Future of Emo discussed at planning session

About 40 people gathered Monday evening at the Emo Legion to talk about the future of Emo and present ideas to improve the community.
Prior to the meeting, the Township of Emo and Rainy River Future Development Corporation (RRFDC) sent out a survey asking the following questions of its residents:
•What would you like to see occur in our community in the next five years?;
•What prevents this from happening?; and
•What actions can we take to overcome the obstacles and achieve our vision?
These questions and many more were addressed Monday night.
“We got 30 or 40 people here plus the people that wrote in—I’m thrilled,” said RRFDC economic development officer Geoff Gillon.
“You won’t get two or three hundred people coming to these meetings. They all got the survey. Not only did they have the survey but they also had the opportunity to write in,” he added.
“It prints a moral authority for council to do some things. It’s not 100 percent accurate,” noted Gillon. “What happens in five years must start somewhere.”
One of the survey questions was: “What would you like to see occur in our community in the next five years?”
Answers included:
•An abattoir in Emo or in Barwick (Chapple Township), in the centre of Rainy River District, would keep more money here in the area, as well as some jobs.
• To improve the town’s appearances and highway entrances. To attract new families and residential home owners. Have plans and laws dictating what can be built and stored along the highway throughout the town. Promote good housekeeping of properties to clean up old buildings, old cars, junk, etc.
•A sidewalk improvement program, particularly on Florence Street between the railroad tracks. Plant trees on Front Street and side streets to replace dying willow trees.
•A unit that would house assisted living will be definitely needed. Golden Age Manor is an independent living facility with a long waiting list. Another building is required. Clean up lots along the highway through town! A bench downtown on the street side for elders who walk for their mail.
•In our community and district as well, there is an almost desperate need for housing for people who need help with things like medication, and keeping themselves and their environment clean. Most of those are seniors who have been independent for their whole life.
•An assisted living facility with 30-40 units in the central
• A youth centre with a pool table, dart board, ping pong, shuffle board, computers, and tutoring, somewhere for the teens in our community to hang out.
•More residential growth; more business growth; completion of the spray park; need more value for the taxes we pay; further beautification of our waterfront.
• Beautification of the main highway and businesses; community composting programmer and professionally-run dump (no skimming and selling by staff); better customer relations training for town administrators; handicapped-accessibility for all public buildings (town office, library).
•Continued expansion of sports field.
There have been many changes in Emo in the last 20 years. In 2001, the grocery store, Cloverleaf Grocery, changed Emo and was one of the suggestions on an earlier survey.
Other significant changes to the community included hospital renovations in 2001, and the ambulance service in 1988.
The 80’s saw the arrival of the snowmobile clubs which are now having difficulties.
Looking not only at changes that could happen in the next five years but maintaining the services that Emo has.
As the meeting progressed, active-minded participants voiced their options. Most of their concerns centered around money and the lack of it, safety issues, public park improvements and caring for seniors.
The categories that were made out of the suggestions are: municipal services and infrastructure, improved telecommunications, better housing, continued improvement of community safety, desirable services, environmental, greening of Emo, business development and promotion, and Improved Services.
Obstacles in the way of solving these problems were categorized as the following: shortage of funding for budget; improving on community participation and communication; seizing the moment when things happen; dealing with rules and regulations (red tape), community acceptance projects (visions), and innovative solutions needed.
The third and last part of the night’s meeting held was a discussion of ideas to overcome obstacles.
Ideas that were promoted included:
•Form an action committee to lobby government. It takes municipal leadership and backing to help make this happen. Beautify highway with flowers or some type of ornamentation;
•Emo should develop an on going communication strategy;
•Become a proactive community;
•Create a culture for leadership; and
•Create a positive environment for business and appreciate jobs well done in the forms of dinners or plaques. Volunteers are the key people to any successful growing community and Emo certainly is a growing community.
What will Emo look like in five years? The possibilities are endless.