Seeking answers from a younger generation

Recently there has been a great deal of discussion amongst council and the community. There appears to be some feeling that councillors who are over the age of fifty-five and are Caucasian, have no understanding about the needs and wants of other demographic groups in Fort Frances.

The feeling is that they do not represent the larger portion of the population. It is a clear misunderstanding of the nature of the over fifty-five population. They are the generation who were responsible for building schools not only in Fort Frances, but across the district. They are the generation who funded “Ice for Kids” and the “Townshend Theatre.” They are the population who funded two major fund raisers to expand the services at Riverside.

They are also the population who encouraged their children to leave the Rainy River District to chase their dreams in education and job opportunities. They recognized that the world was far bigger than Fort Frances or the Rainy River District. Yes, they had bigger dreams for their children. Often those careers were only available in larger cities or foreign countries. They only hoped that at some time in the future, their children would find careers back in the District and be able to nurture their grand children in the community.

Workplaces have changed in the last four years. Many jobs today are being carried out far from workplaces in the digital world. In Fort Frances, council meetings have been through “Zoom” or “Go to Meeting” as have other board meetings for the past two years. I used to travel to Toronto for board meetings, but today those board meetings take place on the second Tuesday of each month in the evening, joining persons from across the province. My two sons work remotely as do many others in Canada.

This creates new opportunities to attract young families back to the District. But we need to know what would make Fort Frances and the District more attractive. I would suggest that Council, through its Economic Development committee, survey families with children to find out what brought them back to the District or kept them here. We also need to ask families who have had their children move away for school or careers what might attract them back to the community. We have to know what types of careers can be relocated to the District.

With the average price of homes in Canada surpassing $800,000, the affordable price of housing in Fort Frances might be an attraction for people able to work remotely. A barrier may be the quality of housing in Fort Frances and the District for families who would like to be able to purchase new, modern homes. Another issue may be activities available for youth.

My age group may not have the answers. But we have learned that we must ask the questions and go to the younger generation who can give guidance and solutions to councils and the community. Surveying younger generations, whether they live in Fort Frances or away, can help develop strategic plans to retain and welcome our younger generations back to the community.

Former Publisher
Fort Frances Times