Even in the time of COVID-19, the town is moving ahead with plans to give two areas in town a new life.
Following a public visioning session and an online survey, the Shevlin Woodyard and Gateway to Rainy Lake Square projects are entering the next phase of the development process. Cody Vangel, the town’s Chief Building Official and Municipal Planner, said that the next opportunity for the public to see what progress is being made is coming up soon via webinar.
“HTFC, who is our planning consultant on the project... has prepared some preliminary concepts of different layouts and proposed uses and whatnot for the Woodyard and different concepts for the Gateway in to Market Square or Gateway to Fort Frances,” Vangel explained.
“The intent of the webinar is to basically take the public and stakeholders on kind of a visual tour of what they’ve proposed to do. Nothing is solidified in stone or finalized at this time. Right now, they are just preliminary concepts. The idea is to give the public a chance to see where the HTFC thought process is going with this and just to kind of let the public and stakeholders see how their opinions and whatnot from the survey and the first visioning workshop had been taken into consideration.”
In order to accommodate both physical distancing requirements around COVID-19 and people having different schedules, Vangel said that two different webinars are being planned for next week, with one session being held on Tuesday, May 26 at 10:00 a.m. and the other being held on Wednesday, May 27 at 7:00 p.m. Both webinars will follow a planned presentation to town council at their regular Monday night meeting.
While much of the world has seen various levels of shutdown due to COVID-19, and the town of Fort Frances has not been spared from pandemic related shutdowns, the project itself has been minimally impacted, Vangel said.
“It’s impacted the project schedule slightly,” he said.
“It’s extended it just a little bit by a couple of weeks. I think the biggest challenge is not being able to have that face-to-face conversation as we did in the first visioning workshop, which we were looking forward to for the second one. But similar to all of us, we have to adapt, overcome these obstacles and I think HTFC has put together a very good plan. The virtual tour of these concepts to be able to allow the public to have their say or at least witness this process.”
Vangel also said that the consultants are looking at doing a second public survey as a follow up, though he didn’t have details to share on what it would entail.
In order to register for the webinars, HTFC has prepared QR codes for the public to scan. QR Codes generally work with a smartphones camera, and will deliver you directly to the page to RSVP for the webinar session of your choice. For those who are unable to ultilize the QR Codes, they can go directly to the pages by visiting htfc.ca/may26 or htfc.ca/may27.
For anyone having issues accessing the registration for the events, or who have any questions or comments about the process, Vangel noted that his phone line is always available as he wants to make sure that anyone who wants to be involved in the process is able to.
“If there’s any outstanding questions or comments, by all means they can give me a call,” he said.
“I know when we had the survey the last time, I did have one person requesting a hard copy of the survey. We get so used to the fact that we have computers and phones and internet, but not everybody really has access to that. So they can definitely reach out to me and I can try and provide some information through mail or any sort of correspondence to make sure they’re welcomed in the process.”
Vangel can be reached at his office by calling 274-5323 ext. 1216.