People must save the town

I attended an interesting meeting last Wednesday, during which one of the people on hand made a very appropriate comment.
“The council of Fort Frances is not going to save the town,” he said. “The people of the community will save the town!”
And when the words had settled at the meeting, I realized how right he was.
As I think back to all of the major changes in Fort Frances and across the district, it’s never been the actions of a council or a chamber that have made the difference. Rather, it’s always been the energy of the 17,000 citizens of the district that has done so.
It was the community that built the old Memorial Arena here to recognize the valour of the men and women who gave their lives during the world wars.
It was the people of the communities of Rainy River District who put up funding for the modernization of hospitals in Fort Frances, Emo, and Rainy River. It was those same individuals who, in only a span of a few weeks, raised the funds to create a performing arts centre attached to Fort High.
And when pushed again, they raised an equal amount for the Ice For Kids Arena. Similar support built the Emo-La Vallee Community Centre in Emo.
It has been the people of the district who stepped forward to acquire a CT scanner for Riverside, and again this past year for a digital mammography machine.
When push was required, some 900 volunteers stepped forward to showcase Fort Frances and the district to visiting scholars and citizens from more than 40 different countries for a World Health Organization conference here.
Without the hundreds of volunteers, the Fort Frances Canadian Bass Championship would never have been successful, nor the Emo Fair, nor the Emo Walleye Classic, nor the Rainy River Walleye Tournament.
Councils and chambers can set the table for projects, but it is the people who will make them successful. When volunteers have been called upon for a purposeful project, they have rallied to the cause across the district.
Now with a downturn in the forest industry across the district, it will be the citizens who will have to rally to create new opportunities in our communities to maintain schools, businesses, and health facilities, as well as to grow the economy of the district to create new jobs and additional opportunities.
Now the new purpose of citizens of the district will be to transform the economy and economic focal points. The ideas, and support for those ideas, will be the difference.
Risks will have to be taken but without risk, there can be little reward. The district has proven it can take risks, and it can grow and overcome adversity.
The people will be the difference.

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