“We’re on a mission and the word is spreading,” said Nancy Roantree of the Kingston Area Seed System Initiative (KASSI), who, along with fellow mission specialist Dianne Dowling, was at the opening of the Frontenac Farmers Market in Verona Saturday.
Their ‘mission’ is essentially to collect seeds and share them through a local network.
“We’re here to encourage people to consider seed saving,” said Dowling. “It’s a growing, self-sustaining movement.”
To that end, they have a multi-facetted approach ranging from workshops, lectures and seminars, to an annual seed swap (Seedy Saturday in March, which has had to move to a larger venue every couple of years) to community gardens to having farmers grow plants specifically for seed.
“We have three local seed companies we’re involved with (Bear Root Gardens in Verona, The Mountain Grove Seed Company and Kitchen Table Seed House on Wolfe Island) but we’d like to have more,” Dowling said. “We’d like to encourage farmers to set aside some land to grow seeds for a small stipend.”
“To me, clean, open-pollenated, non-pesticide, tastier plants that you can harvest is a worthwhile project,” said Roantree.
The first Seedy Saturday was held on Wolfe Island in 2008. KASSI itself began in 2011as an incorporated not-for-profit but the original movement began in the 1960s as large corporations started taking over small regional seed companies. Often that meant that seeds that were naturally selected by our ancestors for more than12,000 years were being patented by corporations.
KASSI estimates that 10 corporations control 67 per cent of global proprietary seed.
And corporations generally conduct research (often by co-opting public institutions) that support their commercial interests, rather than the interests of the public.
“By growing open-pollenated heirloom varieties and conserving their seed, we serve as responsible stewards of our seed heritage,” said Dowling.
For more information or to become involved, visit their website at www.seedsgrowfood.org.
Postal banking would be one way of providing more services to rural postal areas, protecting rural postal outlets and providing banking outlets to communities who don’t have banks, Diane Mitchell, national campaign coordinator for the Canadian Union of Postal Workers told North Frontenac Council at its regular meeting last Friday in Plevna.
“Banks are closing in rural municipalities,” she said. “We had banking at the Post Office until 1967.”
In January of 2014, Canada Post began a program which planned for the removal of door-to-door mail deliver from all residential addresses across Canada, she said.
“Between then and the 2015 federal election, 830,000 addresses lost home delivery,” she said.
She said that CUPW has received broad support for expanded services at postal outlets including postal banking, senior check-in service, electric charging station and internet services.
“It has been noted that 29 per cent of Canadians would ‘probably or most definitely’ use a postal bank,” she said. “One hundred and eighty-three of 201 countries have financial services through a postal bank and 1 billion people hold a chequing account in a post office.”
She said CUPW is asking rural municipalities to send letters of support for postal banking to Minister Carla Qualtrough.
She also drew Council’s attention to a report, The Way Forward, that was created by The Standing Committee on Government Operations following hearings in 22 communities.
While the 185 page report made 45 recommendations, Mitchell noted four they’d like to see adopted:
• Continue the moratorium on community mailbox conversions and develop a plan to reinstated door-to-door delivery for communities that were converted after Aug. 3 2015
• Canada Post review the impact on efficiency of delivery before implementing strategies such as local processing vs centralized processing
• Canada Post examine ways to provide more services and meet service level commitments in all types of communities using its existing retail network
• Canada Post explore location-specific opportunities for post offices to act as a community hub and respond to the local needs of its surrounding community.
North Frontenac’s updated Zoning Bylaw has gone to the solicitor for comments and a ‘final’ draft should be provided to Council June 15, planner Tracy Zander told Council at its regular meeting last Friday in Plevna. From there, a public open house is scheduled for July 13 and a statutory public meeting and passing of the bylaw is expected sometime in August.
“We’ve been working with the feedback we received at the last open house,” she said. “We received 20 comments or so.
“Next we’ll be focusing on revisions to general provisions and definitions.
“I think we’ll bring you a document that’s very special to your needs in North Frontenac.”
Zander said hobby farms will be receiving a lot of attention, with the minimum lots size being reduced to five acres from 10. However, a new setback from water will be 150 metres instead of the current 30 metres. There will be new rules governing barn sizes and outbuildings.
She said there has also been a lot of interest in keeping chickens.
Another area of interest has been outdoor furnaces but Zander suggested that might be better served in a separate bylaw.
They also plan to meet with logging companies to get their feedback.
Residents are encouraged to contact Clerk/Planning manager Tara Mieske if they have additional comments.
• • •
Local governments will have more control over planning and appeals with the passage of Bill 139, the Building Better Communities and Conserving Watersheds Act, County of Frontenac community planner Megan Rueckwald told Council.
For one thing, the Local Planning Appeal Tribunal (LPAT) replaces the Ontario Municipal Board and will restrict appeal grounds for official plans and zoning bylaws to only matters of consistency and/or conformity with provincial and/or municipal policies/plans. The onus is on the appellant to set out reasons why a Council decision is inconsistent or does not conform with provincial policy and/or an applicable official plan.
In matters of non-decision or refusal, the onus is on the applicant to demonstrate how their proposal would be consistent and how existing official plan policies and zoning bylaw provisions fall short.
• • •
Dep. Mayor Fred Perry wants to see containers at boat launches for broken plastic worms. Perry referenced recent studies that claim such items end up in fish after they are discarded and can cause a variety of issues in those fish.
Coun. Gerry Martin argued that such containers and corresponding signage should be conservation authority or lake association initiatives.
“My guess is that Canonto Lake would like one for its boat launch,” said Coun. Denis Bedard.
Council decided it was worth a try on as a “trial project.”
“If you only get two broken worms in a box, it’s not worth it,” said Perry.
He said the Conservationists of Frontenac were prepared to provide the signs and boxes.
It’s probably safe to say the proposed plan of condominium for Johnston Point has been controversial in many aspects, but there really isn’t much South Frontenac can control until contracts are signed, Township lawyer Tony Fleming told Council at its regular meeting Tuesday night in Sydenham.
Fleming said that until a draft plan of condominium is signed (ie, a legal contract), the Township has no authority to enforce conditions. Once said draft plan is signed, the Township can then assure that conditions set out in the plan are fulfilled to its satisfaction before sending its comments to the County, who then assumes responsibility for approving the final plan.
“So, in terms of enforcement, we’re in some kind of legal limbo,” said Coun. Alan Revill.
“The Township has no authority to enter onto the property or the ability to enforce conditions that will ultimately be included in the condominium agreement or the site plan agreement right now,” Fleming said. “The developer must still comply with Species at Risk legislation, for example, and if any act on site affects habitat for such species, the MNRF has enforcement duties (but) we are not aware of any activity that has been alleged to breach this legislation.”
Fleming said they are aware that residents have expressed concerns that within 30 metres of the water branches may have been trimmed and dead wood or other debris may have been removed. There are provisions in the draft plan agreement to address those concerns but until the agreement is signed, there is no mechanism to enforce them.
Council passed a resolution directing staff to return with a draft plan of condominium for passage at the June 5 meeting.
The fate of Fermoy Hall is still up in the air. Council seemed in agreement that it is a building of historical significance but what to do with the $76,906 set aside for renovations and/or restoration is still in question.
Councillor Ross Sutherland suggested the hall could be part of a larger initiative of economic development involving bus trips from Kingston.
“There are people coming through Kingston that have never seen a beaver dam or a school built in the 1800s,” he said.
Council agreed that restoration would be preferable to renovations and instructed staff to take a small portion of the funds to get some advice as to how much restoration would cost.
“If you really want to take a bus ride past Fermoy Hall, be at my place at 6 a.m.,” joked Mayor Ron Vandewal. “I’m by there five days a week (in his capacity as school bus driver).”
Public Works Manager Mark Segsworth did a mea culpa on the Bedford Road work in Sydenham.
“I want you to know that we’ve made a mistake and I’m not looking anywhere but in the mirror,” he said.
The problem, he said is that you have a sidewalk, a trail and a roadway coming together and accommodating the needs of each has proven difficult, especially considering the area is very busy do to the grocery and hardware stores.
“What looks good on paper doesn’t always work out so well in real life,” he said.
Segsworth said that they do think they have a workable plan now but warned Council that the project will be over budget.
He said it was unlikely the project will be finished by this weekend but expected things should be done by the middle of next week.
The North Frontenac Star Gazing Pad begins its 2018 series of events this Saturday (May 12) at dusk with The Realm of Galaxies. There should also be some good opportunities to view Venus, Jupiter and Saturn.
Astronomer-in-residence Gary Colwell says there are a number of new initiatives this year.
“On May 12, I’ll be bringing a MallinCam video camera for live, in colour views of the planets and galaxies,” he said. “The MallinCam is specially designed to produce pictures so you get images that aren’t fuzzy.”
This should be advantageous this weekend when viewing the Andromeda, Dumbbell, Sombrero, Whirlpool and/or M106 galaxies. (M106 has a very luminous core and was instrumental in the development of the theory that galactic centres are supermassive black holes.)
The other news this summer is the development of a GoFundMe campaign in support of building an observatory to house the 16” telescope that was donated to North Frontenac Township by the Ottawa Centre branch of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada.
“It’s a 16” Newtonian telescope and a real light bucket,” Colwell said. “With a 12”, you can see the Orion Nebula. With a 16”, you can see colour in the Orion Nebula.
“You can see some details on Mars and the Cassini Division in the rings of Saturn.”
A 16” telescope is designed for deep sky viewing, he said.
“We’re looking at a 16’ by 20’ building with space for the telescope and people viewing,” he said. “We were hoping to have it built this summer, and still might but we’re behind where we wanted to be so we started the fundraising campaign and hope to get $20 here and $20 there.
“We’re looking for between $25,000 to $30,000 and if you make a large enough donation, we’ll name it after you.”
More details on the GoFundMe campaign are available on the Dark Skies Preserve Facebook page.
There are 11 events scheduled this summer including Sept. 1 when seven planets will be observable in one evening (Mercury being the only no-show). All of the events are scheduled to coincide with new moons.
The Observation pad is open every evening at 5816 Road 506.
It was the history event that almost didn’t happen.
After the windstorm last Friday night, power was out all over the north county, including Clar-Mill Hall in Plevna.
For Brenda Martin, coordinator of the Clarendon and Miller Community Archives, this presented quite the challenge as the History Mystery Tour was scheduled for Saturday.
“(On Saturday Morning) I chased a hydro guy down the road,” she said. “When he told me it could be some time before power was restored, I had to get Jason Lemke to bring over generators from the Township.
“We usually have an annual event on the first Saturday in May.”
By the time the doors opened at noon, everything was up and running on generator power.
The ‘Tour’ consisted of a simulated tour around the hamlets and mines of old North Frontenac, using the K & P Railway
“The Tour is based on our latest book, Historic Tours of North Frontenac,” Martin said. “The ‘Mystery’ part is based on answering three questions from the book but there were also clues in The Frontenac News and as you travel around the various hamlet displays, the questions will be answered.”
Visitors got their ‘tickets’ punched at the various hamlet stops (Myers Cave, Fernleigh, Ardoch) and answered questions based on the book. The tickets were then entered in a draw for a substantial prize package donated by local businesses.
“It’s a lot of fun,” said Martin.
The other aspect of the event was to showcase the new lodge signs, designed by co-op students Natalie Reynolds and Shannon Delyea.
“There are 10 already done and five more to come,” said Martin. “The Township will be putting them up this summer.”
“The kind of testing done for genealogy does not address the complex issues of medical research involved in determining rare genetic disorders,” Joyce Fingland, past chair of the Kingston branch of the Ontario Genealogical Society told those assembled at the Parham branch of the Kingston Frontenac Public Library Saturday. “So the question is ‘which test and then what?’”
Fingland went over three companies who’ve been offering DNA testing for several years, ancestry.ca, FamilyTreeDNA and 23andMe, outlining the pros and cons of each as well as some newer and smaller companies like MyHeritage and Living DNA.
“The ‘why’ part of it is to supplement paper genealogy,” she said. “It can take you further back in your family history and solve mysteries.”
Fingland said that the information to be gleaned declines rapidly with each generation.
“You’ve inherited very little DNA from your 6th great grandfather,” she said. “So don’t beat yourself up over it too much.”
But, since the companies compile databases and run your test against many others, there’s a good chance you’ll find a match.
And all you have to do is spit in a test tube and send it in. (She did say that there are preservatives in the test tube to help minimize DNA deterioration but don’t wait a year before sending in your sample.)
And there are good chances you’ll connect with 3rd, 4th and 5th cousins who have information you want or are able to verify your paper trail. This can be a big thing for adoptees looking to learn about their birth parents.
Fingland urged those interesting in filling out their family tree to join a project to connect with unknown cousins. She also urged people to test elderly family members who may not be around in a few years.
Day of the Pig coming back
(Editors note - an earlier version of this article contained erroneous information about the timing and location of the 2018 Day of the Prg. The Day of the Pig is actually set for May 20 at the Seed to Sausage retail store at 12821 Road 38 (next to the Kingdom Hall) and north of the Treasure Trunk) from 11am - 4pm. An article with more details about the Day of the Pig will be posted shortly)
Beavers took up much of the Central Frontenac regular Council meeting Tuesday night in Oso Hall as staff presented a draft bylaw to deal with the Country’s official symbol (or chief pest depending on your outlook).
But while everyone agreed that broken beaver dams post a significant threat to area roadways, how to deal with that threat was far from a point of agreement.
“I agree we need a written policy but I don’t agree we need a bylaw and definitely don’t agree that complaints about beaver dams be made to the bylaw enforcement officer,” said Coun. John Purdon. “We’ve never had a (beaver bylaw) (a fact confirmed by Clerk-Administrator Cathy MacMunn) and we don’t need one now.”
Under the proposed bylaw and guidelines, Township officials could enter private property whenever they perceive a threat to Township roads and compel property owners to deal with said threat.
“Why should I, as a property owner, be responsible?” said Purdon. “The (provincial) law says I can’t remove a beaver dam unless it affects my property.”
Coun. Brent Cameron pointed out that if the bylaw is complaint-driven, it could be used to ‘get back’ at a neighbour.
“Certainly we can tighten this up so it’s not used in a way that it’s not intended,” Cameron said.
“The complainant in this case would be the municipality,” said Mayor Frances Smith. “But certainly it could use some tightening up.”
“(And) it starts talking about beavers but goes on to mention ‘other obstructions,’” said Dep. Mayor Tom Dewey. “It think we may need a lawyer to take a look at it.”
MacMunn apologized that there was no representative from Public Works available to give additional information on the proposed policy and bylaw but said she’d ask some questions and bring the draft back to Council.
“Good beaver discussion,” said Smith. “I’m sure we’ll have many more.
Chief Building Official Shawn Merriman predicted a good year construction-wise in his report.
“Things were a little slow starting off this year but I’m told the June list might have 15 things on it.”
Merriman also responded to Coun. Phillip Smith’s questions about vandalism to the fence and the Pavilion at the Parham Fairgrounds.
“There was also some vandalism at the school and they stole some plumbing from the canteen,” Merriman said. “Between the wind storm and the vandalism, that area took quite a hit.”
“It’s a sure sign we need to start installing video cameras everywhere,” said Mayor Frances Smith.
The Frontenac Farmers Market returns to the parking lot at Prince Charles Public School in Verona this coming Saturday (May 12) for its 13th season. This year’s opening market is running in conjunction with the Prince Charles Public School Community Yard Sale. The Yard Sale is scheduled to run from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. while the Farmers Market gets underway at 9 a.m. and runs until 2 p.m.
Market vendor and chair Laura Simmons said that this year, they are trying to broaden the community outreach and participation aspect of the weekly market, which runs until Oct. 27.
“We’re working with a number of not-for-profits in the Verona area and further afield,” Simmons said. “Our schedule isn’t quite set yet but we hope to have live music and some really fun kid and family activities.
“We’re trying to make it more entertaining and all events will be announced on our Facebook page.”
Simmons said there will be about two dozen vendors this season, with a couple of new ones and a number of returning favourites.
“Some of our members will already have greenhouse produce for sale and there will be plenty of seedlings available,” she said.
One aspect of the Market they’re looking to revive is sponsorships.
“We did have a few sponsors at one time and we’d like to do that again,” she said. “It would give us a little bit more of a budget for things like musicians and and events.
She said anyone wishing to rent a space for a week can also contact her at the aforementioned email.
“Hopefully there will be a lot of interest this year,” she said. “We’re looking forward to seeing old friends back again and meeting plenty of new ones.
“And, we’ll be invoking sunny skies and warm temperatures for the summer.”
The 2018 Canadian Guitar Festival (CGF) is officially cancelled.
Del Vezeau, who has organized the Festival for 14 years, has announced that because of disagreements with South Frontenac Township leading to legal processes, the festival cannot be held this year. It had been scheduled for the weekend of July 27-29. The Festival regularly featured internationally acclaimed artists like Don Ross, Ed Gerhard, Antoine Dufour and John Ainsworth.
“After the judge’s ruling, we can’t really do the CGF, it’s illegal,” said Vezeau.
After three years of negotiating and debating whether the CGF was a permitted use of Vezeau’s Loughborough Lake Holiday Park campground, the township took Vezeau to court on Jan. 24 this year seeking a ruling that concerts and weddings open to the public held at the park were in contravention of Zoning Bylaw 2003-75 and an order restraining him from using his property other than in compliance with the zoning bylaw.
Judge J. Hurley ruled that while concerts were in violation of the bylaw, he was not prepared to issue an injunction.
On March 28, Judge Hurley further ruled that the Township was entitled to $10,000 in costs from Vezeau. According to the Township, its costs on a substantial indemnity basis were $25,214.02 inclusive of disbursements and HST and on a partial indemnity basis, $17,209.66.
Vezeau has put a “blog” entry on his Facebook Page containing several documents pertaining to the case including a potential draft bylaw that would have permitted “an outdoor concert/music festival” as well as “a tourist establishment consisting of 50 trailer/cabin sites.”
Vezeau said that the zoning he already had allows 94 tent or serviced trailer sites and two cabins.
Then there was the question of cost for a zoning amendment which would have cost $2,326 ($1,326 non-refundable application fee plus a $1,000 deposit to cover additional fees is necessary) and potential fees from the Public Health Unit and/or conservation authorities.
Vezeau said he did contact the township a week before the court proceedings to tell them “I’ll take your deal” was told it was too late.
While disappointed in having to cancel the festival this year, Vezeau said it hasn’t affected his health.
“I went to the doctor and my blood pressure is 120/72, and my blood work is good,” he said. “Despite the Oort Cloud that is this situation, my health is unaffected.
“It looks like I’ll be making a $10,000 contribution to the Township over and above what I pay in taxes.”
As to the future of the CGF, Vezeau said he has had an offer to move it to Arkansas but that isn’t likely for this year.
“As for next year and beyond, we’ll let the light shine through and the rats on deck scramble for higher ground,” he said. “And we’re talking about going to the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing to give the township a much-needed spanking.
“But for now, we’ll take a break and re-calibrate.”