Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Flood situation ‘well-managed’ here

With plenty of sandbagging done along the riverfront over the weekend, Fort Frances Fire Chief Frank Sheppard told council last night that the town is well-protected should water levels continue to rise.
“From my perspective, I’d like to suggest we’re not out of the woods yet,” Chief Sheppard said.

“But I would go so far as to suggest that we’re managing the circumstance very capably,” he added.
Chief Sheppard noted town residents are safe and that town employees worked “extremely diligently” to ensure the protection of critical infrastructure, such as the sewage treatment plant, which showed some concern early on.
He added the town made sandbags available to residents who required protection of their property—and even offered assistance to some individuals.
“But largely the responsibility for private property is on the individuals that own it,” he stressed.
Chief Sheppard also said with Fort Frances as secure as possible for now, town crews are off to help neighbouring communities.
“We will keep re-evaluating and deciding if we have to do anything more significant,” he remarked.
“But I believe the plan that is in place is a very solid one.
“Failing a major weather event that could always happen . . . I think we’re in pretty good shape,” he concluded.
In related news, Coun. Rick Wiedenhoeft asked Chief Sheppard his opinion on whether plans for the annual cross-border “Pulling for Peace” tug-of-war, slated for July 2, should go ahead.
“I don’t think we’re going to be able to have it go,” Chief Sheppard replied, noting he checked out the river current yesterday and they drifted more than 100 feet in less than a minute.
“It’s now become a three party tug-of-war, and I think the one that’s going to be winning is the one going downstream,” he added.
Chief Sheppard’s comments, in conjunction with safety concerns of the rising river levels and current speed, ultimately forced organizers to cancel the event.
Meanwhile, council also heard an update last night from Tanis Drysdale of the Rainy River Future Development Corp., who noted the tourist information centre is here is open once again.
While the town holds the rental agreement with the Ontario government, the RRFDC will use the facility to create economic opportunity here.
Drysdale said the centre—manned by summer students—will be open seven days a week.
Also at last night’s meeting, council heard a presentation from Jeff Savage and Jon Evan of BDO Canada LLP, who offered a clean, unqualified audited opinion for the town’s draft 2013 audited financial statements.

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