The Township of Frontenac Islands held their first meeting of the new year on Wolfe Island. And I have to think it was their shortest.. A good thing based on the difficulties staff members in particular, have been facing during the long process of building an accessible washroom behind the township office in the community hall. On this occasion, overnight before the meeting, skunks had gotten under the building. Along with the dust, dirt, and noise of the washroom/ramp construction, (without an inside facility) and to add insult to injury, no internet access, the smell of skunks had overtaken the building. Nearly too much?
A .Economic Development: Howe Island Councillor Bruce Higgs took very seriously the development opportunity the Feihe International Inc., infant formula manufacturing company, is offering the community. With their plans to manufacture goat milk based products, process 75 million litres of goat milk annually, it can bring jobs to the region. He called on the expertise of a friend to hear what might, or could, be possible. “I was in touch with my friend Bruce Vandenberg, who with his wife Sharon, is the owner of Lenberg Farms, a 1300 goat & sheep dairy farm in Lindsay. It’s where with all the milk produced cheeses are made (Mariposa Dairy), and we discussed the proposed goat milk plant for Kingston and what it could mean for Frontenac County, and the islands of course,” Councillor Higgs said, as he handed out a summary, fact filled document prepared with his friend’s assistance to members of council. “Richard is prepared to meet with council,” Hobbs said. Council members indicated a wish to see the Mariposa Dairy setup and operation in Lindsay.
The document pertaining to goat milk production is filled with important facts . It notes that at the present time in Ontario there is a shortage of live goats with very few goats available, or for sale, except perhaps in Quebec. It states that a basic, economic, goat farm would be of some 300 animals, that barns must be dry, well ventilated in summer but do not require heat. etc. There are 5 new ‘Round Table’ 90 goat, milking machines operating in Ontario, milking 800 goats per hour with one operator. The projection is that in 5 to 8 years goat milk litres in Ontario will go from to 70 to 80 million . It was 60 million for all of Canada in 2016.
That document will be forwarded to Richard Allen, the Frontenac County Economic Development Manager, requesting that a meeting be set with the larger farming community. It would be to detail what options might be available for economic development for Frontenac Islands and the region, to ensure the supply of goat milk for the new plant in the future. Exciting times.
B. Planning: The Township of Frontenac Islands will ask the County Planning Department to provide in writing the procedure required to amend the year currently stipulated for severance applications, with the intent of being allowed an increase in the number of lots per parcel of land. Council also wants an explanation with regards to the status of the Township’s Official plan, and what sections have yet to be approved.
C. Senior’s Project: The closing date for the submissions of the Request for Proposal has been changed to January 26th, 2017, at the request of those who are submitting bids.
D. Deputy Mayor Nossal expressed satisfaction with the Howe Island Township (foot) ferry staff for their “dedication and hard work” in clearing the recent backlog of vehicles due to the unforeseen shutdown of the Howe Island County ferry. She also had high praise for the Frontenac County ferry staff for keeping in touch regarding the ferry. And for the updates circulated regularly providing ferry users with current information, and explanations as to the cause of the shutdown. On another issue, the Deputy Mayor also informed Council that she had provided the names of twenty-five Howe Island home based businesses to Allison Vandervelde Frontenac County Community Development Officer in an attempt to generate economic prosperity. It was noted that to benefit from the services provided by the County, background assistance from local sources is extremely valuable.
E. The Township endorsed the request from the WI Medical Clinic for priority boarding for the Nurse Practitioner on Thursday’s. Council meets next on Feb. 13th- 6:30 pm Howe Island
Around Town: *The WI Music Festival will be back this summer. * WI Medical Clinic Walk
in Clinics Thursdays 5:00pm-7:15pm, with NP. *Register now for the WI Classic Road Race at events.com. Early bird prices in effect until April 30th. * The WI Historical Society Speakers event with the Porters Postponed until a later date
Frontenac Islands held their first 2017 budget meeting on Jan. 4th. . At which time, they confirmed the items on the long list of priorities they had arrived at before Christmas requiring budget consideration. The meeting started late due to the wild weather and the rough ferry trip that brought Deputy Mayor Nossal and Councillor Higgs to Wolfe Island.
While waiting, there was an opportunity to note the steps the township is taking to meet some of the accessibility standards, and 2025 time frame laid out in the ‘AODA’ - Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act .“ A new ramp with railing has been completed beside the community hall entrance at the WI Town Hall. The ramp leads to an new entrance waiting for an accessible door, and the completion of an accessible washroom (work ongoing) also with an accessible door. The Town Hall itself will have direct access to the hall when the work is completed. With reference to the budget the amount received from Canada 150 was $54,000 with matching township funds. These funds will be identified as receivables in the 2017 budget. Interesting to note further accessibility provisions in Marysville include new curb cuts, handicap spaces and the prospect of benches and picnic tables. The township anticipates that Frontenac Islands businesses and organizations are looking for ways to contribute towards improving access for persons with disabilities, as required within the timeframe, and beyond what is legislated in the AODA.
Once started, council reviewed grants received in 2016 and possible future ones. It was noted that this was the last year of funding in the Arterial Roads Agreement for Howe Island. WI Early Years to be contacted regarding supplementary funding. Requiring budgetary consideration are : accessible washrooms at the WI Community centre; development of a Secondary Plan; consideration for a number of public works issues including roadside brushing, Lower Side Road culvert Howe Island; helipad relocation; a new building at the WI Transfer site; Electronic speed sign; lights (how many?) along Road 7051; higher fuel/ propane costs due to Cap and Trade. CAO Plumley introduced the inclusion of a $50 monthly electronics allowance for councillors to offset communications costs. Council proposed a budget in crease of 1.75 % to 2% overall. Staff will develop the material for the next budget meeting, scheduled for 10 am, Feb. 9th on Howe Island.
2. Lots of Goats…. Frontenac County recently announced that the County’s Economic Development Officer Richard Allen will be travelling on a trade visit to China. He will be part of a delegation, invited to do so by the Chinese company Feihe International Inc., an infant formula manufacturing company, with plans to build a $225 million processing, research and development facility in Kingston. According to Frontenac County Warden Ron Vandewal, it is important to be involved right from the beginning and aware of the opportunities the company will offer. Along with cow milk based infant formula, Feihe plans to manufacture goat milk based products, to process 75 million litres of goat milk annually, and bring 200 full time jobs to the region.
“ This is a fantastic opportunity for rural areas around Kingston,” Mayor Doyle said, following the announcement. But it was the 75 million litres of goat milk that got to him. “That works out to 225,000 litres of goat milk a day. Goats are pretty small animals. If they produce 2 litres a day you need 50,000 goats while at 4 litres its 25,000. There is a real opportunity for many people to get into the business, more importantly for young people. For goat farms you don’t need to buy a cost prohibitive milk quota. There would be equipment costs for sure but nothing like quota.”. Mayor Doyle noted that Kingston Mayor Paterson is anxious that the city and the county work together as a region “as we have in the past with economic development”. The delegation to China includes Mayor Bryan Paterson, the Frontenac County’s Allen, members of KEDCO, OMAFRA, Utilities Kingston, Queen's University and others where they will be reviewing the whole process and it requirements. Mayor Doyle said that the township will set up a public meeting with Allen following his return from China to hear about the requirements of the project. The islands are prime agricultural places close to the city, with a long history of milk production. He said “I am sure the other townships in the county will want to do the same. I see this as the best economic development opportunity that has come about in years. Its going to take many people many farms, and many goats to make it work. There are farms with big barns, lots of vacant land and perhaps opportunities for leasing,” he concluded.
3. Good News: Organic Waste Disposal to DeBruin Farms BIOGAS ORGANICS resumes at the WI Transfer site. Residents are urged to take advantage of the organic bins. Composting reduces the amount of waste to be trucked off the island.