EDAC provides input on strat plan

Sam Odrowski

The town’s new strategic plan is still being developed and the Economic Development Advisory Committee (EDAC) recently provided input at their meeting here Monday.

EDAC discussed objectives for the town, how the town’s changed since the last plan, what opportunities exist here, and new developments that could threaten the town.

When looking at the mill, the debarker has been removed, so the opportunity to restart the mill has been eliminated.

EDAC said council must now be prepared to work with investors and others to repurpose the buildings and property.

Exploring First Nation business opportunities is another area of focus.

The town needs to continue engaging and supporting all area First Nations regarding all potential business or partnership opportunities, according to EDAC.

As well, boosting tourism and making the town more appealing to people who might consider moving here was recommended as a priority for the strategic plan.

This could be done by enhancing tourism marketing and sports tourism by working with organizations to attract lager tournaments for hockey, baseball, squash, and swimming.

Some of the priorities for the current term of council that came out of the EDAC meeting included a continuation of upgrades or replacements to infrastructure throughout the community and repurposing the mill.

Others include development and planning for the Shelvin wood yard and supporting the development of communities and First Nations across the district through cooperation growth, job creation, and maintaining jobs.

Meanwhile, the town’s health services will have to be looked at over the next few years.

Riverside Health Care is the biggest employer in the district and jobs are a key component of economic development.

La Verendrye Hospital and Rainycrest, however, are both aging facilities and there will be substantial replacement costs in the near future.

Riverside has been told they must do something with Rainycrest by 2025 and an improvement to long-term care services would help to boost the town’s viability.

Some of the services and things that the town of Fort Frances is currently doing well, according to the EDAC, is getting tax bills out and remaining in a positive cash balance.

Others include good sidewalk and road maintenance year round, collaboration with projects, creating a positive sense about the community, responding to the needs of the community, and improved transparency.

The draft strategic plan should be ready at the next EDAC meeting on Jan. 6.

Once the plan is almost entirely complete, it will go to the public for further consultation.