Fort Frances Council this week in review

The Fort Frances Council had their meeting for the month on July 12. During the meeting, a presentation was given from Boundary Waters Forest Management Corporation (BWFMC) president Mike Willick, the short-term fate of a new truck route was approved and it was decided that the Fort Frances Senior Centre name change would go back to the Senior Centre board for consideration.

Wood Rights

A presentation was given to council by Willick answering questions by the mayor on the mill and allocation of wood rights.

The questions included how fibre from the BWFMC is being utilized to benefit the Rainy River District.

Willick said the wood supply is set by the forest Management Plan for the next 20 years and that wood allocation cannot be changed under the current Sustainable Forest License (SFL), a long-term license granted for up to 20 years that grants the right to harvest all species of trees found in the licensed area. SFLs are reviewed every five years by an independent forest audit. 

Fort Frances Mayor June Caul said during the Committee of the Whole meeting that the town might have had the opportunity to bring wood that was destined for the mill and be accessed by another company to start a new business. 

However, Willick said any potential buyer should have had the political backing to get wood, because of the restrictive agreements placed by Resolute Forest Products, the former owner of the mill. 

More in Yesterday’s Times. 

Truck Route

Council also approved the recommendation by the Operations and Facilities Executive Committee to keep the truck route designation on Front Street as an alternate route to Scott Street. They also accepted the information relating to the construction of a bypass with no additional action.

The Planning and Development Executive Committee was considering relocating the truck routes upon receiving a letter from Riverfront Condominiums and La Verendrye Hospital. Four potential bypass routes were explored, each with a price tag of $30 Million or more, with several requiring the acquisition of land or relocation of homes along the route. Several Committee members felt the price was too much for the town’s current financial situation, and would like to revisit the issue as the Shevlin woodyard development unfolds.

Coun. Douglas Judson said he is hesitant to endorse the recommendation. He said in an emailed statement this was “another disappointing status quo outcome.”

Judson also asked for a recorded vote, to which four were in favour of approving the recommendation. Councillors Judson, Wendy Brunetta and John McTaggart voted against the recommendation.

Senior Centre name change

After the final bylaw for the name change to the Fort Frances Seniors Centre from the Sister Betty Kennedy Centre was set to be approved, this item went back to the senior centre board for more discussion.

Coun. John McTaggart pulled the item and said based on some research he has done, Sister Betty Kennedy was a tenacious and a dedicated person to drive forward the process to have today’s centre.

“I do not have a problem with it being called the Fort Frances Senior Centre,” McTaggart said. “That’s not the issue. I do struggle with Betty Kennedy’s name coming off the side of the building.”

McTaggart said he proposes an alternative solution to continue calling it the Fort Frances Senior Centre, but the Sister Betty Kennedy building.

Coun. Rick Wiendenhoeft said the item has to go back to the senior centre board for input.

The next meeting will take place on August 9, 2021. Town council meetings are open to the public through the Microsoft Teams platform or phone-in options. To access a council meeting follow the instructions at the top of the agenda you would like to attend. You can find the agendas posted at www.fortfrances.ca or call 807-274-5323 for assistance.

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