Housing complex given go-ahead

Duane Hicks

A new housing development in the north end of town will be going ahead this spring.
Town council passed a zoning bylaw amendment at its meeting Monday night to re-zone property proposed to be severed from 1038 and 1040 York Ave. N., and fronting Eighth Street West, from Residential Type 2 to Residential Type 4.
This fall, the Fort Frances Native Urban Wahkaihganun Corp. had applied to amend the zoning to accommodate construction of a 10-unit residential complex and permit the use of the property for multi-residential use.
Neil Kabel, project manager for the Fort Frances Native Urban Wahkaihganun Corp., said yesterday that they plan to start building the residential complex in the spring, as soon as service lines can be installed and the concrete slab poured.
Kabel said there’s definitely a need for the housing, noting a project pre-study actually indicated 39 units could be filled if more complexes could be built.
“We were provided with the funding for 10 units,” Kabel remarked.
“We would look forward to more funding in the near future, too, if that happens to come from the federal and provincial [governments].
“We’re not doing this hoping we can fill it. We certainly know there’s the need out there,” Kabel stressed.
“If there wasn’t already names gathered to fill it, we wouldn’t be doing this project.”
Kabel said the pre-study did not include large families, but focused more on youths and single adults.
He added if they were to do another study for a future development, it would focus on families.
“I have over 100 applications of families that are in need, one way or another,” Kabel said.
“Not suggesting that they couldn’t [find housing in] the private sector, but they don’t have that kind of income to support paying all of their salary to a private landlord,” he explained.
“There’s lots of need out there.”
During a public meeting held Oct. 12, council was presented with a petition signed by neighbourhood residents opposed to the re-zoning.
Council also heard a presentation from north-end resident Herman Pruys, who outlined various concerns about the proposed housing, including its proximity to the lagoon.
But municipal planner Faye Flatt said yesterday these concerns were addressed in her final report to council, which recommended the re-zoning go ahead.
“Some of the issues that were raised weren’t really planning issues,” she noted.
“The issue of low-income housing isn’t a planning issue, that’s completely different.
“The one issue that was raised was environmental,” Flatt said. “Because that was placed on the table, I had to investigate it.
“I did our due diligence,” she added. “I contacted the Ministry of Environment, they searched their records, they made the determination that there had been an effluent spill years ago.
“It was kind of a one-off,” Flatt said. “It was a contractor that hit a line, and there was flooding.”
A report was done by a third-party consulting firm, which deemed the effluent did not have any lasting effects that were significant on the property.
“So, based on that information, we could move forward with the amendment,” Flatt said. “Now, if MoE said, ‘Yes, that’s been an issue that’s been identified, we would have looked at it closer.”
Flatt added she will be sending out notices to the people who put their names on the list at the Oct. 12 public meeting and asked to be notified of the bylaw being passed, adding it’s up to them if they want to appeal the re-zoning decision.
Policing costs
Also Monday night, council approved a resolution regarding OPP contract policing costs, asking the provincial government—through its police service grant in the Ontario Municipal Partnership Fund (OMPF) formula—to cover all increased costs associated with the recently-negotiated OPP contract for all northern and rural municipalities.
The resolution states that:
•the cost of policing in Ontario for contract OPP has increased dramatically over the last decade, far exceeding the rate of inflation;
•the Province of Ontario proposed a wage free for provincial employees and municipalities for a two-year period, but the province recently negotiated a front-loaded 5.075 percent increase with the OPP with the possibility of a top-up at the termination of the agreement;
•municipalities must cover nearly two-thirds of policing costs from local taxpayers; and
•northern and rural municipalities have suffered significant economic downturn and dramatic losses of tax revenue.
The resolution will be forwarded to all northern and rural municipalities with OPP contract policing for their support.
Mayor Roy Avis also took a moment Monday evening to wish the public happy holidays.
“As this year comes to a close, council would like to thank all of the citizens of Fort Frances for their support throughout the year of 2010,” he remarked.
“It’s been a pleasure serving you.
“It’s a community we can all be proud of, and I know council is looking forward to the next four years,” the mayor added.
“With that, I would like to wish every citizen a Merry Christmas and a happy new year, and a prosperous new year.”
Mayor Avis also reminded the public not to drink and drive, adding the OPP will be out in force with its Festive R.I.D.E. campaign during the holiday season.
Also at Monday’s meeting, council:
•approved travel expenses for CAO Mark McCaig in the amount of $116 (this was for attendance at meetings in Thunder Bay regarding First Nations negotiations and arbitration for fire services on Dec. 7 and Dec. 9, respectively);
•approved travel and per diem claims for Mayor Roy Avis in the amount of $330.08 (for attending a meeting regarding First Nations negotiations Dec. 7 in Thunder Bay);
•referred a financial request from Northwestern Ontario Sports Hall of Fame, re: annual membership and fundraising campaign, to the Administration and Finance executive committee for its recommendation;
•passed a bylaw to designate Mayor Avis as head of the municipality for purposes of the Municipal Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act;
•passed a bylaw to authorize temporary borrowing as required until revenues are collected in 2011 (the agreement is with the CIBC to borrow sums not to exceed $4 million).
•passed a bylaw to authorize an agreement for purposes of geospatial data exchange with the Ministry of Natural Resources; and
•passed a bylaw to authorize a bank loan from CIBC in the amount of $747,889 to finance the 2010 capital projects (this loan has an eight-year amortization and a three-year term).