Long overdue

Kudos to the local Business Improvement Association for taking the bull by the horns over what to do about the old Rainy Lake Hotel—the former grand lady of Scott Street now reduced to a derelict eyesore epitomizing the ever-creeping demise of our downtown core.
Sitting empty for almost five years, and its designation as a heritage building having been revoked for almost as long, it’s high time something gets done with that property before it deteriorates any further. There’s a safety issue involved, not to mention being an embarrassment to a community that has invested in other beautification projects and renovations to usher in the 21st century.
The big question now, of course, is just how to redevelop the site.
Ideally, entrepreneurs would swoop in to turn that prime real estate along the 200 block of Scott Street into stores and other commercial ventures, revitalizing the downtown for residents and tourists alike, providing jobs, and generating much-needed tax revenue for the town’s coffers.
Unfortunately, that may be wishful thinking. A quick glance down Scott Street reveals far too many empty storefronts—and the likelihood of more to come. Meanwhile, part of the ruins of old Fort Frances High School, a block north on First Street East, still sit waiting for developers to come along, as do other lots around town.
So what’s the alternative? The BIA, for one, envisions converting the old Rainy Lake Hotel property into a downtown park, complete with a small stage area, a play area for kids, picnic tables, and public washrooms.
With the potential to attract other uses, the basic aim is to get more people (and hopefully their wallets) to frequent the area.
At least it’s a start. Residents now are invited to take advantage of this opportunity initiated by the BIA to offer their input, suggestions, and ideas to get the ball rolling.
A frank discussion on not just the old “RL,” but the downtown core in general, is long overdue.