Town’s annexation decision in limbo

A bid by Fort Frances to annex portions of land in the townships of Alberton and Miscampbell into its boundaries has hit a snag.
Although Alberton council and residents disliked the idea, when Miscampbell supported the move to put the Fort Frances landfill and land near the Fort Frances Airport within town limits, it appeared to be a double-majority—a sure thing for Fort Frances.
But now, because of the fact no one lives in the disputed areas, the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing has determined a double-majority has not been reached.
“We followed according to the annexation bylaws or amalgamation protocol that was put forward by the ministry but the ministry said you can’t take a portion of something if nobody lives there,” explained Fort Frances Mayor Glenn Witherspoon.
“We did it according to protocol and then we were thrown that curve so we’re trying to work that out,” he added.
According to a newsletter from Alberton council, the ministry has left Fort Frances with three options—abandon the annexation, negotiate with Alberton to annex the dump or, request the ministry to send in a commission to make a decision.
Earlier this year, negotiations with Alberton to annex the properties fell apart over long-term use of the site for residents there.
And so far, all parties have stayed away from the suggestion of seeking a commission because of the strong possibility the entire district could be amalgamated into one municipality as witnessed in Greenstone and Sioux Narrows-Nestor Falls.
Fort Frances is lobbying the ministry to recognize the double-majority, a decision made by the majority of representatives representing a majority of constituents.
“We had the application responded to by staff and now we’re negotiating with the ministry,” Fort Frances CAO Bill Naturkach said. “I think all I can say is we’re discussing options with the minister’s office.”
In Alberton, meanwhile, Reeve John Milling indicated in a letter to residents that the annexation issue remains quiet for now.
“[The ministry] ruled that the annexation could not proceed in that manner because the “double-majority” requirement did not apply since no one lives at either the dump or the airport and, therefore, there was no second party to form the double-majority,” he wrote.
“So, for the time being, the status quo remains.”