With Wolfe Islands Division Street extension now under way, along with the Marysville sidewalk, and the proposed accessible washroom and ramp upgrade changes slated to start very soon at the Wolfe Island Community Hall, it seems an appropriate time for a look at what accessible means to all of us. When I was invited to serve as a member of Frontenac County’s Accessibility Advisory Committee, representing Frontenac Islands, I wondered why, although I do use a cane and have some health issues. I said yes, knowing full well I had a lot to learn about the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA), enacted by the Ontario Government in 2005. The Act’s goal is a fully accessible province by 2025.
My first thought was as to who are the disabled. The AODA uses the Ontario Human Rights Code definition of “disability”, that is “any degree of physical disability, infirmity, malformation or disfigurement that is caused by bodily injury, birth defect or illness. It includes diabetes, mellitus, epilepsy, a brain injury, any degree of paralysis, amputation, lack of physical co-ordination, blindness or visual impediment, deafness or hearing impediment, muteness or speech impediment, or physical reliance on a guide dog or other animal, or on a wheelchair or other remedial appliance or device. Also impairment or a developmental disability, a learning disability, or a dysfunction in understanding, or using symbols or spoken language, a mental disorder, or a benefits claimed/received for injury/disability under the insurance plan established under the Workplace Safety and Insurance Act of 1997.
The Act’s mandatory province wide accessibility standards fall within five areas. They are customer service, employment, information/ communication, transportation, and design of public spaces. All of these 5 areas have different completion timelines between the time since the passage of the act, 2005 and 2025. In Kingston we can see changes happening. More sidewalk cuts to accommodate wheel chairs, hand pushed walkers, bikes and strollers and pedestrians. More benches to stop and rest, for anyone who gets tired. How about the new entry/exit door at Hotel Dieu Hospital, the ‘Stop Gap’ ramps here and there to get in and out of older shops for those having trouble stepping up and over and for strollers, etc. New buildings have wider door widths, automatic door openings, lower door opening buttons that we all take for granted now. Some stores have lower counter levels, wider store aisles and even places to stop and sit. Some businesses & banks accommodate customers with counter heights, for those standing or sitting. Information and communicating is done in a variety of ways and in a variety of situations. In Toronto new buses and new subway steps touch the ground, no step up, its step-in with railings. It is interesting to note that every improvement in any of the five areas seems to not only improve accessibility for those who are by definition disabled, but everyone else, young and old alike. Amazing really. And where that is not happening, it can be very disconcerting.
But getting back to Wolfe Island, there are snags to the business of being barrier free. One is cost. But that applies everywhere. Another is that the design standards for public buildings applies to new construction only and/or very significant changes to an existing facility. Can the door at the WI Town Hall be a wider and a more accessible one ? The ramp resurfaced to meet it? A trip hazard at the Community Hall door? The WI Medical Clinic, Sacred Heart Church, UC Hall are accessible. There is no doubt the Marysville sidewalk replacement will make life easier for islanders and visitors alike, and the improvements at the WI’s Community Hall on Main Street, a wonderful addition as well. But there is more to do. Perhaps it is time for business owners to see what they can do about making their facilities easier to access and barrier free. Will Frontenac Islands ever be barrier free? Will Wolfe Island be accessible by AODA standards? I don’t know. But I did saw a headline that read: ”There are (only) 8 years, till a fully Accessible Ontario! “
Around Town: Thanks and good luck wishes go to MTO’s Summer Students who graciously dealt with the ferry traffic on WI & Kingston: Dan Bezaire-Arevalo, Jenna Hulton, Mike Makula, Maddy Gorman & Kristina Walker. We will certainly miss you.
Coming Events: **W I Historical: An Ontario Archaeologist’s Anthropological Adventures: from digging in the South Pacific to influencing politics in Nepal, Dr. Terri Lynn Brennan, Wed. Aug. 24th WI United Church 7:30 pm **Great Lakes Island Escape “Ferries and Bridges to Adventure” Maureen Dunphy, Tues. Aug. 30th 7 pm, WI United Church Hall (Book Signing). ** 'Skin Flick' by Norm Foster Domino Theatre, Wed. Sept. 21st. (WI Medical Clinic fundraiser) Ticket $20 firstname.lastname@example.org ** It’s not too late to donate to WI Heroes http://uhkf.kintera.org/heroes
It’s hard to believe it is August Already Frontenac Islands August council meeting on Howe Island was a rather “all quiet on the home front” kind of affair, but not to say that it was without issue!
In fact, during the public portion of the meeting to deal with planning applications, led by Frontenac County Community Planner Reid Shepherd, one application that was approved caught everyone’s attention, members of council and the public. Not for what the applicant has planned for the property, but for the demands placed on the property owner as a result of its location. Requirements all related to the environment .
The owner of the Brown’s Bay property on Wolfe Island completed a required EIS (Environmental Impact Study) of the property adjacent to Provincially Significant Wetland to confirm its development will not have a negative effect on the wet lands. And subject to any comments from the Cataraqui Regional Conservation Area (CRCA) the proposal is consistent with Frontenac Islands Official Plan. Now the owner must enter into a registered development agreement with the township with no development until then. There is to be no (over 4 inch) tree/shrub removal except to accommodate a building set back a minimum distance of 40m from the St. Lawrence River high water mark. Within the 30m of the setback closest to the water, no cutting or removal of vegetation or soil disturbance is permitted with the exception of 3m wide pathway. And, finally, there is to be no tree or shrub removal between l April 15- July 30 in compliance with the Migratory Birds Convention Act. The applicant is responsible for the costs of the agreement, the municipality for its compliance. While there was no opposition to the agreement it was noted as being very restrictive and development prohibitive. “Lots to think about when it comes to shore line and trees now,” a resident commented. “Couldn’t do now what we’ve done in the past,” said another.
In his actions report, Public Works Manager Rob Dillabaugh noted among other things that the 2016 WI signage program is 98% complete, and ongoing at Howe; that road side grass cutting will continue till “till the snow flies,”; and that the Division St. construction will begin early August. Following the report, Deputy Mayor Natalie Nossal asked that a proposed feasibility study for Howe Island’s Spit Head Road be added to the list. She also spoke to the work that has been done with reference to the Rural Transportation Initiative. The Transportation project provides rides to appointments, for those unable to get there themselves. Its expansion to Frontenac Islands is dependant on volunteer drivers. Her query was relative to subsidy availability or requirement to start a program and will be followed up by CAO Plumley.
On the basis of a “have you ever asked” question by MTO’s WI ferry and docking improvements EA, Project Manager Tina White, Council will submit a resolution to MTO asking that they take back ownership of Roads 7051, Road #96 through the village and # 95 to Horne’s Point (all downloaded to the township at amalgamation), on the basis that it is an international ferry link. Council has been asking that the EA include the improvements to the roads used by ferry users particularly road 7051 and 95.
In other Business; **Frontenac Islands will be well represented at the Association of Municipalities Conference in Windsor. **Councillor Springgay in response to a request by WI Heroes runner Christina Walker for use of municipal facilities following the upcoming Cancer Run, (Aug. 20th) ‘recommending the Wolfe Island Fire Hall as the best option.’ ** Councillor Higgs spoke to the running achievements of Howe Island resident and athlete Debbie Holtom while Deputy Mayor Nossal acknowledged the efforts of Lana Saunders and the Road Runners Club Race which raised more than $2,500 towards recreation facilities on Howe Island. Further Howe Island Trail may be eligible for Federal Gas Tax Funding for certain trail improvements (gate, benches ,parking). **Too few public benches or public seating areas near/along the ferry lineup was noted by a resident, as well as accessibility issues confronting visitors forcing them to remain in cars in the village and on the ferry. Mayor Doyle then announced a closed meeting.
The next Regular Meeting of Council takes place Sept.12th on Wolfe Island.
Around Town: **There is a total Frontenac County Burning Ban. No Burning Whatsoever. ** How about that very informative Township Newsletter along with tax bill? A new Township web site coming soon. ** Thanks to our Summer students who keep long ferry lines tight and spaces filled. **Big Sandy Bay closes for the season Sept. 5th. What a busy season its been! ** WI Riverfront Golf also very busy and there’s a wonderful breeze off the water.* Have you noticed Trans Alta Wind Tower Technicians way up the towers checking blades these days? Quite a sight. ** For Domino Theatre tickets for ‘Skin Flick’, a play by Norm Foster Sept. 21st (community group fundraiser) Call Linda 385-1947. **Have a Lunch Bunch story to tell about a trip you’ve taken? Call Linda Joy, -2665.
Coming Events: **A 25 km Run for WI Heroes Sat. Aug. 20th 9 am. Join the Run (bike, walk) with Kristina, make a donation at: http://uhkf.kintera.org/faf/home/default.asp…. **WI BOAT CLUB 11th Annual Barrett Bay Regatta Sun. Aug. 21st.
You had to see it to believe it, but every available space at the WI Community Centre grounds was filled pretty much throughout the 31st Family Ball tournament. It is held annually on the August long weekend. This year 30 (extended) family teams began play in the A & B Divisions on Friday evening, at the 3 diamonds located at the centre. The third diamond, recently completed for use, brought the tournament to one location for the first time.
When you think about 30 teams, that’s 9 -15 persons per team equally distributed between women and men, plus alternates, referees and anyone else directly supporting the teams, with water for instance, certainly needed this season considering the high, dry temperatures. And then there was everyone else, relatives of every family team playing, parents, grandparents aunts, uncles, brothers, sisters, and cousins, grand's and great grand's as well as friends, neighbours , interested citizens, and visitors to the island. Surely the water rose as the island sank under the extra weight as they came from all over Canada, the U.S.A. and places beyond. WI is one of the few remaining communities where such a tournament is held.
The event concluded Saturday evening with the awards presentation led by Community Centre Board member Kevin Hulton. This year’s “A” Division winner was the Orr family team & “B” Division winners, the Hawkins Family Team. The ‘Joe Reitzel Memorial Trophy’ for Oldest Average Team was presented to the Rita Hulton Team. The ‘Debbie Knox Memorial Trophy’ for “the team with most dedication and persistence” was awarded to the McCready Family. The ‘Bill Kyle Memorial’ trophy awarded to the Fawcett's; ‘ Lollar Volunteer Award’ to Elwin McKenna. Special thanks given to Ed Etmanski, Dan and Danielle Hogan, and Ben Woodman for their efforts before, and during the tournament at the Centre.
With the covered NHL sized rink and ice plant, 3 ball diamonds with lights, and an area for horse events, and many , many volunteers, the WI Community Centre has become a 1st class community asset.
Members of MTO’s Wolfe Island Ferry and Docking Improvements EA Project team met with Frontenac Islands Council at a public meeting, to discuss feedback about the project that Council has received from the public and the WI Ward Ferry Committee. Present from MTO was Tina White, Project Manager, Heather Roebuck, Regional Operations Officer, Melissa Buelow, Area Manager, and Amanda Grypma, Environmental Planner.
In his opening remarks, Mayor Doyle referred to the 2011 study , (a ferry in Marysville, another at Dawson Pont) noting concerns raised about the scope and size of the Marysville dock alternatives as well as no main street lineup parking, in the present EA study, a deviation away from the original plan. Since the 2011 study the township has been looking at what it would have to do to keep big trucks out of the village of Marysville.
Councillor Grant asked about that 2011concept to which Ms. White indicated new information that might make it possible for two ferries in the village, presenting an opportunity depending on the design of the new vessel. But regardless of that, she said improvements must be undertaken at both the Marysville and Dawson Pont docks.
Frontenac County Planner Joe Gallivan, updated the meeting concerning the planned seniors project and further donated land, that may lead to a bypass road to reroute heavy traffic out of the village to Dawson Point. The township will ask MTO for a 12 month deferral on the design work for the Marysville Dock until council can do planning work required to ensure that a new docking system will be compatible with village growth planning. Planner Gallivan will prepare a report for consideration at the September meeting that will assist council in ensuring the present character of Marysville and its expected growth over the next 20 years.
MTO’s Tina White strongly defended the Marysville study alternatives. She said that council has asked numerous times that MTO improve marshalling and parking. “From our public input I have not heard a majority of people saying, we would not like you to build this. If you have it has not come back to us”… She asked if council or anyone had written to the Minister to have Road 95 or 96 uploaded to the Ministry. “ I strongly suggest a letter regarding that.” She also suggested one to MTO’s Marine Operational Study if there are ideas on how best to operate 2 vessels, also truck and heavy vehicle traffic.
White said the EA Study looks to the future, in this case 20 years and growth, but approval for that doesn’t mean building the whole project at once . A new 75 car vessel means new improvements at the docks to accommodate both boats. Ms Roebuck noted new propulsion and operational studies, whether two vessels all the time, (i.e. shoulder periods), stop lights off and on, marshalling, etc.. Ms. White encouraged council to look at Marysville and Dawson Point as gateways to the community, “ if you have a vision for that gateway let us hear it.”
Councillor Springgay asked Ms. White 3 questions: #1. Is MTO is committed to operating 2 vessels for at least a part of the year. #2. What are the risks of not supporting docking improvements? #3. Will there be a fare?
Answers:#1. Operational question based on many factors. #2. At risk if council formally said they do not support docking improvements. #3. No fare attached to this study, but the Minister can decide at any time to implement fares and better if that happens with an improved service.
Councillor Grant asked “is there enough money for all of this”. Answer: “Yes, being affordable and environmentally sound is our job,” White said. “If you do not want marshalling improved in Maryville or docking enlarged, Council should send a resolution saying so, and that will have consequences. Improvements require dock improvements”.
A representative from City of Kingston, Holly Wilson, attended the meeting. She indicated the city will continue working with MTO relative to their traffic problems and land use now, and the with dual ferry operation in the future.
Questions from residents, mostly from agricultural community, related to lights in Kingston; use of the Amherst Islander on Wolfe when their “boat” arrives; costs of a bridge versus the dock /ferry project; use of both docks for large vehicles; and. ferry loading improvements. Cost comparison of a bridge versus present project came up again and again, as did the importance of the international link, and the shorter route. One resident pointed out that the ferry committee working with the township & MTO summer staff, have improved marshalling & also unloading of the ferry. He said further that with dual ferry operation expected at peak periods, MTO Operations and EA group should re-assess scope and size of Marysville dock . There was a request for another meeting about project costs. In conclusion, Tina White said there would soon be architectural pictures to show what it could all look like at all 3 docks.
Coming Events: A 25 km Run for WI Heroes Sat. Aug. 20th 9 am. Make a donation Join the Run (bike, walk). ***WI BOAT CLUB 11th Annual Barrett Bay Regatta Sun. Aug. 21st.