Christmas 2016 has come and gone, leaving behind wonderful memories to think of as the winter progresses. At the same time, townships and cities, along with the newspapers are looking back on the highlights that filled 2016, in anticipation of what may happen in 2017. The Township of Frontenac Islands is no different. Each of its major islands, Wolfe and Howe, can certainly look back over areas of concern that came up during the year, as well as at the good things that have been accomplished, and continue to set goals for the future.
At the beginning of 2016 for instance, the “Preliminary Design and Class EA for the WI Ferry and Docking Improvements,” presently in the hands of Morrison Hershfield Limited, was underway looking for community input. To date there have been two public open houses. From the time of the first meeting to the second, dock changes were identified and have since been incorporated into drawings presented for public scrutiny at the 2nd. The new larger 75 car ferry proposed for Wolfe Island, will be similar to the Wolfe Islander III in design. All docks improvements proposed will accommodate all the ferries in the fleet . Hard to imagine that the Wolfe Islander III celebrated her 40th year of service to Wolfe Island on February 2016, having arrived from Thunder Bay in 1976. MPP Kiwala joined that celebration held at the MTO Wolfe Island Terminal in Kingston.
Feb. 22, 2016 marked a historic day for Wolfe and Simcoe Islands as after 42 years the Wolfe Island Volunteer Ambulance Service changed from a volunteer operation to a unionized one provided by Frontenac County Paramedic Services. The Wolfe Island service was the last of its kind in Ontario, once operated completely by volunteers 24 hours a day. The paramedics also provide a monthly wellness clinic.
Also in February MPP Kiwala announced that the Province will invest in the purchase of a new ferry for Amherst Island similar in design to the Wolfe Islander III (roll on, roll off) as early as 2018 ensuring a back-up vessel for the Eastern Region (as promised by the Minister Del Duca). The contract for the new Amherst dock has been issued and work should begin soon.
Frontenac Islands Wolfe Island Ward set up a Wolfe Island Ferry Committee, as a committee of council, made up of the Mayor, a 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.
Frontenac Islands held a marathon of 3 public meetings in March, a final budget meeting, a special meeting with County Planner Joe Gallivan regarding unopened road allowances, and the regular March meeting of council.
Sadly the WI Music Festival was cancelled for 2016, due to low attendance the previous year when the Wolfe Islander was out of service. The WI Historical Society was presented with the Scadding Award of Excellence by the Ontario Historical Society for their contribution to the field of history.
In April Frontenac Islands Council and the Ministry of Transportation (MTO) Team for a Wolfe Island Ferry and Docking Improvements study met once again for a ferry& docking improvements update.
The 2016 budget passed with a 2.8% tax increase on Wolfe Island and 2.5 % on Howe. (Over four years the OPP contract increase is from $100,000 to $400,000 requiring a 4% increase in township taxes over all, until fully implemented.)
In keeping with the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA) which set out a goal of making Ontario accessible by 2025, Frontenac Islands council has begun to focus on the needs of the disabled with Community Hall ramp access ,washroom, sidewalk improvements.
During the subsequent months any number of issues were dealt with and, as always in small rural communities, most of the issues relate to administration and public works, primarily roads, their maintenance, grass cutting, tree trimming, removal, new signage, setting speed limits, and passing by-laws. Certain issues on Howe Island are under review. The senior apartment project moves steadily forward. A new road was constructed. There is a new web site… The rink is fully operational. The land fill site is now a Transfer Site. The Township begins budget meetings in January
Around Town: Unfortunately on Christmas Eve, following the early Saturday Christmas Eve Mass, there was a fire at Sacred Heart of Mary Church on Wolfe Island which was confined to the Sacristy. Pastor Fr. Raymond deSouza discovered the remains of the fire, which had melted a plastic water pipe and the pouring water pouring that killed the fire, when he came into the church to prepare for Midnight Mass. The water caused damage in one part of the sacristy as well as much smoke damage to it, the sanctuary and the main body of the beautiful church, necessitating the cancellation of Midnight Mass. The Wolfe Island Fire Department attended.
I’ve been thinking much about Christmas. As I get older, it seems the stories of my childhood are more easily remembered than they used to be. Although I must admit there is no one out there that I can ask for verification. What I remember being told by my parents is that they travelled from Germany, at the ages of 33 and 32 respectively., just recently married, and on there way first to Toronto and Waterloo, where my father was to complete studies for ministry in the Evangelical Lutheran Church, which he had begun at a university in Germany. One could say my parents came with very little, as VISITORS to Canada . After which time, according to my mother their intent was to return “home” to Sweden, my father’s birthplace and his home. My older, only brother and I were born in Canada.
My father by then was ministering to small diverse European communities in western Canada because of his facility with languages. My parents barely survived the depression of the 1930’s, not unusual I suspect, for clergy dependant upon the financial situations of those they served.. who also had nothing. They eventually made their way back to eastern Canada with the intent of returning home. But with the threat of war looming, they made the decision to remain in Canada for the sake of their Canadian born children. And, on a more practical level, they did not have the money to do otherwise. By that time, like everyone else, my father was trying to find work wherever he could, as teacher, labourer, farm hand, statistician, clergyman…. Interesting to note. My father never returned to Sweden. My mother visited her family in Germany only once when in her 70’s. Once they arrived in Canada, like my father, she never heard the voice of her parents again.
As young children, my brother and I spoke German and Swedish at home. My father had a good command of English and a number of other languages. My mother eventually spoke English with a great deal of ease and was often asked, as I remember it, if she came from the British Isles. During the war years she was identified as an “foreign alien” and was obliged to “sign in.” How thrilled she was many years later when she was identified as a Naturalized British Subject and, still later, identified as a Canadian Citizen.
What I do remember of my early Christmases is that they were a lonely time. No friends really , no relatives, and parents filled with concern, not only for family members in Europe, but for our own survival as a family as well. Jobs were hard to come by, money very scarce, age a detriment, never a pension, no health care, like so many others then.
I remember thinking that our Christmas was so holy, maybe too holy. But Advent was such a special time with candles and Jesse trees and symbols and signs all leading to “The Nativity”, how could we be anything other than happy. My mother’s incredible singing voice followed my father’s prayer at dinner each evening during those days of preparation to Christmas Eve when a tree was brought in and simply decorated. The door was closed and silence filled our tiny apartment as we waited for midnight to come…, the Nativity Crèche awaiting a baby. The door was opened with my mother singing ‘Stille Nacht Heilige Nacht’ , followed by my father reading the Christmas Gospel and blessing us, the sharing of a small gift, generally of my mother’s making, happened, a used book, an orange, and the sharing a glass of what was called children’s wine together. We listened to Midnight Mass from somewhere on the radio and searched for music (along with the news) coming from Europe. . . I remember those Christmases, just as my husband Walter remembers his childhood Christmases.… of similar years. But at this moment, as I reminisce, I wait for our own family to arrive for a rushed visit to Wolfe Island…. to celebrate Christmas with us, sharing in our traditions bringing with them their own. My wish is for the residents of Frontenac Islands, our friends and neighbours, that Peace and Joy fill your days during this Christmas Season, and for a Happy New Year 2017 to all.
Around Town: Visit the Wolfe Island Community Centre Facebook website for Holiday Rink Schedules and Programs. And the Frontenac Islands web site (frontenacislands.ca) for news and events. Also wolfeisland.com
It did not take very long for Frontenac Islands Mayor Denis Doyle and members of council to move through the agenda of their December meeting, held this month on Howe Island. There was a rather festive feeling to the evening with everyone perhaps anticipating the coming days of Christmas, and just wanting to get home after what has already been a busy month with meetings, and more pending for them all, staff and councillor members alike.
The meeting dealt with administrative issues, and consolidating bylaws that arose in both CAO Plumley’s Actions Pending report, and that of Public Works Manager Rob Dillabaugh. These were; the naming and renaming of highways, streets, roads, private roads in the township, another was to regulate the prescribed rate of speed for motor vehicles on certain township roads, and yet another to provide for the erection of ‘Stop’ signs and ‘Yield’ signs at intersections.
A road name change process is underway for a road on Simcoe Island where 50% have as their address School House Lane, and the other half have Eves’ Lane. It seems that School House Lane is the technically correct address and the changes will be made. Another is for Howe Island Drive, often referred to as County Road #22 and 16A (and both were correct).
A few months ago a Wolfe Island citizen approached council with a request to reduce the speed limit on the Front Road (#96) from 80 km to 60 km from Simcoe Ferry Road to 1 km East of 3rd Line Road. A later report offered 3 options for council to consider: speed 80 to 60 km; or speed 70 km most of the way to village; or no change. “You have to be very careful when lowering a speed limit” Public Works Manager Rob Dillabaugh said. “With 70 km you keep within your vehicle count and remain as a Class 4. Drop it to a class 5 and lower classifications greatly affect possible funding ( for road rehabilitation, asphalt, rebuilding etc.) My recommendation is to be very careful to stay within levels. If we don’t the Ministry will not look favourably at funding. The one fund out there is called Top Up and changes can reduce your chances. If we go 70 km I agree with Councillor Grant that we go as far on Front Road as we can before the speed sign changes to 40 km into the village,” Mayor Doyle said “If we don’t the ministry will not consider funding in the future.” Council agreed with a fixed 70 km although Councillor Springgay is not convinced drivers will actually slow down or that the police would enforce it. She believes they might at 60 km. Interesting to note the speed going out of Marysville to the turn to Dawson Point is 60 km based on load. Springgay’s concern for a new welcoming sign at WI’s Dawson Point, will be added to the 2017 budget deliberations. And ‘Stop’ and ‘Yield’ signs will be erected at intersections.
Future Planning: Council received updates to the Municipal Elections Act and Voting Method, for the 2018 Election. As in the past election ranked ballots will not be adopted by Frontenac Islands. Council once again authorized internet/telephone voting for the 2018 election. CAO Plumley will prepare the bylaw for the January 9, 2017 meeting of council. Prior to the election a joint services request for quotations for internet and telephone voting will be drafted to include all Municipalities in Frontenac County who wish to do the same.
In Other Business: 1 . As of January 1st, 2017 the Howe Island (foot) Township ferry will commence operating from 6:30 am to 12:00 pm every day of the week. 2. A request for two casual on-call snowplough operators for the Wolfe Island ward will be posted. 3. Council will issue a Christmas bonus, for full time ($100) and part time ($50), employees. 4 . Council extended the appointment of Ben Woodman as Operator/Custodian of the Wolfe Island Community Centre for 2016-2017. 5. Administrative Offices on Howe on Wolfe Island will be closed from Dec. 24th to Jan. 3, 2017. The extended time period is accommodated through saved time and vacation time as well as the 3 statutory holidays. 6. Council supported an Association of Municipalities resolution asking that the federal government provide long-term predictable funding in its phase 2 programs for municipal governments, and added that Frontenac Islands also call on the federal government to change incremental requirements in phase 2 to recognize that that the municipal government asset management plan in Ontario meets a municipal incremental infrastructure requirement.
Inviting comments from the public: W. Knott once again commented on the dangers of Road # 7051 to Dawson Point. He also brought to council’s attention the International Joint Commission’s new water regulation (Plan 2014) which could take effect by Jan. 1st and allow the lake's water level to rise about 2.4 inches above the present high-water and drop it about 6 inches below its previous regulation. From the other residents present council Council received thanks for their hard work and Best Wishes for Christmas and the New Year 2017.
Around Town: The WI Rink is now open. Check Out the WI Community Centre on Face Book for WI Rink hours and events. Also the Township’s web site frontenacislands.ca , program and rental dates are posted… along with schedule changes etc.
In preparation for their 2017 Budget deliberations, Frontenac Islands Council members and staff once again undertook a priority setting exercise. Some might call it establishing a ‘wish list’ while ‘dreaming in technicolour’. And for sure there was a little of that, but for the most part the priorities revolved around areas of importance, roads, ferries, waste, recreation, and community concerns (health, children, seniors etc.) to the citizens of Frontenac Islands, all listed under a series of headings.
The initial first go around by the mayor and the four council members included such things as
completion of roadside brush clearing, a new building at WI’s Transfer Station, -rebuilding of the HI foot ferry deck, -community development and -Simcoe Island ferry docks. This first list also included issues/needs from Administration and Public Works. The initial exercise led to a further seven listings by council which were eventually noted under headings. The headings included: Accessibility, Economic Development, Planning, Community Support , Ferry(s), Public Works, & Administration. Then they determined when they could undertake the projects, specifically first, those doable in 2017, second those in 2018-19 and third, those three years and longer away because of their scope and size.
Council also identified all those projects that would have a budgeting effect particularly in 2017 allowing staff the time to work up numbers in advance of the budget meetings. This is a necessary process in all organizations to look at short and long term priorities, prioritize them into categories and then come up with a budget. It certainly does not mean that all projects can be met, primarily because of what the tax impact would be on the tax payer, the citizens of Frontenac Islands . It was interesting to note the increasing interest for accessibility with efforts underway by the township to provide an accessible washroom at the WI community Hall, behind the WI Town Hall, as well as a permanent ramp to access the building from Division Street in Marysville.
An interesting discussion took place within the Economic Planning category, that focused on present island businesses and developing businesses, for instance the micro brewery and on possible new businesses in keeping with the agricultural nature of the islands, maybe raising goats for milk? Who knows what could come of that ? The Howe Island foot ferry, the Simcoe docks and ferry, bubbler systems , how much gravel for roads, the Seniors project, a helipad, new equipment, policing, parking, ,Spit Head Road, the dangers of Road #7051 to Dawson Point, a lagoon, water, building refurbishment, and any number of other items came up as part of the planning for the 2017 budget meeting. Lots to think about. The first 2017 Frontenac Islands budget meeting takes place Jan. 4, 2017 at 1 pm at the Wolfe Island Town Hall.
Wolfe Island comes alive around Christmas… That’s right. First it’s with the Christmas Decorations that suddenly appear in Marysville. Then its more decorations and lights in the village and across the island joining with the red wind tower lights and those on the radio tower. The island churches prepare for Christmas, the Birth of Christ, through the four Sundays of Advent. And during those four weeks many lovely events happen. There was the Ecumenical Carol service this year, held at the WI United Church. School events take place as they do in most small communities. A wonderful vendors’ market of mostly handmade goods for personal giving were sold, many with profits going to one special charity or another. And, of course, Santa came to town in time for his own Santa Clause parade on the island. Finally a wonderful Christmas Pageant takes place Dec. 18th at the WI United Church, at 7 pm, with Christmas music and the re-telling of the Nativity. Special guests include Chris Brown, Tammy Repath, Vanessa Grant and more. Donations and non perishable food items will be collected for the local food bank. So here we are two weeks away…. Parents and grandparents are waiting for loved ones to come home. Children are looking forward to the holidays, and the Community Centre Board has announced that registration for all Winter Programs takes place —Thursday December 15th, 4:30-7:30 pm at the WIPP. They are also looking for volunteers . The rink should be in full swing for the winter very soon with lights and a roof over top, so who can ask for anything more this Christmas! Skates, maybe?
Around Town: The swans are still around, as are the thousands of Canada Geese who wander our fields…. The many deer venturing out onto the roads, even on the ferry road to Dawson Point, are making residents are very nervous as they drive home after dark.
Coming Events** December 14: Ron Walsh speaking about Kingston VHF radio history and its place in seaway history, Dec. 14th, 7:30 pm —WI United ** Registration Winter Programs @ The WIPP –Thurs. Dec. 15th, 4:30-7:30 pm. **Christmas Pageant Dec. 18th, WI United Church at 7 pm **January 18 (tentative date): Brian Porter with his wife Rene, will speak about the ladies in Sir John A.'s life'.
At the invitation of the Ministry of Transportation, and Morrison Hershfield Ltd., the residents of Wolfe Island did indeed have the opportunity for a second look at how the planning is proceeding for the renovation of the Wolfe Island ferry service, the docks in Kingston and on Wolfe Island. Morrison Hershfield Ltd. is conducting the $1.8 million environmental assessment of the potential for adding a 75-vehicle ferry to the route and rebuilding the three ferry docking terminals. This is the first time the MTO has conducted an EA for the addition of a second ferry to an existing route.
At the first public information centre, held some months ago (June 2016), where the public was offered a first overview of the docking proposals, the general opinion of islanders was that the docking facilities described for Wolfe Island might just be too much for the small rural hamlet of Marysville. At that first meeting opinions ranged from “we just need one extra ferry length of dock (maybe) to allow for easier loading and unloading and a light at the corner,” to “ the dock just needs some extra width for a safe turn around drop off area, accessible public facilities, and line up areas for pedestrians and cyclists with a parking facility for those who use public transit or walk or cycle once in Kingston,” to “WOW, is this for real?” Many were unable to visualise all vehicular traffic accommodated on the ferry dock itself, with no traffic lined up on Main Street. There were requests for improvements to the road to the Dawson Point dock seen as dangerous , too narrow etc. So that was the first go around.
All comments received were brought forward, reviewed and were considered resulting in some changes and alternatives developed. And now the public has had a second opportunity, a chance to see the changes and to make comments, which also will be considered as part of the environmental assessment process, as it continues moving forward toward an improved Wolfe Island ferry service.
“I attended both the Wolfe Island and Kingston presentations,” Frontenac Islands Mayor Denis Doyle said. “ And I spoke to as many people as I could. The first MTO presentation on proposed changes to the docks resulted in a lot of feedback, with changes proposed to downsize the Marysville and Kingston docks,” he said. “The Dawson Point dock it seems was not a major concern receiving generally receiving positive comments at the first meetings and again at this second round. The new Kingston dock proposal does not use the Queen Street dock and looks much better in the artistic renderings (done of each of the three docks) than the previous design. While some people suggested minor changes those I talked to at both meetings where very positive. And the new Marysville proposal is better and will be designed to allow better water flow under the dock,” he said. “Once again the Marysville dock received the bulk of the comments. Most people I spoke say suggest that it ( the dock) is still too big and requires further consideration. Also of particular concern is with the present state of provincial finances, can we afford this and will our elected officials approve the expenditure?”
MTO is looking for feedback from the public on the new docking proposals, with a cut off date of January 6th. “ I urge you to become involved. To assist those who did not have a chance to get to one of the meetings. The material presented at the recent Information Centre will be available at the Wolfe Island Town Hall for review. I would encourage all to have a look and make comments. This material is also available on the MTO website at www.wolfeislandferryea.ca,” Mayor Doyle concluded.
Around Town :* Rumour has it that most of the equipment for the micro brewery on Wolfe Island has begun to arrive, or may already be in place for that matter, with quite a bit of work going on at the old plant. Opening is slated for some time in the new year. ** Many thanks to the WI United Church Women for another Lunch Bunch Travel Series. ***The Christmas Market presented at the WI Fire Hall was a success with thirty-six exhibiters and a wide variety of items for sale.. The Feral Cat Association operated a café and used the opportunity to present information about the rescue- spay-neuter program they offer. **** Watch for posters announcing a Medical Clinic “weekly evening after hours Clinic” staffed by a Nurse Practitioner ** So tell me - Anything happening for Canada’s 150th?
Coming Events: . * WI Christmas Parade, Sat. Dec. 3rd from WI Fire Hall. Contact Daisy 613-985-2541, questions. ** December 14: Ron Walsh will speak about VHF radio history in Kingston and its place in seaway history, December 14th, 7:30 pm —WI United Church **January 18 (tentative date): Brian Porter with his wife Rene (both in costume), will speak about the ladies in Sir John A.'s life'. More to follow. ** Ecumenical Advent Service , this year at the Wolfe Island United Church, Sat. Dec.10th at 7 pm. A lovely way to prepare for Christmas.