Old Fort High to remain standing, for now

The Rainy River District School Board has to leave old Fort Frances High School standing until it can raise enough money to demolish it.
The issue was prompted by a Nov. 19 letter from the Town of Fort Frances inquiring about the board’s plans for the First Street East property and the security and safety of the building.
Both the board and the town wish to dispose of the building.
The board, at its regular monthly meeting here Tuesday night, decided to request a meeting with the town to discuss their mutual interests, possibilities of partnership, and to explore ways to dispose of the building and create a green space for the community.
It was reported at Tuesday’s meeting that the board’s financial committee directed Murray Quinn, the superintendent of plant and maintenance, to explore options for demolition and disposal of the building by local and regional contractors.
“The last projected costs were over $1 million,” said Laura Mills, chief financial officer for the board. “The board simply doesn’t have $1 million [for demolition].”
At present, the board has no funds allocated to the demolition or removal of the building. It was noted old Fort High is the last of eight properties in the district to be disposed of since the board was amalgamated.
Seven others have been successfully sold.
The Ministry of Education does not provide funds for such demolition projects. Trustees were told Tuesday that other boards across the province are facing a similar situation.
It was suggested money from school renewal revenues or operating, non-classroom reserves could be used to fund the demolition, but that would seriously curtail expenditures for the normal operation of district schools, such as plant operations, custodial, and support staff.
“Right now, the board is not prepared to do that,” Mills said.
The board was told old Fort High is checked weekly by the head of maintenance.
It also heard Fort Frances OPP has not received any call outs to the old high school for vandalism for more than a year, and that the Fort Frances Fire Department has no outstanding issues with the abandoned building.