Town buys back former library

Duane Hicks

The Town of Fort Frances has bought the old Fort Frances Public Library property on Church Street for $1.
Council sealed the deal Monday night after passing a bylaw to authorize the purchase.
The deal to sell the property was part of the memorandum of understanding reached by the town and library board back on Oct. 12, in which the library board agreed to transfer the title of the former library property to the town for $1.
In return, the town agreed to set up a Fort Frances Public Library Technology Centre reserve fund and transfer $240,000 to it from its own corporate reserves.
This reserve fund is to “address future capital requirements as a result of the evolving needs of the library and technology centre in our community,” according to the memorandum of understanding.
Mayor Roy Avis said the town has received some expressions of interest in the old library, but added council hasn’t yet decided what to do with it.
When council does, however, the decision will be made in the best interest of the community and the library will be disposed of according to normal procedure (i.e., advertised).
Mayor Avis said council likely will have made a decision as to what to do with the property by February.
The library board has owned the old library building since the 1960s, when the town sold it to them for $1, noted board chair Joyce Cunningham (this was to make the library board eligible to apply for certain grants).
Under the Library Act, library boards do have the power to buy and sell property, with the approval of council.
But now that the new library has been built and is open, the board did not want to have to be responsible for two buildings.
“We wanted to sell it back to council,” Cunningham said. “They were quite agreeable to do that, and so we came to the agreement that it would be sold back to them.
“We did that for a number of reasons,” she noted.
“First of all, we believe it should be in the jurisdiction of the town to make the decision about that building, and they can do so in the best interest of all of the citizens of the community.
“And the library board very definitely did not want to be responsible for looking after two pieces of property, nor the maintenance, insurance, etc., for two pieces of property,” Cunningham stressed.
“So this is the most efficient manner to do this—to simply to sell it back to them for $1.”
Cunningham reiterated town council is in “the best position to decide on the best use of that building and what should be done with it.”