Council to weigh deal with RRFDC

Given the Rainy River Future Development Corp.’s contract with the town expired Nov. 30, the previous “lame duck” council was unable to renew the town’s agreement with them at that time.
But with the newly-elected council now at the table, it will have to decide at its Dec. 15 meeting whether the town will retain the RRFDC’s services for another three years.
“What do the experienced councillors think of the relationship with the RRFDC and the benefits they bring to the town?” Coun. Rick Wiedenhoeft asked at Monday’s committee of the whole meeting.
“The contract is for $112,000 a year, and that money is doubled by FedNor,” noted Coun. Struchan Gilson. “Basically, they operate with the philosophy that what’s good for the district is good for Fort Frances, and what’s good for Fort Frances is good for the district.”
Coun. Gilson also noted economic development officer Geoff Gillon provides a “focal point” for many new projects in the area.
“Not all things are visible. But any new business that comes into town, they [the RRFDC] are involved somehow,” echoed Coun. Neil Kabel, adding Wal-Mart, for instance, certainly consulted Gillon when scouting out Fort Frances in the past year or so.
“Are we getting the most bang for our buck? I don’t think so,” remarked Coun. Roy Avis.
“I agree with what Struchan said about what’s good for Fort Frances is good for the district. But is going to Tennessee worthwhile? I don’t think it is. I think it’s a waste of tax dollars,” he added.
“But it’s up to council to decide.”
Mayor Dan Onichuk encouraged his fellow councillors to take a look at the figures and get questions ready for next Monday’s meeting, at which RRFDC treasurer John McTaggart and chairman Telford Advent are expected to make a presentation before council.
At its Oct. 27 meeting, council was presented with a request from the Economic Development Advisory Committee to support its resolution to continue the contract with the RRFDC for 2003-06.
But council deferred the matter for consideration of the new council. Acting Fort Frances CAO Mark McCaig brought the issue back to the committee of the whole Monday to remind councillors to review the contract in preparation for the Dec. 15 meeting.
Also at Monday’s meeting, council approved janitorial contracts to Sue Deslauriers for the Public Works office, Ogden’s Cleaning for the public library, and Tom Pitrowski for the Children’s Complex at the cost of $7,190.40, $15,022.30, and $28,800, respectively.
Clerk Glenn Treftlin will prepare the necessary bylaw to be approved at the next council meeting Dec. 15.
Council also approved a report to ensure the town meets its contractual obligations in 2004 to plant flowers in the required plots in both cemeteries, and plant the same flower beds in the park areas.
This will include the purchase of 5,935 dozen flowers from Lowey’s Greenhouses at a cost of $14,559 (plus taxes) for the 2004 season prior to the 2004 operating budget being finalized.
Also Monday night, council:
•forwarded a request from the Canadian Institute for the Blind for a donation to the Rainy River District Municipal Association, on the grounds the “Eye Van” that comes here served the entire district;
•referred a review of the Rothwell Group Inc. proposal for securing a grant for the Portage Avenue underpass capital project back to the Operations and Facilities executive committee for further discussion;
•approved a request for financial support from Fort Frances “Meals on Wheels” in the amount of the grant for $10,000 (this is an increase of $400 from last year);
•approved the purchase of a quarter-page advertisement for the Oldtimers’ Hockey Challenge (to be played here Jan. 13) in the amount of $125 (this expenditure will be financed from the 2004 public relations budget line);
•received the building permit report for November;
•received the By-Law Enforcement department parking violations report for October. This noted a total of 46 tickets issued (44 written by bylaw officers, two by police), bringing the year-to-date total to 1,024; and
•received monthly reports for September-November from the KGS Group regarding CN’s Fort Frances yard.
(Fort Frances Times)