Northeast Town Council Notes

Eastern Manitoulin ‘Angel Bus’ sought

Sandy Cook, representing the Angel Bus committee, attended the February 18 meeting of council. Ms. Cook has been making the rounds to eastern Island councils in the hopes of finding a champion to bring an Angel Bus-type mode of transportation to seniors on the eastern side of Manitoulin. Currently, the Angel Bus only provides transportation to Western Manitoulin seniors.

Councillor Michael Erskine noted that the Manitoulin Centennial Manor once had its own bus and asked if anyone knew what became of it. No one could respond to the query. (Councillor Dawn Orr, who sits on the Manor Board and who might have had an answer, was not in attendance at the council meeting.)

“I’m just beating the bushes,” Ms. Cook said.

“It’s an important service and I’ve heard nothing but good things,” said Councillor Erskine.

Ms. Cook explained that the yearly operating costs of the Angel Bus come in around $18,000 which is all covered through donations. Last year the bus logged 11,000 kilometres.

Ms. Cook shared with council that the Manitoulin-Sudbury District Services Board’s non-urgent patient transfer program now operates as a fee-for-service. (When contacted, the DSB explained that this had been the case since July of last year. As an example, a return trip from the Manor to the hospital in Little Current costs $50.)

Councillor Erskine asked Ms. Cook how much time she devotes to the Angel Bus on a weekly basis. Ms. Cook said approximately five hours, and “you have to be very passionate.”

Councillor Barb Baker asked about caregivers to which Ms. Cook supplied that Angel Bus clients must have their own caregivers.

“It’s a great idea and I hope it works,” said Councillor Bill Koehler.

“I think most people just don’t know there’s a need,” Ms. Cook added. 

When asked about government funding, Ms. Cook said they had not yet secured any, but would be on the hunt now that they have five years under their belt and the statistics to match. She added that she would be happy to share their business plan with any champions that might step forward.

Councillor Al Boyd asked if she had any statistics about how many calls from eastern residents they have received. Ms. Cook said she did not, but knew that there is a need.

When asked about municipal support by Councillor Laurie Cook, Ms. Cook explained that all the West End municipalities support it in some way, as does Central Manitoulin.

Council thanked Ms. Cook for her deputation.

Batman’s Cottages and Campground request

Council received a request from the owners of Batman’s Cottages and Campground in Sheguiandah to perform waterfront work.

Andre Deschamps of Batman’s wrote to council explaining that high water levels had caused damage to his licenced marina as well as a breakwall that protects a municipal road allowance.

“I’m asking for permission to build up both areas,” he wrote. “Hopefully water levels will not surpass last year’s levels and work will not be necessary. If both areas are not built up, it would be devastating to our business. The access road is one of our main arteries for our campers and the only road access to a neighbouring property. The breakwall is preventing the road from being washed out.”

CAO Dave Williamson noted to council that the work being done is in the riparian zone—the area between land and water. When he asked Mr. Deschamps if he had contacted the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry (MNRF), Mr. Deschamps said that he had not.

Mr. Williamson suggested that if council chose to approve the ask, that work could only commence with MNRF and Ministry of Environment endorsement.

Councillor Erskine said he thought it was in council’s best interest to approve the work as Mr. Deschamps was doing the municipality “a solid” by protecting its road.

Councillor Baker said that, speaking from personal experience, there would be a tight timeframe in which to perform the work due to fish spawning habitat and that the faster the owner received MNRF approval the better.

Councillor Erskine suggested writing a letter of support to the MNRF in the hopes that it might “carry some weight.”

Councillor Koehler asked if public works would oversee the job, should it get approval. Mr. Williamson responded that yes, they would.

Habitat Stewardship Program

Council made a motion to support an application to the Habitat Stewardship Program Fund by Dr. Patricia Chow-Fraser to conduct a two-year field program to identify critical habitat of the Blanding’s turtle in the islands of McGregor Bay beginning this summer.

Donations

Council gave its approval to Mindemoya Minor Hockey so that it might run a 50/50 raffle at the Little Current-Howland Recreation Centre during the annual three-on-three hockey tournament April 2-5.

Council received a donation request from the Manitoulin Secondary School robotics team, Manitoulin Metal.

Councillor Koehler made a motion to donate $200 while Councillor Erskine seconded it.

“It’s great that MSS is encouraging students into STEM, and especially with women,” said Councillor Erskine. “It’s quite laudable that they’re doing it and I’m in support of this.”

The motion was carried.

Council also received a donation request from the Manitoulin Fine Arts Association for its 26th annual Manitoulin Art Tour, July 17-19.

Councillor Erskine made a motion to donate $200 with Councillor Cook seconding it. The motion was carried.

Welcome Centre lease

Mr. Williamson reminded council that the municipality had published a request for proposal for the portion of the Manitoulin Welcome Centre that was previously occupied by the Manitoulin Tourism Association. He explained that the RFP was advertised in this newspaper, but also through LAMBAC, the Sudbury Chamber of Commerce and more.

The Northeast Town secured two responses: one from the operating group of the Manitoulin Hotel and Conference Centre and the other from Michael and Linda Erskine.

The hotel operating group offered to pay no rent and that the Northeast Town would pay them $5,000 to clean the building. The Erskines offered $19,200 in annual rent plus 45 percent of the utilities with no charge for cleaning.

“We’ve had the opportunity to talk to both proponents,” Mr. Williamson said. “The Erskine proposal makes more sense.”

On February 11, the Northeast Town met with the Welcome Centre operations committee which gave their support to the Erskines, but would take it back to their individual councils for review and official support (or not).

“Now we wait to hear from the councils, or at least the ones that want to participate,” Mr. Williamson said.

A motion was made to accept the Erskine proposal. (Councillor Erskine had declared a conflict of interest and left the council table during the discussion and vote.)

Central Manitoulin has moved to deny the Erskine approval while Assiginack has approved it.