ASB committee formed, appointments made

Representatives from several district municipalities met last night in Fort Frances, “forming the nucleus of a working group” that will discuss the formation of an Area Services Board (ASB), in the words of Fort Frances CAO Bill Naturkach.
Fort Frances Coun. Dave Bourgeault was elected chair and Emo Reeve Russ Fortier is the vice-chair. Naturkach will serve as secretary-treasurer.
The meeting was fairly brief, as it was decided to invite three representatives from the unincorporated townships before going any further.
Esther Taylor-Smith, the Ministry of Northern Development and Mines’ ASB coordinator on the Northern Services Implementation project, helped the working group lay out the path ahead and answered questions.
The board has to send an initial resolution to MNDM by March 31 in order to qualify for funding, said Taylor-Smith. This resolution must include a stage one proposal.
The stage one proposal must identify what core services to take on, geographic boundaries, list the services the board intends on providing, a timetable, and development of a budget and request for funding. The ASB boundary doesn’t have to be the same as the DSSAB, but it has to make sense financially.
Council representatives expressed concern with the deadline’s approach in two weeks.
“A number of municipalities have asked for the deadline to be extended,” said Taylor-Smith, adding it’s been difficult to accomplish due to the leadership race preventing the legislature from sitting.
Stage two of the proposal will represent the biggest bulk of the committee’s work, stemming from having to develop business cases.
All municipal representatives were in support of fleshing out the possibility of forming an ASB.
Atikokan Mayor Dennis Brown said his council would have preferred to remain with the DSSAB.
“We feel we have to be involved with the ASB since the majority are,” he said.
Emo Reeve Russ Fortier said nothing has been carved in stone.
“It’s a thumbnail sketch and then a full-blown proposal,” he said. “We still want to look at it.”
Other council representatives agreed with Fortier.
Dawson Coun. Linda Armstrong said, “My council said, ‘let’s look at it, if we don’t like it, let’s back up’.”
The board will sit again on Wednesday, March 20 at 5 p.m. in the committee room at the Civic Centre. They will work on a draft of stage one then.