Town joins task force with Falls

The Town of Fort Frances will be a part of the “Border Sister Cities Task Force” first announced by International Falls city council last week.
Council voted in favour of the partnership at its meeting here this past Monday night after Mayor Dan Onichuk brought forward a motion to get on board and get the lines of communication open regarding border issues.
The mayor noted International Falls CAO Rod Otterness was going to be making “a pitch” to council at its June 27 meeting.
But he felt Fort Frances should agree to the partnership right now, make the June 27 meeting the inaugural meeting of the border task force, and get talks going.
“We’ll get together and talk about when we’re going to meet, how we’re going to deal with issues, and how we’re going to move on some issues, like economic development and tourism,” Mayor Onichuk remarked.
“I think it’s a positive approach,” he added. “I think it’s an extension of the sister city thing that happened [three] years ago and there was no consistent follow-up.
“With both councils on board, both administrations on board, we’ll be able to work together and tackle some issues on both sides of the border,” the mayor remarked.
“It’s going to be a good thing when we start communicating on issues of mutual concern,” he stressed. “And perhaps, for both sides of the border, we can get some things done.
“We’ve got a lot to learn from each other as we go down this road.”
The Fort Frances members of the task force will include Mayor Onichuk, CAO Mark McCaig, Coun. Rick Wiedenhoeft, and Coun. Roy Avis (alternate).
A story in last Thursday’s Daily Bulletin quoted International Falls Mayor Shawn Mason as saying the partnership would result in “a more powerful voice.”
“United we stand, divided we fall,” she had remarked.
Both Mayor Mason and Otterness also had stressed their move to create the task force shouldn’t be viewed as a sign International Falls is not happy with the relationship the two communities currently have.
“What we hope to do is broaden and deepen our already good relationship,” Otterness had said.
“We have that great relationship with our sister city of Fort Frances and it’s because we’ve had that great relationship historically that we see this as an opportunity to deepen our relationship and try to take on issues at a higher level of government,” he added.