Town passes on old high school

Council officially confirmed a withdrawal of interest in purchasing the old Fort Frances High School at Monday night’s regular meeting here.
“As far as the town is concerned, the possibility of acquisition is over,” Mayor Glenn Witherspoon said. “The next time we step to the plate is if it becomes a vacant property.”
After many meetings with the Rainy River District School Board, Rainy River Future Development Corp., and other parties, the mayor said the town found it just wasn’t economically feasible to buy the First Street East building without having a clear use for it.
“We kept having people come to us with ideas, but they all had their hands out,” he remarked. “Nobody had $2 million in the bank to back up the idea.”
Mayor Witherspoon did say, however, that the RRFDC still might buy the building, or at least part of it.
Geoff Gillon, the local economic development officer, previously had said the RRFDC would like to land a call centre here—and the high school was a possible location.
Another possibility is the school may be demolished and the empty property sold.
In other news, council on Monday night declined requests for financial assistance from both the Fort Frances High School boys’ soccer team and the Region 1 juvenile volleyball team.
The reason in the first instance was on the grounds that the request came in too late and the latter in that it was in support of a team from Thunder Bay.
While Coun. Struchan Gilson called the former declination “scandalous,” Administration and Finance manager Darryl Allan said it’s town policy—and not the first time the town had done it.
Also Monday night, council:
•authorized Art Hammond Landscaping to proceed with a $10,000 project to do some landscaping work on the 400 block of King’s Highway;
•agreed to maintain the policy of charging launch fees at the Sorting Gap Marina;
•authorized the purchase of two self-contained breathing apparatus, at a cost of $5,920, for the Fort Frances Fire Department;
•renewed the annual services contract with the District Social Services Administration Board with no changes;
•agreed to provide treasury services to the Ontario Disaster Relief Assistance Program office, for which the town will be reimbursed;
•heard a presentation by Bill Martin and John Albanese regarding the policies and future direction of the Northwestern Health Unit (the brief discussion mainly had to with how the health unit board is still working on recommendations made after the operational review late last year);
•approved break-open ticket licence applications from the La Verendrye Hospital Auxiliary and the Rainbow Rhythmics Club;
•referred a 2002-03 crossing guard agreement with Lakeland Personnel to the planning and development executive committee;
•referred a request for a financial contribution from the Northwestern Ontario Municipal Association regarding Thunder Bay Mayor Ken Boshcoff’s campaign for presidency of the Association of Municipalities of Ontario to the administration and finance executive committee for recommendation;
•referred a request from Normiska for extension of the rail spur across McIrvine Road to its site to the operations and facilities executive committee;
•passed a bylaw to provide temporary exemption from calendar parking on the 600 block of Nelson Street until Dec. 31; and
•passed a bylaw to renew the provision of a public transportation system for the physically-disabled within the town.