Stay involved

First off, the mayor and council of Fort Frances deserve the heart-felt thanks of residents for their willingness to tackle the many difficult challenges facing our community for another four-year term.
Just looking at the long list of town boards and committees that councillors sit on, a tremendous time commitment clearly is involved to serve the citizens of Fort Frances and look out for our best interests. And that’s not to mention the personal (and perhaps professional) toll that comes with making tough decisions not everyone will agree with, whether it’s hiking the price of “bag tags” or restricting where and for how long mobile signs can be put up around town.
As Mayor Roy Avis outlined in his inaugural address for the 2010-14 term on Monday evening at the Civic Centre, dealing with our aging infrastructure and the ongoing doctor shortage, along with economic development and business retention in these uncertain times, remain top priorities moving forward.
If there’s a bright side, with the mayor and council all acclaimed from the previous term, they are up to speed on these pressing issues rather than having to start from square one.
But while we elect (or acclaim, as was the case this time around) mayor and council to do the legwork, set the policies, and make the decisions, that doesn’t mean the rest of us can go back to sleep for the next four years. On the contrary, a vibrant community hinges on residents taking a vested interest in our collective future—by attending public meetings and open houses to offer suggestions or criticisms, or perhaps by writing letters to the editor or circulating a petition.
Simply grousing about issues or decisions in the coffee shop doesn’t cut it.
Equally important is being an informed citizen, not only to keep tabs on council and hold it accountable but to provide the feedback necessary for it to function effectively.
Councils, after all, are chosen to represent us, not replace us. Knowing which direction to follow or best solution to take ultimately is the people’s decision.
It’s a critical responsibility that entails staying involved in the process on a continuous basis rather than tuning it out until election time.