Time to dream big

I have written about doom and gloom and the issues facing councils across the district. To be sure, some of the financial issues facing councils this year are not pretty.
This week, though, I would like to talk about what challenges municipal governments will face should both the mill here be restarted and the gold mine north of Barwick go forward.
What would the economy be like if both projects move forward? What would it be like that rental vacancy was less than one percent? What would it be like if there were not enough classrooms in the district?
What would happen if there were not enough building lots or homes for sales?
Clearly, councils would be facing a much different challenge than they are this year with the loss of tax assessment and declines in values of commercial buildings and homes.
Should both projects go forward, councils and trustees on both local boards of education would be scrambling.
Firstly, the price of housing across the district would stabilize. Realtors would see a sellers’ market as buyers would be scrambling for homes. We even might see a bidding war for new homes.
Home builders—if they can find lots—will have no trouble building and selling homes in communities across the district.
With the expected year-round workforce being projected, the problem will arise that there might not be adequate housing in the district, nor adequate building lots available for sale.
It will be a wonderful problem to have.
As well, those new homes and subdivisions will require sewer and water services, which could be a vexing problem for communities if they have to come up with expanded services to meet those needs.
The district tax base will expand, potentially lowering municipal taxes to almost every household.
School trustees will have their own taxing problems. They have been building and creating right-sized schools to meet the current projected school populations of the district.
But today’s right-sized schools probably won’t meet enrolments if both the sale of the paper mill goes through and the gold mine is created.
Not shuttering Sturgeon Creek, Donald Young, and Crossroads schools will be seen as a positive, with the board having some classroom space to grow. In fact, the board may be faced with having to accelerate plans for a new larger school in the district and Fort Frances.
There potentially will be over-crowding while those new facilities are built.
Best of all, retailers finally could see a substantial growth in their sales, which, in turn, will result in additional hirings. Finding those additional workers could prove challenging—just as finding skilled tradespeople for the restart of the mill in Fort Frances and for jobs at the mine.
These are problems we can only dream about. The district would boom. New opportunities would open. Municipalities would have to change from deciding which services they might cut to which projects do they have to accelerate to meet demands they have never faced before.
We can hope and cross our fingers that the sale of the mill will be finalized and the mine begins to take flight. Dreams then can be built around how to handle these new issues and the nightmares councils are facing to make prudent cuts can be forgotten.
Let’s dream big.

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