Real work yet to begin

Convincing the World Health Organization to hold a conference here in the spring of 2002 has been a big job for the Rainy River Valley Safety Coalition.
Now that it’s succeeded, getting ready for the actual event will be an even bigger one.
As first reported in Monday’s Daily Bulletin, Rainy River District earned the right to host the conference after RRVSC chair Doug Anderson and a team of eight other delegates made a presentation to the Canadian Safety Council last Friday in Medicine Hat, Alta.
The conference here–to be on safe communities–will tie in with an injury prevention conference that will have just wrapped up in Montreal.
Anderson said landing the conference is a dream that’s been eight years in the making.
“But now, the big job is to start organizing it on a national level and international level,” he admitted. “As chair, I’d like to sit back, do a little reflection on it, and then invite the whole community to be involved in the process because the process is what makes the community a safer–and better–place to live.
“There are a lot of plans we have to do,” he stressed.
RRVSC directors met yesterday and agreed to seek public input. Linda Plumridge, who has been put in charge of publicity for the conference, said part of getting ready will be continuing to work hard on the safety programs already in place here and expand them.
And to do that, the RRVSC will need lots of help, she said.
“We’re going to have to show that our programs are up and running,” Plumridge said. “And we have to get the infrastructure to run a world-class conference with a lot of different players.”
Some of that infrastructure may come from International Falls, which threw its support behind the RRVSC’s bid at Medicine Hat.
“It will probably be the first truly international conference ever held,” Anderson said.
Geoff Gillon, with the Rainy River Future Development Corp. here, was one of the delegates who went to Medicine Hat. Although not directly involved with the conference, it’s been a big supporter of the RRVSC.
Gillon said the district stands to benefit from hosting the conference in several different ways, the most obvious being the revenue generated by it.
“This one is expecting 200-250 delegates [and] they would probably spend $1,000 a piece,” he noted. “That’s $250,000 right there.”
But some of the other benefits go beyond an immediate dollar figure, Gillon remarked.
“We have a chance now to market or inform the world about the Rainy River District,” he noted. “So as a community, we’ll become a more known player in the world.
“We’ve increased the recognition factor of the district,” Gillon added. “We’ll be known for more than just hunting, fishing, and paper.”
The fact International Falls is involved is another bonus, Gillon said, hoping it will bring us and our American neighbours closer together as the “Borderland” region.
“I think it’s a broader, more comprehensive opportunity for the district [than just immediate revenue],” he said.
Both Anderson and Plumridge also stressed delegates won’t be confined to Fort Frances during the conference but will have a chance to tour the district from Rainy River to Atikokan.
Likewise, Plumridge said they will be calling upon residents from the whole district to help prepare for the conference and strengthen its existing programs.
“Safety should be part of everybody’s life, and we want every person to be a part of the safety coalition,” she remarked. “This is working towards us being recognized as an international safe community.
“It takes everybody in our community to do it!”
To date, only Fort McMurray, Alta. has been designated an international safe community in Canada.