Fort Frances to get a makeover

By Merna Emara
Staff Writer

Fort Frances’ entrance is set for a facelift

The Rainy River Future Development Corporation (RRFDC) has developed a Tourism and Marketing Plan for Fort Frances. Its vision includes the beautification of Scott Street, town entrances and the Trans-Canada Highway.

This marketing plan report was submitted by Cody Vangel, chief building official and municipal planner, in order to seek input from committee and determine an ideal path going forward.

This plan will tackle three aspects: cleaning of graffiti; advocating for fewer billboards; screening of storage businesses at the west entrance with planted material, if right of way permits; and prioritizing ongoing trash pickup for the Fort Frances portion of the Trans-Canada Highway.

Tannis Drysdale, economic development officer at RRFDC, said the issues surrounding the town entrances are not new.

“The [signs] have been slowly improving over the years, but they still do not set the tone for a tourism experience,” Drysdale said. “You enter either through an industrial site, which will improve significantly with the removal of the mill, or through the Industrial Highway Park on the other side of town.”

Drysdale said they want to do anything that could encourage more greenery and better landscaping. These improvements would benefit Fort Frances by creating a positive first impression.

Coun. Wendy Brunetta said she is a proponent of making the community welcoming. However, she said the town will be doing road construction in the west end of town and there may be some businesses putting up screeners or a barrier that could impede the work.

Therefore, Brunetta said, this would be a very viable project to undertake in the coming years when the town is not working in the same location set for improvement by the RRFDC.

The report also referred to a need for grant funding in order to influence the planting of greenery to better screen the “unsightly” businesses.

Brunetta also said the town has a portion of the Municipal Accommodation Tax (MAT) for this work.

“I’m definitely in favour of cleaning it up,” Brunetta said. “I think dealing with the signage or the billboards has made a difference. And I think it’s just something we should keep on top of.”

According to the report, Vangel said it was not made clear to town administration where exactly graffiti was present.

However, it was found that the Mowat Nursing Station appears to have some graffiti on the building. The Mowat Nursing Station is anticipated for demolition this summer, which will take care of the graffiti display, according to the submitted report.

Drysdale said when consultants were in town, there was significant graffiti on a couple of buildings downtown.

“This request goes to the core of who we are as a community and I like that it’s going to be dealt with in the official plan, which explains everything that we do to make those entrances better,” Drysdale said.