Town sets sights on future

The Town of Fort Frances has a blueprint for the future now that it’s strategic plan is in place.
“It’s the first full-blown strategic plan that the town has done in-depth,” CAO Bill Naturkach said Tuesday.
“There’s things in there that have to be done next year, in three years, and some things that just won’t happen overnight,” he added.
The only immediate change, said Naturkach, involves Public Works.
“Public Works will no longer be involved with capital construction projects, just maintenance,” he noted. “There are no foreseen staff reductions, though.
“We had to fast-track that in order to comply with the 2002 budget.”
The change has to do with the town priorizing the delivery of its core services.
A second issue that will see more attention soon is the switch over from the Rainy River District Social Services Administration Board (DSSAB) to an Area Services Board (ASB).
“It’s definitely scheduled as a priority. We need to stimulate our position in the next year,” noted Naturkach.
The report showed several short-term strategies in connection with the issue, including:
•Fort Frances should express to district municipalities an interest in moving to an ASB;
•the town should take a leadership role in expressing to the ministry its interest in proceeding in a timely manner;
•the town should be vigilant in its pursuit of equitable representation, with a focus on seeing that any decisions are based on representation by population and a double majority; and
•the town should evaluate other service options and determine the best fit for itself.
Other strategies outlined in the plan include:
•having in place a level of information technology that is competitive within the region and country;
•being proactive and flexible in attracting and maintaining the commercial/industrial tax base;
•completing the waterfront development project to meet community needs;
•being proactive in designing and marketing the community to attract tourists and encourage them to stay longer;
•reviewing and revising bylaws to ensure they meet current and future needs, and ensuring bylaws are enforced;
•optimizing the opportunity of the town’s location on the Canada-U.S. border and proximity to American markets; and
•fine-tuning community services to meet the needs of the community as demographics change.
But Naturkach pointed out the plan and its implementation is an ongoing endeavour.
“Starting with the second meeting in January, we’re going to schedule our meetings earlier than before,” he said. “Issues will be dealt with in an open session format.”
The plan also includes a corporate vision statement and mission statement, as follows:
“Together, we are a community committed to sharing, developing, and enhancing social, economic, health, and educational opportunities.
“Together, we will ensure that these opportunities contribute to a sustainable environment and an atmosphere of trust, where all people can partake in the richness and diversity of the Town of Fort Frances and neighbouring communities.
“The Corporation of the Town of Fort Frances provides the leadership to deliver services in a responsible and efficient manner. By working together, we are creating a safe, sustainable, and attractive community with a vibrant growing economy.”
The strategic plan came about after Mayor Glenn Witherspoon, council, and senior Civic Centre staff decided everyone should be “on the same page,” establishing a common set of priorities.
Although the plan was approved at the Dec. 10 council meeting, it was not released in its final version until several days later as a few amendments had to be made first.