DSSAB chair shoots down council request

The chairwoman of the Rainy River District Social Services Administration Board strenuously declined a request from Fort Frances town council that she and CAO Donna Dittaro appear before it to explain the current situation with the board’s new building whose renovations are over-budget.
Val Pizey, who also is mayor of Lake of the Woods Township, said she “objected strongly” to being told to appear before council.
“I do not feel I owe the Town of Fort Frances any more of an explanation than I owe to the Township of Morley or my own township,” Mayor Pizey said during DSSAB’s regular monthly meeting last Thursday.
The letter from town council requesting the presentation was delivered by Coun. Tannis Drysdale, who represents Fort Frances on the DSSAB.
“I’m not going to be ordered by your council, unless this board tells me that’s where it wants me,” Mayor Pizey told Coun. Drysdale.
She did say she would be willing to make a presentation at the next meeting of the Rainy River District Municipal Association, which is scheduled for late January.
“I am quite prepared to stand up and tell every mayor, reeve, and councillor in this district what we’re doing,” Mayor Pizey said. “I agree that explanations are due to the municipalities.”
At its meeting Nov. 28, Fort Frances town council learned the DSSAB was $300,000 over budget with renovations at its new office, located at 450 Scott Street (where Family and Children’s Services used to be).
The board had approved a budget of $1.2 million but the estimated budget as of Nov. 23 was $1.5 million, Dittaro had said last month.
However, drawings for the renovations aren’t complete and the DSSAB continues to try to find cost savings, she added.
DSSAB board members agreed with Mayor Pizey that an explanation regarding the new building’s budget was best given at the RRDMA’s annual meeting next month.
“Do it once and everybody’s got the same answers,” said Linda Armstrong, who represents Dawson on the DSSAB.
Michael Lewis, representing the unorganized areas of the east end of the district, gave an update from the building committee, noting the electrical component of the plans has been the “big issue in terms of cost overruns.”
It was recommended the board do a three-phase electrical system in the new building, which will be more cost-efficient in the long-term.
Ross Donaldson, DSSAB’s maintenance supervisor, said the board has a firm electrical price and that the electrical drawings are complete, though the committee doesn’t have them yet.
The mechanical drawings are not yet complete, but are “very close,” Donaldson added.
La Vallee Reeve Emily Watson asked about the addition being built on the east end of the building and what it would contain.
Donaldson explained it would house the reception area, a fully-accessible washroom, a waiting room, interview room, and a lift.
“That’s all public area. That is where most of the public will be dealt with,” he noted.
Morley Reeve Gary Gamsby stressed this addition “was not something that was added after the project started,” but had been part of the original plans in order to create a fully-accessible building in accordance with provincial laws.