Town pledges some money to ‘Re-Inventing’

Town council on Monday night agreed to pledge up to $25,000 towards a feasibility study requested by the “Re-Inventing Fort Frances” committee.
While the group originally requested $50,000 from the town, one-third of the potential cost of hiring a consultant, council only agreed to put up a maximum of $25,000 following a lengthy discussion about seeking local private funding instead of looking to the town for the full amount.
“It’s really important you have private dollars if you’re going to convince the province,” said Coun. Sharon Tibbs, noting the town had experience rounding up private support while lobbying for government funding for the new “Ice for Kids” Arena here.
“Getting non-government money would go a long way towards getting the Heritage funds,” agreed Coun. Deane Cunningham.
Actually, the committee of the whole of council was planning to pass a motion to match whatever amount the group could get elsewhere, such as the $10,000 pledged by the Rainy River Future Development Corp. several weeks ago.
But continued pressure from the group resulted in the committee offering up to $25,000 instead.
“At the last council meeting, we were told we would be told a dollar figure tonight,” said Susan Bodnarchuk, a member of the “Re-Inventing” committee.
“If we say we have $25,000 for you, will you be happy?” asked Coun. Roy Avis, chair of the committee of the whole. “That way you can go look for private funding with something to show.”
The “Re-Inventing” group nodded to the offer and thanked the committee. The motion then was passed during the regular council meeting afterwards.
Mayor Glenn Witherspoon reiterated his support for the “Re-Inventing” committee, which he and CAO Bill Naturkach now will be working with closely after the town’s financial commitment.
“In order to get this program up and running, we should get the Chamber and the BIA to find $10,000 each and we’ll find $20,000 at least,” he remarked.
“I don’t think we can tell these people, ‘Sorry, we’re passing the buck,’” added the mayor.
Still, some councillors voiced concerns as to how the town will make room for the financial boost—regardless of the amount.
“I am not opposed. I don’t disagree with the mayor. But council has agreed to reduce taxes for heavy industrial and commercial rates—that’s about $600,000 out of the pot in the next seven years,” Coun. Dave Bourgeault noted.
“We’re doing that to draw more businesses,” he said. “We’re on board, but you have to understand where we’re coming from. We’re doing a lot to improve the economic development as it is.
“I don’t care to be pushed on matters like this,” said Coun. Struchan Gilson. “I think you have some good ideas, but I’m not sure where they fit in or where the money will come from.”