Public input sought for mill properties

Sam Odrowski

The town recently hired consultants to create redevelopment plans at the Shevlin Wood Yard and Mowatt Nursing Station.

Winnipeg based, HTFC Planning and Design, will be working with the town through 2020 to conduct land-use and economic feasibility studies at both of the former Resolute properties.

There will be a total of three public meetings over the next six to eight months where town residents can offer their input on what they would like to see done at each of the buildings.

“With a project like this pubic input is paramount, especially in such a tight knit community,” said Cody Vangel, the town’s chief building official.

“The wood yard is such a large mass of land that can really shape Fort Frances moving forward.”

The first public meeting is tentatively slated for mid-February and an official date will be announced shortly.

“I think for our first public meeting, the big intention of that is just to get the feel from the community and stakeholders as to what direction they see it going and I think that will really help HTFC work towards their vision,” Vangel noted.

The town will also be releasing information online to provide updates about the project.

To start, HTFC will be working with town staff and the public to identify the goals of the community, before exploring various ideas and developing a few different options in depth at each of the town owned buildings.

HTFC will then begin to hone in on the preferred project schemes that are chosen by council and publish their master plan for the project after a decision is made.

The redevelopment plans will be finalized by the end of 2020 and putting them into motion will be council’s focus in 2021, according to Vangel.

The cost to develop the plans has been heavily offset by the contributions made by the provincial and federal government.

On Jan. 9, Kenora-Rainy River MPP Greg Rickford announced $65,000 in provincial funding for the project and the federal government contributed $60,000 in late spring of last year, while Fort Frances paid just over $6,000 so far.

Currently the town is trying to get HTFC any relevant background information from the planning and economic development committees and stakeholders to allow them to prepare some preliminary information ahead of the first public meeting.

“I think that first public meeting is going to be a very important one to really set HTFC and the project on its course,” Vangel noted.

He said the Shevlin Wood Yard property in particular has a lot of potential due to its size and location on the riverfront.

Vangel encourages town residents to attend the first public meeting, once it’s announced, and to provide their input on the two properties

“I think this is a project that can really change the way Fort Frances can grow in the future,” he stressed.

“It’s pivotal that the public comes out and supports the community and provides their vision.”