As we enter the holiday season and the onset of a new year, I would like to reflect on the busy and productive year your town council has had in 2007.
I can sincerely say that it has been my personal pleasure to work with this council and administration over the last 12 months. I feel our effective working relationship has resulted in some important accomplishments on behalf of the Town of Fort Frances.
Our first important task was the budget process. Council and administration consulted during numerous additional committee of the whole sessions to address priority spending and potential corporate efficiencies while striving to maintain a quality level of service to the residents.
The resolution of the budget process saw a 2.54 percent increase to residential taxes while the commercial sector taxes were increased by 0.83 percent. The industrial class tax increase to Abitibi was 1.09 percent.
The following are a few of the many issues that kept your council busy throughout 2007:
•The financing agreement between the town and Fort Frances Community Clinic was finalized.
This deal helped establish community-based control of the clinic and the establishment of the Family Health Team concept to more effectively deliver medical services to our community.
•A financial assistance plan was put in place with the Fort Frances Curling Club to help ensure its long-term viability.
After lengthy deliberation and consultation, council was able to help the club remain autonomous and continue to provide a recreational service that has long been enjoyed by our residents.
•Council is proud to have been able to work with Abitibi and its employees to put together a plan for the implementation of a biomass boiler.
This joint effort was critical to help ensure the long-term viability of our primary employer.
Your council was pleased to provide prudent economic assistance, as well as lobbying efforts with the provincial government. A special thanks goes out to Rick Bartolucci, the former minister of Northern Development and Mines, for his assistance in our successful Heritage Fund application.
•Council’s First Nations Advisory Committee has been actively consulting with the four bands from Agency One in the interests of resolving issues surrounding Pither’s Point Park, the two-chain shore allowance, and roads in the vicinity.
The committee also is working towards a new agreement for the provision of sewer and water services to Couchiching First Nation.
•Our Library and Technology Centre received funding for the construction of a new facility at the corner of Reid Avenue and Second Street.
The library board, consisting of local volunteers, has been diligent in its fundraising and passionate in its development of this project. I urge residents to contribute, if possible, to this worthy project (all financial contributions are eligible for a tax receipt).
•The museum renovations were completed on time and within budget.
As one of our area’s oldest buildings, I would encourage people to visit the “little old school house.” The changes are impressive and help make the facility a valuable component of our downtown core.
•The Ministry of Children and Youth Services announced the construction of a youth detention centre in Fort Frances on property owned by Ontario Realty Corp.
Council requested representation on the building committee to help oversee aspects of the project development. Construction of this project is slated for 2008, with completion projected in early 2009.
This facility is expected to employ 20 full-time and 10 part-time employees.
One of the predominant concerns of council continues to be the state of our local infrastructure, primarily roads, water, and sewer. Our aging sewer and water systems need refurbishment.
Lately, we have been fortunate to perform upgrades in areas where we have been successful in attaining government funding. This past year we upgraded roads, water, and sewer on Central Avenue, Scott Street, and Church Street.
Plans to upgrade the underpass have been contemplated for more than 10 years but finally began this past summer. There have been many challenges at this project as there were many unknowns.
We believe we are on track to finish this project in the fall of 2008, and have a better access to and from the north end for our residents.
Council and administration continues to represent our town on numerous local, regional, and provincial bodies. We continue to attend important regional, provincial, and federal events to garner knowledge and further the interests of Fort Frances through lobbying efforts.
I would like to thank all the residents for the confidence you have given this council and myself to represent your needs as a community. And I would like to wish everyone best wishes for the holiday season, and a happy and prosperous 2008.
From the Mayor’s Desk logo