Town still treating too much water
Due to the infiltration of groundwater into the town’s aged piping system, it continues to treat far more water than it should have to.
In an activity report from Operations and Facilities executive committee chair Coun. Rick Wiedenhoeft at Monday night’s council meeting, he noted the town treated and discharged 1,179,413 cubic metres (311.5 million Imperial gallons) of wastewater in the past seven months—a reduction of 9.2 percent compared to the same period in 2011.
This means that over the past seven months, the town treated 1,154 cubic metres (253,880 Imperial gallons) of wastewater at the sewage treatment plant for no reason.
Back in July, council received an inflow and infiltration report from the KGS Group which stated that the 5.7 km of substandard sanitary sewer piping should be replaced over the next five years.
But Coun. Wiedenhoeft noted “the financial resources required to complete this work will be a major obstacle for the community.”
“The cost is estimated at some $32 million just to fix the very, very bad pipes in the ground, some of which are between 80 and 100 years old,” he said.
The town’s four divisions—Administration and Finance, Community Services, Operations and Development, and Planning and Development—were very busy in the second half of 2012, according to reports from their respective chairs during Monday night’s council meeting.
Highlights of some division activities are as follows:
Administration and Finance (Coun. Ken Perry):
•This division continues to effectively monitor the town’s $21.6 million budget.
The most significant funding received in 2012 was $3,239,400 from the Ontario Municipal Partnership Fund, which helps offset assessment equalization, policing, and services.
OMPF will see a reduction of $42,100 in 2013.
•Federal gas tax funding in the amount of $497,119 was received in 2012, with the same amount to be allocated in 2013.
This funds eligible environmental/sustainable municipal infrastructure needs.
The town also continues to get small conditional operating grants on an annual basis.
•As of the beginning of February, the 2012 general operating fund surplus sat at $47,890 but it’s too early to determine the final year’s final outcome.
BDO Canada will be conducting the required 2012 audits over the next few months.
•The 2013 budget process continues, with a special meeting being held this afternoon (Feb. 13) to discuss capital items and projects.
Regular budget meetings will resume in March.
•Looking ahead, the town is facing many challenges, with local downsizing in the forestry sector, the looming reassessment of the mill property here, escalating operating costs, and diminishing revenue resources.
But Administration and Finance is committed to meet those challenges.
(Coun. Andrew Hallikas):
•In the fall, the town was notified there would be a new child care funding formula, and that Rainy River District will benefit to the tune of $1.3 million in 2013 and the next three years after that.
•The private home day care portion of the Fort Frances Children’s Complex was closed in July due to the limited number of people interested in being a provider, as well as reduced interest from parents in the program.
•The Best Start Hub remains a strong interactive program for children and parents.
•The Fort Frances Museum saw slightly more visitors in the second half of 2012 than the same period in 2011 (2,284 compared to 2,233).
In addition to hosting a variety of exhibits and events, the museum received a grant to digitize its collection, and has developed and increased membership in 2012.
•The Fort Frances Library Technology Centre not only saw the retirement of long-time librarian Margaret Sedgwick last year but welcomed new CEO Alicia Subnaik Kilgour.
It remains a vibrant community centre, seeing more than 9,000 visitors in the second half of 2012.
•The Sister Kennedy Centre initiated a Tai Chi program in the second half of 2012, and will continue to explore new and innovative ideas for seniors in the community in order to become a hub for seniors’ activities.
It is in the process of applying for a grant to purchase a van to aid seniors.
•The Townshend Theatre got a new stage floor and, in 2013, the Theatre Advisory Committee will look to make the theatre safer for patrons by installing high-visibility theatre stair nosing.
•The Memorial Sports Centre not only got a new brine chiller just before the season began, but is boasting good participation in fitness programs (more than 1,500 registrations), a greater number of rentals of both ice surfaces, and increased usage of the auditorium.
Four new organizations now have signed up for corporate memberships, and many new people are using the fitness and squash facilities.
•The Memorial Sports Centre also is undergoing an energy retrofit program, including furnishing the pool area with a new “dry-o-tron” unit that substantially will increase the ambient air quality and reduce costs.
New lighting also will be installed throughout the facility, including arena lighting.
•Kiwanis Sunny Cove Camp and the Sorting Gap Marina also had “great seasons.”
Operations and Facilities (Coun. Rick Wiedenhoeft):
•Substandard sidewalks were removed from the east side of Armit Avenue between Church Street and Front Street, as well as the south side of Third Street East between Portage Avenue and Victoria Avenue.
The town cleaned and reshaped ditches along the north side of King’s Highway (between Heikki Lampi’s property and Belluz’s property), as well as along the west side of McIrvine Road, just south of Frog Creek bridge.
•Public Works repaired tow joints on the overpass in September while Makkinga Contracting installed a new storm sewer system for the Portage Avenue underpass.
•A total of 19 percent of the traffic and warning signs in town were replaced after they failed retro-reflectivity testing.
•Northern Crack sealers addressed 608 sidewalk surface discontinuities while Makkinga Contracting replaced asphalt and completed storm sewer ditching along Eighth Street East between Victoria Avenue and Christie Avenue.
•Makkinga Contracting replaced the watermain along King’s Highway between Daniel Avenue and Pit Rd. No. 1, and replaced nine fire hydrants at various locations.
•Household Hazardous Waste Day in September saw residents drop off 11.9 tonnes of hazardous waste at the Public Works building.
•In November, a free tipping day was held at the landfill, seeing 184 vehicles drop off 28.89 tonnes of residential yard and garden waste (the next free tipping day will held May 11).
•The Parks crew planted 54,000 flowers, as well as conducted upkeep of the town’s green spaces. This drew positive comments from tourists, and council and administration were pleased with the crew’s productivity.
Ed Kaun and Sons Ltd. did an excellent job renovating the Riverview Cemetery maintenance building.
•The amount of air traffic was down at the Fort Frances Airport, with 65 less aircraft having landed there by the end of 2012 than in 2011 (3,083 versus 3,132).
However, there was an increase in fuel sales and the new advertising strategy for aviation fuel has had a positive impact.
•In June, a $3.6-million energy and building retrofit project was started by Honeywell, which is scheduled to be completed by November.
This project is guaranteed to yield $241,000 in energy and maintenance savings each year.
Planning and Development (Coun. John Albanese):
•In the latter half of 2012, Planning and Development has handled planning and building-related issues, ranging from the re-zoning of the “Huffman” subdivision property, working with the Assisted Living Action Group, a request to erect permanent fencing around the community garden, putting a new loading zone in place at Green Manor, and providing 2013 budget input, among others.
•The uncertainty of the economy seems to have affected the robust commercial, institutional, and residential development seen in 2011, but this may change in the year ahead.
Coun. Albanese hinted that “a couple of institutional projects that have been contemplated are on the horizon and may proceed this year.”
•The Planning and Development staff always are ready to promote and assist with new development.
And with the proposed new mining ventures in Atikokan and north of Emo, Fort Frances only stands to benefit.