HIRA BRIEFING NOTE- October 24, 2021

This is a brief note to HIRA members and other residents of Howe Island about the Township of Frontenac Islands council meetings held on Monday September 13 and Tuesday, October 12, 2021 as well as various additional items that may be of interest. In light of Covid-19 restrictions, the meetings were virtual. The public was provided with Zoom access to the meetings A couple of our HIRA directors called into both meetings. 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 to be graded again before onset of winter. Hard surface to be completed in spring 2022.

FACILITIES & EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT UPGRADES:

  • Howe Island Administration Office & Library:

Waiting on delivery of blinds for windows. Otherwise, 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.

  • 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 in the fall of this year.

Cutting and clearing of brush is ongoing. Fencing bid has been completed and installation is expected before winter. Base for the tennis/pickleball court and basketball court has been installed and staff are waiting on asphalt prices before proceeding.

Accessible washrooms are expected to be completed in the spring of 2022.

2022 FARE SCHEDULE FOR HOWE ISLAND FERRY OPERATION

Council passed Bylaw No 2021-25 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.

END of COUNCIL HIGHLIGHTS

Other Items of Interest

Public Input on County of Frontenac 2022 Budget Process:

On September 15, 2021 County of Frontenac council held a virtual public meeting to permit the public to submit comments and input related to their 2022 budget process. The HIRA board did make a brief written submission, as well as a short verbal presentation, at this meeting on behalf of Howe Island residents.

Our comments stressed two priorities that we believe are important to residents of Howe Island:

  • An overriding need for the county to deliver an efficient and reliable ferry service. County council is aware our existing ferry service is neither efficient nor reliable. Mayor Dennis Doyle indicated a comprehensive solution to the county ferry “problem” is in the offing and township council expects to be in a position to announce good news over the next couple of months.
  • Given our relatively small tax base, we stressed the need to focus on upgrading and improving existing services. New spending initiatives should only be entertained as tax base growth allows for same without significant property tax increases.

HOUSEHOLD WASTE BAG TAG PROGRAM:

  • 2021-2022 waste bag tags are now available to all Howe Island residents . Each residence is to receive 104 tags at no charge.
  • Tags may be picked up at the Howe Island township administration office. Residents will be required to provide proof of residence to township staff to receive their tags.

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 await township staff response to our submission. 

TOWNSHIP OF FRONTENAC ISLANDS 2021 ROADS & FACILITIES TOUR

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.
  • Township staff are assembling options / proposals for rehabilitation of Lower Side Road in 2022. There is a clear

recognition by council and staff that current maintenance measures are not adequate on that section of road.

  • 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 expect to be tabled and discussed at the next township council meeting on November 8, 2021. As more detail emerges, HIRA will pass it on….hopefully with our next briefing note.

ONTARIO OPTOMETRISTS WITHDRAW EYE-CARE SERVICES

As of September 1, 2021 optometrists in Ontario have been engaged in a job action against the Ontario government. The dispute centers around amounts the provincial Ministry of Health pays optometrists for performing OHIP-insured services.

To protest the lack of progress in talks with the provincial government, most optometrists in Ontario are refusing to perform OHIP-insured services. As a consequence, millions of people in this province are not able to obtain basic eye care, including standard eye examinations. This is a serious health care issue that appears to be far from resolution.

More information on the position taken by Ontario’s eye-care providers is available from the Ontario Association of Optometrists on their website at https://optom.on.ca and also at www.saveeyecare.ca.

For an explanation of the provincial government’s position in this dispute you can review the following CTV news release:

https://toronto.ctvnews.ca/ontario-willing-to-discuss-optometrist-costs-but-won-t-write-blank-cheque-minister-says-1.5613561

VOLUNTEERS NEEDED TO ASSIST WITH RECYCLING BOTTLES

Township council has requested assistance with operation of  the Howe Island bottle recycling program. The program sorts bottles left at the island’s recycling yard and transports them to the Beer Store in Gananoque. All proceeds are paid into a fund used for:

  • Children’s activities on the island
  • An annual summer wind-up party with fireworks, free hot dogs and drinks for all attendees

The recycling program depends on volunteer assistance from residents of Howe Island. Volunteer support consists of sorting and packaging beer and wine bottles for transport to Gananoque on a monthly or semi-monthly basis. Time requirements are minimal….a couple hours per month at the most and it represents a great opportunity to meet fellow islanders.

If you are able to provide a little assistance for a very worthwhile cause please contact township councillor Noreen MacDougall:

Tel: (613) 542-7103

Email: ngmacdougall@gmail.com

END of BRIEFING NOTE

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I'm a retired IT guy with a passion for helping others navigate this thing called "technology". I live on the south shore of Howe Island on the mighty St. Lawrence river.

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