Park space lacking in east end

Dear Editor,

Re: Elimination of Knights of Columbus Park

For the past 50 to 60 years the Town of Fort Frances has developed recreation areas in concert with our local schools in McIrvine, at Walker/St.Francis, at Alexander McKenzie, at Sixth Street, at Robert Moore and the Huffman School sites. My understanding is that the Town even had legal agreements with the School Boards for the joint development, use and management of these recreational areas. Otherwise, strictly recreational parks were very limited. In fact, we only have designated parks in McIrvine, the West End (Legion), the mid-Town (Sports Complex) or east end areas (Phair Avenue, Nelson Street and Lions park on Second Street).

It should be noted that the only park in Fort Frances that has any open area that might be used for baseball, soccer, hockey or other field activities is the McIrvine park (which used to be the McIrvine school site). ALL of the open areas that we have used as “parks” for generations have always been school grounds. Most of our recreational areas remain school grounds, see the St.Francis/St.Mary site development and the Robert Moore school recreational areas.

We actually have no open use recreational area in the entire east end of Fort Frances, to me east of Crowe Avenue. None. The existing Phair, Nelson and Lions park areas are very small used up mainly by swing sets, fountains, and the like. The Huffman school property no longer exists being sold off for family housing lots. Earlier this year, the Catholic School Board sold the former St. Michael’s school site to the District Social Services Advisory Board, terminated its joint recreational use agreement with the Town in the process and thereby eliminated the Knights of Columbus Park. Poof, we have no open use recreational area, no larger park in the East End of Fort Frances.

Nothing was said about this by the Town Planner Cody Vangel, nobody on the DSSAB seemed to care, and no person on Council recognized this fact other than Councillor McTaggart. How could this happen? This is an appalling situation. Over 100 area residents wrote to the Town Council objecting to the loss of K of C “Park” when the Town considered the amendment of the Zoning Bylaw last April. The amendment was approved anyway. The amendment decision was appealed by local resident Scott Fawcett, indirectly on behalf of concerned residents. He did not object to the proposed redevelopment, only the elimination of the open use recreational area on the east end of the property. Ontario recently denied his appeal, but this should not end this issue.

We need open use recreational space in the East End and other areas in Fort Frances. We have to keep these areas for our future use. Look around – the Huffman school open area is gone, the Robert Moore school site is fully developed, there is no land left for development around the Sports Complex, the Sixth Street school land has been sold and the Alexander McKenzie site was sold long ago. Fortunately, the St. Francis/St. Mary school has been developed and the McIrvine school site is not officially designated as a park.

As with over 100 other area residents, we feel that the Knights of Columbus “park” should remain open use recreational area for use by children and families of this area and Fort Frances. The KC development should remain. The Town has several other properties around Fort Frances that can be granted to the DSSAB for their housing development. The green space at the east end of the St. Michael’s site can be severed and designated officially as “park” by the Town. This is not difficult to do and can be accomplished long before DSSAB plans it further development.

Thank you for listening,

Concerned Citizen,
Rod McLeod