The Grade 5-8 students from Granite Ridge Education Centre visited Prince Charles Public School in Verona Tuesday where Teilhard Frost performed a concert in the morning.

Frost also did a body percussion workshop in the afternoon for the PCPS Grade K-4 students.

During the day, the Grade 5-8 students from both schools rotated through music workshops including The History of Instruments, Bucket Drumming and Vocal Harmonies.

PCPS Grade 5-8 students will be visiting GREC in a few weeks for more workshops including using their wood shops.

Published in SOUTH FRONTENAC

The Annual “Dump Report”
Stephanie Reeder, of Cambium Consulting and Engineering presented the annual update on the township’s waste disposal sites. Currently, South Frontenac has five active sites: Portland, Loughborough, Bradshaw, Salem and Green Bay. All were found to be operating in compliance with the Province’s environmental requirements. Due to operational improvements over the past five years, the overall estimated life (capacity) of the municipality’s active landfill sites has increased by six years over the estimate last year. It now sits at 26 years.. Four of the five closed sites are still being monitored for groundwater and surface water quality, erosion, seeps, litter and vermin, but none have shown problems.

Reeder indicated that although diversion of organics would certainly reduce waste volume, it would not make much difference to the problem of contaminants, for organics produce virtually no contaminants.

Mayor Vandewal asked whether a pollinator-friendly seed mix was being used when reseeding capped-over sections of the landfills.

Verona Cenotaph Improvements Proposed
Wayne Conway, Chair of the Verona Community Association, outlined community plans to make the Cenotaph more accessible and attractive by adding concrete walkways, more benches, a flowerbed and a 30’ flagpole - possibly a small roofed shelter or gazebo in the future. The cenotaph is located in McMullen Park beside road 38. McMullen Park belongs to the Township. The Verona community is supporting the project by fundraising; Council relaxed visibly when Conway said they were not asking for money - only permission to proceed with the work on Township property. Led by Councillors Morey and Leonard, full approval was granted for the project; “Keep up the good work,” said Vandewal.

Development Charges Presentation
The Township’s current Development Charges by-law expires this September, and as part of the by-law updating process, Claire Dodds, Director of Development Services, presented an overview of the issues and timeline. Development charges are levied to recover the capital costs associated with both residential and non-residential growth within a municipality, and are in addition to the costs that would normally be incurred by the developer as part of a subdivision/condominium, etc.

(However, some services cannot be included under this act, including arts, culture, museums and entertainment facilities, tourism facilities, hospitals, and parkland acquisition.) A consulting firm, Wilson and Associates, has been engaged to draft an updated by-law: their background study will be released by the end of May, an Information Open House is planned for June 19, and the public meeting for the revised Development Charges By-law will be held July 2.

“You’ve asked for detailed information reports,” Vandewal said to Council, “and now you’re getting them.”

Six-unit Rental Building Planned for Sydenham
Council agreed to pass a by-law to enter into a site plan agreement with RKR Landholdings Corp. (Rob Morgan) for his proposed six-unit residential building in the Valleyview Subdivision, which lies south of Rutledge Road in Sydenham. The property’s zoning permits a residential multiple dwelling unit, but requires a site plan control agreement which specifies the location of all buildings and structures, septic system, lighting, garbage areas, landscaped buffers, parking and entrances. Council’s only concern was the location of the garbage enclosure; it was agreed that if at all possible the garbage bin should be moved to the back of the building, not installed at the front. Vandewal questioned the need for a separate garbage bin for six units. Sutherland and Ruttan asked for the motion to be deferred to give the current residents time to comment on the site plan, but their amendment to defer was rejected.

Quarterly Report: Fire and Rescue
As requested by Council, Chief Darcy Knott presented a seven-page first-quarter 2019 Operational Review. In the first three months of 2019, the medical response level has remained high, and there has been a rise in the number of fires: nine in total, five of which have resulted in major property damage. Knott outlined a number of organizational accomplishments, chief of which has been a very successful media drive to recruit volunteer firefighters. From the initial 100 attendees at the information sessions, there were 78 applicants: the final 25 will be selected and begin their in-depth training on May 8, which will continue until the end of October.

Council complimented Knott on the breadth and quality of his report, and on his management of the department.

“Touch a Truck”
Watch for more information on this Public Education Event which will be held at Keeley Road on May 8, in the evening, from 5:00-8:00.

Published in SOUTH FRONTENAC

Pink Shirt Day is quickly becoming country rocker Abby Stewart’s personal cause in the Frontenacs as she showed up at Prince Charles Public School in Verona last week to help the school spread the word. Last year, she did a similar gig at GREC in Sharbot Lake.

Pink Shirt Day seeks to raise awareness about cyberbullying and hopefully end the practise.

“I’ve been bullied and I really support the Boys and Girls Clubs for all they do,” Stewart said before taking the stage at Prince Charles. “Bullying is something that has to end — 100 per cent!

“And, I really like the slogan this year, ‘Be Kinder,’ it’s beautiful.”

Stewart said she received good feedback on her Sharbot Lake show last year and that’s part of the reason she wanted to do another one this year.

“Not face-to-face feedback but on social media,” she said. “Some people confided in me and told me my songs have helped them.

“That felt good.”

Songs like No More Falling Down and Stewart’s own You Don’t Know That, which the Boys and Girls Clubs have adopted as their anti-bullying theme song.

“It’s an anthem for anyone who’s been bullied,” she said. “I wrote it with a guy in B.C. via Skype.

Surprisingly, a number of kids in the audience were singing along with her on that one.

As a Grade 11 student at Holy Cross in Kingston, Stewart said school work has “kinda taken time from music” lately but she’s managed to keep up with songwriting.

“I find songwriting a release,” she said. “You know, sometimes coming up with a line or a little riff on the guitar can make a difference.”

But her mood shifts and her voice gains excitement when she talks about performing.

“I like being on stage,” she said. “Especially if it’s an emotional song and you look at people in the eyes.

“You know they’ll remember.”

Stewart plans to get back on stage in May with a show at the Embassy in Kingston.

In the meantime, you can find her on YouTube with songs like her latest — What If They’re Wrong.

Published in SOUTH FRONTENAC

Frontenac County representatives and farmers came together Thursday February 15 at the Verona Lions' Hall for a potluck and brainstorming session.

The brainstorm centred around developing the local food economy with the perennial questions coming to the fore: How do we address the lack of connectedness between producers and consumers? How can we develop better road signage and online directories to get the message out? How do the idea of buying local food and an awareness of opportunities to do so become ingrained in consumers' minds so that local food can grow?

Fifteen years ago, egg signs at the ends of laneways were virtually the only evidence that farm goods were available direct to consumers.

Around this time, a campaign was created under the logo, “Eat from Kingston's Countryside.” “Feast of Fields,” a series of events where guests were treated to fine dining with food from local farms, prepared by local chefs, were organized and well received; people were meeting farmers and having experiences on farms. They began signing up for beef and chicken orders, and visiting farm gates as a means of connecting further with these newly discovered farms and their quality goods.

Among the vanguards of this push for local food awareness and increased economic viability were Andrea Cumpson of Sonset Farms, Kim Perry of Perry Farm and Food Less Traveled, and Sharon Freeman of Freeman Farms, who attended Thursday's meeting. Thanks to their efforts, local food made great leaps in the last decade. The downside has been that such initiatives take time and energy, and risk wearing out already-overworked farmers.

The county is looking at ways to bolster the work of the farming community so that the local food economy can gain momentum and farmers can focus more on production. As Richard Allen, Manager of Economic Development, explained, a committee is set to be struck, that would see people involved in the local food economy first identify what the main issues are around supply, ease of access and branding. The next step would be to decide how the committee's findings could fit into the county's workplan.

From there it is a question of how much the producer does to further its market access and how much a larger body such as a county government is needed to ensure businesses can thrive.

The meeting, with an attendance nearing 20, came on the heels of Smith's Falls' Three Rivers' Food Hub announcing that it is discontinuing the distribution component of its operations. This had been a much-celebrated step forward in local food infrastructure in the region, and its loss is a reminder that local food distribution is still in its infancy.

A few possibilities for the coming year were floated late in the meeting: a re-emergence of Feast of Fields and Open Farm Days (a series of organized farm visits) which the County could help promote.

Attendees also pondered looking into web-based programs along the lines of Good Eggs, a San Francisco-based site that acts as a grocery service for local producers and eaters.

Published in FRONTENAC COUNTY

For me, a highlight of the Christmas season is taking part in a few of the Christmas Bird Counts held in our area. This year I participated in 3 “CBCs”, as they are known by many – Westport, Frontenac Provincial Park and Sharbot Lake. So how did it go this year? In three words – cold, cold and colder! More on this in a moment.

Christmas Bird Counts go back to 1900, when American ornithologist Frank Chapman proposed a new holiday tradition of having people count living birds in their home towns. Coined the "Christmas Bird Census”, people believed that it could be a fun activity that also contributed to conservation. It caught on, and CBCs are now conducted in over 2000 localities across the Americas.

Christmas Bird Counts are conducted on any one day between December 14 and January 5. They are carried out annually within a 24-km diameter circle that stays the same from year to year. CBCs are usually group events organized at the local level, often by a birding club, naturalists’ organization or simply an enthusiastic group of volunteers. People participate in one of two ways: field observers cover a portion of the count circle on their own or with a small group, counting all birds they find. Feeder watchers count birds at their feeders for a portion of the day.

On the chosen day, field observation teams have 24 hours to identify and count every bird they see or hear in their assigned sector of the circle. At the end of the day, the numbers are compiled, and this information is reviewed and coordinated by Bird Studies Canada, the sponsoring organization in Canada. This data has proven to be very valuable in helping scientists better understand important things like bird distribution and movements and population trends over time.

 

The big day for the Westport CBC was Friday December 14th. It was cold and windy but sunny, with the thermometer reading about minus 20 when I set out. The mercury rose a little during the day, but the wind became more biting as the day went on. My tally was below normal, with 113 birds representing 12 species, but with several interesting highlights, including a group of 5 Eastern Bluebirds and 2 small flocks of Cedar Waxwings. Overall some 23 intrepid birders and feeder watchers tallied 5,030 birds of 54 different species. Among the most unusual birds were a White-crowned Sparrow at a feeder and a trio of Yellow-rumped Warblers – both very rare sightings during the winter in this area. Blue Jays were back in large numbers this year (at 501), in contrast to last year when they were virtually absent.

 

Next up was the Frontenac CBC. Coordinated by The Friends of Frontenac Park, the count takes place in a circle that encompasses Frontenac Provincial Park and includes the towns of Sydenham and Verona. Now in its third season, this year’s December 16 count drew 50 participants, many of whom met at the Sydenham Branch of the Kingston Frontenac Public Library for coffee and a great “Winter Birds 101” workshop. The weather was not unpleasant, with temperatures in the minus 7 to minus 10 range all day under sunny skies and moderate winds – a nice winter day. Participants tallied 3,502 individual birds of 48 different species. Highlights included a Yellow-bellied Sapsucker and a Common Redpoll, both spotted at Loughborough Lake feeders, and 3 Rough-legged Hawks – all new species for the Frontenac CBC. Birders finished the day with a hearty and well-deserved meal at The Point restaurant in Sydenham. The day’s events also included a CBC for Kids afternoon workshop at Frontenac Park attended by several families. Plus, the Frontenac CBC had its first youth survey team, with seven participants aged 11-16.

 

Several years ago the Sharbot Lake bird count was revived by the keen and itinerant birder (and expert “pisher”) Andrew Keaveney, making this year’s count, held on January 5, the third consecutive recent count for this circle. The weather was likely the most memorable feature of the Sharbot Lake count day. There’s no way around it, it was brutally cold. Our small but hardy birding party headed out at 9:00 am with the thermometer reading minus 25 with a wind chill of minus 36. Man it was cold! We tallied 13 species and 83 birds, a bit higher than last year but still quite low. The cold weather handicapped us a little – I rely a great deal on my hearing to help me find birds, but the layers of hats and hoods I was wearing (to stay alive) muffled most sounds. Another teammate found the cold weather left his glasses fogged up all morning, so he was operating at less than 100%. And for the first time in my birding career, the exceptional cold made the focus wheel on my binoculars stiff and uncooperative.

 

At sundown, survivors converged on the Maples Restaurant in Sharbot Lake to thaw out and compare notes. In total 9 field observers and several feeder watchers tallied 1,347 birds of 32 species, including a Northern Goshawk, 2 Black-backed Woodpeckers and a Red-bellied Woodpecker. Several Pine Grosbeaks and Red Crossbills were tallied as well, a pair of species that are not easily found in Frontenac most years. Perhaps the most interesting find was a Brown Thrasher being treated like royalty at a local feeder. Neither the thrasher nor the Red-bellied Woodpecker had ever been recorded on the count before. Bird numbers were down a bit over the long-term average, with the weather (did I say it was cold that day?) having an impact on bird numbers. For example, open water usually yields waterfowl like ducks and geese, but this year open water was very scare.

 

All of the above CBCs are looking for more volunteers. Anyone who is interested in birds and in spending a winter day looking for them either in the field or from the comfort of their own homes as feeder watchers are invited to join the fun. Those interested in participating in the Sharbot Lake CBC can contact Andrew Keaveney at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. For more info on the Westport CBC, please contact Wendy Briggs-Jude at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., and to join the Frontenac CBC please contact Carolyn Bonta at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

 

Participating in Christmas Bird Counts for me is a bit like a treasure hunt – it’s exciting to seek out new species to add to the daily tally or come across a group of interesting birds like this year’s bluebirds or the 110 Snow Buntings we spotted north of Westport during last year’s CBC. I also get a good deal of satisfaction knowing that our effort and the data we collect is helping to paint a continent-wide picture of the status of our winter birds. Christmas just wouldn’t be Christmas without looking for birds.

Published in General Interest

And as usual for this event, singers are added from neighbouring communities, as well as a children’s choir, and the flute trio, ‘Toute Ensemble’.

The choir entered singing from the back of the church, led by Johnathan Davies’ clear, achingly beautiful solo at the beginning of “O Come, Oh Come Emmanuel”. Full credit to the choir members, who had left their coats in the church hall to trot around the building to the main door on such a chill, windy night.

The evening’s program was a lovely combination of familiar and lesser-known Christmas carols, with some sing-alongs for the audience.It was followed by a lively get-together in the hall, sharing snacks and treats provided by the choir members. 

Choir director is Stan Stinchcombe, who shared conducting and musical accompaniment with John and Ann McDougall, and Margaret Smith.

Published in SOUTH FRONTENAC
Wednesday, 13 December 2017 12:12

Busy Christmas market in Verona

Prince Charles Public School in Verona was a busy place Saturday as the Frontenac Farmers Market combined with the School Advisory Council for a fundraiser that packed the place.

There were 38 vendors filling the hallways and library and 22 of the usual suspects from the summer market arranged in the gym.

There was even a breakfast with Santa and a mom-to-mom sale, where the community donated clothes with proceeds going back to the school and any leftovers going to the church.

“That did pretty good,” said SAC chair Alison Williams. “It’s a good fundraiser for the school and we also raised funds from table sales to vendors.”

“It was a huge group effort and the school benefits so we’ll definitely be doing it again,” said SAC treasurer Tina McHale.

Laura Simmons, who’s taking over the helm of the Frontenac Farmers Market from Debbie Harris for 2018 said “we’ve had a good turnout so far and we still have an hour to go.

“This is our last sale of 2017.”

Simmons said the first 2018 date of the market is “not certain yet but I expect it will be in mid- to late-May and continue through the end of October.

“We have a couple of new vendors coming on in 2018 and they’ll add some variety.”

Published in SOUTH FRONTENAC

The Frontenac County Economic Development wants to know how residents feel about allowing motorized off-road vehicles to access the K & P Trail at the planned Bellrock Road Trailhead among other things and as such held an Open House information gathering session Monday night at the Lions Hall in Verona.

“We’re here to listen,” said Richard Allen, the County’s manager of economic development. “Not to create a debate ground.

“There is a proposal for allowing (off-road vehicle) user access (but) we don’t have a proposal design.

“We’re getting people’s ideas.”

To that end, the County provided aerial maps where community members were invited to draw on their ideas, and a display where people were invited to write their thoughts about the potential off-road vehicle use.

Currently, off-road vehicles are not allowed on the trail south of Craig Road. However, there is precious little parking there and while off-roaders could access the businesses in Verona by taking to Road 38, there is little incentive for them to do so. Also, there has been damage to gates and the surrounding forest as some motorized users circumvent the measures used to prevent their access south of Craig Road. Thus the idea of extending the off-road permission to the larger Bellrock Road area at the south end of Verona was proposed.

For the record (and granted the comments hadn’t all been read) the tally of sticky notes at the end of the evening was 36 agreeing with the proposal to extend off-road use to Bellrock Road, 3 neutral and 13 disagreeing with the idea.

“Again, we’re not making any decisions tonight, this is a workshop,” Allen said.

Although ATVs seemed to be the dominating discussion topic for the evening amongst the sizable crowd, it wasn’t the only thing the organizers wanted to hear about.

There were also discussions about parking, benches, garbage receptacles, washrooms, signage and fencing.

For those who were unable to attend Monday’s Open House, there is an online survey at the www.infrontenac.ca website where residents can voice their opinions on all the above topics.

The survey is open until Dec. 1 and Allen said they’ve received 100 responses so far.

“I think it’s great that the community has been given this opportunity to voice their opinions,” said Warden and South Frontenac Mayor Ron Vandewal.

Published in SOUTH FRONTENAC

At a special committee of the whole meeting Monday afternoon in Sydenham, South Frontenac Council committed in principle to some form of near-future project for seniors housing.

Just exactly what that project will look like other than 12 units with a price tag of around $1 million has yet to be finalized but CAO Wayne Orr expects to have some form of proposal ready for Council’s Dec. 5 meeting.

The reason for the sense of urgency, Orr explained, is that the City of Kingston has indicated that they have funding to support seniors housing but will need “final approvals by December 2018 and a ‘shovel in the ground’ by March 2019.”

Given that there is a municipal election in 2018 and Council could be faced with a ‘lame duck’ situation, a decision has to be made soon in order to make further decisions on financing before Council might not be allowed to make such decisions until after said election.

From the onset of the meeting, Council seemed quite unified in its belief that there is need for more seniors housing and its desire to proceed with with some form of 12-unit plan.

Several councilors were concerned should this be a repeat of McMullen Manor in Verona whereby units intended for seniors ended up being assigned to non-seniors (with challenged clientele) because of not enough seniors to fill the units.

“There’s such a small number of people from South Frontenac needing this,” said Coun. Ron Sleeth. “Are we going to create seniors housing for people outside of South Frontenac?”

“Do we run the risk of loosing control of this (new) facility like we did with McMullen Manor?” said Orr. “No — that was a provincial decision.”

“Will we be tied to Kingston and their wait lists?” said Coun. Alan Revill.

“No, Kingston will simply manage things as a South Frontenac board dictates,” said Orr. “We won’t be tied to their wait lists.”

So, that essentially left two questions — how this would be financed and where would it be built.

As far as financing, rather than take out a mortgage, Orr suggested the Township could “act as its own banker” by financing the project through reserves.

“But, the reserves would have to be paid back with interest (out of rents, subsidies and grants) similar to what we would get for investing the reserves,” Orr said.

The “where” part drew considerably more debate.

Sydenham and Verona would appear to be the frontrunners for such development given that they have the most amenities such as medical facilities, shopping and social opportunities within potential walking distance, ie ‘walkable communities.’ Also, several councilors pointed out potential sites already owned by the Township and the fact that Sydenham has municipal water, making it the front runner.

Not surprisingly, the two representatives from Storrington District, Sleeth and Dep. Mayor Norm Roberts argued for the ‘Inverary Corridor.’

“I’m going to push the Inverary Corridor,” said Roberts. “There is development coming and as far as water goes, I’ve talked to a home in Gananoque who uses a 10,000-gallon tank from which they draw 3,000 gallons a day.”

There was even a brief consideration of Fermoy Hall.

“We do own the building,” said Mayor Ron Vandewal.

“But there’s not much land there,” said Coun. Pat Barr.

Eventually, Vandewal said “we’re not much further along than when we started.”

Orr disagreed.

“We’ve moved from ‘should we do it’ to ‘how do we do it.’” Orr said. “The biggest variable now becomes land.”

Council decided to have Orr return a report with recommendations.

Published in SOUTH FRONTENAC

It’s kind of a shame that Louise Day’s A “Day” in Nature photographic exhibition at Blueroof Farm ended Nov. 12 (it was open each Sunday since Sept. 24). While there were many competent images of animals (including an excellent grab of a Cooper’s hawk and its prey) and Day’s beloved tulips, it was her unique images of frost that broke many molds and rose above standard photographic fare.

Although the frost series pieces all have titles like Fire Frost, Frost Medallion or Spider Frost, Day opted not to have them displayed with the works preferring the viewer see “what you envision or see yourself.”

And in hindsight, that seems to have been an astute decision because these images certainly do invite interpretation.

The enlargements were done on a “special paper” at Kingston Frameworks and then mounted on acrylic or in one case, metal. They presented without frames.

And simply put, they’re magic.

“Frost presents itself so differently and like snowflakes, no two images are ever alike,” Day said.

And, we suspect, neither are the interpretations.

(For example, this reviewer saw alien jungle landscapes and seashores, and the lair for some otherworldly giant spider queen.)

Day said her fascination with frost happened somewhat by chance one day in Verona.

“I saw frost on a sunroom and went up to it, knocked on the door and asked if I could photograph it,” she said.

She’s been doing it ever since.

“I also take ice images along the river,” she said. “You only see these images once — that’s your chance.

“You can skip living where you are and imagine yourself anywhere.

“But I’m not going to forget my tulips.”

Day began photography in 1991, taking lessons from Kim Ondaatje.

“She (Ondaatje) taught me how to see,” Day said.

Day is a member of the Kingston Photographic Club and considers photography a hobby. However she does sell her work and several pieces from A “Day” in Nature are still for sale and if interested in buying one, you can contact Day at 613-374-3333 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Published in SOUTH FRONTENAC
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