Jeff Green

Jeff Green

There are lots of changes afoot at the North Frontenac Food Bank, both in the background and in public. The first is the ‘retirement’ of the longest serving Food Bank Volunteer, Alex McLeod.

Alex first started volunteering for the Food Bank when it was closely tied to the Sharbot Lake Anglican Church and pastor Bruce Geddes. He also worked with Brenda Piatt, one of the early and longest serving directors of the Food Bank, all the way until the present day, a total of 24 years. A plaque was presented to him at a food bank board meeting last Wednesday (June 12). That same day was the last day of the year when the Granite Ridge Lakers Program students were scheduled to come in and do their food sorting shift. For the last four years, the students have come in every Wednesday during the school year to help out with Miss Gregory. And each week over that time Frankie Badour has been there. That day, Frankie, who is about to graduate, was the only student who came out, and we caught him with this photo, a fitting end to mark his commitment to helping out.

The big news, that the North Frontenac Food Bank is sharing, is their big move. As of July 1st, they are vacating the basement space that has been graciously donated by Rosemarie Bowick, the former owner of the building at 1095 where the Food Bank has been located since 2014, and also since last November by Ram and Rimpy Kaillon, the current owners of the building.

“We are very grateful to Rosemarie and to Ram and Rimpy, but we have been needing a larger, more accessible space for a while,” said Food Bank Director Kim Cucoch, and we have been bequeathed a pretty large sum of money to cover rent for a few years so we are moving to the Sharbot Lake Country Inn, above the restaurant on the street level,” she said.

The Food Bank also requires a second fridge to store fresh fruits and vegetables and they will be able to fit them both in the new space.

In the past, the Food Bank was serving about 24 families a month in the warm weather and up to 35 in the winter, but that number jumped a couple of years ago to 35 families in the summer and about 50 in the winter. The numbers have remained steady ever since, stressing the capabilities of its soon to be former location.

The Food Bank will be closed the week of July 2 to July 6 and will re-open the following at the week at the new location. For further information call 613-532-8855

Wednesday, 13 June 2018 12:45

First Book Canada at GREC

First Book Canada is a program that is devoted to bringing books and other materials to students in Canada who might not have access otherwise. Its mission “is to transform the lives of children in need by improving access to educational opportunities” says its website.

Through a partnership with BMO, $1,000 has been made available for the grade 1-3 students at Granite Ridge Education Centre to provide new books for the kids to have fresh reading material for the summer.

On Tuesday morning (June 12) another First Book sponsor, Annick Press, sponsored a visit to the school by one of their authors, Kingston’s Sarah Tsiang.

Tsiang is the author of children’s books, poetry, non-fiction and Young Adult novels. She talked to the grade 1 students, surrounded by the stacks in the library/resource centre of the school. She talked about her books, and about how she is motivated and inspired by her own children to come up with story ideas.

She then read one of her books, Sugar and Snails, which is a fanciful re-dress of the stereotypes embodied in the old children’s rhyme about what girls and boys are made of. In the rhyme, girls are made of “sugar and spice and everything nice” and boys “snips and snails and puppy dogs tails”. Sugar and Snails celebrates the way hte original rhyme puts disparate items to fanciful, comic effect, but takes away the gender divisions. Boys and girls can be made of any three things. Her reading went over well with the students and she the asked them to say what they would like to be made of.

The session ended with Sarah Tsiang taking questions from the children about writing and he life.

As the school year draws to a close, Kathy Charles-Botham, the grade one teacher at GREC who organised the event and got the grant from BMO, said the project marks a fitting end to a successful year for her students.

”We have seen so much growth in our students’ reading this year and hope that having these books available to them, will foster their love for reading and encourage them to read over the summer. We were thrilled to have our guest author Sarah Tsiang here to share with us, her experiences and present on her new, fabulous book, Sugar and Snails. Sarah’s presentation was engaging, interactive and inspiring! We learned about her writing process, how she researches and prepares, about her various books and different text features, all at a level that our grade 1-3 students could relate to. We are grateful for this celebration of reading day.”

The teachers are preparing to hand out the books this week, after carefully considering which will be the most appropriate, in terms of subject matter and reading level, for each child.

Wednesday, 13 June 2018 12:45

New Leaf Link marks it 10th anniversary

New Leaf Link (NeLL) was set up to serve a growing number of developmentally disabled young adults in South Frontenac. After graduating from Sydenham High School, where there was and still is an excellent school to community program, there was nothing in the township for the graduates.

At the time, Dr. Karin Steiner, New Leaf Link’s Executive Director, was looking to continue her work as an autism educator and to find a program to benefit her son Nicolas, who has autism.

In its initial press release, New Leaf Link set out some principles, which make interesting reading after ten years.

“We aim to steward the occupational, cultural, and social contributions of disabled participants by a) creating a model educational centre; b) linking the strengths and interests of participants with employment and volunteer opportunities in local communities; and c) sharing our model with other communities.”

To a great extent those principles have not changed at all, but Dr. Steiner has found that some of the goals are taking longer to achieve than she initially envisioned.

“It has taken a lot more time and effort than I orginally thought it would to grow and become well established,” she said, when contacted early this week, a few days after the NeLL year end celebration and fundraiser at Harrowsmith Free Methodist Church. “My goal is still to create something that is going to continue beyond my time.”

“I feel that NeLL is healthy and growing. Lots of people are coming into the fold at the board level, and we continue to grow. We have fifteen people coming to programs now, and when we started there were four. And I feel we are on the cusp of a bigger change, and perhaps we are ready to partner with another organisation, but none of that is clear just yet.”

What is clear, is the evolution of NeLL programming. There are two days of programs, incorporating the skills of teachers, such as Gabriel Deerman of Salmon River Studios in Tamworth, playwright and theatre producer Christine Harvey, and a new addition is Linda Alford who is providing workshops on Adaptive Technology. Other teachers have come in to teach dance and karate and other skills, including cooking skills. The first NeLL day each week is an arts day, with drama in the morning and visual art in the afternoon, and the second day is a healthy living day, with cooking class, as well as gym and other programming. Last year NeLL received a Community Foundation of Kingston and Area grant for a community gardening project.

At the NeLL event last week, there were many community members, including supporters of the program and people who have befriended the participants around South Frontenac and Central Frontenac. Among the presentations at the event was the presentation of an original play, written about the history of New Leaf Link. Three of the four original NeLL’ers are still coming to the program each week and they were a resource for the play writing and production.

“One other thing has been clear from the beginning is that New Leaf Link is a friendship project. It is its own community but we reach out to other communities and it’s building and maintaining healthy relationships between NeLL participants, their families, and people we all live with and interact with in the larger community. That part of it has only become stronger,” said Steiner.

As NeLL looks to the future, there is continuing concern around funding. NeLL has some project funding from different sources and receives private donations, but has no government support and depends on student fees, which are $35 a day, to pay the bills. It is also supported in a major way by the Harrowsmith Free Methodist Church, which donates the space they use. Finances are a main reason why NeLL has not been able to open up for a third day of programming, which is a goal.

Still, after 10 years NeLL is not about to close up shop and continues to grow and expand its network of friends and supporters, and its services remain as essential as they were at the start.

“There was a gap that we filled and without us, that gap would still be there, in South Frontenac, for this community of people,” said Steiner, “so we continue to grow slowly, gain strength, and carry on.”

Wednesday, 13 June 2018 12:44

Saved from the Socialist Hordes

There was a moment in the Ontario election campaign when voters were telling pollsters they were seriously concerned about supporting Doug Ford for Premier. Ford has been a polarizing figure in Toronto City politics and has no history on the provincial scene, and is connected in many people’s mind with his brother, who was the most well known municipal politician in North America for a time, for all the wrong reasons.

Doug Ford, or his party handlers, came up with a two pronged attack. They brought out the Tory team, other MPPs and candidates who have more solid reputations, to temper the idea that it is “Ford Nation” Ontario was being asked to buy into. And, picking up on the fact it was the NDP who was their foe, they started to do some red bashing.

Ford began talking about how afraid he was of an NDP, anti-business government, said that ‘thousands’ of business people had told him they would pack up their bags and leave Ontario if Horwath were elected. Aside from the fact that the United States is not exactly rolling out the red carpet for Canadians or Canadian businesses these days (although the election took place before Prime Minster Trudeau earned his “special place in hell” in the words of one Donald Trump’s advisors/enablers.

Most business people will not pack up and move if an election does not go their way, even if a 1% increase in business taxes is in the cards. If they are making money, have a good work force and access to markets, they are unlikely to take the chance on moving, especially to another country.

Even though Ford’s was likely afraid more of losing the election than he was of the impact of an NDP government, he was able to raise doubt in the minds of voters.

Before the Conservative Party began displaying its internal strife to the public a few months ago, voters were ready to follow a set pattern. The Liberals were a spent force, and Ontarians like to try the right when they get sick of the left, and besides they like Queen’s Park to be blue when Parliament Hill goes red.

What Doug Ford managed to do was control the ballot box question without revealing how he was planning to fix the healthcare system, keep all the rural schools open, cut taxes and trim the fat without laying any provincial employees off. Oh, and according to our own MPP Randy Hillier, Ford Nation will also mean stable, improved funding for municipalities.

Looking at the new government from the point of view of rural municipal politics, which I have done ever since the waning days of the last Conservative regime under Mike Harris, I have to wonder where things will be going.

I agree, as Randy Hillier has pointed out often enough, that the Liberal government at Queen’s Park has had an urban bias. There has been a lack of interest in the struggle for survival in rural Ontario, a gutting of ministries such as the Ministry of Natural Resources and the Ministry of Rural Affairs, the former being combined with forestry and the latter with agriculture, demonstrating a sense that rural Ontario is about what can be extracted from it rather than who lives here and how they are getting along. This is not a conspiracy or anything, just consistency with the global phenomenon of urbanisation. The Conservatives, with their unflinching rural support base, promise to change that tone.

However, under the Liberals there has been a steady reform of the untenable financial reality that was created by the Mike Harris Conservatives, who created the modern Ontario municipality through forced amalgamation in the 1990’s. By the time Ernie Eves, Harris’ successor, was defeated in the same kind of landlslide that greeted soon to be former Premier Kathleen Wynne last week, municipalities were faced with a tax burden for roads and bridges, paramedic services, social services, and much more, as the result of downloaded administrative and financial responsibilities. While the Liberals did not reverse-course in any way, as far as administrative responsibility goes, they have alleviated the financial burden in a substantial way, steadily, and over time.

Transfer payments have increased and become more transparent than they were. Cost sharing arrangements have improved as well over time. We still live in a Harris universe in Ontario municipalities, but the edge has been softened, quite a bit.

One of the things we will have to watch over the next 12 to 24 months, as the Conservative agenda takes shape, is if they repeat history. Will they do as Harris did, transfer the tax burden onto the municipal tax base in order to keep their own budget from sliding deeper into deficit. All so they can claim to be cutting taxes while at the same time increasing spending on healthcare and education.

One of the problems with this is that municipal taxes are already a lot higher in 2018 than they were in 1998. Waterfront taxes have shot up year after year and even off water properties have doubled or tripled over that time. This hits rural people hard because incomes are static and the number seniors living on a fixed income are higher than the provincial average. If downloading costs to municipalities is a fiscal tool that Ford Nation chooses to use, it will be an attack on rural Ontario perpetrated by a government that said it was going to be responsive to our needs.

Wednesday, 13 June 2018 12:44

Aboriginal Day

The Shabot Obaadjiwan First Nation is celebrating Aboriginal Day this year with the presentation of a family friendly event for the entire community.

From 4pm to 6pm on Thursday, June 21st the interactive Frontenac Skies Bucket Drummers, along with aboriginal women’s drummers, will be entertaining and inviting kids and adults to join in. Puppetry, crafts and beading will be featured, and at 5pm there will be a strawberry teaching ceremony, shared by Kokum Makwa.

Chief Doreen Davis of the Shabot Obaadjiwan First Nation decided to sponsor the festival when she found out that the Strawberry Moon Festival, which had been run during school hours for the last 12 years, was not going to happen this year.

“I thought that it was important to hold a family event, for everyone, to mark Aboriginal Day, share our culture and build bridges between people, and to share some strawberries. So we decided to make a start, even in a small way, this year,” she said.

Davis also said that it is important to her and the other Algonquin Land Claim negotiators, who hold meetings for several days at a time throughout the year, to halt their meetings on Aboriginal Day and head back to their communities.

“The celebration will be a great way for us to do that,” said Davis, who now needs to make sure she can find a good supply of strawberries for the festivities.

The Aboriginal Day celebration at the Sharbot Lake Beach is a free event.

Wednesday, 06 June 2018 12:08

South Frontenac Mayor’s race is on

1 term Loughborough Councillor Mark Schjerning to challenge incumbent Ron Vandewal

As voting day in the Provincial election comes and goes, the second election of 2018 is just starting to round into view. The municipal vote takes place in October. Nominations opened on May 1st and will close at the end of July. In order to run for either Mayor or for member of Council, 25 signatures from people eligible to vote in the township where the nominee is running need to accompany the application, along with $100 for council member and $200 for head of council (Mayor or Reeve). Most of the candidates who have come forward thus far are seeking re-election in the same position they already hold, but in South Frontenac there is a notable exception.

Mark Schjerning, one of two Loughborough District councillors who are finishing up their first terms on council, along with Ross Sutherland, is attempting to replace Mayor Ron Vandewal and become the 5th Mayor in the 20 year history of South Frontenac Township.

Schjerning spends his days in the municipal world as well. He works out of Napanee as the Chief of Emergency Services and a member of the senior management team for the County of Lennox and Addington. He is also the President of the Sydenham Lake Association, and is involved with South Frontenac Scouts.

In seeking the Mayor’s job, Schjerning effectively guarantees a change in the makeup of South Frontenac Council. If he wins there will be a new Mayor, and whether he wins or loses, there will be at least one new councillor for Loughborough District.

As of Tuesday of this week, in addition to the two candidates for Mayor, both incumbents in Bedford District, Pat Barr and Alan Revill, are seeking re-election. In Loughborough, incumbent Ross Sutherland is the only candidate thus far, and similarly in Storrington only incumbent Norm Roberts has filed his paper work. Just this afternoon, at 4:25, Portland District incumbent Brad Barbeau, who was appointed to council upon the death of Councillor Bill Robinson, has filed his nomination papers. There will be a contested election in Portland because Ray Leonard and Doug Morey also filed their papers at the end of May. Suzanne Ruttan is seeking re-election as Limestone School Board Trustee, and Leslie Ford is seeking the trustee position in the Algonquin and Lakeshore Catholic School Board.

In other townships the candidates lists are filling up, slowly. In Central Frontenac, Mayor Frances Smith is seeking re-election, as is Councillor Tom Dewey in Kennebec (ward1). Victor Heese is seeking re-election in Olden (ward 2), as is Bill Macdonald in Oso (Ward 3). In Hinchinbrooke, (ward 4) Philip Smith is running again, and Nicki Gowdy is a rookie candidate, but she is not a total stranger to Central Frontenac politics. Her uncle, Bill Snyder, was a very long serving member of council who died while still in office. Finally, Karen McGregor is seeking re-election to the Limestone District School Board.

In North Frontenac, Mayor Higgins is seeking re-election, as is Councillor Gerry Martin in Ward 2 (Clar-Mil) and Fred Perry in Ward 1 (Barrie).

There will be a showdown for Reeve in Tay Valley, as former Deputy Reeve Susan Freeman is running for Reeve, as is incumbent Keith Kerr. Barry Crampton is running for Deputy Reeve, Fred Dobbie and Wayne Jordan are running in Bathurst Ward, and Mark Burnham and Rob Rainer in Sherbrooke.

In Addington Highlands, Reeve Hogg is running for re-election.

Finally, Mayor Dennis Doyle of Frontenac Islands has decided to run again, and Bruce Higgs is running on Howe Island.

Wednesday, 06 June 2018 12:07

Fairmount Home gets a facelift, brand-wise.

When Jon Allison Design and Avenue Strategy came to Frontenac County Council a couple of years back to present the new brand identity for Frontenac County, the got a pretty rough ride. Some members of council did not think the Fir trees in the design were representative, and the overall sense at the meeting was that the design was empty.

Allison explained that it needed to be ‘empty’ in a sense so that it was both versatile and able to grow into its meaning through its application in the community. The vote to accept it was closer than anyone expected, but it did get accepted, which was a relief for c ounty staff because some giant banners were waiting at the back of the hall to be unfurled and a branded county Smart Car was sitting in the parking lot outside the meeting hall.

The InFrontenac brand has been a success, so much so that there was little drama when the two companies returned to Frontenac County Council last month with the brand identity for Fairmount Home.

The only question about the branding initiative for Fairmount had been raised at an earlier meeting, when Council was informed the brand was almost ready, and it was about the necessity of re-branding a long term care facility that had a very good reputation in the field and a long waiting list.

Lisa Hirvi, Fairmount Home Administrator, said that the brand initiative was not so much about marketing Fairmout as it was about encapsulating the gentle care philosophy that is part of the culture of the home in an image. She said it was as much about staff morale as it was about public perception. And it had to not be ‘corporate’

The new brand came about after a series of focus group meetings were held to pinpoint the core values of Fairmount.

The identified values were then associated with simple images. The core message is that Fairmount is a home, not a facility. The concept of caring is identified with a heart shaped image, the concept that the homes residents are unique individuals by a thumbprint, the concept of community and inclusion by overlapping circles, and gentlecare by a butterfly. The final drawing, at first glance, is non-descript, just two offset spheres, but when combined with text, or altered with colour schemes and other features, it was clear, at least to members of Frontenac County Council who had the experience of the way Infrontenac brand has worked its way into the public imagination, that it will be a success.

There was no dissent on council, and the new brand will be rolled out over the next few months, finding its way onto stationary, crests, even the front desk of Fairmount Home.

Wednesday, 30 May 2018 15:06

County rejects North Frontenac request

North Frontenac Council decided that instead of using their share of a $1.4 million Frontenac County housing fund as seed money for a new seniors housing project, they would seek permission to redirect the money in order to fund an aging at home strategy for North Frontenac Senior’s.

In speaking to the proposal at a meeting of Frontenac Council on May 16, North Frontenac Mayor Ron Higgins referred to a recent survey of North Frontenac senior’s. “90% want to stay at home,” Higgins said, very few wanted the bricks and mortar at this time.We want to use funds for helping seniors live at home rather than a bricks and mortar solution.”

The townships three- point plan for the funds includes developing supports for seniors the help them maintain independence, pursue funding opportunities with the City of Kingston to help with home repairs and other housing costs in existing homes, and seek longer term solutions add new, affordable housing options in the township.

Frontenac Islands has used their $350,000 share of the funds to help finance a 5-unit senior’s housing project on the edge of Marysville. South Frontenac is still trying to determine a final location for a larger project, and Central Frontenac is in the early stages of developing a project.

Members of Frontenac County Council spoke out against re-allocating the North Frontenac funds.

“The original intention of the funds was to keep senior’s in our community when they can no longer live in their own homes,” said Frontenac Islands Mayor Dennis Doyle.

“There are two reason I would not support this,” said South Frontenac Mayor Ron Vandewal, “The first is that the money is meant to be seed money for further township investment Frontenac Islands committed $700,000 of their own money towards their project, South Frontenac will be putting in over a million. Second, you ask anyone where they want to live and they will say ‘I want to stay in my own home’ but when the option is available to stay in the community instead of leaving when people can’t manage a home anymore, they have a different answer.”

Central Frontenac Mayor Frances Smith said that the senior’s supports that North Frontenac is “talking about already exist. That money should be for bricks and mortar not for these services.”

“Our main concern with following the route everyone else is taking is that we will end up building a housing complex that is available only to wealthier seniors, which is not what we want,” countered North Frontenac Councilor John Inglis.

Among County Council members not representing North Frontenac, Frontenac Islands Councilor Natalie Nossal was the only one showed much sympathy for North Frontenac’s position.

“We have to look, in this case, at the issue through a North Frontenac lens. We shouldn’t exclude them from this fund of money,” she said.

Ron Higgins said that a building project in North Frontenac is not on right now.

“We just finished doing our municipal office. We don’t have money for any more bricks and mortar right now,” he said

Higgins also indicated that there was some urgency to the request “we only have until the end of 2018 to spend the money.”

County Chief Administrative Officer Kelly Pender said that deadline is not that firm,

“That was the intention when the money was set aside, for it to be used by the end of this term of council, but the money doesn’t disappear at the end of 2018,” Pender said,

In the end, council voted not to accept the request from North Frontenac Council. The money, it seems, will remain in a reserve fund for the foreseeable future.

The Frontenac OPP investigated a complaint about a man who approached children during a ball practice at the Parham ball field on May 20.

“After our investigation, no charges were laid,” said OPP constable Roop Sandhu of the Frontenac OPP.

The incident took place while parents and grandparents were watching their kids at a practice.

A man, who identified himself as Ryan, parked his car near the field, exited the car and asked for a glove. He went on to the field and acted as if he was a coach.

Janet Freeman, who was at the field, said the man “was funny and very interactive with the children, but after a while one of the children reported that he had told her he loved her and that she shouldn’t tell anyone that he had said that.”

Freeman then approached a coach and asked her if she had hired the man to come and help out.

“When she said that she did not know the man, I realised he was not connected to anyone at the field, and we told him to leave, and he did.”

The police were called immediately and the man was known to them.

Sandu said the OPP had not prepared a press release about the incident because there is “no future threat to the public in this case.”

Frontenac County is not generally an easy organisation to extract funds from. With the notable exception of its long-term commitment to supporting the University Hospitals Kingston Foundation, council is reluctant to spend money on anything other than funding its own services.

But when EORN comes calling, Frontenac County is ready and willing to pay.

And the reason is simple. EORN (The Eastern Ontario Regional Network) was created by the Eastern Ontario Warden’s Caucus in order to put together massive electronic infrastructure projects. Their goal is to bring high quality internet and cell phone service to every corner of Eastern Ontario, and if there is one thing that residents of Frontenac County have made clear to their elected representatives, it is the desire for better cell and Internet coverage.

The first time EORN came calling, the council of the day was a bit nervous about the amount of money they were being asked to contribute, over $500,000, but that first project was a success. By the end of it, 82% of Frontenac County households have Internet service with up to 10 megabit per second download speed from a fixed wireless or direct service or a dsl (digital subscriber line - ie a phone line), a major improvement over the past. The 18% who do not have one of those options can access satellite service.

The new project is devoted to improving cell phone coverage to Eastern Ontario, with the goal of cutting the number of residents without cell overage from 16% to less than 1%. The other goal of the project is to bring Eastern Ontario in line with the ambitious goal identified by Canadian Radio-television and telecommunications (CRTC) for Internet service; 50mgabit per second in download speeds and 10 megabit upload speeds.

Lisa Severson and Stephane Parisien from EORN described how EORN needs to conduct a major study to determine how to accomplish these daunting speeds within a vast rural area such as Eastern Ontario. Their first request of Frontenac County was a $40,000 contribution to the study.

The second request was for somewhere between $385,000 and $510,000 (depending on how many municipalities in Eastern Ontario participate in the project) over 4 years to improve cell coverage.

“I can say that the upper limit, the $510,000 is off the table now,” said Parisien, “because we already have had some major commitments.”

That local commitment will be matched by a provincial contribution which is already committed, an expected Federal commitment, and industry investment, leading to a project in excess of $200 million in scope.

This time around, there was no hesitation among members of Frontenac County Council.

$40,000 was committed, from reserve funds, towards the study. Although this council will be gone before the next budget is prepared, they directed staff to plan for the payment of up to $500,000 over 3 or 4 years under the reasonable expectation that the next council will follow follow through with the payment.

The only concern that council raised was over something that has been pulled from the project, work on developing a communication network for first responders, especially fire services. The Frontenac municipalities need to update their old communications systems and a regional solution would save a lot of money for local ratepayers.

“The province has asked us to wait until they are ready to work on this,” said Parisien, “we are a bit ahead of the curve, but once they are ready we will take it up again.”

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