New ‘market square’ body slated

Duane Hicks

The town will be forming a new Rainy Lake Market Square Advisory Committee to provide input on the project to take place next year at the site in downtown Fort Frances.
The Economic Development Advisory Committee recommended council appoint an ad hoc advisory committee to work alongside the architect firm, which is yet to be hired, and Chief Building Official Travis Rob to move forward on the concept.
EDAC also recommended to council that representatives of the Rainy River Future Development Corp., Ministry of Northern Development and Mines, Downtown BIA, and Clover Valley Farmers’ Market, along with town staff, be appointed to this committee.
Fort Frances CAO Mark McCaig said he agreed with the idea of an ad hoc committee and the lineup is “a good start,” but asked that the committee structure be discussed further by the Planning and Development executive committee.
“We had spoken at one of our previous meetings, just recently, that we were going to have a pretty broad consultation regarding it, with stakeholders and everything,” McCaig noted.
“We know what we have to construct because we submitted a grant application as such,” he added.
“The Ministry of Northern Development and Mines will be represented there just to make we’re on track as to what we’d previously proposed during the grant application process.
“We have a few other players identified here, but council may want to consider some other groups as part of the recommendation—maybe some councillors, some town staff that you want to identify,” McCaig noted.
“Maybe even solicit some members from the public that may be interested, as well.”
Regardless of who’s on the committee, McCaig said he foresees opportunities for public comment.
“Certainly we’re not going to live in any kind of a shell here,” he stressed.
“Despite what may be inferred in the community, this is going to be a community project and we’re going to do our best to achieve something that everybody can be proud of,” McCaig pledged.
Long process
The process of demolishing the Rainy Lake Hotel and redeveloping the property stems back to 2010.
That year, the Downtown BIA had a study done to look at possibly levelling the old hotel and turning the property into a park area,
Then in the summer of 2011, council decided during its strategic planning process that it needed to find a solution for the vacant structure, which had become prohibitive to repair.
In late 2011, the town directed the RRFDC to form a committee to examine options for the building.
It, in turn, invited representatives of various community groups and town divisions to form an advisory committee.
Starting in October, 2011, the committee met and reviewed the information available on the building, its structure, its legal status, current studies and research, and the options available.
The committee discussed the various solutions to vacant hotels used in other communities, available funding, and the current economic conditions within Fort Frances.
The final recommendation of that committee was to pursue the development of the market square concept.
A consultation process was conducted—either through interview or meeting—from March-May, 2012.
The BIA, Chamber of Commerce, EDAC, RRFDC , and Museum Advisory Committee received presentations, and a public meeting was held at the local Legion on April 18, 2012.
Input also was sought through individual interviews via e-mail or phone.
A total of 78 stakeholders or members of the public provided input or attended a meeting regarding the proposed creation of the Rainy Lake Market Square.
A proposal, including a concept for a market square, was submitted to both the provincial and federal governments for funding.
In August, 2014, the town received $997,500 from the Northern Ontario Heritage Fund Corp.
The town still is waiting to hear back from FedNor regarding more funding for the project.
In related news, the 200 block of Scott Street will be closed to through traffic from 7 a.m. on Friday until 8 p.m. on Sunday.
This is so sewer service work can be done at the former Rainy Lake Hotel site.
Pedestrian traffic will not be affected, nor will traffic through the intersections at Mowat Avenue and Potage Avenue.
Large trucks are to use Front Street.