Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Mayor to seek re-election

The race for mayor is on.
Mayor Roy Avis filed his nomination papers Friday afternoon, meaning he’ll be running against Coun. Andrew Hallikas for the mayoral seat here in the Oct. 27 municipal election.

“I think I’ve still got lots to offer the community,” said Mayor Avis, who been mayor since 2006 and a councillor for three three-year terms before that.
“I think we live in a great community and if I can help it move in a positive direction, I would like to be there and do that,” he noted.
“That’s why I put my name forward.”
Mayor Avis said there’s “a tremendous amount of unfinished business” he’d like to see resolved.
“Point Park litigation has been going on for 16 years—I’d like to see that through before I retire or move on,” the mayor said.
He added forest tenure is a major issue right now with the mill here being closed.
“As we move forward in this area, I think there should be equal opportunity for all people to have access to the wood fibre in our area,” Mayor Avis reasoned.
“If it grows in this area, it should be used in this area.
“And I really feel that we have to stand tall and petition the government,” he added.
Mayor Avis said it’s crucial that under the Enhanced Sustainable Forest Licence, the citizens of the district “get the best deal” to secure wood rights, which would, in turn, enhance existing facilities like Ainsworth in Barwick and perhaps see the local mill restarted.
The mayor also has been working on a tax reassessment committee with other regional mayors and Finance minister Charles Sousa regarding the drastically reduced assessment of mill properties and its impact on municipalities.
He said the assessed value of the mill here has gone from roughly $28 million to just under $14 million over the last eight years—and it’s on course to go lower.
“That’s putting a tremendous burden on the other taxpayers in the community, and we have to look at things with a very hopeful mind and bring in more business,” Mayor Avis remarked.
In recent years, the mayor noted council has doubled the amount of money put into economic development.
“We’re trying to be proactive,” he remarked. “We’ve re-branded ourselves as a community.
“We’re working in a positive manner to attract new business, and that’s one of my focal points.
“That’s what I’d like to see.”
Mayor Avis also said aging sewer, water, and road infrastructure is a major concern for the majority of Ontario municipalities—and it’s no different here.
But he added that in the last eight years, council has put itself on a “pretty good track” and made sure to put more money into reserves for future repairs.
“We’ve put a tremendous amount of capital into infrastructure over the last eight years, and if elected, my mandate is that we find a great balance and make sure that we put money into infrastructure,” said Mayor Avis.
“We started a real good program and I wouldn’t want to see that end.”
The mayor said he’s always had the philosophy that council “should try to do more for less,” and keep taxes and water and sewer rates as low it can to make sure Fort Frances is a community people can afford to live in, enjoy, and work in.
“I’ve enjoyed the opportunity to be the mayor of the Town of Fort Frances,” Mayor Avis concluded, adding he also appreciates the trust people have put in him.

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