‘Re-Inventing’ study gets go-ahead

While word on funding from the federal government isn’t official yet, town council agreed Monday night to let the “Re-Inventing Fort Frances” committee hire a consultant for a feasibility study.
“I anticipate a very exciting year ahead,” enthused Janis Lesko, chair of the “Re-Inventing Fort Frances” committee.
“We’re a little bit behind and we want to get as much done as possible this summer,” she noted. “We’re ready to move on, and I think it will be an exciting adventure for everybody.”
Council agreed to give the go-ahead to hire Winnipeg-based Hilderman, Thomas, Frank and Cram on the basis the “Re-Inventing” project already has received funding from the town, the local Business Improvement Area, Business Women’s Network, Abitibi-Consolidated, Rainy River Future Development Corp., and the Northern Ontario Heritage Fund Corp.
It also will receive $2,000 from the Fort Frances Chamber of Commerce next year.
“We’re still waiting for an official announcement from the federal government [FedNor]. But to my knowledge, the paperwork has been done,” said Lesko.
The funding, which would equal about $39,000, may be announced at the official opening of the new Canada Customs & Immigration facility here July 17.
The total consulting fee is $108,712 (including GST).
Mayor Glenn Witherspoon’s support for getting on with the feasibility study was clear before council voted Monday. “Our town is in need of resurgence. I hope council keeps that in mind when we vote on it tonight,” he remarked.
The job of the consulting firm is to conduct a feasibility study regarding aspects of the “Re-Inventing” project, which includes everything from promoting the downtown core to possibly transforming the old Fort High property for a number of uses.
One part of this process will be an “envisioning workshop,” where parties such as the town, BIA, and Chamber of Commerce will meet to determine tasks and develop schemes for co-ordinating and funding tasks.
Lesko noted it’s unknown exactly how long the study will take but now that they’ve been given the green light, timelines will be discussed with the consultants.
Looking to the future, Lesko also asked council Monday to consider “Re-Inventing” during its 2003 budget process. “I’m sure they will. I think everybody is on board with this,” she remarked.
The “Re-Inventing” committee has spent hundreds of hours over the past 10 months working on this project, which is meant to promote tourism in Fort Frances while creating and retaining jobs and revitalizing the business district.