Town unlikely to back arena sprinkler system

While town council agreed to take it into consideration, a request from the Fort Frances Chamber of Commerce to install a sprinkler system in the ’52 Canadians Arena—thereby making it safe to use for non ice-related events—isn’t likely to be fulfilled.
Chamber president Alan Tibbetts told council Monday night the issue came up when the group booked both ice surfaces for a trade show this coming May, but then recently was told they couldn’t use the older one after renovations there this summer resulted in it falling under stricter fire regulations.
“There is no facility in Fort Frances that can hold that many people at one time,” said Tibbetts. “It is the premiere facility in town.”
But Coun. Deane Cunningham reasoned installing a sprinkler system just wasn’t economically feasible, noting Community Services manager George Bell said a new one would could $150,000.
“And [the arena being used for non ice-related events] would probably generate [only] an extra $3,000-$5,000 in revenue,” said Coun. Cunningham. “That wouldn’t even pay the interest on the repairs.”
Tibbetts cited the various events that have been held in the old arena in the past two years, including the Fort Frances High School Millennium Reunion, Shrine Circus, and the World Health Organization’s “Safe Communities” conference.
“I agree with you 100 percent,” Mayor Glenn Witherspoon said to Tibbetts.
“But here again, we’re under tight constraints,” he added. “We’re red-taped to death. But we will get back to with an answer.”
“I guess the principle that we’re a ‘safe community’ is what sticks out in my mind,” replied Tibbetts.
The Chamber’s trade show still will be held May 9-10 on the Ice for Kids surface.
Also at Monday night’s regular meeting, council:
•agreed to pledge Coun. Struchan Gilson to participate in the “Polar Plunge” on Jan. 1;
•passed two bylaws to rezone two properties—one at 1250 King’s Highway and the other at 1305 Mill Rd.—on the condition site plan agreements be established;
•approved a bylaw to sign a service agreement with Municipal Tax Equity Consultants Inc.;
•approved a bylaw to approve the purchase and licensing agreements for computer software and hardware maintenance with MicroAge Technology Services;
•agreed to send a letter to the County of Essex in support of Province of Ontario Opportunity Bonds;
•referred a request of support from the Township of North Algona Wilberforce regarding its resolution to delay implementation dates for the Nutrient Management Plan to the Planning and Development executive committee for recommendation;
•agreed to send a letter to the Town of Tecumseh in support of its resolution to petition the province to ban smoking in all public and workplaces;
•referred a request from the Township of Armour for support of its resolution regarding the Municipal Assessment Corp. Futures Program to the Administration and Finance executive committee for recommendation;
•referred a request from the City of Welland for support of its resolution concerning the fortification of lands to the Police Services Board for recommendation;
•referred a request from the Association of Municipalities of Ontario regarding financial support of a “Bill 210 fund” (the new electricity legislation) to the Administration and Finance executive committee and the Fort Frances Power Corp. for recommendation; and
•heard a report from Coun. Dave Bourgeault regarding a possible heliport being established here for air ambulance.