This is a brief report to HIRA members and others on the Budget and Priority Setting Meeting of the Township of Frontenac Islands held at the Municipal offices on Wednesday, January 9, 2019. Three of our directors attended the meeting. Only matters of particular reference to Howe Island or of general interest are highlighted here.
- Each Councilor gave a summary of why they had run for public office and what they saw as priority items. In their summaries, the Councilors from Wolfe Island emphasized matters relating principally to Wolfe Island.
- Noreen Macdougall, Councilor from Howe Island, said her priorities were establishing an off-leash dog park, getting a recreation hall for Howe Island (by possibly purchasing the St Philomena Church Hall), looking into the alarming costs of the OPP service to Howe Island and improving the service of the small ferry. She said she was very interested in occupational health and safety and therefore the fire hall and fire service was an interest of hers.
- Deputy Mayor Higgs listed his priorities as (a) improving the drive systems on the big ferry; (b) finishing the ditching on the North Shore Road; (c) completing the hard surfacing on Spithead Road; (d) installing a bubble system at the foot ferry;(e) reducing the number of buses using the ferry;(f) on a monthly basis posting tonnage of waste removed from Howe Island; (g) identifying the two Howe Island Ferry Road signs on highway 2 as Howe Island Ferry Road East and Howe Island Ferry Road West; (h) exploring ways to remove derelict buildings on Howe Island; (i) initiating a program for brush and large items pick-up once or twice per year at householder’s cost; (j) further investigating high-speed internet for the whole of Howe Island; (k) starting a recreation committee for Howe Island; (l) installing internet connected cameras at the Howe Island ferry terminals; and (m) having a Council appointed ferry committee to advise Council on operation improvements for both Howe Island ferries and on improving communications of issues to the County as well as Council.
- Mayor Doyle summarized his priorities as (a) completing work in progress generally including reviewing the Spithead Road surface treating, replacing the Deputy Clerk Dwyre, (who is retiring in March), updating the Township procedural by-law, and improving by-law enforcement; (b) getting a service level agreement with the County to get the big ferry up to a minimum trips per hour to 4; (c) seeing if action can be taken to get the capacity of the foot ferry back to pre-refurbishment capacity; (d) considering solutions to improve the big ferry speed and service;(e) establishing plans to ensure roads are repaired as required rather than when complained about; (f) considering whether to invest in road repair equipment such as heater for paving material and a small roller; (g) being very aware of the possibility of provincial funding cutbacks (considering that the Province funds the big ferry to about 90% when taking into account MTO pays for 80% plus all maintenance) or the possibility of the Province further downloading costs to the townships such as they did with costs of the OPP; (h) dealing with and planning for the expected high rate of retirements and generally succession planning for our Township employees; (i) giving consideration to plans to protect the environments of both Howe and Wolfe Islands; and, (j) being concerned with increased development on Howe Island without a corresponding increase in ferry capacity.
- Fire Chief Quinn spoke to Council and said 2019 would be a quiet year in terms of priority issues and that ongoing operations would be covered in the general budget.
- The Roads Manager spoke to Council and said he would need direction from Council on which roads to deal with first in terms of needed repairs. He favored leasing versus buying when it comes to large equipment pieces as service is generally at the expense of the equipment leasor.
- The CAO spoke to Council and the need funds to upgrade the Township’s software.
- Following the summaries by each Council member, Council then set down a list of priority items. By way of summary the items were: (a) Transportation to include a ferry committee with a clear mission statement, a service level agreement with the County, an improved drive system, improved communication with the County and the MTO, getting data on the ferry operations, installation of cameras, and a foot ferry bubbler system; (b) Roads to include consideration of purchasing road repair equipment, completing Spithead Road, ditching and repairing North Shore Road from Howe Island Drive to Lower Side Road, and updating the signage for Howe Island Ferry Roads on Highway 2; (c) Waste Management to include appointing a waste and recycling committee, posting tonnage removed on a monthly basis, consideration of user fees and annual brush and large item pickups;(d) Succession Planning to include consideration of a succession plan for clerks, council members, volunteers and fire service and other personal; and (e)Planning to include taking an inventory of Township owned land, Official Plan review, community sustainability, off lease dog park, and fiber optics development for access to the internet.
- Council set a date of January 30, 2019 for the next meeting on Budget Planning and Priority Setting.