Community, financial incentive plans completed

A new community improvement plan, with a plan within it to attract and keep businesses in the area, recently was completed by municipal planner Faye Flatt—and it’s a step in the right direction for Fort Frances, said Mayor Glenn Witherspoon.
“This document couldn’t have come at a better time as far as heading in the direction the province wants us to go,” he remarked during the committee of the whole meeting Monday.
On the heels of his trip to the annual meeting of the Association of Municipalities of Ontario in Toronto last week, Mayor Witherspoon noted the town must be in position to make the most of the increased funds the province soon will be making available.
Flatt noted the economic development financial incentive plan was a crucial part of the overall document.
“While the Municipal Act currently prohibits ‘bonusing,’ the financial incentive is way to get around that,” she noted. “It is a tool that is available to the municipality.
“By having a community plan with designated projects in it that the ministry has approved, it allows us to give incentives we otherwise couldn’t.”
Flatt said a few of the ideas for incentives include exemption from building permit fees, waiving of landfill tipping fees, and a land availability program, whereby the town possibly could get rid of land at below market value—something prohibited under the Municipal Planning Act.
“Once the community plan been approved by the ministry, it can’t be added to. So we brainstormed and came up with as many ideas as possible,” she added.
Flatt stressed the importance of having a community improvement plan, saying it should expedite the funding application process if a municipality were to seek funding for one of the projects mentioned in a plan the ministry already has approved.
Following a request from town council this spring, Flatt, along with a small committee including local economic development officer Geoff Gillon, has been working on the community plan since late May.
She said the document came together through meetings, talking with a consultant, and after studying sources like the “Tomorrow” report and community plans from London, Cambridge, and Thunder Bay.
The document has been sent to the Economic Development executive committee here and to the ministry for a pre-consultation. It most likely will come back from the province with some changes, said Flatt.
The document won’t be finalized until after public gets to see it at meeting sometime this winter.