HIRA Briefing Note-September 13, 2019
This is a brief report to HIRA members and others on the Township of Frontenac Islands Council meeting held at the Township Hall on Wolfe Island on September 9th, 2019. Several of our Directors attended the meeting.
In our last Briefing Note dated August 14th 2019, we suggested that for Council meetings on Howe Island, it was time Council conducted their meetings at the Parish Hall on Howe Island rather than at the Township Hall. The Township Hall has very limited space for residents who wish to attend. An essential element of a democracy is that the public be able to observe their elected officials in action. We reiterate and request that Council move their meetings on Howe to the Parish Hall.
Only matters of particular reference to Howe Island or of general interest are highlighted here.
Delegations-Prior to the meeting date, HIRA made a request of Council for a delegation opportunity. This request was denied initially on the basis that Council had reached the limit of delegations for the September 9th meeting. (As it turned out the limit was two!) HIRA was invited to submit material in writing and that that material would be added to the meeting package which it was. At the meeting Council announced that one of the delegations had not showed up and invited HIRA to address Council as a delegation. HIRA Director Bill Worona spoke on behalf of HIRA.
The following is the material submitted to Council in writing by Bill Robertson on behalf of HIRA prior to the September 9th meeting:
“Howe Island Ratepayers Association__________________________
Mayor, Township of Frontenac Islands September 3, 2019
Earlier today September 3rd, I requested a delegation time slot for HIRA at your Council meeting on September 9. You responded by telling me that Council had the maximum delegations and that a number of the questions I had raised will be answered in the Public Works Manager Dillabough’s Actions Pending report. You said I should send correspondence reflecting my concerns and that it would be added to the agenda package. I would have thought that concerns with the ferry service would be high on Council’s agenda and while I am disappointed with Council limiting delegations, I do appreciate your adding this to the agenda package.
The issues I raised in my request were:
- Ferry issues including the state of the foot ferry;
- Cameras promised for the Howe island ferry terminals;
- Steps being taken by the Township for a new drive system;
- Planning process in relation to the ferry service;
- State of the North Shore Road repairs;
- Lighting for the P for Park; and
- State of progress on resolutions passed at the County Council Meeting on July 17.
HIRA will be looking for the answers in the up-coming PWM pending report. I would just say however, that Howe Islanders are more interested in actions taken and executed than in actions pending.
Ferry Issues—Yesterday September 2, a communication came out that as of 3:00 pm the foot ferry was out for mechanical issues. As I understand it, the engine packed it up and has been sent to Napanee for repairs. Some months ago this year, the engine was replaced with a new engine or at least a spare that I understand was stored on Howe. The foot ferry was completely overhauled two years ago at great expense to the Township and at great inconvenience to Howe Islanders. The state of the foot ferry and it’s unsuitability for providing reliable service, which has been more that evident in the past, is now more in question based on this latest breakdown.
Islanders and other ferry users want to know what the Council is doing in terms of ensuring the foot ferry stays relevant for ferry service. Your answer in the past has been mechanical breakdown happens so bear with us. That is completely unacceptable.
The ferry lineup this morning for the big ferry was back to North Shore Drive. The foot ferry being out of service still after 18 hours did not help.
More importantly there is a combination of factors at work when it comes to the big ferry. I suggest to you and your Council that the main factor in the lack of adequate ferry service is the complete lack of foresight when it comes to planning in relation to the increase in development on the Island and the provision of transportation to and from the Island.
Where is the one, three or five year transportation plan? None has been provided to Islanders. Is there one? I suspect the answer is none and that has got to change.
Not having a ferry committee for the Island which would give Islanders a say and assist the Council in getting it right, was a grave mistake and should be corrected by the immediate appointment of a ferry committee.
It is high time that this Council, the County Council and the MTO get on track with a ‘look forward’ plan for the Howe Island ferry service. This must include both ferries , it must include a new drive system for the big ferry as an interim step, it must include a new and bigger County ferry and it must include funding. Band aid solutions are not the answer; we need a plan.
Cameras at the Howe Island Terminals—At the meeting of Council on Howe on August 12th, Council resolved to install real time cameras. There is is no evidence to date of cameras and more importantly no communication with ferry users of when they will be operational. A simple request is to tell us what’s going on.
New Drive System—- At the August 12th meeting Council indicated that they met with MTO on August 7and were told by the MTO in effect that Howe Islanders are at the end of the line when it comes to an improved drive system. You told us that that MTO will get to Howe Island issues with the drive system when the new Amherst Island is in operation. At the meeting you said that would be the end of this year.
Howe Islanders are sick of being at the end of the line and it is this Council’s responsibility to change that and get the attention of the Province so that Howe Island gets a place in the line at least equal to the other Islands.
It must be kept in mind that this Council is the Council for both Wolfe and Howe.
North Shore Road Repairs—–During July, the North Shore Road was patched, some places by throwing down scoops of asphalt and in some others by laying down strips of what appears to be the same material. Well it hasn’t held up and North Shore Road is now in need of another major repair job. Is Council aware of this situation and what is Council going to do to correct it.
Street Light for P for Park—-When this was suggested at the August 12 meeting Council seemed to appreciate the need for lighting simplyfrom a safety and risk point of view. What progress on this issue?
Resolutions Passed at the County Council Meeting July 17—- Following the Friday Fiasco in July when the big ferry was down for 12 hours after an operator failed to show up for work, the County passed a resolution that County staff be requested to investigate options to ensure ferry staffing at all times including a) obtaining Union agreement to allow Township operators to operate the big ferry, b) pay a ferry operator to be on standby, c)request the MTO to support the hiring of additional ferry staff, and d) approve the ferry supervisor to back fill operator positions on an emergency basis.
I raised this at the Township Council meeting on August 12 and you said that the County Council did not meet in August so you had no information on the status.
My question is this? Isn’t providing sufficient staff for the ferry important enough that you would see fit as the senior representative for Howe Island on the County Council, to explore how negotiations are going and be available to assist if necessary to ensure that another shutdown like the one in July does not occur.
Bill Robertson, Chair, Howe Island Ratepayers Association”
On the various matters raised in HIRA’s letter, Bill Worona spoke to Council and these matters are summarized as follows:
Foot Ferry Breakdown on September 2—-Council explained that the outage occurred because the engine was allowed to idle too low causing the engine to shake which in turn caused the engine mounts to fail with a resulting loss of oil and engine failure. Another new engine has been installed. Mounts will be repaired and an oil warning system will be installed. Better cooling fans will be provided.
Cameras—-The cameras have been delivered. Council is waiting for Rogers to install wireless modems. These cameras will be installed at the Howe Island side terminals of both the Foot Ferry and the Big Ferry.
New Drive System—-At a meeting held with MTO, County representatives, the Mayor and Councilor Higgs, MTO indicated they are working on engineering for the new drive system with detailed drawings that can be used when tendering for the new system. No time frame for implementation was provided. A replacement ferry will be required while the big ferry is being outfitted for the new drive system and none may be available until next year. MTO agrees that that is an issue to be addressed.
Service Level Agreement—-Council talked about a service level agreement to be negotiated with the County but there was nothing definitive provided at the meeting.
North Shore Road—-Patching of the Road is scheduled for October depending on the weather and when patching on Wolfe is completed.
Lighting at P for Park—-The light been ordered. Council is waiting for Hydro’s permission to install on their pole to save expense.
Resolutions passed at July 17th County Meeting—-Mayor Doyle had no information on negotiations with the Union but said a report would be coming from Gale Chevalier, Chief Emergency and Transportation Services, County of Frontenac.
Howeisland.org- NOTE: If you are a member of HIRA, thank you for your support. If you are not a member, please join at $10/year or $100 for life.