Council to ‘seed’ conference

In anticipation of an international conference coming here in August, town council voted Monday night to match International Falls city council in providing “seed money” for the event.
Council agreed to set aside up to the Canadian equivalent of $1,500 (U.S.) to put on the inaugural Canadian American Border Communities Organization (CABCO) conference.
It’s expected to attract delegates from border communities across Canada and the United States to discuss relevant issues, as well as work towards establishing a membership beyond the communities of Fort Frances and International Falls, Mn.
Falls city council agreed to provide up to $1,500 U.S. in “seed money” at its meeting Feb. 21.
Coun. Rick Wiedenhoeft told the rest of council that CABCO grew out of the “Sister Cities Task Force,” which was first established to discuss issues specifically to do with the border here, such as the impending passport requirement.
But over the last year, it became clear CABCO could become a much larger group, involving all border communities along the 49th parallel.
Mayor Dan Onichuk noted when he was elected in 2003, he was surprised to find out there wasn’t a lobby group of municipal leaders from border communities already in place to “speak with one voice.”
He added news of CABCO has been spreading and getting attention on both sides of the border. Thunder Bay-Rainy River MP Ken Boshcoff even has brought it up in the House of Commons.
The mayor said having the inaugural conference here would be an economic boost for the town, adding it was a “first run” and that future conferences likely would become self-sustaining as CABCO’s membership grows.
While she did vote in favour of spending up to $1,500 on the conference here, Coun. Tannis Drysdale said she’s helped organized similar events in the past and, depending on how many people come, it could end up costing $60,000-$70,000.
That said, she added CABCO should put together a firm agenda and budget to get a better idea of how much money the conference will end up costing.
Coun. Drysdale noted that, in fact, there are three organizations she knows of that already deal with border issues, including the Borders for Economic Security, Trade and Tourism (BESTT) coalition which was in Washington, D.C. last month to lobby the U.S. government on the passport issue.