Town assessing available lots for housing

With a clear lack of property available for development here, the town is in the process of assessing which lots could be used for new housing.
“There a direction from council to the Planning and Development division to look at all available properties that the town has for building lots,” Mayor Roy Avis said yesterday.
“There’s a shortage of lots in Fort Frances, there’s no subdivisions starting,” he noted. “It’s becoming a real serious situation for us. So we have to look at all available properties at the present time.
“We would love to see some private firms get involved in building subdivisions in town, which would open up lots. But it seems it’s not happening,” the mayor remarked.
“So we, in order to increase our assessment, which we need in order to keep operating our community, the town needs to look at where we can find available properties and get some buildings on them.”
Mayor Avis noted possible areas to be sold for development include the Nelson Street park and the extension of Sixth Street from Shevlin Avenue to Williams Avenue.
“There’s quite a substantial number of areas being looked at,” he said. “Those are just some of the examples.”
Mayor Avis stressed, however, the investigation into suitable properties is in its early stages. If and when the town makes any decisions regarding these properties, the public will be notified and the appropriate meetings held.
At Monday night’s regular meeting, council received a report from municipal planner Faye Flatt regarding the Nelson Street park.
The report was done to determine whether the removal of the park would place the town in a non-compliant situation with its official plan, which states: “Neighbourhood parks should be provided within 1,000 metres of all residential users.”
But Flatt found there are, in fact, a total of six parks within the one-km radius of the Nelson Street park, and so rezoning the property from “open space” to “residential” would not compromise the official plan nor result in a lack of parks in the neighbourhood.
In other news from Monday night’s meeting, council:
•agreed to renew the “Dial-A-Ride” agreement with North Air Services (this will be a three-year contract);
•recommended a Planning and Development report on downtown parking be issued to the Fort Frances Chamber of Commerce, in response to a letter of concern regarding the matter;
•received a report on Operations and Facilities executive committee regarding Environment Canada’s requirements for the storage and handling of road management salts (the town is not legally required to develop a salt management plan as it uses less than 500 tonnes per year);
•received a report regarding the results of an announced focused inspection of the town’s water system conducted by the Ministry of Environment on Dec. 4, 2007 (the inspection turned up no health risks or non-compliance issues);
•received a recommendation from the Operations and Facilities executive committee that the town enter into an agreement with the Ontario Good Roads Association regarding Municipal Data Works data provision (this involves information gathering of the town’s road, wastewater, water, bridge, storm sewer, and culvert systems at no cost to the town);
•approved a travel expense claim for CAO Mark McCaig in the amount of $85.50, and approved a travel expense claim for Coun. Paul Ryan in the amount of $120. Both of these expenses were to attend the Rainy River District Municipal Association annual general meeting on Saturday, Jan. 26.;
•agreed to buy a table of 10, at a cost of $150, for the “Rockin’ for the Library” fundraiser event scheduled for Saturday, Feb. 23;
•received a letter from resident Helen Crook regarding the need for an assisted living facility, and will respond to her to let her know the Rainy River District Social Services Administration Board is investigating the issue; and
•agreed to permit Coun. Rick Wiedenhoeft to meet with both the public and separate school boards regarding building new tennis courts at the St. Francis Sportsfields (this would be a cost-shared project).