HIRA BRIEFING NOTE- November 22, 2021
This is a brief note to HIRA members and other residents of Howe Island about the Township of Frontenac Islands council meeting held on Monday, November 15, 2021 as well as various additional items that may be of interest. In light of Covid-19 restrictions, the meeting was virtual. The public was provided with Zoom access to the meeting. A couple of our HIRA directors called into the meeting. Only matters of particular interest to Howe Island residents are highlighted here.
STATUS OF ONGOING ROAD MAINTENANCE INITIATIVES 2021:
- North Shore Road: Stone application is complete. Section has been graded again mid-November before onset of winter. Hard surface to be completed in spring 2022.
- Lower Side Road: Further to the Howe Island Roads & Facilities tour conducted on October 7, 2021 the public works manager submitted an action request to Council, recommending that the township proceed with pulverizing the existing hard surface to reduce excessive patching costs and to improve the condition of the road in a cost-effective manner.
The recommendation was adopted by Council and the work was completed this past Friday, November 19. The township intends to maintain the pulverized surface with grading as needed.
FACILITIES & EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT UPGRADES:
- Howe Island Administration Office & Library:
All work is complete.
- Howe Island Recreation Trail Maintenance:
Grading of the trail has been completed. Stone application to be completed as soon as gravel is available from the quarry. No change from our October briefing note.
- Upgrades to Patrick Norris Park:
The Howe Island recreation committee plans to provide updates to Howe Island residents via a communication sheet as the project progresses. Improvements to the parking lot are expected to be completed before the end of the year.
Cutting and clearing of brush has been completed. Fencing bid has been completed and installation is expected before the end of the year. Bases for the tennis/pickleball court and basketball court have been installed and staff are still waiting on asphalt prices before proceeding.
Accessible washrooms are expected to be completed in the spring of 2022.
MUNICIPAL PROPERTY ASSESSMENT CORPORATION (MPAC):
MPAC, representing the province of Ontario, has confirmed that the postponement of the province-wide property value assessment update will continue for the immediate future.
This means that property taxes for the 2022 and 2023 taxation years will continue to be based on the January 1, 2016 valuation date. Unless there have been changes to a property, property assessments will remain the same as they were for the 2021 tax year.
END of COUNCIL HIGHLIGHTS
Other Items of Interest:
2022 FARE SCHEDULE FOR HOWE ISLAND FERRY OPERATION
As we reported in last in our October 2021 briefing note, Council passed Bylaw No 2021-25 at their October 12, 2021 meeting to set fees and fares that will apply in 2022 for the Howe Island ferry operation. It is our understanding there are no changes in store for 2022. Fees & fares will be the same as those that were in place for 2021.
PROPOSED DEVELOPMENT CHARGES BY-LAW:
HIRA has presented Council with a request that annual ferry costs be included in the calculation of costs associated with the township road network. Road network costs are a component of the cost base used to calculate development charges levied on builders/developers. Although the provincial Act does not make specific references to costs associated with the operation of a ferry system, HIRA takes the position that the ferry system is an integral part of our municipal transportation network and should, therefore, be included in any development charge cost base.
Support for this position was not unanimous at the council level but our submission has been sent to staff for further consideration. We are still awaiting township staff response to our submission.
TOWNSHIP OF FRONTENAC ISLANDS 2021 ROADS & FACILITIES TOUR
As we reported in our October 2021 briefing note, elected representatives from township council, as well as public works and management staff, conducted a roads and facilities tour of Howe Island on October 7, 2021. The tour is conducted annually to review progress/results of infrastructure projects conducted on the island during the year and to identify emerging problems/issues to be addressed in the budget process for the upcoming year.
The tour is open to interested members of the public and several members of the HIRA board were able to participate in the tour.
Some of the significant issues and emerging problems that council expects to deal with in 2022 include:
- Maintenance / repair needed on the section of Baseline Road from the municipal office to Goodfriend Road East.
- Council to consider weed spraying options for 2022 for the Baseline section of the Howe Island Trail.
- Various areas of Howe Island Drive will require mechanical brushing at roadside in 2022. This will be taken into account in 2022 budget deliberations.
- A new marine building at the township ferry landing is proposed to replace the current structure. Application has been made to MTO for funding.
- Council to consider plans for weed spraying along Howe Island Drive from the township ferry landing to east of Rush Point Bay in 2022.
- Portion of North Shore Road that was upgraded in 2021 is to receive final surface treatment in 2022.
- Council members and staff advise they are close to reaching agreement with MTO on a solution to our frequent service interruptions with the county ferry. Council hopes to be able to provide more detail in the very near future.
We expect that more detail related to these initiatives will be available with staff reports that we hope will be tabled and discussed in conjunction with the 2022 budget process. As more detail emerges, HIRA will pass it on.
ONTARIO OPTOMETRISTS RESUME PROVISION OF EYE-CARE SERVICES
As we reported in our October 24, 2021 briefing note, optometrists in Ontario have been engaged in a job action against the Ontario government since September 1, 2021. The dispute centers around amounts the provincial Ministry of Health will pay optometrists for performing OHIP-insured services.
To protest the lack of progress in talks with the provincial government, most optometrists in Ontario were refusing to perform OHIP-insured services. As a consequence, thousands of people in this province have not been able to obtain basic eye care, including standard eye examinations.
The Ontario Association of Optometrists (OAO) has just announced they will be suspending their job action and will resume providing all OHIP-insured services as of Tuesday, November 23, 2021. Apparently, the OAO has agreed to enter into negotiation with the provincial government over the disputed funding rates and will provide the services involved while negotiations with the province continue.
So, long story short, eye examinations etc. will be available once again, at least for the time being. For more information, you can refer to a Globe and Mail article found using the following link:
2021 HOWE ISLAND FLU CLINIC
A team of local volunteers, led by Marg McReynolds, conducted a flu vaccine clinic at the Howe Island township municipal office on Saturday November 6, 2021. The clinic was an unqualified success.
Approximately 160 flu vaccinations were delivered to Howe Island residents. The distribution was almost evenly split between residents under the age of 65 and residents over the age of 65.
We congratulate Marg and her team for a job well done (once again!) and we thank everyone involved for providing their time and expertise in the delivery of a very important service.
END of BRIEFING NOTE