This is a very odd time of year on Frontenac Islands, particularly this year. Without the heavy dumps of snow and the deep frost the islands are accustomed to, the winter thus far has been dreary, soggy and sun deprived.
It is a winter that is wrecking roads that are not paved, which includes most of them, as well as affecting even those roads that have been hard surfaced. No doubt a rather frustrating situation for the Public Works department. Is it any wonder that the township’s highest budget figure is always allotted to roads?
A positive of course, has been Wolfe Island’s covered rink, that has provided a wonderful outlet for everyone, skater and spectator alike. And, on a number of weekends, based on the ferry traffic coming and going, its many, many visitors. It of course, still requires the temperature to be cold enough……
**. Breaking News just in: Mayor Denis Doyle has been appointed as Chair of the KFL&A Public Health Unit Board, where he has served as Frontenac County representative. “ I have thoroughly appreciated working as a member of the board and I am deeply honoured to have been chosen by my colleagues to serve as their chair,” he said. “ I look forward to continuing our work with the KFL&A Health Unit to deliver effective public health programs to all residents in Kingston and the two counties.” Mayor Doyle also looks forward to working with provincial counterparts to improve systems and lower costs.
** Mayor Denis Doyle and CAO Darlene Plumley are off to ROMA, the Rural Ontario Municipal Association Conference, where they will meet with the Minister of Education Mitzie Hunter, regarding very specifically the impact of rural school closures on rural municipalities. (Heritage Jan.25th). Doyle along with three other members of the Community Schools Alliance hope to bring to the Minister’s attention not only the detrimental results of school closures on rural communities (economic, social). But also the impact on children’s health as a result of spending long hours travelling to and from school. “The costs of closing and disposing of schools and extra bussing are probably well known .
but the fact that MPAC property values will go down as people with young children leave a community (with others not likely to move in) resulting in lower tax revenue to the school system is not well understood, or quantified. These are big issues for rural municipalities. We also have a meeting with the leader of the official opposition, Patrick Brown, to review the same information that we will cover with Minister Hunter,” Doyle said.
There will be two further meetings, one with Minister Marie-France Lalonde Minister of Community Safety and Correctional Services on the OPP, with regard to the inappropriate charges applied for the policing of wind towers ( and Wolfe Island has many) and other concerns. Their final meeting is with the Minister of Transportation Steven Del Duca regarding the township’s request that MTO take back Road #7051, ( road to Dawson Point Dock), as well as to briefly discuss the new ferry schedule.
** And about the latter: Much is underway related to Wolfe Island ferry transportation, including the EA for docking improvements. Planning for a 75 car ferry is also happening with the Ministry issuing RFQ’s – (Request for Qualifications to build ferries for Amherst Island and Wolfe Island. This RFQ process will be followed by RFP’s – (Request for Proposals with prices) from up to five qualifying bidders. Then should come a contract to build a ferry for Amherst, and then a contract for a ferry for Wolfe Island. Minister Del Duca announced the process for Amherst Island on a ferry ride with MPP Sophie Kiwala to Amherst Island in June of last year.
According to the minister, designing and building the ferry for Amherst Island will take approximately 24 months. It is understood that when the new vessel is in service, the Frontenac II, will become the back-up ferry providing support during extended and unplanned service breakdowns affecting Wolfe and Amherst Islands The ferry for Wolfe Island could take an additional 12 months. The ferry component for WI is part of the EA for docking facilities. An EA for the Amherst ferry is not required as it is not increasing capacity. There, dock improvements are slated to begin in late summer 2017. It is probably safe to say the ferry for Amherst is guaranteed and that Wolfe Islanders are hopeful.
Around Town: ** Frontenac Islands Council meets next Mon.Feb.13th at 6:30 pm on Howe Island ** Organizers of the Wolfe Island Music Festival are out there raising funds to make it happen again, by hosting a fundraiser entitled the Wolfe Island “Winter Ball” Music Festival, at Toronto's The Great Hall on Feb. 26th. **The Island Grill. Open Fridays from 4 pm to 10 pm \ Sat. 10am to 10 pm. http://www.wolfeislandgrill.ca call 613-382-1515 to make a reservation. ** WI Medical Clinic Walk -in Clinics Thursdays 5:00pm-7:15pm, with NP Karen Fisher. Also a Walk In Clinic with Dr. Russell Tuesday’s 4:45-6:15 pm. Bring OHIP card **Register now for the WI Classic Road Race at events.com. Early bird prices in effect until April 30th.
Since the closure of the landfill site on Wolfe Island, for years known simply as “The Dump”, and for some time before, the Township of Frontenac Islands has taken a firm stand on improving how waste of all kinds is dealt. It was through recycling, whether paper glass or electronics at a what is now the township’s Wolfe Island Transfer site, and Howe Island’s Waste and Recycling Centre in accord with Ontario’s waste management requirements. The WI site is one of the busiest places in town throughout the year, with ever improving collection services, and with staff encouraging recycling rather filling the costly waste bin with contents slated for a landfill site, and citizens eager to support island groups & organizations by donating bottle returns for their use.
“Ontario has been working on the strategy for the “Waste Free Ontario Act (Bill 151),” Mayor Doyle said this week. “It was reviewed at county council recently and we will continue to do so. The strategy has two goals, an Ontario with zero waste and zero greenhouse gas emissions. Personally, I think this is an opportune time to start talking with islanders about the changes in this new Bill 151 What it means though, is that we have to have a higher rate of participation in recyclables to benefit from the changes in the bill. Currently through a fairly complicated process we get back 50% of the cost for handling all the blue box items, the recyclables. This new bill puts 100% of the responsibility in the hands of the manufacturer of the products, their packaging, etc.. One of the benefits of the bill is to force the producers is to cut down on the packaging,” Doyle said.
The Mayor noted that it is possible that in the future there producers will have their own collection sites but, until then the responsibility will continue to fall to municipalities. “ We need to encourage more recycling although we are doing better than the Ontario average on Wolfe, but are not quite there on Howe.” Doyle pointed out that by putting blue box items into a regular garbage bag, and into the waste stream, “you are throwing tax payers dollars into a landfill site. So we are going to have to open this discussion up to the community and encourage every one to participate.”
He also pointed out that the DeBruin Bio Digester on Wolfe Island receives WI organic waste and encourages its greater use by residents who do not compost. “Doing so could reduce the number of trucks going on the ferry with waste by some 30 %, another very important consideration, as well as diverting organic waste away from land fill sites.”
Doyle pointed out that other municipalities trying to improve on poor recycling situations have gone to clear garbage bags, bag tags and only one bag a week per household. “Those scenarios would create more work and require extra staff. We would rather that our citizens become involved and recycle so that the township can benefit from whatever Bill 151 has to offer. If that doesn’t happen our taxes will have to go up . We don’t want to do that,” he concluded.
On another Issue: Mayor Doyle will meet with the Minister of Education of Ontario ,Mitzi Hunter, at the Rural Ontario Municipal Association (ROMA) conference in regard to school closures, “specifically rural school closings.. Both Minister Hunter and Mr. Raycraft, a member of our committee a former MPP and school principal, were on a Steve Pakin’s Agenda Program to discuss the fate of several low-enrolment schools slated for closure, and the impact closures have on communities,” Mayor Doyle said. “And recently, at a new school opening Minister Hunter in her dedication said a school is the heart of a community. In our community we know that to be true and within our small community we also know that without a heart, things die.. closing rural schools will rip the heart out of a community. That’s what we will try to impress upon the minister,” he said.
Around Town: **The WIPP continues to be the go to place during this rather strange winter . lunch time and coffee breaks see many cars in Marysville, including evenings.. ** Last winter the WI Community Garden group initiated a project that partnered the Community Garden group with the Parents’ Council and the senior class (Grade 4 – 8) at Marysville Public School. A wonderful success story was posted on a website but too long to include here. Ask about it. * * Congratulations to Nicole and Casey Fisher on expanding their seasonal business into offering winter hours at The Wolfe Island Grill. This comfortable waterfront dining experience is now available Fridays from 4 pm to 10 pm and Saturdays from 10am to 10 pm. Check out their Facebook posts at the http://www.wolfeislandgrill.ca to see the upcoming music events or call 613-382-1515 to make a reservation. ** WI Medical Clinic Walk -in Clinics Thursdays 5:00pm-7:15pm, with NP Karen Fisher. Also a Walk In Clinic with Dr. Russell following her regular office hours Tuesday’s 4:45-6:15 pm. Bring OHIP card **Register now for the WI Classic Road Race at events.com. Early bird prices in effect until April 30th. **The WI Music Festival will be back in 2017, if the organizers can raise sufficient funds to do so.
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.