Group airs mobility concerns

Heather Latter

The Northern Action Group (NAG) wants the Town of Fort Frances to adopt a proactive pedestrian “Mobility Plan,” which would include a strategy to clear sidewalks and roads from snow and ice, as well as the timely filling of potholes.
Council received a memorandum from Allan Bedard, on behalf of the group, requesting the removal of barriers for seniors and people with disabilities during its regular meeting Monday night.
“The ice and snow make it extremely dangerous for people using mobility aids, such as scooters, canes, crutches, wheelchairs, and those with vision impairments,” Bedard noted.
“It is no secret that slips [and] falls are a major threat to seniors’ health, and on numerous occasions these types of injuries often cause major disabilities and even death,” he warned.
Bedard added that potholes also are of great concern, calling them accidents waiting to happen for the walking public and those on scooters.
“Removing these barriers will permit healthier lifestyles and generate greater independence for those who need to utilize these transportation links,” he wrote.
The group noted a “Mobility Plan” for pedestrians would ensure year-round walkability and scooter ability in a timely fashion after each snowfall or freezing rain event.
Operations and Facilities manager Doug Brown explained the town’s “Winter Control Operations Policy” is reviewed on an annual basis.
He noted there are 54 km of sidewalks to clear and just one sidewalk blower. Clearing sidewalks faster would require the purchase of another blower.
Brown added the town is meeting the standards for snow removal, as well as for filling potholes.
“It’s always been up to the homeowner for snow and ice removal on sidewalks,” stressed Coun. Ken Perry, noting the town will do it when they can.
Also Monday night, Bedard and Wendell Stevens, appearing on behalf of the Seniors Retirees Against Pension and Elder Abuse, offered a presentation to council.
Stevens spoke about the significant and negative impact the tax download by Resolute Forest Products onto Fort Frances taxpayers will have on the community, if granted.
They requested council hire a top-notch law firm, as well as hire an independent firm to provide an unbiased property assessment based on the requirements of law.
Fort Frances CAO Mark McCaig noted the town is waiting to see how the Municipal Property Assessment Corp. is going to respond regarding the mill’s assessment appeal before it looks at going in a different direction.