Mayor thanks town employees for work during storm

By Ken Kellar
Staff writer
kkellar@fortfrances.com

Council Briefs

Fort Frances Mayor June Caul is thanking town employees for their hard work during the recent state of emergency, and cautioning the public that the town isn’t yet out of the woods.

At Monday night’s council meeting, Caul gave her customary update to the rest of council and referenced the storm that blew through the region over the weekend and wreaked havoc on the town’s sewer systems and many individual’s homes.

“As many people already know, the town declared a state of emergency on the weekend because of the heavy rainfall that caused severe infrastructure damage and will continue to impact the town in the weeks to come,” she said.

“Our White Pine Sanitary Lift Station is completely compromised and will need to be replaced. Drainage flow was impeded by ditches and culverts that are still frozen.”

Even with the state of emergency and seemingly dire straits, Caul stressed that thanks to the hard work of town staff through the weekend, much worse outcomes were avoided.

“Town crews did a phenomenal job of ensuring that overflow issues were rerouted and abated in order to prevent further damage to infrastructure and ensure our drinking water system was not affected in any way,” Caul said.

“A huge thank you goes out to our operations and facilities manager Travis Rob for your leadership. Thank you to Craig Miller, environmental superintendent, and to crews from the water treatment plant and sanitary and waste water treatment plant, those being Dale Hughes, Kelly Cunningham, Greg Wiedenhoeft, Jay Bruyere, Bryan Patterson, Eric Gustafson and Colin Angus. Thank you very much to public works transportation superintendent Cody Vangel, and to Ray Calder, Jeff Bragg, Danny Boileau and Larry Bragg. Your commitment to the town and its residents is exceptional.”

Caul also extended her thanks to several businesses, both local and from neighbouring communities, as well as Couchiching First Nation, for also stepping up to help the town deal with the staggering amount of rain the region received over the weekend.

“Thank you to Patrick Briere and Tyler Moffitt for your CEMC expertise, guidance and updates throughout the weekend. We are very lucky to have such committed and professional leaders and staff and great neighbours in times of emergency.”

However, even as Caul noted that even as the weather has turned, there is still plenty of damage done, to say nothing of some residents of the town who have had to deal with feet of water in basements.

“We know that many residents have been dealing with flooding issues,” she said.

“Some roads are further damaged because of the volume of surface water, and town crews will be working on these in the days to come. We continue to ask residents to curb water usage as much as possible to help alleviate the strain on our sanitary system at this time.”

SPLASH PAD FUNDING

During Monday night’s meeting, Council accepted a letter from Farmboy, committing to a donation of $100,000 towards the design and construction of a splash pad for Fort Frances. The letter was to restate a previous committment.

During her address, Mayor Caul also delivered some remarks in regards to the recent controversy surrounding a proposed donation for a local splash pad by the Beyak Automotive Group.

News broke last week from CKDR in Dryden that the Group has committed to funding a splash pad in the city, but had approached Fort Frances council with a similar proposal. Town CAO Faisal Anwar wrote that administration had begun doing the legwork for a preliminary proposal when the group approached the town in February, before the discussions stalled out in early March.

Caul spoke to the matter by highlighting that council did not know about the proposal, as the process ended before administration could bring it before council, but that she is always grateful to any community partners who want to help make the town a better place to live for all.

“Since [the CKDR story], there have been many negative comments made through the media,” Caul said.

“As head of council, I apologize for any miscommunication that developed from this offer, and hope that in the future this does not happen again. I believe that I can safely speak at least for the majority of council that any offer of such generosity should not be taken lightly or ignored, and I hope that the Beyak Automotive Group and the Town will have a positive relationship in the future. The Beyak Group has been instrumental in funding the Fort Frances Gymnastics club, and it is an admired community partner that has supported many events and organizations in Fort Frances. I want to take this opportunity to say thank you to the Beyak Automotive Group for your commitment to making this community a better place for families and organizations to flourish.”

MOFFAT FUND GRANTS

The next round of applicants for the Moffat Family Fund Grant are selected and will soon be on their way to Winnipeg for final consideration.

At Monday’s council meeting, Coun. Mike Behan gave the rest of council an update regarding the annual grant, that routinely sees tens of thousands of dollars of funding come into the region for community organizations and initiatives.

Behan noted that the steering committee had met to go over the applications they had received from those interested in receiving part of the $97,000 that has been earmarked for the town for this year, and had prepared a list of names for council to review in-camera.

“After needing to contact The Winnipeg Foundation for clarification on a matter, the committee then met again on Thursday, April 14 to finalize its recommendations,” Behan said.

“These recommendations will be discussed by council during the in-camera portion of tonight’s meeting, and if approved they then will be forwarded to The Winnipeg Foundation for final approval, with the funding allocations hopefully to be announced at a council meeting sometime over the summer.”

Following the in-camera portion of Monday night’s meeting, a motion was carried to submit the list of selected applicants to the Fund for consideration.

The Moffatt Family Fund has traditionally been generous to local organizations in Fort Frances, distributing portions of the 2021 fund to groups like KidSport Fort Frances, the local Salvation Army and Borderland Pride, among others.

CHAMBER BUSINESS EXPO

Another community event that’s swiftly approaching is the return of the annual Chamber of Commerce Business and Community Expo, scheduled to take place on May 13 and 14 at the Fort Frances Curling Club. The Expo has been cancelled for the past two years during the worst of the COVID-19 pandemic, and this year’s theme — Staycation — will help encourage local residents to get out around the district and enjoy all it has to offer.

“There is no admission fee for visitors this year, but donations of non-perishable food items will be accepted,” Behan said.

“To reserve a booth or to request the information package and prices, please contact Chamber executive director Heather Johnson at 274-5773 or via email at thefort@fortfranceschamber.com, but be sure to hurry as I’m told booths are filling up.”

CITIZEN OF THE YEAR

Behan also gave an update on the state of the Citizen of the Year nominations, noting that the committee has received two submissions for the award so far, with time yet left for more people to make additional nominations.

“I wish to remind residents that nominations are urged and remain open for both the Citizen of the Year and the new Junior Citizen of the Year awards, with the submission deadline being Friday, September 30 at 4:00 p.m., after which, the committee will meet to select the recipients of these prestigious honours,” Behan said.

Behan said nomination forms are available on the town’s website, and hard copies are available at the Civic Centre.