District to pursue ASB

The Rainy River District Area Services Board looks like it will become a reality following an announcement by Coun. Dave Bourgeault at Monday’s night’s regular council meeting here.
“We unanimously decided to proceed with our proposal to go forward with the Area Services Board,” said Coun. Bourgeault, who is chair of the ASB working group.
The decision was made last week after the second meeting of the ASB working group, which consists of 13 municipal reps, a secretary-treasurer, and two Ministry of Northern Development and Mines reps.
The decision—representing the double majority required by the province to pursue an ASB—was made before the March 31 deadline.
Coun. Bourgeault said the group also has taken the next step, which is to submit an application for funding assistance in the amount of $91,500 to the ministry.
This is to cover start-up costs and to hire a consultant to oversee the transition of services from the local District Social Services Administrative Board (DSSAB) to the ASB.
“This, of course, means the DSSAB would fold into the ASB. The administration that’s in place would still function as we still need them,” noted Coun. Bourgeault, who has sat on the DSSAB for several years.
The ASB’s duties would include handling the land ambulance, Ontario Works, day care, and social housing services currently overseen by the DSSAB, as well as managing public health and homes for the aged.
“We’ll then contract out the public health and homes for the aged services out to the Northwestern Health Unit and Rainycrest, so there won’t be much of a change there,” Coun. Bourgeault explained.
While the unanimous decision is a definite step forward, said Coun. Bourgeault, he also admitted there’s much work to be done besides waiting for word of ministry funding.
For instance, working group members must submit their issues to be addressed by the consultant to secretary-treasurer Bill Naturkach by April 11 for review.
A committee then will be struck to put the terms of reference together, with terms of reference from Algoma and Kenora districts—which also are pursuing ASBs—being sought for comparison.
The ASB boundaries will follow the same boundaries currently followed by DSSAB.
The number of ASB voting members is based on a formula which accounts for the number of electors per municipality (e.g., a population of 2,500 or less equals one member, 2,501-5,000 equals two members, and 5,001+ equals three members).
This equates to three members for Fort Frances, two for Atikokan, and one each for Alberton, Chapple, Dawson, Emo, La Vallee, Lake of the Woods, Morley, and Rainy River.
The three unincorporated areas each will have one rep, making for a total board membership of 16.
The next ASB working group meeting is slated April 16 at 6:30 p.m. at the Civic Centre.