Town vowing to raise its voice
Fort Frances has to redefine itself and get on senior governments’ radar.
That was the sentiment that rang loud and clear from town administration and council last Thursday as they met to review their strategic plan and regroup to face what is expected to be a tough year.
“Their first thought right now should be Fort Frances,” he remarked.
“We’ve got to get out there,” he stressed. “We’ve got to be aggressive to the point that they know us by name.”
McCaig said the provincial government has to know that not everything is okay in Fort Frances and it no longer is cruising along with a prosperous mill.
“Our reality is something different and we need them, regardless of what our political affiliation is at the moment, to do something for this community right now,” he charged.
He added that politically-speaking, Fort Frances has to stop being reserved and polite, and every minister “should know who we are.”
Mayor Roy Avis said he’s disappointed in local MPP Sarah Campbell and MP John Rafferty.
“I’ve given it a lot of thought about where we are, where we could be, and where we should be and everything down the line, and we’re in for some real, real trouble,” he warned.
“We have two elected officials that have not ever spent the time to approach council and talk to council as a body and say, ‘What can we do for you?’” Mayor Avis added, noting he talks more to MPPs Bill Mauro and Michael Gravelle than Campbell and Rafferty.
“I don’t know where to go. . . we don’t have anybody that we can actually turn to that will take our voice [to senior
governments],” the mayor stressed.
“We have a prorogued legislature [at Queen’s Park] that doesn’t listen to anybody, does their own thing, and we have nobody that we can even take our message to that can deliver that message properly.
“Just think about that going forward for the next six months.
“I will meet head-on with any one of them—Rafferty or Sarah Campbell. Any one of them,” Mayor Avis reiterated.
“They have not given any time to Fort Frances and the situation we’ve got on our table right now,” he charged.
The mayor noted the mill situation isn’t just a Fort Frances problem, but a district concern. Alberton Reeve Mike Hammond, for instance, came to him and said he was concerned about people moving away and leaving more real estate for sale.
McCaig noted Rafferty promised to write a letter in support of Fort Frances keeping a judge here, but he never received such a letter.
He said the town should be owed an explanation as to why it didn’t get that letter.
Coun. Ken Perry, meanwhile, said he met with Campbell for an hour-and-a-half a couple of weeks ago and she asked him what she could do for him.
He wrote down a list, including setting up a meeting with the Ministry of Natural Resources regarding the wood basket, and sent it to her.
“I never got a response. Not even a response of, ‘Dear Ken, I got your letter,’” Coun. Perry said.
“And I am pissed about that because we need some help here,” he stressed.