Few attend budget meeting

The voice of the town’s residents was relatively quiet Monday evening as only a few people showed up to give council input on what they wanted to see in the 2003 budget.
“I’m unhappy only four people came forward from a population of 8,500,” Mayor Glenn Witherspoon said after hearing the residents give brief presentations.
But those four did have much to say about where the town should be going.
“I think you should have a gradual tax increase of one percent per year,” said Allan Tibbetts. “That way, there will be no dramatic increases and you can hold some money in reserve.”
Tibbetts also noted he would like to see parking meters in the downtown area and a tourist tax for hotels. And he said the town should spend more on tourist sites.
“We live in Fort Frances and I know I want to see a fort somewhere,” he remarked, adding more money should be pumped into water, sewer, and roads, as well as expanded parking downtown and a park at the old Fort Frances High School property.
He suggested there should be stricter enforcement of property standards as well as signs at the entrances to town, notifying which service clubs are here.
Likewise, Cathie Sinninghe said the entrances to town should be maintained better, the sewer systems improved, and a soup kitchen—recently started at the Joy of Fellowship Church—be supported.
“And you should put some money into recycling, get it back on track,” she remarked. “I think it’s really important.”
“I will ask, like I have for the past three years, to support a safe home here,” said Marlene Deschamps of the Fort Frances Native Women’s Association.
“If Dr. [Pete] Sarsfield gets his way, there will be no money coming in from our Bingos,” she added, noting the group has received recent support from the district Business Women’s Network but this alone won’t be enough to keep the shelter going.
“How many people would use the home a year?” asked Mayor Glenn Witherspoon, to which Deschamps replied 17 women stayed there last year—remaining there for between three weeks and three months.
Meanwhile, Janis Lesko, chair of the “Re-Inventing Fort Frances” committee, asked council to keep in mind any costs in the next year which may arise in relation to the “Re-Inventing” project, which seeks to improve the downtown business core and tourism in general here.
Administration already has been working on the budget, with the aim to get things wrapped up by the end of November.
There will be future opportunities for the public to give input, CAO Bill Naturkach had said previously.
Also Monday night, council:
•heard a presentation by Bill Martin and John Albanese regarding the policies and future direction of the Northwestern Health Unit;
•approved break-open ticket licence applications from the La Verendrye Hospital Auxiliary and the Rainbow Rhythmics Club;
•referred a 2002-03 crossing guard agreement with Lakeland Personnel to the planning and development executive committee;
•referred a request for a financial contribution from the Northwestern Ontario Municipal Association regarding Thunder Bay Mayor Ken Boshcoff’s campaign for presidency of the Association of Municipalities of Ontario to the administration and finance executive committee for recommendation;
•referred a request from Normiska for extension of the rail spur across McIrvine Road to its site to the operations and facilities executive committee;
•passed a bylaw to provide temporary exemption from calendar parking on the 600 block of Nelson Street until Dec. 31; and
•passed a bylaw to renew the provision of a public transportation system for the physically-disabled within the town.