Lakers plea to council for town support

Duane Hicks

The board of directors for the new Fort Frances Lakers is prepared to meet with the town to find ways to keep Junior ‘A’ hockey alive in “Hockeytown Northwestern Ontario.”
That’s the message Lakers’ president Milt Strachan Jr., backed by a gallery full of supporters, conveyed to council at its regular meeting Monday night.
“We’re in the overtime game of our lives,” warned Strachan, who noted the team is in the process of becoming a not-for-profit corporation.
“[But] while this is a daunting task, we feel it can accomplished with community support,” he added. “Our intent is to copy-cat the Superior International Junior Hockey League franchises Sioux Lookout Flyers and Dryden Ice Dogs, who are community-based teams.
Strachan said having a Junior ‘A’ hockey team positively impacts the town, not only generating revenue for local businesses (motels, restaurants, sporting goods stores, etc.) but also offering recreational entertainment for many hockey fans.
He added teams that come to Fort Frances to play hockey are envious of our top-notch facilities, and impressed by the volunteers, their fundraising efforts, and the crowds that come out to the games.
Having a junior team also inspires children to join the local minor hockey program, and is vital to the development of local junior hockey talent.
Likewise, junior hockey teams such as the Lakers give back to the community in several ways—from school visits, where players meet and read to students, to providing coaching assistance and running evaluation camps for the minor hockey program.
Strachan suggested several ways the town can help the new team, including:
•reduced ice rental fees, especially morning practice time;
•possibly getting a percentage of concession profits; and
•possibly running the summer hockey school to generate revenue.
Strachan also said hockey in Fort Frances is so well-organized and well-run that it’s rare to see a team come forward to ask for help.
“While we recognize that this initiative is a daunting task, we are prepared to work hard to achieve this end,” Strachan pledged.
“This ambitious undertaking will only succeed if the community and the town collectively pool resources like volunteers and financial support,” he stressed.
Also at Monday night’s meeting, council:
•agreed to an advertising request from the Fort Frances Times re: 2010 Vacation Guide Maps in the amount of $520;
•agreed to contribute a donation to the Chronic Pain and Addiction Symposium, taking place this Saturday from 9:30 a.m.-2 p.m., in the amount equal to the rental of the Townshend Theatre;
•selected KGS Group of Winnipeg to complete an infiltration-inflow study of the sanitary sewer collection system at a cost of $259,388;
•awarded Tender No. 09-OF-08 (supply of a grader and trade in of a 1988 Model 720 Champion Grader) to Nortrax Equipment of Thunder Bay at a net cost of $214,601.60;
•agreed to a financial request from the Fort Frances Chamber of Commerce to sponsor the Northwestern Ontario Associated Chambers of Commerce’s annual general fall meeting, which will take Sept. 24-26 at La Place Rendez-Vous (the town will donate $1,000 to sponsor a luncheon);
•approved Minutes of Settlement for six local properties;
•approved a travel and per diem claim for Mayor Roy Avis in the amount of $1,990.10, for Coun. John Albanese in the amount of $1,471.75, for Coun. Andrew Hallikas in the amount of $1,430.02, and for Coun. Ken Perry in the amount of $2,096.13 (for attendance at the AMO conference Aug. 17-19 in Ottawa);
•approved a per diem claim for Coun. Sharon Tibbs in the amount of $60 (for attendance at a Rainy River District Municipal Association meeting Aug. 19 in Devlin);
•received a report on the town’s infectious control policy;
•proclaimed Oct. 18-24, 2009 as “Local Government Week” in the Town of Fort Frances;
•received a memorandum of understanding for community participation in the Northwestern Ontario Immigration Portal Project, and referred it to the Economic Development Advisory Committee; and
•agreed, at the request of Shaw Cable, to write a letter speaking against the CRTC’s new “fee for carriage” tax, which would see cable customers pay an extra $10 on their monthly bills.