One more tool

Much attention and effort have gone of late, and rightfully so, into how to attract U.S. visitors to Northwestern Ontario in light of the passport issue, rising loonie, high gas prices, and all the other obstacles that have torpedoed the tourist industry across the region.
But while a healthy tourism sector is vital to the economic well-being of our area, we cannot lose sight of an equally important need: getting new residents to move here.
The doctor shortage in Fort Frances certainly is well-known to everyone, yet there’s also a growing shortfall of other professionals (lawyers are but one example) which needs to be addressed—and soon—so local residents have access to important services here at home.
And with an aging population, new families are crucial to bolstering our declining tax base, supporting local businesses, filling our schools and recreation programs, and breathing life into service clubs and other causes as volunteers.
It’s not that Fort Frances has been turning a blind eye to the problem. We’ve built top-rate recreational facilities that are the envy of visiting teams, and have a fairly new high school and elementary school (J.W. Walker), with a new Robert Moore now under construction. A 21st-century library and technology centre also is well underway.
We have access to great health care “close to home” thanks to the renovations at La Verendrye Hospital and state-of-the-art equipment that’s been installed. We offer learning through our college campus and revamped museum, sport a vibrant arts community residents can enjoy at the first-class Townshend Theatre, and boast a wonderful waterfront and marina.
And that’s not to mention the beauty of living on the shores of Rainy Lake, with the countless fishing, hunting, and camping possibilities right on our doorstep.
The key has been—and remains—getting this message out. No stone must be left unturned, which is why Fort Frances would be wise to join the Northwestern Ontario Immigration Portal Project, which already has more than two dozen municipalities on board.
Being one more tool at our disposal in the very real fight to attract prospective residents, the onus now is on us—all of us—to develop a catchy web page that touts all we have to offer.
It’s an opportunity we simply cannot afford to pass up.