Onichuk looking to make changes

Dan Onichuk, one of two mayoral candidates in next month’s municipal election, says it’s time things take a turn for the different in Fort Frances.
“We need to change the direction the town is going in. The population is decreasing, there’s no new industry,” he said.
“It is essential that we diversify the economy so we can keep our young people here.”
Onichuk said if the town can increase its industries, young people will come back here after finishing school, no matter what their field of study.
“Right now they can’t, because there’s nothing here,” he said.
Born and raised in Fort Frances, Onichuk spent several years working in southern Ontario, including a job as director of operations for the United Food and Commercial Workers Union.
A few years ago, he and his wife decided to move back to Fort Frances to raise their six children. He is currently working as a carpenter’s helper and as a private consultant in industrial relations.
Onichuk said one of the first things that has to change in the way things are run at the municipal level is in accessibility.
“We have to open the doors of town hall and listen to what people have to say,” he said, suggesting regular town hall meetings, talk-back shows, and an internet connection to council where people can voice concerns.
“It’s important that we hear and seek out as many opinions as we possibly can from residents before we make the final decisions,” he added.
Onichuk said his experience on various boards and committees would be an asset to him if he were elected mayor.
“I sat on different government boards with training and education, health care, just to name a few. It makes me feel confident I have the experience to lead the community,” he said.
“As a director, I was personally responsible for over 15,000 people in about 300 different workplaces. They all paid dues, and they all had a voice,” he said.
Onichuk said he’s also had experience lobbying the government, specifically for health care workers in nursing homes.
“We need to be aggressive when it comes to lobbying for new industry,” he said.
Onichuk also cited experience in creating budgets and overseeing the work of a large staff.
“It’s all similar. It’s just a different scale,” he noted. “Whether it’s for an organization of 50,000 people, or for a town of 8,500 people, the functions are still the same. It’s just different degrees.”
“The bottom line here is you’re dealing with other people’s money,” he continued. “You’re trying to guide a big corporation, or this town, which is a corporation, into the future.”