Ice plan visited tonight

Ken Kellar

Members of the public should have a better idea of what the ice season is going to look like at the Memorial Sports Centre after tonight.

As per reporting in last week’s Fort Frances Times, town council is set to receive and make a recommendation on a report from the town’s manager of recreation and culture Aaron Bisson at tonight’s regular council meeting.

The report outlined two possible ice-in plans with recommendations on the length of time ice will need to be booked for and what extra steps would need to be taken in order to safely provide the ice time to different groups. Under the first proposed plan, groups would be required to rent and pay for the ice in two hour time blocks for each regular 50 minute block. According to the report this is to allow for cleaning and sanitization of the ice surfaces and other parts of the facilities between groups. However, the report also acknowledges that as the cost to user groups essentially doubles, those groups have “indicated that they will not be able to operate under those circumstances as the financial burden would be too high.”

The two hour block plan would also cost the town in increased staff numbers, while simultaneously diminishing the amount of usable ice time available to groups for rent.

The second plan described in the report requires one and a half hour blocks be rented for each regular 50 minute block, which decreases the extra financial strain that will be placed on ice users as well as increases the number of blocks the town can offer, and thus the amount of income they can generate from the surfaces. It also does not call for additional hiring of staff to clean the facility after each use, which in turn further reduces the cost to the town. The report also acknowledges that hiring for these staff positions has been difficult in the past.

The town is expected to discuss the ice-in plans tonight, and the recommendation from Bisson is for the town to adopt the one and a half hour block plan, as well as to delay the start of Under nine (U9) and younger programs. The fees and the town’s “no spectator” rule for the ice surfaces will also be revisited two weeks into the ice season.

Also at tonight’s council meeting, economic development officer Tannis Drysdale will provide a presentation encompassing the various activities the Rainy River Future Development Corp. (RRFDC) has been involved in and with throughout the year. Included in the presentation are updates on the continuing process of establishing the Boundary Waters Forest Management Corp., the governing body of the former Crossroute and Sapawe Forests following their amalgamation into the Boundary Waters Forest in April 2020. The report notes that the governing Board of Directors has been created, comprised of 12 members that include independent loggers, area First Nations and representatives of Manitou Forest Products, Resolute and Norbord. The report also notes that three inquiries were made in 2020 in regards to small manufacturing opportunities tied to forest product development.

Another point of interest on the RRFDC report is an update on the Rainy Lake Market. Following a slow start to the season due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the report explains that the summer has been “phenomenally successful,” with around 18 participating vendors and occasions where vendors have had to be turned away because of spacing requirements. Vendors have also expressed their pleasure with the season, as the report notes “the potential for future markets once restrictions have lifted appears even greater as vendors noted their volume of customers and product turnover has drastically increased this year. One fortunate vendor even managed to sell his entire seasons inventory in a single day.”

The market season will end this month, and the market will continue to provide hand sanitizer to customers, along with encouraging mask use and social distancing.

Tonight’s regular council meeting will follow the committee of the whole meeting, which gets underway at 5:30 p.m. Go to the town’s website for a link to the Microsoft Teams meeting.
According to the agenda, there are three in-camera items to be discussed by council following the public portion of the meeting.

The first item involves personnel matters about an identifiable individual, including municipal or local board employees: Staffing Matter

The second item is in regards to the security of the property of the municipality or local board: Lease Agreement for Municipal Land

The final in-camera item involves a proposed or pending acquisition or disposition of land by the municipality or local board: Property Inquiry

Other business on tonight’s agenda includes:

  • a report re: Bear Clan Patrol request
  • a report re: Financial Assistance in Response to COVID-19
  • a report re: Syncor Request to Retract SPCA from Title
  • a letter dated July 10 from A. McEwan re: lighting on 5th Street East
  • a report re: Entering into a new Terminal Kiosk Lease with Northern Youth Programs
  • letters of resignation from K.M. Lawson, Deputy Clerk and C. Mason, Committee of Adjustment
  • an email received August 20, 2020 from S. Covey and F. Murray, CN Rail re: Rail Safety Week
  • a by-law to approve a community gift agreement with CMA Foundation for funding under the COVID-19 Community Response Fund for Vulnerable Populations.