Gary Nichol presented HIRA’s letter of November 29, to the Mayor and Township Council. Our presentation was well received by Council and following is the summary of the answers to our questions.
Once again, our email campaign demonstrated the frustrations being felt by all islanders with regard to the ferry service. Many were concerned about the handling of a medical emergency should both ferries be out of service. Thank you to all those who sent their comments to Carol and to those who attended the meeting. It is of interest to note that throughout this email campaign, the increase in “hits” to our website, www.howeisland.org. The site is becoming the information vehicle for islanders and the board will be constantly fine-tuning the site over the coming months. The importance of this site is such that we have announced the appointment of David Jones to Communications Chair.
Howe Island Fire & Rescue
Chief Mike Quinn attended the meeting and advised Council and those in attendance that not all medical emergency evacuations are taken from the island by air should both ferries be inoperable. Chief Quinn will submit a paper outlining various scenarios to HIRA for posting on our website.
Township Ferry Operating Year-Round
The Mayor confirmed that the Township ferry will operate year-round, weather permitting beginning this January. The Mayor made this commitment even though the budget has not yet been approved.
Ferry Parts Inventory
A parts inventory will be housed on the island thus ensuring a much faster turnaround when there is a mechanical problem. These parts are not necessarily Canadian made and there was no indication that those foreign mechanical components that fail can/will be retrofitted or replaced by a local vendor.
Emergency Staffing Due To County Ferry Not Operating
The Mayor will look into this. Currently, the supervisor of the County ferry will assist with the operation of the Township ferry by raising and lowering the gate, taking fares, etc. should the County ferry be inoperable. Personnel, other than the County supervisor, are needed should the County ferry be down a considerable length of time or if the supervisor isn’t available.
Water Level Impact on Docking
Council felt that the low water level was cyclical and that the level would be higher following the winter; therefore, no improvements would be made to the docks in the near future.
Communicating To Islanders When Township Ferry Isn’t Operating
There wasn’t a solution offered at the meeting nor, it seems, was a commitment to seek a solution. HIRA will continue to review with the Township with regard to island/mainland signage, use of our website, emails to members.
Council’s Vision on Island Transportation
Gary Nichol asked questions relating to the Mayor’s address made at the swearing in of our elected officials in December 2006. Please log into our website, click the link to Marg Knott’s Island News, scroll to the December 2006 meeting and review the Mayor’s comments relating to transportation. The Mayor links the future of Howe Island’s ferry service to the Wolfe Islander III environmental study. At the meeting, the Mayor confirmed that Howe Island is included in the assessment but it is a long-term project and nothing is expected in the short term. HIRA will continue to monitor. Also view Marge’s recap of the December 10 2007 meeting held on Howe Island.