Sun shelter built as token

Duane Hicks

With the natural gas line replacement project wrapping up here after two years, Link-Line and Union Gas have left a token of appreciation to the community behind—a new sun shelter at the McIrvine Rotary Park.
The foundation for the shelter was poured about three weeks ago, and the structure itself was built there last week.
Park users now will have a place to sit down, relax, and get out of the hot summer sun, or get shelter from an unexpected rain storm.
“The concept for this idea was to give something back to the Town of Fort Frances since your community has welcomed us in every aspect, and made each of us feel at home in this scenic community for the past two years,” Link-Line workload co-ordinator Tom Fowler said Monday.
He added this continued to hold true Saturday, when neighbourhood residents even offered the work crew lunch, or money to buy lunch, as a thank you for building the shelter.
Fowler said the sun shelter was made possible through the donation of Link-Line employees’ labour and equipment after hours, as well as donated materials, “so that the many people who use this park will benefit from its use.”
Fowler estimated Link-Line and Union Gas provided $31,000 worth of materials and labour to build the 24’x24’ shelter.
While the majority of the project was funded by Link-Line and Union Gas, Fowler noted several other companies contributed, including Lafarge, which supplied the concrete foundation, North Auto, North American Lumber, Daryl’s Custom Landscapes, Belluz Concrete, and Tom Veert Contracting.
Link-Line also received input from Town of Fort Frances survey technician Julie Crichton.
The sun shelter first was requested by west-end resident Lindsey Oster in a letter to town council in May, 2009, at which time she had noted there were no trees or any other sources of shade at the park.
A year-and-a-half later, Oster said she’s thrilled to see the shelter up.
“I’m very excited to see it there,” she enthused Monday. “It looks great, and I know that, come springtime, my family will be making use of it, and lots of others I am hoping.
“Maybe some of the local day cares will start to use that park again, too, because I know a few of them had expressed concern they couldn’t take young children there because there was no place to get them out of the sun,” Oster added.
“There are trees the town has put there, but they’re very young and quite a distance from the playground equipment; they’re kind of on the perimeter of the park,” she noted.
“It will be nice next summer to take my little fella in the stroller, and have a place to have a juice box and a snack out of the sun.”
Mayor Roy Avis recalled that around the same time the town received Oster’s letter, Link-Line came to the town asking if there was a community project it could help out with.
“[Link-Line] came to me and said when they leave a community, they like to leave a legacy, and they showed me some pictures of other work they had done at parks in other areas,” he noted, adding the timing of Oster’s request and Link-Line’s offer to help was perfect.
Mayor Avis said the new shelter looks “pretty good,” and has been so well-constructed he can tell “it’s there to stay for a long time.”
“It’s nice. What happened before is parents in that area had taken their children to the park and there was no way to get out of the sun,” he remarked.
“That is why the request came to council.”
In related news, Link-Line has finished its gas line replacement work for the season, but expects to have to return here for one month next spring to do some final work.
The massive job has included replacing 43 km of vintage steel natural gas lines with yellow, medium density plastic lines, and more than 2,400 services replaced, including reconnections and new services.