac Paramedic (s) as required, and are First Responders when necessary. Provincial regulation allow only Paramedics (or police) to drive an ambulance.
Repeating from the (March 23rd ) column, Director of Frontenac Paramedic Services (FPS) Paul Charbonneau stated that statistics indicate only 2% of all calls require immediate hospital admission. The philosophy now is that the ambulance brings the hospital to the victim, and the new (8 hr. shift and 16 on call) staffing reduces chute (response) times. He said islanders should continue to feel reassured in a medical crisis, that they will continue to be well served by the Wolfe Island Paramedic station on an ever increasing number of days. The $145,000 cost of the model chosen by County Council resulted in the request for ‘a phase in’ to a fully staffed unit. Until fully implemented, Paramedics will continue to come from Kingston and there is an ongoing process of hiring new staff by FPS.
2. STREET NAMING POLICY: Frontenac Islands now has a road & street naming policy, its function is to enable people, and emergency services, to locate properties readily. An “approved street/road name list“ will be compiled , maintained and processed by the Public Works Department conforming to the Township’s names policies. Names may include among others, those who served their country (Military/Public Service), have historical significance, reflect the agricultural, recreational, and heritage etc.
3. The Frontenac County Rural Transportation project was discussed at the February council meeting where Deputy Mayor Nossal felt it appropriate to determine if there is a need for an extension of the service to Frontenac Islands that provides rides to appointments, for those unable to get there themselves. Based on county information there are ways of expanding the service to include islanders , but much is dependant on finding volunteer drivers. A flyer to determine interest in Frontenac County Rural Transportation initiative will be circulated, specifically with a ‘Call Out’ for Volunteer drivers.
4. OPP Costs & Wind Towers: There has been a significant increase in OPP costs overall, with part related to the inclusion wind towers . Mayor Doyle recently met the Kingston C.A.O., their Police Chief, and Deputy Police Chief concerning possible policing options. “We will meet again in the fall to discuss possibilities , however there is little hope for any cost saving,” he said. He also raised the OPP billing formula for wind tower property codes at the ROMA/Good Roads Conference where there was a commitment to review the formula. FYI: Under the new OPP billing model, Ontario municipalities are being charged a base service cost including wind turbine property, and a service charge if OPP have to attend to any property in some way.
5. Frontenac Islands Wolfe Island Ward is setting up a Wolfe Island Ferry Committee, as a committee of council, made up of the Mayor, 1 councillor and 3 community members, and more as required. Its purpose is to assist in dealing with the province regarding improvements to the Wolfe Island ferry system to/from Kingston. A letter of intent to CAO, to serve as a community member, is required by April 21st. Appointments will be made in May. Also pertaining to ferry transportation , MTO will be contacted about the timing of the Barrack Street light, and asked whether the City of Kingston could adjust the traffic flow for vehicles coming off the ferry.
6. Budget deliberations have concluded. Township will prepare for its adoption at the April Council Meeting. Increases proposed are for: Howe Island – 2.53% and Wolfe Island – 2.79%. Details next time.
7. Since their regular meeting, Council held a special meeting to hear a progress report regarding the Wolfe Island ferry and docking improvement EA, with a presentation by members of the MTO team.
8. And finally..1. Accessibility Awareness week in the Township of Frontenac Islands- April 3rd to April 9th How Accessible is Our Community…..? 2. The Township also proclaimed Pitch In Week – April 17th-23rd
Around Town: **Three Cheers for the Wonderful St. Patrick’s Day Luncheon. Thanks to ALL those who prepared the meal, who provided music and entertainment and to the event’s Host Everett Hogan, who has a way of making every one wish they were Irish. Great fun was had by all. **Sadly the WI Music Festival has been cancelled for this year. Attendance was way down, **The ferry is operating from Marysville. **Beginning April 7th, Thursday WI Walk In Clinics are from 10:30am -12:30 pm **WI Road Race at wolfeisland.com
Spring is definitely in the air, the ice is gone from most sidewalks and I can finally lift my head up and look about rather than down in an effort to avoid falling. As Frontenac Islands appointed representative, to the Frontenac County Accessibility Committee, it certainly is high time for me to get out and about and have a look at how good a job the islands do with the whole “accessibility for persons with disabilities concept” . And, can I do it on my own? That’s the key for me. What will I confront to make that impossible now that spring is here…..
You would not believe how much I have learned in just a short while about accessible doors, desks, step height, railings, ramps, mail boxes, widths and heights, washroom sizes and amenities. Personally I regularly confront difficult sidewalks, steps, inaccessible buildings, impossible washrooms, lack of railings, and few chairs to stop and rest, along with a lack of closed circuit and audio visual systems at some meetings.
The need for rest areas (inside buildings, and outside) that include chairs, benches, protection from the elements, washrooms and handicap parking is essential and, last but not least, recognition of importance of service animals to their owners.. And then there is the ferry…. . where accessibility is under intense scrutiny as the EA process for a larger ferry continues … . Personally my issues include balance and breathing as compared to the more difficult issues that confront many others with disabilities, when it comes to accessibility.
Wolfe Island has a long and exciting history. The buildings in the village of Marysville for the most part have been there for many years and are representative of that history. And, where possible, some business owners and operators and organizations have added feature such as ramps, railings, doors and washroom features to their facilities to make them somewhat accessible.
The Township recognizes the importance of accessibility for Economic Development and more recent municipal properties have included accessible features. They include the Information Centre, the Library, the emergency services and paramedic apartment in Marysville, Howe Island’s Emergency Services Building, and other facilities. The WI Medical Clinic was built to standards and with a ramp, and accessible washroom.
Churches and hall owners have made some changes.. Village businesses have made efforts. However major changes are costly and complicated. Within the community some home owners have taken advantage of grants available for home accessibility renovations.
During the long 7-month period with a small ferry resulting in long waits, with fewer visitors and tourists causing a major decline in economic development and in tourism, so important to Wolfe Island, and Cape Vincent NY (WI’s Horne’s Point ferry), and to Kingston for that matter, and is it any wonder…? There was lots of time to think about accessibility and what it was like not to have it… Now as Frontenac Islands Council considers municipal roads, sidewalks , cycling areas, beaches, trails, ramps, railings, door ways, public halls, services, transportation, distances to facilities during annual budget deliberations, are all being looked at with a new awareness? And is it a perfect opportunity?
June 2015 marked the 10th Anniversary of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA) which set out a goal of making Ontario accessible by 2025 . At the recent meeting of the Frontenac County Accessibility Advisory Committee, members agreed that every one in Frontenac County needed to be made aware of the accessibility needs of the disabled, and they will develop and promote an Accessibility Awareness Campaign that acknowledges the wonderful things already accomplished and at the same time call for further initiatives to be taken to make Frontenac County “All Inclusive.” The committee will be asking each of the four Frontenac County Townships to declare April 3-9, 2016 as “Accessibility Awareness Week.” For accessibility information contact: Janette Amini 613-548-9400. The mandate of the Committee is “To assist the County and Township Councils in the County of Frontenac in enabling persons with disabilities to have equal access to all opportunities within the County.”
Around Town: **Every attempt will be made to keep the WI rink open until the end of the March School Break, weather permitting.. ***Eight more feral cats have be spayed, neutered and vaccinated for Rabies bringing the total number of WI Friends of the Feral cats to 116. *** Take Note: Pitch IN Canada Week is April 17-23, 2016 *** Frontenac Islands half load restrictions begin on or about the March 15th. Township reserves right to change the date with extreme rain or rise in temperatures.
Coming Events. *** Dr. Russell's After Hours Walk-In Clinics Tuesday March 22nd cancelled. Nurse Practitioner Walk-In Clinic Thursdays 9:00-11:30 am..bring OHIP card. *** CALL OF THE HEART ..Wolfe Island Yoga & Bhakti Celebration, May 20th - 22nd: firstname.lastname@example.org www.shantiretreat.ca
EA for Larger Wolfe Island Ferry Proceeds as Scheduled
Wolfe Islanders know that once spring arrives it will become more and more difficult “Time Wise” to access the ferry Wolfe Islander III in a vehicle. The MTO owned, and operated ferry, makes its way from Wolfe Island to Kingston each day on an fixed hourly schedule. It has operated from the island’s Dawson Point most winters and from the village of Marysville ( spring to late fall) from what used to be identified as “from ice out to ice in,” or often all year if there is sufficient water in Barrett Bay.
As everyone knows there is a problem. Ever increasing traffic, to and from the island, has caused a steady increase in wait times to get from the island to the mainland and vice versa particularly during peak shoulder period 5:45 am to 9 am and 3 pm to 6 pm daily for residents, throughout all weekends, holidays, major events, most of the time during the summer and for travel to/from the USA for everyone really. Its all about ‘Tourism’ important for Wolfe Island, Cape Vincent and Kingston…..and daily living on the island whether resident or cottage owner.
MTO is well aware of the existing problems and has moved forward with a Preliminary Design & Class Environmental Assessment Study for increasing Wolfe Island ferry capacity, with a second 75 vehicle capacity ferry between Dawson Point and Barrack Street, with the Wolfe Islander III operating from Marysville to Barrack Street summer only, and improved marshalling, dock & mooring improvements , and demand management, ( all as recommended in a 2011 Planning Study). Retained by MTO to conduct the Class EA, Morrison Hershfield Ltd. invited interested citizens to apply to serve on non-voting Community Advisory Group(CAG). They held a first meeting with the CAG members Feb. 25th.
Project Team members included: MTO’s Tina White, and Environmental Planners Sharon Wesgtendorp, and Amanda Grypma, and other MTO staff; Morrison Hershfield Project Manager Edward Li and Environmental Planners Mike Bricks and Kevin Coulter. Mr. LI presented an overview of the EA. Glen Pothier was the Workshop Facilitator
and it was lively. There was much input and participation. When asked for ideas about docking facilities, marshalling, pedestrian, cyclist safety, park and ride, roads, lighting, amenities, etc., suggestions came quickly and easily. And of course, there were questions about a bridge, alternative routes etc., and even scepticism that anything like a larger boat would ever happen, and concerns about the long time line. (It was hard to forget last summer!)
The selected members at each table were invited to work on booklet questions regarding the terminals and docks: vehicle marshalling, handling pedestrians & cyclists, and service facilities at Marysville, Dawson Point and Barrack Street, and come up with ideas and solutions. (Some ideas also came from observers in attendance.) Solutions were many and varied, including the need for services at Dawson Point, e.g. coffee, water, perhaps kiosks, benches, etc. along with safer pedestrian and cyclist lanes for loading, an improved road to Marysville and to the Dawson docks, more LED lighting, more parking, a village stop light to regulate traffic, signage along lineups, etc. And wind or a solar diesel on the new ferry . What was important here was that all ideas and solutions from the CAG will be captured from the process and considered in the final report.
The 4 CAG meetings and Public Information Centres are an important, and required part, of the EA process but should not be confused with any ability to significantly modify the preferred alternative accepted by the government. Only a strong negative reaction to the plan combined with a major economic downturn could affect the ability of the government to proceed onto the design/ build stage. As I see it, the goal to achieve that 75 car larger ferry would be to urge the process not just forward, but “ Move It Forward Faster” … As was stated at the meeting, “we are building on the recommendations of the 2011 study not revisiting them.”
Around Town; * In stating the rink will close March 31st ,— depending on the weather should have been added. ** Visit the Frontenac Islands website (municipality.frontenacislands.on.ca/) for a listing of Summer Job possibilities: **. WI Tourism and Program Development Co-ordinator 2. Environmental Stewards (Big Sandy Bay) **The next specimen collection at WI Medical Clinic, Friday March 18th. ** It won’t be long now until Frontenac Islands Township has a new and exciting website. Watch for an announcement. ** Half load restrictions are expected to start on all island roads on or about March 15th. Enforcement once signs are up. Rain or high temperatures can change dates. .**Congratulations to the Frontenac Refugee Committee and the success of the Shout Sisters Concert and fund raiser to help settle a Syrian Refugee Family in Kingston. (Fund raising continues). **Visit Shanti Retreat for Spring programs coming up soon.
Coming Events : **. Kids Karate Registration March 9th at Lesley Mosier’s home. ** Seniors St. Patrick’s Day Luncheon at Wolfe Island’s Sacred Heart School at 12 noon.. *Check out WI Medical Clinic for Walk In Clinic’s and more.